Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Glasses

Aging is the pits.  I must admit that I've declared all-out war on what the ravages of time are attempting to do to me, but nonetheless, aging is the pits.

It has been a number of years since my eyes went through the inevitable phase where my arms were no longer long enough to hold reading material at the appropriate distance.  For several years it seemed the shape of the ocular organs in my head changed continually so that I needed a different prescription on a regular basis.  The rate of change has since decelerated and when I had them checked a couple of weeks ago there was very little change from the previous exam in 2008.

I have worn no-line progressive lenses since that appointment in 2008 and chose to stick with the same in my new glasses.  I recall quite clearly how difficult it was to adjust to them and how they made my eyes and head hurt until I had done so.  It is rather disorienting to have the vision suddenly blur with each minor movement of the eye.  I anticipated that there would be little such adjustment with this new pair which I picked up yesterday because there was such a minor change in prescription.  I was partly correct in my assumption.

What I am trying to say is that my eyes hurt.  Perhaps it could be blamed on too much time in front of this LCD screen, but I suspect the glasses have something to do with it.  I haven't experienced the sudden loss of balance due to the images being projected into my brain dancing in and out of focus, but my eyes are hurting nonetheless.  Surely it will get better in a few days.

Just my complaint for the day.....


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wet Grass

There is a dampness on the lawn this morning that brings back lots of memories.  Some of those memories go all the way back to Junior High and even before that.  They are memories of close encounters with wet grass.

I'm sure most people will think I have totally lost my mind talking about wet grass.  But, for whatever reason, those thoughts are stuck in my head just like the wet grass sticks to my boots when I walk across the yard. 

As a youngster I treasured the opportunities to go to Muleshoe with my Grandpa to help him at the ranch.  He had improved bermuda grass pastures that were irrigated first by side-rolling sprinklers and then later by a pivot system.  When he had the side-rolls we would drive along and make sure that all the sprinkler heads were working properly.  Sometimes they would be plugged by debris such as grass or sand or even the occasional frog.  We would take a piece of baling wire and try to free the debris by poking the wire into the nozzles.  Sometimes, if it was a frog, it would come out in stringy pieces, but always, my jeans would be soaked to the knees from walking in the wet, freshly watered grass.

Later, when I played football, I remember the early morning practices on wet grass.  We would get soaked.  We would have wet grass clinging all over us.  Then, if you were tackled, or were doing the tackling, you would sometimes find your facemask plowing into the wet grass and it would get in your face and in your nose and mouth and cling to the facemask.

In a small school, everyone is expected to do a little of everything so, I was also in the marching band.  We often had marching practice early in the morning before school started.  We kept special shoes in the band hall just for marching in the wet grass.  They were always wet so they rotted fairly quickly.  By the end of the marching season they were pretty much worthless.  They were the source of many stinking feet.

Then, there was mowing the lawn when it was wet.  I didn't mind mowing when it was wet for the reason that it wasn't quite as hard on my hay fever as dry grass, however, it was a pain because it constantly would stop up the discharge on the lawnmower.  Of course, it was never good to clean that discharge with your hand and then later to inadvertently rub your watering, itchy, hay-fevered eye.  It would cause my eyes to swell shut from the irritation.

Wet grass.  I laugh at this post because of the memories that it elicits from me. 


Monday, February 27, 2012

Nothing Really Matters Until it Matters

One of the things that is frustrating to me is to warn someone about an issue that appears to be developing and for them to ignore it because they don't see the potential impact.  In some ways it is part of the same phenomenon as the "unintended consequences" that sometimes append to good intentions.

There are many times the words "it won't matter" have been used for things that ultimately do matter.  It is symptomatic of those who tend to focus on the present and don't think about much beyond tomorrow.  The trouble is, almost everything we do today affects in some manner what happens in the future.  Sometimes the impact is a long way off and that is when it is most frequently ignored.

When those things do impact at a later date, it becomes a "disaster" to the person you warned in the first place.  They often think the sky is falling and the end has come.  "How could this happen?" is frequently the response.

It is tempting to say, "I told you so," but it is never productive.  First, they deny that you told them.  Or, if they admit you told them they blame you for not warning them in strong enough terms.  Second, it doesn't help to fix the problem.

Some people learn from their mistakes while others merely repeat them over and over again.  They may not be exactly the same, but are close enough the lessons of the past should have been clear. 

With some people it just doesn't do much good to warn them of the consequence of their actions.  To them it doesn't really matter until it matters.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Clear Skies

It is nice to get out early in the morning when the sky is clear and the stars are bright and watch the light slowly begin to spread from the Eastern horizon.  This time of year it is usually crisp and cold with only a gentle breeze if any. 

I am in Nebraska this morning.  The Platte River runs just a short distance from my motel and the noise of the geese starting their day makes for a pleasant sound in opposition to the roar of trucks passing on the Interstate.  Where I am staying is on the edge of where the great flyways merge and the number of geese is astounding.  Over the past few days I have seen waves of snow geese in both the white and blue phase and even larger waves of both greater and lesser Canada geese. 

Some years ago we lived in Nebraska and I recall there were times that the great flocks of geese looked like smoke on the horizon they were so numerous.  I have not seen them in those kind of numbers this year but I also am not at the center of the great migratory path in the sky.

I guess that here the skies are not truly clear.  They are filled with birds slowly working their way back to the north after their winter vacation in warmer climes.  With that in mind I must say that I hope our skies are never truly clear. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fishing in Unproductive Waters

Sometimes sales can be very frustrating.  You invest a significant amount of time and money in reaching out to potential customers so you need to always be aware of the return on that investment.  Some people refer to it as customer acquisition cost -- how many dollars are invested for each new customer gained.

When you look at the expense of travel -- motel, car and airfare, meals, time -- you can invest a lot of money in a short period of time.  Often, there are also booth rental fees and other expenses associated with Trade Shows and events.  You must constantly be aware of not only the potential volume of your target audience but the amount of business that they represent.  In my business, we don't just look at the number of cattlemen that may be present, we also look at what segment of the business they are in (cow/calf, stocker, order buyer, feedlot) and the number of cattle they represent.  If you are doing a Trade Show in an area where the average herd size is 15 animals but the number of producers in attendace is high -- say 1,000 -- then you are looking at about 15,000 animals represented.  In my business, each of those animals is a potential sale.  In a different setting you might be in front of 10 producers who represent 10,000 animals each -- that's 100,000 potential sales.  Which is the better environment?

That's a lot of words to say that this past week has been frustrating.  I've been fishing, but either the fish have been scared off or there just aren't any here.  I think the event that I've been attending this week will not be one I attend next year.....


Friday, February 24, 2012

Remaining Calm

It seems that periodically everything goes a little crazy.  There is a cycle to life that applies to the pace of activity just as it does to life itself.  Each day is cyclical with sleep to waking to active to slowing down and then sleep again.  The years are cyclical with the various seasons.  Everything is cyclical.

Right now it seems that I am in one of those periods of frenzied activity with many "big" things occurring at once.  I will share more detail in coming days but for now, suffice it to say that it is crazy busy.  During times like this it is sometimes difficult to remain calm and objective.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." __ John 14:27

I am fortunate that there is a source of peace that is unaffected by the cyclical tides of this world.  His peace is everlasting but the price is high.  It cost a perfect life and it demands surrender of my own.  It is amazing how peaceful life becomes once I surrender to Him and His will for my life.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Striving for Perfection

Somewhere deep inside each of us is the desire to be the very best that we can be at something.  What that something is can be known only to the individual.  For many children and adolescents that something is to be a superstar athlete.  For adults that desire may center around a job or career choice.  Whatever it might be, for most of us at least, there is a point in our life where we have a desire or vision of being the very best.

Then, life happens.  We get beat up and kicked around by the events that shape us.  We find that we don't possess the talent or skills to be the very best and we begin to reach accommodation with that fact.  We settle for something less than our ideal.  We achieve the rank of mediocrity.

What we see in this process that results in settling for mediocrity is the result of an internal battle between opposing forces.  The desire to be the best runs headlong into the "world."  Most of us don't know what to do about it, but the Bible gives us the answer.

The desire for the best is the desire for God.  It is a seed planted deep inside of us that impels us toward what we were made to do.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” __ Jeremiah 1:5

The forces of the "world" is the dominion of Satan which is arrayed in opposition to God.  He has been given control over the systems and forces of this world.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." __ Ephesians 6:12

When we seek by our own power to overcome the forces arrayed against us, we fail.  We settle for less than the best.  It is only by the power of God within us that we can achieve perfection.

I have been known to say, "perfection is not in me" when I managed to flub something up.  That is not true.  I have inside me the One who is perfect.  It is only when I fail to acknowledge Him and allow Him to lead me that I truly fail.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." __ Philippians 4:13

'But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.' __ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Confusing Mix

I am looking around my highly cluttered desk and realizing the inconsistencies which lie thereon.  I see there a mix of proper utilization of technology and dependency on old ways of doing things.  Already you should detect the issue -- my desk wouldn't be cluttered if I used the electronic technology that is available to me in the way it was designed.

I am working on a laptop.  Beside it is a yellow legal pad and pen.  There is a small stack of "snail mail" that needs tending to.  There are manila folders with various labels on them.  There are paper copies of "customer information forms" that are part of an ongoing project.  There is an "outbox" with various items to be passed to someone else.  There is an "inbox" with the things I haven't gotten to yet or have just put off until later.  There are the obvious utensils such as stapler, business card holder, etc. and an old-style Rolodex.  There also is both a cellphone and a land line telephone.

I should be able to do away with most of this paper and definitely should be able to junk the Rolodex.  However, I find comfort in the fact that when electronics fail I have a backup system.  Is that a symptom of my age?  Or, is it simply a distrust of depending solely on electrons?  Maybe the two issues are one and the same.....

Just thinking.


Monday, February 20, 2012


I once worked for an individual who surrounded himself with people who were afraid to disagree with him.  They were what are often called "yes men."  They were always telling him what he wanted to hear and were never willing to risk his "wrath" by holding opposing views.

That company no longer exists.  Long before it failed however, they decided they no longer needed me.  I voiced my opposition at least once too many times and lost my job as a result.  Blessings are often disguised quite thoroughly.

I've had people work for me that would never voice opposing views.  They would get me coffee (even when I didn't really want it) and say "yes, sir" and jump if I asked them anything.  They drove me crazy.  I ask questions in the hope of obtaining an answer, not in getting the response of a lap dog.  The fastest way to gain favor with me is to tell me when I'm wrong (hopefully in a polite way) and then explain to me why.  I can't learn from someone who always agrees with me and we can never get better if we blindly go down the wrong path.

I ran across the following quote:

"I never learned from a man who agreed with me." __ Robert A. Heinlein

What can I do with such a quote?  I certainly can't learn anything from it; he agreed with me!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

That's What Food Eats

There's rarely much of a debate about what will compose the main course of a meal at our house.  Other than for breakfast, we eat a lot of beef.

I have always liked beef.  I think I was "burned out" on chicken before I graduated from High School.  It was always fried chicken for Sunday Dinner (most of you would call it lunch).  For whatever reason, it became something that wasn't at the top of my desired list of foods.

When I was a kid my grandfather usually kept a calf that he was fattening to butcher.  They had chickens too, but it was the beef that fed his eight kids and later their spouses and the grand kids that came around.

Ranching was something that always interested me.  Grandpa always had cattle and I enjoyed spending time working cattle with him.  That's what ultimately led me to a career in service to the cattle industry.  Even my years spent as a lender were years of serving agriculture. 

I've always liked cattle men and women and have a tremendous respect for their stewardship of the land and other resources in their care.  They capture sunlight with the grass and other plants growing on the land and then convert it into something usable by the human species through the amazing machine we call a cow.  It is that industry which has supplied me with a living for the past thirty years and for that reason I continue to be loyal to them by eating lots of beef.

In my travels I come into contact with people from all walks of life.  I am quite frankly shocked at the number who think beef is bad for you and that ranchers are ruining the land.  It's just not true.  When I see Vegetarian or Vegan items on menus in a restaurant I am saddened because the people that typically order those dishes just don't look healthy.  If they have a specific health problem that affects their ability to digest red meat, that is one thing, but when it is a conscious lifestyle choice based on misinformation, I am saddened -- not because it is against my business and my customers, but because they are missing something good.

That giant salad with bean sprouts and cauliflower and other marginally identifiable plant parts is not especially appealing to me.  Yes, I do eat some vegetables as part of a balanced diet, but I feel that protein is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

A few years ago I heard a friend use the line when turning down a salad, "No, thank you, that's what food eats."  I felt that his sentiment summed up my feelings on the subject quite succinctly.  So, I adopted his words and have been heard to use them quite frequently ever since.

Don't get me wrong, a small dinner salad goes well with my steak and baked potato, just don't offer me the green stuff as the main course.  I might tell you, "No thanks, that's what food eats."


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Profoundly Unmotivated

The third definition of profound in the Merriam Webster Dictionary is something "characterized by intensity of feeling or quality."  It fits.  I am absolutely and completely unmotivated today.

Most weekends I have something planned.  There is something that I either need or want to accomplish.  Not today.  I want to do nothing.  Yet, here I am writing a blog entry about it.  I suppose that seems a little self-defeating.  If I want to do nothing yet I am willfully doing something, then I must not truly want to do nothing!

OK, that's a bit convoluted.  In reality I do want to do something.  I want to write something profound.  But, I don't want to do the normal Saturday chores.  So, I sit here at the computer composing a profoundly ordinary post while sipping coffee from a Starbucks coffee mug that was a gift to me delivered to my hotel room at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville a couple of weeks ago.

The Starbucks mug is an important symbol in my quest for the profound.  I am looking at their symbol of the young woman with a crown and wondering what in the world it means.  So, I looked it up.  It is of the "twin-tailed siren" Melusine.  Here is a link so you can read about it yourself.  I'm not certain I know much more than I did before I looked it up, but it's interesting.

Now let's dig a little deeper.  What is the importance of Melusine?  I looked up Melusine.  It appears that for the Starbucks logo it must be used in the context of alchemy.  It symbolizes the union of "of earth and water, body and soul- and the vision of Universal Mercury, the all-pervading anima mundi that calls out and makes the philosopher yearn to her."  I can see that.  Coffee is grown in earth and water, is a stimulus due to the caffeine content and therefore addictive.  Coffee drinkers develop a craving for coffee.  The siren song -- come to me.....

Now that I've satisfied my addiction to coffee and to knowledge, I can go back to being unmotivated.  Is it too early for a nap?


Thursday, February 16, 2012


I have mentioned in previous posts that I am not a believer in luck.  Chance, yes.  Luck, no.

I went through a stage years ago when I was envious of those whom I considered more successful than me.  They drove nice cars, lived in big houses and went on vacations to places about which I could only dream.  I was known to make comments about how lucky they were.

While it is true that some of them inherited their good fortune and others just happened to be in the right spot at the right time (chance), the majority of them were successful due to hard work.  Very rarely were those who had lots of money the employee of someone else.  They were almost all self-employed.

Through the years I have had the privilege to meet many very successful people.  Some are multi-millionaires and others are just at the top of their field of endeavor.  I have found some characteristics common to them all.  Self-confidence, thorough knowledge of their field and a willingness to work hard.

I guess the reason for today's post is a line that I found in the book I was reading over lunch.

'He shook his head.  "I don't believe in luck, Sam.  Luck is a tag given by the mediocre to account for the accomplishments of genius."' __ The Old Man in "The Puppet Masters," a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein

Well said.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Empty Nesters and Dishes

When the kids have all left home there are many changes.  The grocery bill is smaller even though sometimes the quality of what is prepared is better -- such as steaks instead of hamburger; it doesn't take nearly as long to clean the house even though when the kids were home they were "responsible" for certain chores -- which required repeated follow-up for completion; it doesn't take nearly as many loads of laundry to wash the clothes and it takes several days to get a dishwasher full of dishes.

I guess that's what inspired my post tonight -- washing the dishes.  Sometimes now it is quicker and easier to wash them by hand rather than to let them accumulate in the dishwasher until there is a decent size load to wash.  (A quick disclaimer here:  I rarely wash the dishes, but can when necessary.)  Think about that a minute.  We have a dishwasher to wash dishes because of the convenience -- quicker and easier.  But, now it is sometimes quicker and easier to just wash the dishes by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher.

It makes you wonder whether a dishwasher is all that great of an appliance!  When the kids were at home, they could be the dishwasher.  Now that they're gone, there aren't that many dishes to wash.  The convenient has become inconvenient.

This reminds me of something from the Bible.  Without quoting specific verses but, giving the basic sentiment it says, to give is to get, to gain you must lose, to live you must die.  In other words, worldly wisdom has it all backward.  One might conclude that dishwashers are of the Devil!

Just thinking.....


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Homemade cards of
Cutout hearts
Glued to paper doilies.

Elmer's glue and
Blunt-nosed scissors;
Happy children noises.

Crayon letters,
Crooked lines,
Stick figures with no noses.

Just for Mom
With sloppy kiss
Much better than roses....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Disappearing Snow and Breakfast for Supper

The high here yesterday was 21 degrees and it snowed from Noon until dark.  I got out and shoveled the driveway before dark hoping that it wouldn't fill back in before morning.  The wind of course increased during the night and there was a small drift across the drive when I went out to start my car.  Fortunately it wasn't enough to worry about.

The high today was 61 degrees.  That's quite a difference in 24 hours.  Other than a few drifts in sheltered places, the snow is about gone.  The same south wind that blew the snow back onto my shoveled drive brought warmer temperatures.

It seems a little early in the year to be getting our Spring weather swings.  Usually February is just cold and windy.  The alternating cold with wet and warm usually doesn't start until March or April.  I hope it's not a sign that we're in for another miserable summer.

Oh, well, changes in the weather are a good thing.  If it was the same all the time we'd either be in the Antarctic or the South Pacific.  Hmmm....the South Pacific doesn't sound too bad.  I don't think I could stand the continual cold of the Antarctic though.

Changes keep us on our toes I guess.  Sometimes I like a little change just to break the monotony.  Like tonight; we're having breakfast for supper -- fresh homemade biscuits with butter and honey to go with the bacon and scrambled eggs.  Mmmmmm, mmmmmm, good!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stepping Up

I truly value the individual who will step up and say, "I'll do it."  They are somewhat rare.  Most people tend to hang back in hope that someone else will step forward and they won't have to volunteer -- or be volunteered.  This is especially true with the difficult tasks.

The characteristic of being willing to take on the difficult is often associated with youth.  It is an indicator of the desire to "prove" oneself.  It is a sign of wanting to make a name.  Because such an individual is often less experienced, careful judgment should be made of the suitability of the individual for a particular task.  Not only are they taking risk, but by accepting them as a volunteer you assume risk as well.

As individuals mature, one of two things happens regarding their willingness to "step forward" for risky challenges.  They either hang back in fear of failure based on past experience, or they move forward with confidence based on positive experience.  Rare is the individual who will continue to "step up" after repeated failure.  It's like the old joke about "it hurts when I do that."  The obvious response to which is "don't do that!"  Getting back up again after failure can be difficult.

Some have an uncanny ability to get things done.  It doesn't matter what the task, they can be trusted to accomplish what they set out to do.  It often is not pretty, but the results are those desired.  Such people are often hated and distrusted within an organization -- especially if their methods tend to be rough and with little regard for casualties.

How does one couple the ability to accomplish with a compassion that knits together a cohesive organization?  Is there a special kind of individual who can both accomplish the desired task and not make significant enemies along the way?  I don't think there is, but I do think there are individuals who are masters at getting things done with minimum casualties.

I have often said that one measure of success is the caliber of enemies one makes along the way.  If the "bad players" in the marketplace or in the organization hate me, I have confidence that I am doing my job.  If they like me I have failed.

I think the key is motivation; what motivates the individual to accomplish -- to get the job done -- to step up when no one else wants to do so.  But, motivation alone is not enough.  There must also be a measure of compassion.  The means do affect the results and definitely determine the casualties along the way. 

There is one source of inspiration and strength that is unfailing; the word of God.  One of my favorite verses says it all:

"I can do all things through God who gives me strength."  Phillipians 4:13

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Zealous Ignorance

Understanding begins with the admission of ignorance.  I am sure someone in history has said something to that effect, but if so, I'm not going to take the time to look it up.

My disenchantment with the political process has reached the point where I refuse for the most part to even pay attention to the headlines.  Only a few months ago I was voraciously reading a number of daily sources for the political news of the moment.  My loss of interest began with the decline of the Perry campaign for the Presidency.  It isn't that I felt he was the ideal candidate, but after weighing the pros and cons of each of the candidates, I believed he was the best of the bunch from an ideological standpoint.  Ideology is not the key to the Presidency.  It is the ability to infinitely shift an illusory image that ultimately wins the day.  It is all about the manipulated sound bite.

Ronald Reagan was the rare political figure who had both sound ideology and the ability to articulate it effectively.  Our current President on the other hand has an extremely flawed ideology but is the consummate communicator.  It is a chimera -- an illusion created through zeal.  It is sad that such zeal should be steeped in ignorance of truth and foisted on ignorant voters whose loyalty can be purchased with a can of beans containing a smidgen of pork.  We all know that the result is flatulence.

Thomas Fuller once said, "Zeal without knowledge is like fire without light."  It is rare that an individual who possesses zeal for a specific cause fully understands the interrelated factors that affect and are affected by the object of his zeal.  They are rushing down a tunnel toward an oncoming light that often as not is a train.  The law of unintended consequences is indeed real.

When I see extreme zeal, I immediately react with caution.  Such caution is likely rooted in personal experience.  It seems that my experiences when rushing blindly forward have typically ended badly.  I therefore expect the same to occur when I see others in such headlong pursuit.  The individual who has all the facts does not exist.  There are always pieces of the puzzle that have not yet been turned over let alone put in their appropriate place.

What I see in Washington are power hungry individuals who zealously pursue the agendas foisted on them by those who would meet their hunger.  They pursue in ignorance a slate of laws and regulations that fill the needs of their puppet masters while meeting their own need for self-righteous contortions of back patting.  It is easy to feel good about lined pockets and accumulated power when steeped in ignorance of the industries and lives who are ruined in the process.  Blindness has its advantages.

With this post I reach the end of my alphabetical journey.  Now I must seek inspiration elsewhere.  Hopefully it will be something that I can pursue with adequate zeal to maintain daily posting -- or at least nearly so.  Fortunately I am ignorant enough to move blindly forward when true knowledge might sway me from the path.  I do appreciate suggestions for topics; please comment with yours.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Yearning for More

There is never enough.  It seems there is never enough time or money or fish or points or whatever it is that we are wanting.  There is never enough land and there are never enough cattle.

Why are we never satisfied?  What is it inside of us that causes us to strive for more?  Is it something in our genetic material that is tied to survival of the fittest?  Why do we always want more?

I don't have any answers for this one.  I'm guilty.  I'm a lot like the old rancher who when asked by the city slicker how much land was enough answered, "I don't want much; just what's mine and everything that borders it."

Could it be that we are never satisfied because we try to fill the holes in our life with the wrong things?  I've heard it said that each of us is born with a God-shaped hole in us that must be filled.  It's too bad that we try to fill it with everything under the sun before we turn to the one that created that desire in us in the first place.

I guess when you think about it it makes some sense.  It all goes back to a time before the Garden of Eden.  Satan got tired of God calling all the shots so he gathered up a bunch of his buddies and decided that they were just as smart as God.  They felt like they knew better.  They could become gods themselves.

God said, "OK, Satan, if you know how to run things I'll give you a little chunk of ground to prove it."  So God gave Satan control of the earth and everything in it.  God planted man in the Garden and gave him the opportunity to make the right choice.  It's too bad Adam and Eve listened to Satan and not God.  They thought they knew better too.  The rest is history.

The one thing that didn't change though is that their descendants still carry the genes for that God-shaped hole.  The trouble was they now carried a gene for self-reliance too.  That conflict is probably the reason we are such an acquisitive race.  We're depending on our own resources to fill that God-shaped hole when what we really need to do is quit relying on ourselves and start relying on God.

Until we can figure that out we will just keep on yearning for more and more.  It's too bad we're not yearning for the right thing.

Tomorrow will be the letter "Z."  It will be the last in this series of alphabetically inspired posts.  I don't know much about Zebras so I'm not certain what I'm going to use for a title.  Oh, well.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

X-Gen and Connecting the Dots

Maybe I'm stretching things by using the terms in the title to this piece, but if you haven't looked lately, there aren't a lot of words out there that begin with the letter "x."  I appreciate J.B.'s suggestion in the comments for yesterday's post because it helped me to choose a subject that might be more appropriate than say, xenophobia....

Generation X is generally defined as those born between the years 1965 and 1982.  They are the post-WWII baby boom generation.  They were raised in a climate of accelerating and intense change -- from the computer revolution to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Gen-X'ers came of age in an era of two-incomes, increasing divorce rates and a faltering economy.  They tend to be highly independent, resourceful and self-sufficient while valuing both freedom and responsibility.  They don't like to be micro-managed and display a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours.

I was born at the tale end of the post-WWII baby boom.  I am not considered part of Generation X and yet when I look at the characteristics of that generation, I see many things that apply to me.  Perhaps it is just my personality, or perhaps I was just one of the pioneers for that generation. 

I know people who were born into Generation X that would probably fit better into my generation in some ways.  They are highly structured and definitely rule followers.  I have heard it described as "coloring within the lines." 

I also like to color within the lines, but primarily for the aesthetic effect, not because it is the rule.  If I thought the lines were in the wrong place, I had no qualms about altering them to better fit my sense of the way they should be.  Then, once adjusted, I stayed within the lines because the final result was more pleasing.

I think my real talent was more along the lines of connecting the dots.  I could never get enough of the connect-the-dot activities when I was a child.  I usually didn't have to hunt very hard for the next dot because I had a good feel for where things were going and how to get there.

Today I find that altering the lines and connecting the dots are two things I continue to do.  Only now it is more in ways of conducting business.  Just because conventional wisdom says things must be done a certain way doesn't mean it is the best way.  I am constantly seeking to adjust the lines a bit and hopefully create a more pleasing result.

As for connecting the dots, I see that as building relationships and linking them in beneficial ways.  Some might call it networking, but I think the conventional wisdom of networking is seeking personal benefit.  My desire is to seek synergistic benefit for all involved.  I enjoy introducing people to each other who could benefit from a relationship -- and then just stepping out of the way.  It is gratifying to see that the result is frequently good for all involved.

I could probably go on for quite some time on this, but this post is getting a little long so I will conclude on this "X"-topic.  Tomorrow is the letter "Y."  Please post suggestions in the comments!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whatchamacallits and Whozits

Communication is an interesting thing.  We all do it in many ways and yet we often fail to communicate clearly.  This becomes especially obvious when attempting to convey ideas across generations.

Words seem to change over time.  Today, "bad" is good.  When I was younger, "bad" was actually not good.  In fact, I run a danger in even discussing such things because about the time I figure out the current vernacular I find that I am out of date!

There are a few words that seem to be universal to every generation.  Words like "whatchamacallit" and "whatsit" and "whatsherface" or "whozit" seem to convey the same meaning to all listeners.  They need no explanation.  The are self-defining.

Such words are rare.  I feel it is important that we preserve them though.  They come in mighty handy at times.  So, whoevertheheckyouare that is reading this, I hope you find whatevertheheck you're looking for here.

We are getting close to the end of the alphabet.  Only a few more letters to go.  I have no idea where I will find my writing inspiration after that.  Tomorrow will be with the letter "X."  That one might be a little tough.  Help in the comments would be appreciated.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Voracious Appetite

There are things of which we can't seem to get enough.  We each seem to be designed with an appetite for certain things -- things that we crave.  For some, it might be a specific food or type of food like Mexican food.  For others it might be an activity such as football.  Whatever it is, we each seem to be wired for something.

I am a voracious reader.  I read during most of my spare minutes.  I read sometimes when I should be doing other things.  I read when I eat (unless there are others at the table) and I read each night before I go to bed.  I read in the mornings and I read at Noon.  I read online, I read magazines and I read books.  I read the banner scrolling across the bottom on FoxNews Channel.  I read labels.  I read T-shirts (although sometimes it is difficult to do because of the uneven surface behind them.....) I even read Dr. Seuss and this paragraph is beginning to sound like something he would have written.

There are other things that I crave.  Some things are just temporary though.  I may go through a period of craving vanilla ice cream and then I will get hooked on chocolate or something like Bluebell's Pecan Pralines and Cream (probably my all-time favorite.)  Sometimes I crave pie and at other times only cookies will satisfy me.  Then I go through periods when I don't want anything sweet (that usually doesn't last too long though.)

I think some of our cravings are signals from our body that we are short of some vitamin or mineral.  They are nutritional cravings.  I think other cravings are emotional.  We may need to be hugged or touched or just have someone spend time with us.  Sometimes our cravings are based in addictions such as adrenaline or drugs.  Whatever the craving, our appetites must be satisfied or the craving will only grow stronger and perhaps be met by unhealthy substitutes.

Voracious -- an interesting word suggested by a reader who chose to submit their suggestion via e-mail rather than in the comments.  Thank you!

Tomorrow I will use "W" to begin the title of my post.  As always, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments -- or e-mail them to me -- or leave them on Facebook (as Shari did).  I can't use them all but, I definitely appreciate the inspiration.  Perhaps what I really crave is my Muse.....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Using People, Loving Things

It's amazing what people accumulate over time.  We have garage sales to get rid of all the extra "stuff" that we don't want anymore -- or, we give it to Goodwill.  We have houses and garages and rented storage full of the things we thought we couldn't live without.

We love to have lots of things around us and we love the means to buy those things.  Sadly, those boats and ski mobiles and toys of all shapes and sizes often gather more dust than dents and dings from use.  They are status symbols.

It seems the more one has the more one wants.  As we climb the economic ladder we face more and more opportunities to leverage our time and our resources by hiring the time and resources of others.  Of course, it is important that we get the most for our money -- just like the best boat, the biggest house, the nicest car.  If those we hire don't perform according to expectations we can always get someone else who will.

The same goes for friends.  Why hang out with someone who doesn't pull their weight?  Who wants to spend time with someone who doesn't have similar tastes and interests to our own?  After all, if I have a boat and my friend doesn't, they will always be wanting to borrow mine or go with me to the lake.  It doesn't seem right.  They should provide their own boat.

As far as that goes, why should I invite someone over for an evening of socializing if they won't ever invite me?  If they don't feel their house is nice enough or maybe they are embarrassed because they don't live in the nicest neighborhood, why should I invite them over?  They won't ever invite me back.  They won't pull their own weight.

You know, it makes me think that things should take priority over people.  They have no expectations.  They let you use them as you choose.  When you're tired of them you can always replace them with something better.  It's easy to love such things.  They never have demands or problems that can't be fixed by a little money.

People on the other hand are constantly needing something.  They expect you to treat them nicely even when they don't deserve it.  They're just needy.  It's so much easier to love things and use people.  I just don't understand why anyone would expect anything else!

Ah, the ills of our society.......focus on self and not others.  I think that one has some pretty deep roots in history.

If I can stay on track, tomorrow's post will begin with "V."  Hmmmm.....what begins with "V?"  Suggestions are appreciated.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Time Well Spent

All of my life I have heard people speak of wasted time.  I'm not sure they all meant the same thing. 

We are all given the same daylight period, measured in hours and minutes, in which to accomplish the things that we choose.  We each determine how we will use that time.  We use a portion for performing the daily needs that we have and we sometimes sell a portion of our time to an employer.  The key is that we choose how we spend our time.

I know that some folks will argue with me over that last statement.  They will say that often, our time is taken up by things out of our control -- that it is not our own choice that allocates how we spend our time, it is the choice of circumstance and often of others.  I disagree.  We have a choice with every minute of every day.

This has been a very long, but very good week for me.  It started on Sunday with a flight to Austin in preparation for a very intense meeting on Monday.  On Tuesday I flew to Nashville for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) annual meeting and convention.  It is now Saturday evening and I fly out in the morning.

From the intensity of the meetings on Monday, through the continuing intensity of the Trade Show/Convention environment, I have invested myself in time spent with business partners, vendors, customers, friends and what I hope are future customers.  The days were long, the work intense and the potential rewards large, but there were constantly choices to be made.  How do I spend my time?

We must choose each day how to spend the time allotted to us.  Work is an important consumer of that time.  Family receives a share.  Friends, church, recreation and many, many other activities get pieces of that time we are allowed.  Yet, it is our individual choice as to how we prioritize.

Cherish each moment spent.  Use your time wisely.  Invest in others -- in their success and their happiness.  Spend time doing the things you enjoy and spend time creating -- building -- through the work of your hands.  Enjoy each moment because it is only given to you once.  Most of all, spend time with the ones you love.  Hold them close and let them know that they are special to you.  You never know when your time with them will be at an end. 


I know I am behind a few days.  I ran out of hours and minutes for blogging this week.  There were other things that were more important.  But, hopefully we are back on track to finish the alphabet in a few days.  In fact, I will probably post more than once a day for a couple of days until I get back in the routine.  The next post will begin with the letter "U."  I like the word ubiquitous, but that's probably not what I will use.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Staying Focused

Distractions are everywhere.  They rob us of our focus. 

Very few people are good at setting goals.  It is a discipline that takes years to develop.  Most people have a tendency to just drift through life going from one thing to another with no true plan or purpose.  One of the reasons for that is that even when our intentions are good, we allow ourselves to be distracted by things around us.

Distractions can be a phone call, an interruption at work, a game on the computer or a social network.  They can be events that are outside of our control that grab our attention.  They can be the result of inadequate rest.  They cause us to not do the things we should do.

One of the keys to success is staying focused.  Set goals and go after them.  Keep your eye on the goal and you will be much more likely to reach it.

See, I stayed focused and managed to get a post for the letter "S."  Tomorrow I hope to post something with the letter "T."  In the midst of a major convention that may be tough......hmmmm....."tough" starts with "T".......