Thursday, October 31, 2013

Liberals vs. Conservatives

I have found that those who profess to be of the Liberal persuasion are often highly educated and think of themselves as intellectuals.  Those of the Conservative persuasion, on the other hand, are often business oriented and frequently have foregone advanced degrees.  What does that tell us?

There are a number of ways to look at this particular issue.  The best, I think, would be to look at the exceptions to the rule.  Are there those who are highly educated and considered "intellectual" who have a distinctly Conservative bent?  I think the answer is yes and names such as William F. Buckley, Jr. and Anne Coulter come to mind.  How about those who are less educated but have a Liberal bent?  Union members come to mind.

Let's look again at the first case -- Liberals with higher education and intellectual delusions.  When you dig into the background of many of these individuals you find either an angst rooted in guilt for the crimes of previous generations or, a "victimhood" mentality that is rooted in alleged grievances over past events in their lives.  There are still others who are merely cynical politicians who would dupe the ignorant because it is much easier than attempting to fool someone more knowledgeable.

What about the "typical" Conservative?  It appears to me they are usually business oriented and focused on "getting ahead" in this world financially.  They are primarily of the persuasion that less government is better.

Now, for the exceptions.  Highly educated Conservatives typically are those with no axe to grind.  They don't view themselves as guilty for their own "crimes against humanity" or for the alleged "crimes" of their predecessors.  They have a healthy self-image and feel that they alone control their destiny.

Liberals with less education, such as many Union members often see themselves as being the "little" guy against Big Business.  However, their collective bargaining is a tool that ruins many small businesses and favors Big Business.  Small businesses cannot afford the high wages demanded or the special privileges negotiated by Union members so, they don't survive.  Interesting isn't it?  The very vehicle created by "labor" to combat big business favors Big Business....

What does all of this amount to?  Liberals vs. Conservatives is more about feeling powerless vs. desiring empowerment.  I choose to empower myself.

Another way to look at this is in the philosophical beliefs of the individual.  This is often expressed in the form of religion.  I think there is a higher percentage of those with strong religious belief -- i.e. Judeo-Christian beliefs -- that fall into the Conservative category.  These are usually voters with strong social issue orientation such as anti-abortion, etc.

On the other hand, many Liberal voters are focused on anti-Judeo-Christian agendas.  They favor homosexuality, abortion, etc.  They hide those particular agendas behind a cloak of standing for the oppressed.  Their fervent issues-oriented philosophy is spectacularly bigoted against those who do not believe as they do, but have traditional values.  I find it extremely interesting that those who are first to cry out about race or other bigotry are often the most bigoted in their beliefs.

Conservatives are often labeled with the well-deserved self-righteous label.  They focus on legalism rather than the reality of life.  Liberals are often labeled with being "anti" traditional values.  This is well-deserved as well because their focus is typically solely on themselves.  I realize that Liberals will not agree with this assessment, but, I believe it nonetheless.  Their core agenda is focused on a specific issue such as homosexuality or abortion.  They profess to defend the oppressed because they feel that they are oppressed.  Liberalism encompasses the fringe elements that wish to band together.  They do not represent the majority, merely a coalition of minorities.

Is there a middle ground?  I doubt it.  We have an extreme bi-modality in beliefs in this country today that is a result of moral relativism.  There are those who believe in an absolute standard of truth and those who do not.  Between those two extremes there is no middle ground.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Raining Leaves

There is a giant oak tree in our back yard that creates a pleasant space of coolness in the summer, away from the blazing sun.  It is a Willow Oak and was estimated by someone who should know to be about 300 years old.  I have no clue as to its age, I just know that it is very big. 

As you look up into its massive branches it is difficult to realize how large it truly is.  I hung a rope over the lowest limb last summer to make a swing for my grandkids.  I tied a hammer to the end of the rope and threw it as hard as I could in order to get the rope over the limb.  After several tries I was able to work the rope so that the weight of the hammer would drag it over.  It was barely heavy enough to do so.  It took almost 25 feet of rope to reach from the ground to the limb.

When it rains excessively as in this part of the country it is sometimes prone to do, the weight of the water in the limbs creates the risk of them breaking and falling.  In the brief time we have lived here, two have poked holes in the roof and one fell on a patio chair and crushed it.  The task of keeping the twigs and other debris cleared from the yard is continuous.

The tree is home to numerous squirrels.  It is enjoyable to watch them scampering around on the branches.  Sometimes there will be 4 or 5 of them playing chase along the limbs high up in the canopy.  Last year there was a nest in a hole where a limb once grew many years ago and which is now hollow.  It was interesting to view the young squirrels as the developed and ventured forth from their snug home.

The leaves have started turning color on the tree.  It is a mixture of yellows and greens and tans.  Today, as the rain falls and the breeze stirs the branches, the most advanced of the changing leaves are turning loose and helicoptering to the ground.  It is a literal torrent of leaves falling and yet, looking up into the soaring branches, it is difficult to tell that there are any fewer than there were weeks ago.

Oh, the labors of Fall.....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Don't Order Chinese From a Mexican Restaurant"

The title is a quote of McGee on NCIS tonight.  It was in response to Dinozzo's comment regarding an uneasy feeling in his stomach.  Of course the reference was more a way of stating that he felt all was not well rather than he wasn't feeling well.

It is good advice though.  Would you go to a dentist to have your car checked?  How about going to a barber to get fitted for a new pair of custom boots?  You may get what you asked for but, it is highly likely the level of expertise will fall well below the level of your expectations -- perhaps to the level of total incompetence.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm thinking ObamaCare.  Oh, I think it goes by another name -- something like the Affordable Care Act.  Why, oh, why, would anyone think the government and a bunch of lawyers would know anything about health care??!  Even worse, why would anyone think the government would understand the concept of affordable??!  They can't even balance their own checkbook.  It makes about as much sense as going to a Mexican Restaurant and ordering Chinese food.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Still the Writing Bug

For whatever reason, I still have the writing bug.  It seems there isn't much substance to what I am writing, but sometimes my meandering thoughts turn into something that I at least deem worthwhile -- public opinion is another matter.

I wonder if there is finally enough momentum building to hold the Administration in Washington accountable for their malfeasance and criminal activity?  The backlash in the Heartland is certainly growing.  I wonder if there is similar growing discontent on the disconnected coasts of this great country?

Why is there such a difference in attitude and thought between the people in the agricultural areas of the United States and those in the cities?  Is it the Protestant work ethic?  Is it adherence to Christianity?  Is it a "closeness" to the land?  I wish I knew.  It might help us to solve the seemingly irreconcilable differences between us.  Instead, the map remains distinctly red and blue -- not so much to mark the vote along party lines as it is the difference in culture and thought patterns.  The voting is symptomatic of a deeper cultural rift.

Elected officials have learned to play to the cultural differences.  Power accretes to power.  Do the values of elected officials reflect the values of those they represent?  Or, is it that the elected officials reflect the values of the geographic area they represent in order to gain power?  I suspect it is power that drives, not the values.

If that is the case, there really is no difference in members of either party.  They merely wear the cloak of the sheep over their wolf hide.  "We the people," is no longer home to the seat of power, it is a "fig leaf" covering for the unconscionable acts of the few to submit the many to tyranny.

How do "We the people" return to our role of holding the reins of power in this country?  That is the question we must all face and answer within our own hearts.  What price freedom?  What cost submission to those who would rule autocratically?  Slavery is not always chains.

Normally Abnormal -- Or, Do I That Backward?

I really don't know what normal is anymore.  Just when I start to see the edges of the rut rising on either side, they disappear into a trackless wilderness.  Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration -- but, not too much.

I am really not good at routine.  I want variety.  And yet, I find myself trapped within patterns of behavior that grow repetitive with time -- until they change.  Then, I find myself trapped within new patterns that become repetitious.  But, something upsets the pattern and change occurs until I find myself once again trapped within a pattern.....but, then, I repeat myself.

The familiar is comfortable.  The familiar leads to no place new.  So, if you don't like the way things are quit doing the same old things!  Do something new and different.  Escape your rut.  Head out across the trackless wilderness.  But, it's a good idea to leave a few breadcrumbs just in case.....

Sometimes I deliberately try to escape my rut.  I start to see the same old familiar pattern and I just decide to do something different.  A few times in the past I have escaped the rut with a career change.  No, not just a job change -- a career change.  Talk about send you skidding off across the landscape -- that will do it.  There are other times, though, when I have been kicked out of my rut.  The biggest one was being fired from a job of nine years.  Sometimes big companies just like to change things because they want to.  It may not have anything to do with performance.  It might be they just don't like honesty....

There are other times when the daily routine is interrupted by unexpected events.  It could be a visitor, an illness, a death, or, maybe a sick animal.  It can be backed up plumbing, a limb falling through the roof, or even a simple phone call.  OK, enough of examples.  You get the point.  What is routine?

I office from home.  That in itself throws a kink in things quite frequently.  Especially since I am rarely there; I am usually out making customer visits or sales calls.  So, what in the world is the point of this post?  I guess it is that I can't decide whether the normal for me is abnormal or, if I am just abnormally normal.  Does it really matter?

I think it is time to escape this rut.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rainy Weather

It rained last night and the timing was perfect.  I sowed winter rye grass in my pasture just before the rains came.  Well, to be more precise, my son-in-law sowed part of it when they were here last weekend and I sowed more this weekend.

The rain was a little harder than I had hoped.  We received a few perfect gentle showers and then it came in a couple of "frog stranglers" that probably washed the seed around in the pasture.  It will make for some interesting patterns of growth.  The seeds are light enough to ride on the water as it washes across the field until it pools and there, they will wash against the shore of the tiny puddles until the sun comes out and dries them.  I will be able to see all of the low spots in the pasture because of the way the rye grass will grow.

It makes me think of how people are subject to similar occurrences.  Things occur in our lives that send us drifting at times unless we are rooted into the soil.  We drift until we settle into a pool that no longer reflects where we should be, but where we have gone due to our lack of an anchor.

The lack of anchor is most obvious in those who have drifted into crime, or dependence on drugs or alcohol.  It is less obvious in other areas but, there nonetheless.  Bad habits, chronic destructive behavior and perhaps even homelessness are symptoms of the drift from being caught in the currents that wash over us.

The only solution is to be anchored in something that can withstand those currents.  For me, that anchor is Jesus. 

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.  Colossians 2:6-8

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Writing Mood

Sometimes I get in the mood to write.  That mood doesn't always correlate well with ideas about which to write!  That's when I just start typing and see what happens.  It might be a totally random post or it might turn into something that somehow fits together into a cohesive whole.

As you might have guessed, this is one of those times.  It is my second post for today and I am typing away without yet knowing where I am going.

I think it is all the political stuff buzzing around in my head.  There is so much discontentment today with what is going on with our government -- from all sides of the political landscape -- that I see momentum building for change.  If you set a pot of water on the burner to boil and keep the lid on it, pressure begins to build until eventually, the water vapor tries to escape.  If you just leave the lid lightly on, the steam escapes around the edges and eventually the water boils away.  But, if you clamp down on the lid -- such as with a pressure cooker -- the pressure rises until it eventually escapes by blowing the lid off the pot.

I think the pressure in the political pot is building right now.  I don't see it escaping.  When will it explode?

There is a movie coming out soon called, "Ender's Game."  If you haven't read the book I would encourage you to do so before the movie comes out.  It is actually the first book in a series.  I enjoyed the book a lot but, not so much the sequelae. 

I mention "Ender's Game" because in the series of books by Orson Scott Card there is discussion of the political undertow which is fomented by two of the characters who become known as Locke and Demosthenes in their anonymous role as political pot-stirrers.  It is a commentary on how the written word can create the environment for upheaval, coup or, revolution.

Perhaps that is why I have the urge to write.  I like to stir the pot.  But, my reason for stirring the pot is more to stimulate thinking, not to encourage political upheaval.  If people will learn to think critically about what they hear and read, they will begin to see the patterns of power and how some would manipulate the masses for their own gain.  That manipulation is irrespective of political persuasion.  Follow the money.

This week it was announced that George Soros was signing on and providing a sizeable contribution to promote Hillary Clinton in a bid for the Presidency on the Democratic ticket.  I am continually amazed that the party that promotes itself as looking out for the poor, the disenfranchised and downtrodden is controlled by some of the wealthiest individuals in the world.  Believe me, it isn't because they are altruistic in their motivation, it is because they are among the guiltiest at amassing wealth at the expense of those very individuals they pretend to protect. 

The Republicans are just as guilty.  Power flows to money.  Money manipulates power -- regardless of political party.

Maybe that IS why I write.  I want to combat the concentration of power in the hands of the large multi-national corporations.  I don't have the money to do so, but, I can write.  Hopefully there will be some who are persuaded to question their support of those who have been corrupted most by the greed which drives power to amass more power through manipulation of wealth.  Don't blindly follow.  Don't believe those who say you are powerless to do anything.  Fight against the corruption that controls.  Vote.  Write letters.  Engage others in conversation about the things that really matter.

Which brings me to the One thing that really matters.  Until people understand and recognize that there is an overarching Truth, they will fall for anything.  That Truth is Jesus.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

Changing Seasons

I always enjoy the change of seasons.  I think most people probably do.  I enjoy seeing the leaves turn from green to oranges, yellows and reds.  I like the coolness on the breeze.  We have not yet seen frost in our part of the world but it is coming soon.

It isn't just the Fall that is enjoyable.  I also like the transition between the other seasons.  The move from Fall to Winter and then Winter to Spring, Spring to Summer and finally, Summer back to Fall.  Each one is a welcome transition. 

Is it that we get tired of the sameness?  Maybe it is an innate sense for the need to change.  Or, maybe it is just the cyclical realization of the fruits of progress.  There is a bit of agriculturalist in all of us.  The changing seasons signal to the farmer that there is a proper time for all things.  Spring is for planting, Summer for growing, Fall for Harvest and Winter for rest and preparation.

We all experience such things in our life no matter our occupation.  Each new job brings a time of learning, a time of productivity, a time to experience the fruits of our labor and a time of preparation for whatever is next.

Our life is the same.  We are born into a Spring of learning and wonder.  We grow and mature through a Summer of career and productivity.  We mature into a Fall of enjoying the fruits of our labor in retirement, children and grandchildren.  We then enter into the Winter of life where rest comes.  The real question is then one of preparation for the next cycle.  What comes next?

For many people today, the next, sadly, is merely the end of life -- at least in their own mind.  They have nothing to look forward to because they believe only in themselves.  It is only those who believe in God who see the twilight of life as preparation to enter into the next Spring which is one of Eternal Life.

I see myself as being in late summer and entering into the Fall of my life.  I want to remain productive and fruitful as long as I can.  But, I am confident that I will eventually enter the Winter knowing that it is merely the final preparation for eternal Spring.  Are you?

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”  John 14:1-4

Friday, October 25, 2013

Technical Difficulties

I can't get into my primary e-mail account this morning.  The hosting service is experiencing Technical Difficulties.  Don't you just hate when that happens?

Actually, it is probably a gift.  E-mail has come to dominate so much time in the corporate world that it is often difficult to accomplish anything for responding to or, creating e-mail. 

It is easier than a phone call because you don't have to deal with all the polite conversational things that we always go through on the phone.  The trouble is that what might take 5 minutes in a phone call ends up taking half the day in e-mail traffic.

But, there is always the individual for which it is good to have a written "trail" so that there is accountability.  Phone conversations sometimes have the wonderful distinction of deniability.  "That's not what you said," comes to mind.  If it is written, there is little doubt as to content although possibly of intent.

It's too bad that we can't clearly understand each other.  That occurs even in face-to-face conversations.  Because of diverse backgrounds and experiences, communication is often difficult.  What one party says is not necessarily what the other hears -- or understands.  It isn't just a language issue, it is a "box" issue.  What I mean is that we understand things based on the context of our own life -- whether it be technical language, or just experiential understanding.

Discernment; that is what is missing.  How do you discern what is correct and what is incorrect?  Too often statements are taken on faith that the intentions are good and honorable.  There is only one way to gain discernment -- prayer.  God will grant what you ask if you ask in faith.  Just don't expect it to blossom in you full-grown and immediately.  Sometimes the ground needs plowed, the seed needs planted, the pant watered and the weeds cleared away before you "discern" that it is there.  That takes time.

24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  John 16:24

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween and Television

Why are we covered up with horror movies on television for the entire month of October?  What is this fascination with horror?  I don't get it.  I prefer to avoid them, but that means there really isn't much to watch.

The darkness seems to be growing.  Everywhere there is fascination with the occult and ancient religions.  There is talk of a one-world religion being debated within the United Nations.  I honestly haven't investigated to see if it is true -- the point is that it is being talked about.

Personally, I prefer the light.  I like daytime.  The best time of day is dawn as the light slowly rises in the east until the sun peeks over the horizon.  I fear that we are approaching sunset instead.

I pray that I will be a point of light as the darkness closes in.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heavenMatthew 5:14-16

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Homemade or Recycled?

Sometimes things accumulate that appear to have useful value and yet they are really just leftover from something else.  Some might call it junk and dispose of it without a second thought.  Others might take things to a recycling station to be melted down and re-combined into something else.  I guess I'm more like my grandparents who went through the Depression.  If it still has utility, I tend to save it until I figure out just how it is that I really need it.

We feed our cows a protein supplement that comes in a plastic tub.  The supplement itself is baked into a hard molasses based product.  We set the tubs out for the cattle to eat as they see fit and when they are empty we pick them up.  They seem to accumulate very quickly.

I have wondered for some time what to do with them.  I use a few for trash around the barn.  I have used them to set feed bags in so the "critters" couldn't get to them.  I have stacked them in the corner.

I decided that I could turn them into extra feed bunk space for my cattle.  They aren't ideal, but they work.

I just built a simple, but sturdy wood frame into which to set the tubs.  It seemed to turn out as I had hoped.  I just needed a couple more sets of them.

This past weekend my daughter and her family came to visit.  I decided the kids might enjoy helping me to build another one of these units and so we did.  Emma (6 years old) was a good help in that she could do lots of "fetching" and "holding" of needed items.  Eli (3 years old) wanted to do everything but wasn't quite big enough.  It turns out though that he is a "whiz" at putting bolts with the proper washers and nuts so that I could use them.  He would take a bolt out of the box, put on 2 flat washers and a lock washer and then start the nut on the end.  I have to admit that it was pretty impressive for his age.

Millie (15 months old) was supposed to be taking a nap but, our banging and hammering and sawing were keeping her awake and she decided to join us.  She found just the thing to keep her busy.  She pushed around a tiny buggy (I think it was a doll baby buggy) and loaded the wood scraps into it.  They made many trips around the garage as we worked. 

My son-in-law, Aaron, of course was in the thick of it.  I basically just said, "I want another one like that," and got out of the way.  It's nice to have good help.

The next day, after all had gone home, we set the troughs up in the pen for the cattle.

The cattle enjoyed the additional space.

Who needs expensive toys to keep the kids happy?  Just give them something useful to do and they are not only happy, they can see value in their accomplishment.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Creating Controversy

Sometimes the best way to find out if anyone is listening is to say something controversial.  It can't be "in-your-face" controversial, but a simple values-based statement.  Generalizations are usually a good place to start.

A simple one would be, "People get fat because they eat too much."  Try it and see what happens.  There will be people who react that it is really a hormonal imbalance, or it is lack of exercise, or it is eating the wrong kinds of food.  Probably there is evidence to back each and every position.  Ferreting out the truth is sometimes difficult.

Generalizations are handy.  It saves us from having to go into complex analysis and in-depth reasoning.  After all, simple is better, isn't it?

I think in many ways our society has become hyper-sensitive to accusation.  We live in the age of blame.  Statements that are meant as lazy generalizations are often perceived as targeted accusations of a personal nature.  Reactions are a result of personal offense taken when instead, the response should be introspection and examination of the truth contained in the statement.

I had a fairly volatile temper when I was young.  The years have burned off most of the volatility and it is much easier now for me to think rather than to react.  If confronted by something offensive I am learning to ask questions such as, "Why does this person think the way they do?", "What is the real issue here -- are we just looking at a symptom or at a cause?", "Is there data that I am missing that would change my position?", "Am I right and them wrong or, is the truth somewhere in the middle?"

When we fail to ask these and similar questions, we often jump to conclusions that are incorrect.  The offending person may be having a bad day and really meant no offense; they were just venting their frustration on a handy target.

I suspect there is something deeper in the tendency today to hyper-sensitivity toward perceived offense.  I believe it is rooted in selfishness.  It is rooted in the culture of I/me.  If the world revolves around me and someone doesn't see things my way they are attacking me personally.  The solution is to think of others.  We must care enough about others that we can see things from their perspective or we will eventually be offended by everyone.  After all, offense is our attitude, not theirs.

1 Corinthians 13
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Allies and Frienemies

Have you ever heard the term "frienemies"?  It means someone who pretends to be your friend but is really your enemy.  I think it goes back to the old saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

It is interesting that sometimes in business your co-workers can be your enemy because they are either jealous of your success and wish to undermine it or, they are corporate climbers and willing to "throw anyone under the bus" if it advances their own position.  They are the most dangerous of types because they appear to be your friend and ally on the surface, but they will jump at any chance to undermine you if it suits their own cause.

That is why you keep them close -- not close in the sense of close friend, but close in the sense of you want to always know what they are doing.  If you can keep a close eye on them you can often offset or head off their efforts to undermine you.  It is admittedly a bit Machiavellian, but a necessary thing in the corporate world.

On the other hand, the people you often least expect can be your strongest allies.  They might be a competitor or they might be a customer.  Occasionally they are within your own organization.  Whenever you find one, you should do all in your power to help them to achieve their own goals -- unless of course they are your competitor and then they are probably your ally because of their ineptitude at their own job.

So, what does this have to do with anything?  I don't know, or at least won't publicly admit.  But, it brings to mind a Bible verse.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."  Matthew 10:16

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Frantically Doing.....Nothing

Don't you just love it when there seems to be
More work than you can possibly do?
When you look at the list of the things to get done
And know that it all falls on you?

Have you noticed how often you almost shut down
When you think of the mountain ahead?
And the great piles of work that are stacked all around
Fill you with nothing but dread?

And you know that you must just dig in and get done
All those things that you know you must do
But, distractions abound and those things on the list
Don't get done but, you add something new?

It becomes overwhelming, this growing task list
With scratch-outs, check-marks and lines
That mark the progress you think you have made
On those chores all entangled like vines.

And isn't it strange at the end of the day
When you take stock of the battles you've won
How your pen full of ink finds no thing to cross off
Because of the list not a thing has been done?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Little Misdirection?

If there is something that you want to hide yet know it is highly visible for all to see, what do you do?  You get people to look somewhere else.  It is called misdirection.

The Magician's art is based on misdirection.  They cause you to focus attention away from where the real action is occurring.  When you aren't looking they perform a trick that appears to be "magic."  We don't see where we are not looking.

Misdirection -- deception -- has been part of the "toolbox" of the politician ever since the beginning of politics.  It is extremely effective today since the attention span of the average voter is a 30-second sound bite.  With the focus of Congress on funding/debt/health care, what is really going on?

I wonder what we aren't supposed to be seeing right now.....

4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.  Colossians 2:4

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sifting Through the Clutter

The political rhetoric is at a fever pitch during this budget standoff.  Accusations fly almost continuously between the participants in the battle in Washington as well as between partisans of the contending political parties.  The question I continually ask is how is the average citizen to find out what is real and what is political positioning or propaganda?

I find it sad that most of the citizens of the country want the same things yet, the things they want become the pawns of the politicians.  There are philosophical differences in how most of us believe such things should be achieved.  Affordable health care is one of those things we all want.  Those on the "political left" believe that the only way to achieve that is for the government to provide it.  Those on the "political right" believe the only way to achieve it is in a free market.  Those in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, see the issue primarily as a way to secure a voter base.  Many in Washington see it as a way to increase their personal power.

How do you filter the rhetoric and determine the true motives of individuals who are prominently stating their positions on the issues and "doing battle" in the public arena?  What is in a man's (or woman's) heart?  What drives them?

Those on the left have for years resorted to name-calling whenever faced with logically defensible arguments in opposition to their dogma.  I see many on the right falling into the same pattern of behavior.  What has happened to reason on the part of the public?  Voters are bombarded with more information than ever before in the history of our country and yet seem woefully uninformed when it comes to the facts of various issues.  Perhaps it is the overwhelming amount of information that they must deal with?  Information is not fact.  It is data that has been shaped by someone who wishes to influence others to their opinion. 

As We The People seek to sift through the deluge of information I pray that we do so with the discernment that can come only from God. 

28 They are a nation without sense,
there is no discernment in them.
29 If only they were wise and would understand this
and discern what their end will be!

Deuteronomy 32:28-29

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Back to the Herd

Yep, I got her penned -- the cow that I needed to cull.  I have a little trap with good grass and water that is two fences away from the rest of the herd.  I put her in there to hold until sale day. 

I must admit that I was a little nervous about her staying in.  Yes, the fences are good but this particular cow could run the high hurdles in the Olympics and beat the field without touching a hurdle.  That was Wednesday night.  Thursday morning she was in with the other cows.  I couldn't find a broken or downed wire or anything.  I think she's a ghost.

What is it that makes us tend to be herd animals?  People are the same as that cow.  We want to think, and often express, that we are independent creatures -- that we do our own thing in spite of what others think.  The reality is that we all follow in pretty much the same paths.  We hang together.  Why else do we have huge cities scattered across the globe?

There are a lot of ways that I could go with this post, but I think I will go with the question of why do we seek companionship?  What is it about the way we are made that makes us desire to be with others rather than alone?

Some might say that it is fear born in the primal beginnings of our race that sought protection in numbers.  Perhaps that is correct.  I choose, however, to believe that God has created within us a desire for companionship with Him.  We need Him.  We need His protection, His guidance, His wisdom.  Within our innermost being we need God. 

It is difficult to see Him at times.  Yet, we each have a choice.  It is the choice of faith.  On a daily basis we have the opportunity to rely on ourselves or the frailty of other humans or, we can rely on God.  I choose God.  I have yet to meet a human that deserves my faith.  We all fail.  We all need the protection of the herd.  Only God stands beyond and above.

1 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.  Psalm 93:1-2

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Culling the Cows

One thing that is often neglected by smaller cattlemen is the systematic culling of their herd.  Improvement comes by removing those which are unproductive or inferior and keeping the best, most productive animals.  The task can be difficult in older, well-established herds. 

The first thing necessary to making good culling decisions is good record-keeping.  It is important to be able to identify the progeny of specific cows and to track their performance.  There are plenty of experts who have written at length of the specifics of selection criteria.  But, without records, applying them to your herd is difficult.

My herd is young.  All of my cows are 4 to 6 years of age.  They should have a number of productive years ahead of them.  It is important that they have a good calf each year in order to pay their own way.  After all, they must pay for their own groceries and upkeep, that of their calf, and pay for themselves over time.  Hopefully, they will do so in only 3 or 4 years at most.  Obviously, the more quickly they pay for themselves, the more profitable they become.

This year my culling decision was easy.  I do not have good comparative data for the cows this first year since they all had a calf whose sire was unknown.  Next year I will have better data since I now control both sides of the genetic makeup of the progeny.  However, there is one very simple criteria that does apply; those cows which are not pregnant have no way of contributing toward their feed or upkeep, let alone pay for themselves.  Fortunately for me only one is "open" this Fall.  She will be going to town on Monday.

The calf which a cow bears is her fruit.  We each should be fruitful as well.  Fruit can be measured in many ways.  In the workplace it can be the product of your labor.  For a Christian, fruit is a measure of our Spiritual productivity. 

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.  Genesis 1:11

9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”  Luke 13:9

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  John 15:8

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  Romans 7:4

Go be fruitful.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Seussically Lost

Have you ever had one of those times
When there is something you just have to find
So you look and you look
In each cranny and nook
Searching for that thing you just can't find?

In each cranny and nook
As you look and you look
You find all the things you thought were lost.
So, you set them aside to the place where you know
You can find them next time when you look.

And have you noticed that when you look for the lost thing
And you search and you search as you go
The place where you find it
Is always the last place
You would think is the place you should go?

Hmmm......sounds like a good place to quit.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:8-10

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Calling In The Expert

Like most people in this world, I firmly believe that I know how to do my job.  I believe that I am the most qualified and the best equipped for it.  I believe that no one can do it as well as I can.  But, not really.

I do know a lot about raising cattle.  I have built my career around the cattle industry.  I have probably been to more seminars and producer meetings than most beef cattle specialists.  I feel confident that I know what applies to my operation and what doesn't.  I have a small commercial cow/calf operation.  It isn't stocker calves.  It isn't seedstock.  It isn't bucking bulls or anything else so specialized.  I have cows from which I expect a calf every year so that I can pay the bills and build some equity.

But, just like everyone else that has a business -- and I treat my cattle operation like a business -- there are things that I walk by every day that I just accept because I am not really paying that close of attention.  It is wise to bring in a set of outside eyes to take a look occasionally.  Not only do they see the things we take for granted that are important, they also help us to prioritize how we invest our time and capital.  Experience has taught me that it is better to pay a little extra to get it right the first time than to have to do something over again.

I brought in a Nutritionist today.  We spent some time talking and then we talked some more as we looked over my operation.  At the end of the day I felt pretty good about what I had accomplished.  But, there is room for improvement.  He told me that I am already doing better than about 90% of his clients.  That was positive.  The problem is that last 10%.  That's the part that will take me from being just a good operator to being exceptional.  My goal is to be in that top 1%.

Why is that important?  Why do I want to be in the top 1% rather than just above average?  I think it comes down to the way God intends for us to live as Christians.  Good enough just isn't good enough.  We are called to be the best.  We are called to seek each day to live as Jesus would.  I know without a doubt that perfection is not in me, but, I believe I can do better than I currently do.

Calling in the expert on nutrition for my cattle is an investment.  Nutritionists charge for their services.  Calling on Jesus for my personal life is expensive too.  It requires surrender of my self.  But, the phone call is free.  It's a matter of daily -- no, constant -- contact with Him.  It's called prayer.  Yeah, it works.  I know for a fact it has worked in my life so many times that I can't begin to keep up with it.

I don't think I'm anywhere near that top 10% of "Christians", but hopefully I am getting better on a daily basis.

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Dominant Bull

Have you ever seen a couple of bulls fighting out in the pasture?  It happens occasionally.  Usually it is before or after the breeding season.  They are done with their primary job and have to burn off some of the pent-up energy I guess.

Usually it's a lot of pushing and shoving and bellowing and pawing the dirt but, rarely are there injuries.  It's funny because often when the bulls start fighting there will be a few of the cows pick a fight with some of their pasture mates too.  It can turn into a three-ring circus pretty quickly. 

It seems to me that's what is going on in Washington right now.  The Republican Bull and the Democrat Bull are pushing and shoving and making a lot of noise about who is in control.  The media is piling on and picking sides (a lot like the cows referenced above) and adding to the hoopla.  Then there are the inevitable social media battles where fans of each side post and re-post the propaganda put out by their side.  It would be humorous if it wasn't so serious in the potential ramifications of what they are all fighting about.  Just remember, God has given Satan dominion over the world.  I expect nothing good to come out of any of it.  Fortunately, although living in this world, I consider myself no longer a part of it.

"We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." 1 John 5:19

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Today's Post Delayed Due to NCIS & NCIS-LA

I don't watch much television.  But, I have to admit that I do enjoy watching both NCIS and NCIS-LA.  It seems that I am frequently out of town on Tuesday nights when they are on but DVR captures them for when there is opportunity.  Tonight, however, I am watching.

I don't find much on television that I care for.  If on occasion I do watch it is often that I am asked a question about what I supposedly just saw and I can't answer because I haven't really been paying attention.  It's just noise.  Something visually distracting.

It took me a lot of years to realize that what I fed my mind did much to shape my thought and my attitude toward things.  I first realized it when viewing news programs.  I decided at one time to go for 30 days without watching television or reading a newspaper and it was enlightening.  My mood improved and I found that most of what went on in the world really didn't impact me anyway.  Interestingly enough, I picked up enough from various conversations that I knew as much as anyone else about the events any way.

Much of television is mindless entertainment.  Keyword: mindless.  Mind-numbing might be a better description.  I think people often forget to think for themselves because they constantly feed themselves with what others think or say. 

Some of the best advice I ever received was from my Dad in my 8th grade year.  I think I've related this before, but it fits here too.  He always read the newspaper at the breakfast table.  I would get the comics and read them.  One day he started asking me about my opinion on various world events.  I seemed to have only one answer, "I don't know."  He said, "Well, if you don't form your own opinions someone else will form them for you." 

Since that time I have always tried to do my own thinking.  I wish others would too.  I get pretty frustrated with people who mindlessly parrot what others say and never dig into issues themselves.  The current ObamaCare/Government Shutdown issue is a great case in point.  I hear a lot of rhetoric that is mere regurgitation of Political Party pablum fed to the people via various mediums -- particularly social media. 

By-the-way, has anyone other than the lawyers who wrote it actually read the health care bill??

Well, I guess this post is only a little delayed.  It was typed while watching television.  I am sort of paying attention.....