Thursday, October 30, 2008

Birthday Blues

This is the worst time of year for me. In 11 days my birthday arrives and with it comes my usual birthday depression. I don't know what it is about my birthday that brings this on, but I seriously get depressed. Maybe I'm expecting a birthday with surprises and fun and always over expect what should happen. So this year I'm going to try and change it. There are many bloggers out there that do a Thursday Thirteen and in the spirit of that theme I'm going to give you 13 great things about my life:

  1. I have the greatest wife ever, never have I felt so loved
  2. There are five wonderful children in my family
  3. I have successfully achieved two college degrees (a first in my family) and have applied those degrees in my career
  4. I have been asked if I would coach Soccer again next season
  5. I have a stable job that I like and supports my family so my wife can be a stay at home mom
  6. I have learned to do things I never thought I would, like change an alternator, build cabinets and an adirondack chair
  7. I have taken golf lessons that have tremendously improved my game
  8. I'm still a Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fan (yes you can groan if you want)
  9. I had a great childhood growing up on 8 1/2 acres in Western New York
  10. I can fluently speak Spanish due to my mission to Chile from 1989 to 1991
  11. I have read and understand some of the underlying themes in the Dune series by Frank Herbert
  12. I live in the greatest nation in the world no matter who wins the election
  13. I could still go from dawn to dusk watching sports and never get tired of it

So there you have it, thirteen reasons why my life is not so bad. I think that I will be reviewing this list often over the next 11 days to keep my spirits up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

loves creating sequence diagrams

To My Children

Dear Levi, Ellie, Sam, Grace, and Lia,

It is October 27th, 2008 and I'm writing you this letter in an intensely political environment. This year we have the opportunity to elect a president for our country as well as representatives for ourselves. We also have a chance to vote on issues that are vital to our country. I'm writing you this letter to explain why I am voting the way I am.

This is an historic year. We have our first African American candidate for president. Yes Grace that means someone with your color is trying to become president, it is an amazing achievement and speaks volumes to how far we've come as a country. That candidate's name is Barack Obama and he is representing what is currently called the Democratic Party. His opponent is a war veteran just like your great-grandfather and your grandfather Boyd. His name is John McCain and he is what is currently called the Republican Party's candidate.

I am voting for John McCain. I am voting for him because he comes closest to the ideas that I think will lead this country forward and keep her as one of the world's greatest countries. I want to make clear why I am not voting for Barack Obama:

1. I am not a racist, this has nothing to do with the color of Mr. Obama's skin

2. I am not a bandwagoner. I will not jump on board a train just because it seems unstoppable

3. I have differences in opinion with the policies of Mr. Obama, among them are:

    a. I do not believe that the government should decide to whom my money goes. Mr Obama would tax the hard working people of this country at a higher rate and give that money as a "tax credit" to those who do not make as much. Do not misunderstand me, I believe that there should be a tax on everyone to help pay for things that are needed from a federal infrastructure standpoint. This includes roads, interstate commerce and treaties with other countries. I also believe that I should decide where my money goes to help others.

    b. I do not believe that if you tax businesses more they will create jobs and lower costs. I believe that if you treat businesses fairly and hold them accountable, they will do the things that will make profits rise. This means there have to be incentives for them to create jobs and employ skilled people to meet their goals. We have to realize that there are jobs that others in the world do better and at less cost and have to understand that if we want those jobs here then we have to be competitive for them.

    c. I do not believe that mandating health care coverage for everyone is a good idea. I do believe that health care coverage is needed. Government has consistently shown that it is awful in managing programs. All you have to do is look to Fannie May, Freddie Mac, Social Security and the out of control spending our government has been in charge of to see that. What I believe needs to happen is that frivolous lawsuits and the people who bring them to bear need to be held accountable so that the price of health care can be reduced. We see that there are physicians who will not perform tasks they are trained for because the risk of being sued is too great.

4. Barack Obama has consistently stated that he is running against the failed economic policies of the current presidential administration. However, I cannot find one policy that he is running against. Without that list I cannot see if Barack Obama voted for or against them before they were put into law.

Now for the biggest issue I see outside of the economy and the presidential choice, the issue of the definition of marriage. In Arizona we have Proposition 102 on the ballot this year. The proposition calls for an ammendment to the Arizona Constitution stating that the definition of marriage is the union between one man and one woman. For me this is the correct definition and given the current wins of those trying to destroy this definition I have to support Proposition 102. A major reason is the way society would see families and the fact that there are other rights that could be taken away from us if this definition isn't clear and concise. The big one is Freedom of Religion. If the definition of marriage were to change from the union of one man and one woman then it is very feasible that any religion that sees homosexuality as sin will be forced to accept homosexuality as doctrine. I cannot allow for man to dictate what God has deemed to be the right way. I know I will be seen as someone who hates homosexuals because of this stance. This is also incorrect. One of the people that I work closely with, have the greatest respect for and consider a good friend is homosexual. He knows my religious beliefs and we have had good discussions about it.

One other comment, I believe that everyone has the right to vote the way they believe is correct for them. I will not disparage someone because they believe differently than me. I will discuss my beliefs with them and why I believe it would be better to have my ideas and will listen to them do the same. I think this kind of interaction is healthy and will lead me to learn much.

I'm hoping children that I've explained the reasons why I am voting the way I am on November 4th, 2008. Know that I'm voting this way because I believe that what I am doing is right by you, by our family and by our country. I love you all.

Love Always,

Your Father

Monday, October 20, 2008

Learning About Fair

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the word Fair. As a father I want to make sure that my family understands this word and can use it appropriately. Luckily for us Friday night provided us with an opportunity to learn about the Fair. It started when I got a phone call from my wife asking if I wanted to go to the Fair, she said we could get free tickets! Well who am I to turn down free tickets to the Fair? So of course I told her yes.

I got home from work a little earlier than planned and so we packed the car, got our free tickets and headed to the Fair. I was thinking to myself that this was going to be a great family activity and that we would learn a lot. So it took us about 45 minutes to drive to the Fair. The first thing we noticed is that you have to pay to park at the Fair, this means that the word Fair does not imply the word free. $15 later our car was parked and we walked to the entrance. By now the excitement was building as this was the first time the whole family would experience the Fair.

We got inside and the first thing we needed to do was find Guest Services. The reason for this was because the kids were able to fill out a sheet of paper on books they had read and get up to three free rides. Again something for free is good and so after turning in the papers we set out to get on the free rides. Here again we found out that the word Fair does not imply equal as there are height limits to rides. This means that the two middle children would not be able to ride the same rides as the oldest. I was quickly learning that the Fair wasn't going to teach us a lot about the word Fair at all.

We rode a couple of rides including the oldest's first trip on a roller coaster. Dad of course (that's me) rode with him. It was a kiddie coaster and he wanted to ride in the front. There's only one problem with kiddie coasters and adults, yep pain! The cars are smaller, the cushions aren't that cushiony and of course the turns and bumps were meant for people weighing under 100 pounds. It just goes to show that rides aren't Fair at all and I've got some bruises to prove it.

Since it was about dinner time we needed to find some food. Of course this was going to be the perfect time to learn about Fair because how can food not be fair? Well after spending around $30 for a gyro, indian fry bread, two corndogs, a sausage dog and a snowcone you can imagine how fair this was. I don't think there was a food item under $4 and that was for a styrofoam cup of water. This was not turning out how I had hoped and I began to fear that my family would learn more about the word "Fare" than "Fair"

After dinner we went to see some of the other things at the Fair. There was a petting zoo which was free (again this is good), a kids "jungle" area that was more of a display than anything else and of course the obligatory 4-H showcase. All free so that was good. By now the 2 and one year old were getting sleepy so we had to use up the last of our tickets on a ride. This was an adventure as the 7, 5 and 4 year olds couldn't decide on a ride to share. Finally they decided to ride a ride they had ridden already and with that we headed for the exit.

Looking back, our family had a really fun time at the Fair, even if we didn't understand it's true definition. I think I might propose legislation to officially change the name from "Fair" to "Fare" just so that people aren't misled into thinking that things there are going to be equal. So the next time someone wants you to be "fair" make sure you get the spelling and definition just so you don't end up being "fare".

Monday, October 13, 2008

Running its course

My youngest daughter contracted a virus this week. On Saturday night she was taken to a clinic where the Dr. told us it had to "run its course" and to keep her hydrated. The virus comes with a fever as well. There is some pain which we believe it due to teething. Of course we are doing everything we can to keep her comfortable while this virus runs its course.

The American (some would say the world) economy has a virus as well. This virus won't be done until it has run its course. There are no medicines that can cure it. However there are things that can be done to keep the economy hydrated and to help with the fever and pain associated with it. The government is trying to do that with things like bailouts and injecting money into the system. The people can also help. The first thing we need to do is NOT panic! I don't know about everyone else, but when I'm sick and I panic I tend to make things worse. The same thing happens to the economy if we panic as well. So what can we do to help the virus run its course?

  1. Live within our means - this is the best thing we can do as it will insure we don't put ourselves into a situation where if the virus worsens there is a major impact to our lives.
  2. Put money away for a rainy day - We've all heard it before but it bears repeating. Save money now so that if something happens you can take care of it.
  3. Breathe - We all need to take a deep breath and realize that this is part of an economic cycle.
  4. Stop pointing fingers - Right now pointing fingers will just raise blood pressure and that can't be good for a sick economy.

The fact of the matter is the economy has contracted a virus and while we can do some things to ease the pain it has to run its course. It's going to hurt, but usually things that are worth it do in the beginning. I believe that the economy will be stronger for having gone through this just as my daughter will be stronger once her virus has "run its course".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Personal Introspection

Every 6 months the leaders of our church gather together for what we call General Conference. It is a time to hear from the leaders directly and to understand what the issues for the church are today. There are many sessions with several discourses given. There is a session where the priesthood members of the church get together. In this meeting the President of the church (also known as the church's Prophet) gave a discourse where he stated that we should:

Learn what we should learn.
Do what we should do.
Be what we should be.

President Thomas S. Monson
October 2008 General Conference Priesthood Session

Over the past several days this message has stuck with me. It is not just a message about learning, doing and being with regards to spritual matters. It is a message that can be applied to all aspects of our life. For me it opened my eyes to some things and what I need to be doing. I tried to determine what I should be learning, doing and being when I realized I had to define who I am first. I am several things among them:

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Son
  • Grandson
  • Friend
  • Neighbor
  • Employee
  • Co-worker

The list goes on and on as it does for all of us. So now I have defined who I am, so what to do about the three statements above? Well the most logical thing is a list for each. One way to do this list is to break it down by each adjective above and list out what I should learn, do and be as each one. I am in that process now. The order you see above is my prioritized order of who I am. A couple of examples as a husband I should:

  • Learn to be better at the relationship with my wife. Learn about how to listen to her better and work with her.
  • Do more with her and work along side her in this life more than I have, that means sometimes doing things she wants to do even if I don't.
  • Be an example to others of what a husband should be.

I'm sure there are many things I will learn as this process continues and I know that it will make me a better man for doing it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mending the gash

My son Levi had an accident this week. He was trying to get back a large stuffed bear from one of his friends when he fell backwards and hit his head on a rolling cart. The hit left about an inch long gash in the back of his head that required 10 staples to close up. He is doing fine and in a couple of days the staples will come out. He will have a scar, but because of where the gash is it won't show because of his hair.

The current bailout (or rescue plan) feels the same to me. It feels like we have been trying to get back our stuffed bear and took a fall that left a gash in our head. The staples to "fix" this gash is what our leaders are calling a bailout/rescue. Instead of an insignificant number of staples there are $700 Billon worth of staples to try and get the economy flowing. If it passes the bailout will leave a scar on the economy. The scar comes in the form of government ownership and functioning of the companies who take advantage of the bailout.

I'm not saying that this isn't needed. There is a gash that needs fixing. What I'm worried about is how ugly the scar will be. There have been several opinions on what will mend the gash. I don't think the bailout plan is the best. I believe there are other things that can be done to mend the wound and reduce the ugliness of the scar. One such plan is being touted by Dave Ramsey. The plan is here. The plan involves changes to Government Backed Insurance, Mark to Market Account Rules and the Capital Gains Tax.

Dave's plan does require some government spending, but $50 Billion is a lot easier to swallow than $700 Billion. It also does not require that there is Pork spending in order to have a majority in the Senate and House pass legislation. What we need now from our leaders is common sense and not knee-jerk reactions that will only help in the short-term. I'm hoping that there are enough leaders in Washington who will look to a common sense solution that will benefit us in the long term as well as help alleviate the current credit crisis.

Unlike my son whose staples will be removed after about a week, the economy has no such time frame for taking out the staples. It is unfortunate that we got into this situation. It is unfortunate that our leaders act like third graders and point the finger at each other. It is unfortunate that the thinking is that we need to go further in debt to relieve debt. This last statement is part of the American problem where we feel that it is OK to use debt to relieve debt. Things have to change and we as a people should let our leaders know that common sense is needed instead of knee-jerk reactions.