Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

I have two little girls that are quite excited for the new year. I'm not sure what makes this year any different than last year. It may just be the fact that they are getting a little bit older and a little bit more aware each year. I'm sure some of it has to do with the fact that we tend to do a lot of countdown calendars in our house. We countdown to vacations, when family members are going to be visiting, birthdays, and most recently, we had a countdown to Christmas. We didn't do a countdown to New Year's because I didn't think it was a big issue for them and there's not a lot of time between Christmas and New Year's. A little conversation at supper tonight set me straight and showed me that they have more in mind.

It started with a simple question from my girls asking what we could do special for the start of the new year. I was glad to see that they wanted to somehow mark the start of what we hope will be another great year. I quickly realized it was merely a chance for cake. They even attempted to make a case that it's been a long time since we last had cake. (We've had cake and brownies in the house numerous times in the last few weeks because of various potlucks for work, school, and church.) They went on to explain that it was going to be a long time before they would have cake again if we didn't do something for New Year's. (One daughter's birthday is in a week and the other's is in February.) Although their argument wasn't supported with valid facts, it was a well thought out argument considering their audience. They know full well that once they put the thought of cake in their dad's head, we will have cake.

I have been guilty of using the same argument myself. At a previous employer, they use to bring in a cake for every employee's birthday. I noticed that we seemed to have a stretch from early October to late December when nobody had a birthday. As a joke, (ok - only partially joking and more seriously) I suggested that we start having cake on November 10th for the Marine Corps birthday. From then on, we had cake every year for the Marine Corps birthday. I'd like to think that it was my Marine Corps command voice that did the trick, but in reality, I think it was just because people like cake. It's a valuable (well, kind of) lesson that my two little girls have learned at an early age. The power of cake.

So, if something in your life just isn't going right in this new year, get a cake. There will still be the obvious reasons to have cake like birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries this year, but don't forget to celebrate some of the minor wins with cake. For instance:  You're hungry and it's easier to make a cake than enchiladas. You didn't lose your keys even once today. You're having a good hair day. (An easy one for me since I don't really have any hair.) Your socks actually match. It's a Tuesday. I could go on and on, and could probably even fabricate a plausible defense of any of those, but I will let you decide when to have cake this year. Have a wonderful new year and enjoy the cake! Until next time....

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Truly Terrifying

It's next to impossible to make it through the day without being bombarded with some news coverage regarding some form of terror. From shootings and rioting to ISIS and North Korean hackers. It doesn't help any that you have to wade through all the media bias to actually figure out what is really happening. I thought I'd put my thoughts out there as I read something last night that partially explains the terror as well as something we should find the most terrifying....but I'll get to that one last.
I'll start with the "traditional" form of terrorism. ISIS seems to be getting a lot of coverage and I'm sure they're loving it because it only adds fuel to the fire. (Not the reason I have flames in the post photo.) Unfortunately, I haven't been hearing enough regarding what we've always known to be true: Terrorism only works if you give into their tactics and/or run and hide at every action.

It all really started irritating me a few weeks ago when ISIS threatened the families of our men and women serving in the armed forces. Our own military even started issuing statements encouraging members of our military to scrub their social media accounts to protect them from possible identification and attack. I agree with maintaining operational security by not posting sensitive data, but is it too far to say to completely scrub your accounts of any mention of your service to our country? I would never hold it against anyone for doing that under the better safe than sorry principle, but I am glad to see most of my friends haven't. I know the first thing I did was change my Facebook profile picture and cover page to reflect my former service as a USMC Grunt. I am proud of my my prior service and I want to show support for those still serving.

More recently, we have all heard about the hack into Sony and the subsequent threat by the hackers of terroristic acts if they allow the movie "The Interview" to be shown at theaters. I am a little disappointed that the theaters chose not to screen the film and then Sony followed suit across the board. Like I said before though, I can't really hold it against them because it's not my business that would most certainly be held accountable if something happened during a screening. The sue happy society we live would certainly have a field day with that. I did get a little chuckle when Obama criticized Sony for pulling the movie because it's bad precedent to give into a dictator's terrorism. Something about our dictator in chief releasing more Gitmo terrorists while saying that with a straight face just blows my mind. I do have to say I agree with him this one time though. (I feel like I should wash my mouth out with soap now.) If we do cower to terrorists, where will it end? Release the movie on Netflix and the hackers will hack in to get the client data on all Netflix users and target them individually. Don't release the movie at all and they'll just find something else to threaten.

As I said at the start of this post, the truly terrifying thing I read last night is partially to blame for all this terror, but also more terrifying in itself. I don't recall the exact title of the post I read, but it was something along the lines of "religion is dying". It went to explain that atheism is growing in leaps and bounds. I won't attempt to quote the statistics because I don't recall them and I don't care enough to verify the sources. I know just from what I see in society that it's probably true. I can't say that atheists are the cause for all the problems because that's not true. I know some very nice people with really good morals and a great sense of civic duty that simply don't believe there is a God. I also know that just because you do believe in God doesn't mean that you are perfect. It all boils down to sin and we all have plenty of it. The biggest difference between the believers and the atheists is that the believers only have to deal with the terror during our relatively short time here on earth. The fact that death, regardless of being terror related or not, will bring us great peace, provides us with the strength to handle the earthly terror. The atheists, even if directly attacked by terror here on earth, are experiencing the "best" they will ever experience for all of eternity because it goes downhill very fast for them. (The reason for the flames in the photo above.)

I don't want to end this post on a low note, so I will finish with this: I felt this week was fitting for my rambling on this topic as it is the week of Christmas. Once again, something that is so much better for us believers. The birth of our Savior being celebrated this week is a beautiful reminder that even though our world has been degrading more and more each year, we have paradise to look forward to when our time on Earth ends because of Him. I am overjoyed that even my preschool and kindergarten aged girls can understand and explain that with clarity and certainty. Have a very Merry Christmas and remember the "terror" of this world is short and nothing to fear. Until next time....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Blogger Qualifications

When I started this blog about six months ago, I started out with a list of my own concerns about writing a blog ranging from what I would write about to who would actually read my posts. I had a similar conversation with one of my sisters a couple of weeks ago. She has long had plans to take up writing and I suggested that she start writing a blog. Just to make it clear that I am obviously capable of giving such advice, I want to point out that I have now passed 1000 views on my blog. (I would like to thank the four people who looked at my blog 250 times each.) I also went to a couple of very credible sources of my talents and abilities to further justify my unique qualifications for blogging. I asked my two trusted advisers what I was good at and below is what I learned. (For the record, my two advisers are my three and five year old daughters.)
1. Hopping on one foot

Of all the talents I have, apparently this one is very important because my five year old gave me this answer before I was even done asking the initial question. I'm guessing that what she was trying to say is that my incredible ability to jump around from one tangent to another appears so natural that I could do it on only one foot. I believe she is also implying that where a mere average man would require the use of both legs to hop, her father only requires one.

2. Drawing numbers

This quality, as seen by my three year old, left me feeling a little confused. She didn't explain herself any more than those two words. I'm not sure if she is impressed with the wide range of numbers that I am familiar with or if it is merely my penmanship when it comes to writing them. We were making a countdown calendar at the time, so I am thinking that has a little something to do with it.

3. Stacking stuff

It is common knowledge that in our house that I am the go-to person whenever a lego castle or lincoln log cabin needs to be constructed. I have also been known to stack towers with books, boxes, pillows, and pancakes. I'm sure the key point being expressed by my daughters (they both agreed on my stacking abilities) is a nod to my ability to start a blog with absolutely no base content and then stack a series of pointless facts and ideas until I have a finished product. Once again, I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not.

4. Princess dancing

It is not uncommon to find me dancing in our living room with two little princesses. I am not sure whether I should be more embarrassed by my poor dancing skills or the fact that I know exactly which princesses they are based on the color of the dress they're wearing. I do know that one of the skills attained from daddy-daughter princess dancing is being able to work outside of your comfort zone. That is a valuable tool to have in your toolbox when posting a blog online that a good 4-5 people will be reading.

5. Braiding hair

I think this one goes hand in hand with number four. It all started one morning a few years ago when the girls decided they wanted their hair braided rather than a "boring" pony tail. I figured that I had nothing to lose because nobody would expect me to do a very good there was no real fear of messing up. Well, after a few hundred braids, I've actually gotten quite good at it. My wife has even sent the girls to me when they want a particularly difficult hair style. I also think they were implying that my ability to braid hair is very similar to my ability to flawlessly weave multiple ideas together in my writing. Or, maybe they just like never can tell.

6. Spelling things

Ok. Now we're getting somewhere. They both agreed that I had a special talent when it comes to spelling. That is truly a good quality to have when writing a blog. Then again, spell check does most of the work for me. That and my spelling abilities are being graded by a three year old who only knows how to spell her name and mom and dad. My five year old is reading now, so I will take her opinion as completely valid. At least one of these qualities has to be realistic, right?

7. Riding Bikes

I really had a tough time relating this one to my qualifications for writing a blog. After a good 20-30 seconds of deep thought, it came to me. They were clearly stating that my ability to teach them to ride a bike is a direct correlation to my ability to pass on my "wealth" of knowledge to others. The only problem is that once they learn to ride a bike, they won't ever forget. I can't say the same about the retention of my blog posts in the minds of my readers.

8. Drawing

I'm pretty sure they think I draw pictures in my blogs because neither of them have read anything that doesn't have a lot of pictures with it. They may also be assuming that I have the same drawing abilities as my dad...which I certainly don't. Of course, being able to color with crayons without going outside the lines is pretty impressive to them. I think I will take this one as my ability to keep my blog posts vivid and colorful while drawing a picture in the minds of my readers.

9. Tooting

Ok. I wasn't going to put this one in here, but I did ask them for help with tonight's blog post and I don't want to leave out any of their input. I never really thought about tooting as being a real talent or unique quality, but it does help clear the room when you want a little peace and quiet to write a blog post.

I hope that you have found this list of qualities helpful and possibly of some encouragement. If you are avoiding writing a blog because you don't think you have the qualities needed to do so just remember my list above. Although not everyone has the truly amazing skill set that I have, you should be able to see that you can turn just about anything into a "unique qualification". Just give it a shot. You don't have anything to lose. Until next time....