Monthly Archives: May 2013

What about the house alarm?

So tonight while reading Little House in the Big Woods, we were reading the chapter about Pa and the Bear – and Donovan was surprised to find that the book is based on a true story.

I followed up the conversation telling Donovan about my bear story.

Back when we were kids we lived in a trailer that my father had bought, and he had used a chainsaw to cut some doors out of the trailer.  One such door went into a wood shed that dad had built onto the side of the trailer, and then out into the “tool shed”.

Because the trailer was up on cinderblocks, you had to step down into the woodshed before opening the door to go out into the toolshed.  Once in the toolshed, you had to walk through the shed, out into the night, up the hill and around “the path” to get to the outhouse.

One summer evening my mother had went out to go to the bathroom and when she walked down into the woodshed, she heard scratching and growling in the toolshed.  She immediately ran back into the “house” down the hall, and jumped into bed waking my father up telling him there was a bear stuck in the toolshed.

Dad grabbed his gun, went down the hall, down into the woodshed, and opened the door to the toolshed, at which time his pure white german Shepard named “Sam” came bounding into the house.  Apparently Sam had been left outside, and really wanted to get back in.

As I was wrapping up this story, Donovan turned and looked at me in bewilderment, and said: “I don’t get it, didn’t your dad have to disable the house alarm first”.  🙂

Amazon Coins… not such a great idea…

So here’s the deal… Amazon gets you to trade your ‘real money’ for things that aren’t real…  Oh wait, isn’t that what they do with Kindle books already?  Don’t get me wrong, I buy TONS of Kindle books – but I protect my investment.  So what is the difference, what is the rub; this little marketing ploy works something like this:

Buy 500 coins, for $9.95. Then we will sell you digital objects for these fake coins instead of ‘real’ money – today you can get 10 items for 100 coins – so really, you are getting a great deal!  But what you don’t really understand is that the real value of the products you are buying can now be arbitrarily set and after a while you won’t even realize that when they get you down to 1 item for 250 coins you are paying almost $5 for something you used to be able to get for 10 cents.

Funny thing is, this is exactly what our U.S. government did to us when they took away the gold standard; so today, we don’t really even have a concept of the value of a product that we pay for with U.S. Currency (because it really isn’t of any value anyway).

It’s the oldest trick in the book; I’ll go for a lot of things Amazon, but you won’t catch me on this one!

 

Little house in the Big Woods

When we were children there wasn’t much for entertainment; we had dirt, rocks, sticks and water.  Mix them together and you could make some mighty fine toys.  The closest store was probably 10+ miles away – that doesn’t seem that far by today’s standards, but on bikes or by foot – it was.

The water came from a hand pump well; you’d have to pump and prime it over and over to get anything out – but the water was ice, ice cold, and had a very slight taste of iron… it was a good taste.  Showering involved heating water over a hot stove, and pouring it out of “showering cans”.  I always thought everyone in the world knew what a showering can is – but I’m not so sure now.

The bathroom was a hole in the ground, covered at least by  four walls and a roof – but in the winter or at night it was a daunting, cold or scary undertaking.  At the same time, in summer evenings, it was a great opportunity to sneak out into the night and catch fireflies or raid the garden, although the coyotes, bears, moose and other wild critters that frequently were heard stalking through the night requires great courage to venture forth.

There was very little that we ate that wasn’t grown or raised, that’s just how it was.  The planting, the tilling the weeding the gathering, and the canning.  The vegetables, the rabbits, the chickens, the turkeys, the wild berries, apples, elderberries, blueberries, strawberries.  They were all handpicked, or raked.  I had to help in the butchering, it was part of life.

When it was 20 below outside, it was 20 below inside.  The layers and layers of blankets, cast off when needing to make a run outside to the outhouse; but there was always a warm stove burning in the center of the house built with slat boards and no insulation.

The single pane of glass, frosted over in the winter with cold air creeping through the cracks around the door, around the window, through the wall boards and up through the floor boards.  But the sound of crickets in the summer, like they were sitting in the same room… they probably were.

The root cellar full of fresh vegetables, and lizards; damp, cold, dirt.  Just a whole in the floor of the closet, and a whole dug into the earth.

Life is so much different now than it was then.  Was it better?  It’s hard to say.  You worked hard every day of your life, you slept hard each night.  Our world is a very different place now.  My kids will never understand what life WAS like.  Which brings me to the topic at hand.

I have started reading Little House on the Prairie to my children.  It is amazing the number of emotions it stirs in me, not only as I recall it being read to me when I was a child – we had no other entertainment at night when the sticks and rocks and dirt and water were put away.  But, I remember what it was like to live off the land – Jeremiah Johnson style, I remember what it was like to live in a house that was made of drafty slats, to live in the wild woods, I even, to some extent, remember how hard it was to live – none of the high tech, drive over to the store and run a piece of plastic through a machine and they bring out food prepared and ready to eat.

Not that life today is bad; I’m not sure I could go back to the “good ‘ole days” – but I wonder, sometimes I even yearn for those more simple days.

I am going to love reading this series to my children it makes me homesick for childhood, nostalgic – and perhaps, just perhaps, they will get a small amount of vision as to what life used to be like.

 

 

 

 

Recommendations for books on Leadership

The last couple University courses in the graduate program have been focused on various aspects of leadership.  Over the years, I have read a lot of different books on leadership, all with their own perspective.

Some are written to help direct as a leader in the home (a father for me specifically), some for leadership in the Church, some as practical guides for leadership in general society, and others specifically geared towards leadership in professional organizations.

Each and every one one of these books has had a positive impact on me, and has helped me mature in my style of leadership and understanding.  As a result, I thought I would share some of the books near the top of my list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These last three are on my to-read list, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.

 

 

Is there such thing as Universal Ethics?

Absolutely!  😉

Whole books and doctoral theses have been written to address this question, so it is not something that can be answered in passing.  However, I can provide some insight from those much more eloquent in the economics of universal ethics.

Rather than providing specific value statements of right and wrong to be argued over, let us look at this from the perspective of establishing whether or not there is such thing as universal statements of right and wrong.  The first question then to be answered is whether, when I make a value statement, am I intending to assert a universal, or am I just making a statement of feelings only.

C.S. Lewis, the Christian philosopher and theologian, addresses this question in detail in his book the Abolition of Man.  He states that all but the trousered ape would understand that our expression of value statements go beyond a personal bias and individual experience.  He summarizes that when I say something is beautiful, I am not merely asserting that I think it is beautiful, I am asserting that part of the nature of the object is that it is beautiful.  He goes on to pose this argument in another form, using reductio ad absurdum Lewis suggests the claim that value statements are to be interpreted as personal statements can be seen prima facie to be absurd if I were to say I do not feel well, and someone were to respond, nonsense, I feel just fine (Lewis, 2009).

Extending this argument, Lewis also poses the idea that even those that claim that rightness and wrongness is subjective would on one hand steal from someone in the first moment, but then assert as fact the unfairness of any act that allowed them to be stolen from (Lewis, 2001).  The idea being, whether or not we can agree on a set of value statements, all humans have this inborn idea, this natural law as Lewis calls it, that there is indeed a set of value statements that assert rightness and wrongness universally.

After establishing the statement that all humans have this idea of rightness and wrongness, the next challenge then is to understand how, with diverse background and cultures and experiences, we can all come to agreement on what is truly without a bias, right and wrong.  The answering of which, however,  is beyond the scope of this post.

 

References

Lewis, C. S. (2001). Mere christianity (Kindle ed.). New York: HarperSan Francisco. Retrieved from Library of Congress or OCLC Worldcat.

Lewis, C. S. (2009). The abolition of man (Kindle ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved from www.amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Abolition-Man-C-Lewis/dp/1609421477

Guess who’s back…

What? My Name is..

Who? My Name is..

Huh? My Name is..

Slicky, slicky Jed Shady!

 

It has been more than a year, and I had gone silent.  Why?  Because my server traveled the world.  What?  Well, actually – I traveled the world – more specifically we have traveled the world.

Ok, so not really across the whole world, just to the other side of the country – which coming from a boy who grew up in a tiny little town in back-water Maine without running water, or sewer – it has seemed like I am a whole new world away.

We are now in Texas.

In July of 2012 I decided it was time to move on from my company of almost 13 years; I put my resume up on the internet.  Within a matter of days, I had been contacted by a couple different companies that were offering great salaries and benefits, but they were either in the North East (I wanted to get out of the cold) or were on the west coast (I didn’t want to go that far).

Then one day on vacation up in the mountains with my family I received a call from this company that I had not heard of (interestingly, I had heard a lot about them, but just didn’t realize it).  The recruiter left a message.  As a curtsy call, I left him a return message letting him know that I did not ever intend to move as far as Texas.  The recruiter called me back and asked if I was at least interested in hearing what he had to offer.

Rewind 13 years and that is exactly what happened at my previous place of employment, they had 3 managers that reached out to me from the one company for three different positions.  I called the first back to tell him I wasn’t interested in moving to the mid-west, he asked me if I was at least interested in hearing what he had to offer.

I met with the first manager, he offered me the job a few weeks later, the rest is history.

Fast forward back to 2012, the recruiter told me about the company and the position, and I thought he must be joking.  I jumped online in my spotty internet connection the next night, in between homework assignments and I sent him a resume.

A few weeks later I was on a plane to Texas (shudder), a few weeks after that I gave my notice at my current place of employment, and just a few more weeks I was pulling away from our ‘dream house’ that we had built – hauling a camper, a wife and five children half-way across the country to the unknown.

And to think, I once read the book “Who Moved My Cheese” and thought – “Hey, this could be about me”.

We took almost a month to travel from Maine to Texas, and stopped to visit family along the way.  Stopped to say hello to our favorite place on the east coast: Tybee Island.  Even took a short detour to bring our kids to Disney – something my wife had always wanted to do – but I was always too busy working to ever find the time.

So here we are, only about a month after hearing about this new company, we left our home, our family and traveled to the other side of the country.  Living out of our camper (7 people), wondering if we would be able to sell our house, wondering when we could buy a new house.

Fast forward 8 months later.  We miss our friends and family back home; but we’ve made new friends too.  My family couldn’t be happier (except if our friends and family came to live in Texas).  The job is wonderful, the weather is amazing, Texas is super…  where has it been all my life?  I belong in this state – while I will miss the seasons and the trees and the land, Maine was really not my true home.

And now I come to the end, and I must sign off by saying that YHWH has really taken care of me and my family.  I’ve never done anything to deserve it, that’s for sure.  But He has watched over us, and listened to us, and directed us, and He has told us and showed us what and when.

The pages have turned, the next chapter has begun.  May it always be, Soli Deo Gloria.

family-2013

The sun was bright, it was a self-timed photo-snap; but I have learned that I can go searching for happiness further than my back yard – because no matter where we are, as long as we are together – we are always at home!