Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A letter to my children

Boys,

It has come to our attention that things may be slacking off again in the household chores and schoolwork. We would like to remind you that using NetFlix, watching TV, using the internet and computers for tasks other than schoolwork are all privileges. As such, I feel that you should be informed that Mom and I are considering removing the NetFlix service, as it's something we don't use and have concerns over it being abused. You have 2 days to show us that having this available to you is not being abused, the service renews every month and can be cancelled at anytime. As you have already noticed, we have enacted blackout periods for tablets, iPods and computers internet access at a specific time every night. If this continues to be an inconvenience to you; I can adjust those settings to include allowing only specific sites, limiting time allowed on at any given time, and other limitations as deemed appropriate. Let me remind you that circumventing any of the controls results in immediate revocation of those privileges for you.

Now then, the issues at hand are things like hearing from your teacher that homework hasn't been turned in for a couple of days; we really don't like getting those emails asking if everything is alright at home because you aren't doing homework again. Then we move on to things like laundry being left in the living room. Not in a neat pile that tells us you were planning on picking it up next time you got up, but wherever it landed after coming off your body at what appears to be a high velocity, i.e. thrown. By the way, why are you undressing in the living room anyway? Dishes and trash being left in the living room, overflowing trash and recycle bins. The hardest part of all of this is not that these items are left, it's that no one wants to claim ownership and responsibility. We have seen both of you go out of your way to step over/around whatever it is someone else left rather than picking it up and taking it with you as you take your own stuff to where it belongs. I should note that we don't often see you taking your own stuff, unless we have reminded you to do so at least a dozen times. Simple things like picking up only your own dishes instead of all of the dishes in that area, same goes for trash and clothes.

It's not that dishes, laundry and trash need to make it near their intended location; they should make it to the intended location. Laundry does not go on the bedroom floor for Mom and I to pick up; it goes into the baskets, preferably sorted. Trash goes into a trash bag in a trash can, if it did or does contain food it should go into the kitchen trash as it's taken out more frequently. Dishes don't get piled in and around the sink, they should be rinsed put in the dishwasher; if the dishwasher is clean it should be emptied. If the trash or recycle are full they should be taken out, not left for Mom and I to remind you about.

Moving forward, we would like these little things taken care of. Homework should be done after school; you can take a break and get a snack, just make sure it's not 3 hours long sitting in front of the TV. If you get in a habit of picking up the trash as you go, taking dishes to the kitchen and loading/unloading the dishwasher, taking trash and recycle out, doing the little bits of pickup; it will help free up our time to do more stuff with you guys. We do understand that sometimes we all slack off, Mom and I recognize that we aren't always the best at doing these things as well. What we do end up doing more of is picking up your stuff when we are picking up our stuff, after our own slack off periods.

If you are picking up the slack for someone else, it's not your place to require acknowledgement; it's up to them to acknowledge what you have done for them. We don't always do so on a day to day basis; but we not need to fight over who is or is not doing their share either. We all just need to chip in and work together to make the house cleaner and a nicer place for us all to relax and enjoy.

Mom and I have tried to set the chores up so they only take you 30 minutes or less each day; if you just get to them and get them done. If you need our help, let us know and we will try to make time as soon as we can to help you out. We expect chores and school work to be completed after school prior to doing your marathon TV watching. After dinner, if Mom and I have free time, we expect to have control over the TV and what is watched without complaining; after all you have had plenty of time to watch it while Mom is doing homework and I am at work.

Love,
Mom & Dad

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gun Control...

Gun control is using two hands!

Yes, I know that there are people out there who will be upset by this blog post and my opinions. Yes, if you want to hold an educated conversation about it; by all means let's do so. If you want to cite current political and social fears (hype) over the handling and use of weapons; congratulations you can regurgitate information fed to you, now stop and think for yourself.

This post is probably one of the few that I will not try to restrain myself and be 'politically correct' as it's purely a post of my opinions and views in regards to guns. I tend to think that my views are well rounded and based on a good mix of social, political and my upbringing; but, then again I could be a nut out in left field. That's a matter of opinion and since we have the Freedom of Speech in America, it's an opinion you are allowed to have and to voice; just do us all the favor and voice it as an opinion and not a fact unless you have facts to back it up (you will be asked to prove I am a nut if you voice it as a fact).

Now, on to the meat of the matter so to speak. We'll start with my upbringing; mom never allowed guns (except for 2 BB gun rifles that I know of) into the house. We weren't allowed to ask for them for as Christmas or birthday gifts, we never went out shooting except with Scouts. Guns were bad and not needed in a civilized middle class American home unless you were hunters and we were not hunters. At least that is how it seems when I look back on it; this also never bothered me or made me want to run out to my friends houses that may have had guns and play with them. Guns can kill, this I knew and so trusted my parents when they expressed concern. Mom wasn't happy when I was 16 or 17 and brought home a BB gun rifle from a camping trip with friends; but, I was allowed to keep it (and still have it). The other BB rifle was one my older brother got at some point earlier on and is a different story for a different time. As far as I know, these are the only guns ever brought into my childhood home. I should also point out that I don't recall a lot of discussions on the issue; mom did not and does not like guns. There is no place for them in her home and we (her children) respect that; I will never carry a firearm into my mother's home unless absolutely necessary.

For many years I was intrigued by people that felt they needed guns for personal protection. In my 30+ years of life on this earth, I have never found myself in a situation that required a weapon or a fight for my life. I do know many people that have had to fight for their life (or way of life) and respect that everyone has a different view or experience. What I do know is that, if put in a position that my life or my wife/children's lives depended on it, I will kill you! This will affect me, but my life will go on and my family will survive. This is also something I have known for a very long time; that I am capable of murder. Let's not dance around the subject, self-defense or not, it's still murder and you are either capable of it or you are not. Suffice it to say, I do hope that it NEVER comes to that.

I have many friends that either are or were in the US Military; these people have my respect, they were trained to use a gun to commit murder. For the most part, they are normal, everyday people; they just have a knowledge and skill in firearms that most of us don't. These are generally people that go out and do target practice to maintain their skills.

I have some friends that shoot guns for pleasure, I have shot for pleasure and it's fun! I even took my kids out and let them try several different weapons. I see no reason why firearms for pleasure should be looked down upon; it's a great way to get out and focus on something other than the stress of life or the day. It's like riding a motorcycle, let anything else into your head and you loose focus and are off the mark. It also is a great way to work on calming skills like breathing and muscle control.

Lastly, I know people that use guns for hunting. I don't hunt, but wouldn't be adverse to trying it out; after all, never know when that skill might come in handy. But that's like fishing, it's always an option to put food on the table if needed. Interestingly enough, even more skills involved here like learning how to blend into the environment, patience, hearing and seeing what's going on around you.

The interesting thing about all of these people I know, is the story is the same when it comes to firearms. Children in the home know they are present. Firearms that are not needed or used for protection are rendered in-operable unless being used at the range or out hunting. Ammunition and parts required for making firearms operational are kept under lock and key. Firearms that are for personal protection are well maintained and secured appropriately. The children are allowed to go to the range and shoot; in fact they are encouraged to ask for time to do so and are taken whenever possible. There is no mystery about guns, what they do, how they operate or any other aspect. They are a just another part of everyday life, like a hammer in the garage or screwdriver in a kitchen drawer. A tool to be used when needed or stored and maintained properly so it's available when needed.

What does this come down to? It's really simple for me, don't use politics and social media or news feeds to scare society into believing guns are dangerous. It's not the guns that are dangerous; it's the people that hold them. Putting laws around what kinds of weapons and magazine size can help; but it can also create more problems. Let's face it, honest people fallow laws and regulations; outlaws don't care what law or regulation is passed. In the case of gun control, it makes their lives easier, since it makes it harder for us honest people to protect ourselves.

Do I keep guns at home for personal protection? No! Why not? Since we moved into the house we reside in now, our kids have been taught that their number 1 priority in an emergency is to get out of the house together. They are to take care of each other and get to one of a couple 'safe' locations. My wife and I are capable of taking care of ourselves and know that if the kids are safe we can do what's necessary to protect ourselves. There is nothing in our house that is worth any of our lives; so in the case of an intruder, I would rather they walk away with our stuff than risk them taking a firearm away from someone and using it to hurt more people.

Hmm, well that's also the same reason why I don't currently have a CWP and carry. If I am not on my game and that weapon comes free of my control, then it's something that can and probably will be used against me. This doesn't mean I won't look at getting my CWP; after all, it makes it easier on me if I choose to buy firearms.

Lastly, will I teach my kids how to use firearms? Yes I am and will continue to teach them. It's simple really, kids are curious. My kids have seen first hand how to properly handle and fire weapons. They will continue to get range time and will go through an NRA Gun Safety course. It's up to them to choose their path in life and if they choose to or not to continue on with firearms. However, if they ever end up out with friends and someone produces a firearm, I want them to have the knowledge and skills to make the right choice. That choice is to require the firearm to be put away and left alone or they walk away from the situation. Either way, to always treat it as if it were loaded and ready to fire.

If we want to have an honest and open discussion on how to handle gun control laws; we need to remove the guns from the conversation and discuss each situation that caused loss of life through the use of a firearm then look at how to control that. We also have to realize that it's not possible to save every life and make the death toll from firearms a big fat 0; accidents do happen. But, that guy drinking at the bar and getting behind the wheel has a greater chance of killing me than a gun; at least from how I see things. Maybe I am wrong, maybe there will be another civil war, maybe the zombies are really coming for us. Maybe the neighborhood will revolt and gangs will take control by force with guns. Maybe, just maybe, we have given the government too much control of our lives because we believed the media hype telling us what to think rather than thinking for ourselves.

If you believe that guns are bad and have no place in our society; I respect your beliefs and opinions. But don't force any of your beliefs on me. After all, this is America, and I won't force you to own a gun so don't force me to get rid of mine. After all, I might just be the guy standing in front of you, holding that gun, willing to give his life to protect you so that you can live on with your belief system. I might be the one willing to shield you with his body when someone opens fire so that you can live another day knowing that Freedom of Choice gave you another day.

So what's your reality?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's your integrity worth?

My wife and I recently ran into a situation that is still being worked out but got me to thinking about how people often treat their integrity as a commodity. I won't go into details about the current situation, suffice it to say, there is enough information available to me that I feel someone intentionally traded their integrity for a small amount of cash on my family's behalf.

What this did get me to thinking about as well though is a time that I had to make a choice based on what a co-worker did; and how that choice affected me moving forward.

I had just turned 20 and was living in an apartment with my then girlfriend in the beautiful college town of Bellingham, WA; unfortunately, this isn't about her as that's a whole different story that I may or may not share. I was working retail and had only been on the job for a couple of months, so I was really the new guy on the block so to speak. The department I worked in shared a wall with the electronics department where they sold video games, consoles and accessories. As I was going through my department doing cleanup and preparing for closing I was able to hear the "sales pitch" over in the electronics department. What I heard was a little disconcerting, the woman giving the sales pitch was trying really hard for the sale and was offering to throw in accessories for free if they would buy the console system and at least one or two games.

Now, I wish I could say that I stood up and said something right away; but, I didn't. What I did do is go home and "sleep on it", then went to my classes, and finally during the early afternoon went in to talk to my supervisor. Fortunately, my supervisor was also the supervisor for the Electronics Department so I just had to talk to her. When she verified what I had over-heard, then it got interesting. I got to sit down with the Loss Prevention Department and give an oral and written statement. Then came the easy part, my life went back to normal. The whole process took about 3 hours to complete.

The unfortunate part of this story is that the young woman who had sold her integrity for a slightly bigger commission check and/or meeting her sales goals. The part that was harder for me to swallow was that I put a single mother out of work by standing by my integrity when she sold hers out.

Where did this lead? I got offered a job in the Loss Prevention Department; my Manager put up a fight for me, trying to keep me in her Department. Yes, I worked for a female Manager and a female Supervisor; and they are both on the list of best managers I have ever worked for. Ultimately, I took the job in Loss Prevention until I transferred to a different store when I left Bellingham; but, I stuck with the same company until I left for Pullman, WA 6 months later.

Looking back, I could have easily justified not doing anything. The company was a big retail chain, lots of money and most of us were poor starving college students. I chose to take the step and honor my integrity, I knew what she did wasn't right and I also knew that it was probably something she had done before and would do again.

Have I ever sold out my integrity, yeah, I probably have. Maybe not like this woman had; but we have all done things that put our moral compass in question and may or may not trade our integrity for something materialistic. Maybe it's a little bit of cash to buy food, or put an extra present under the tree at Christmas. What I have learned as a father and husband is that those extra presents under the tree really aren't worth my integrity. The food always seems to find a way to the table, regardless of how little money we have.

In short, my integrity is worth more than what you can offer me in the short term. It probably always has been, after all, this isn't something where you just wake up and decide to keep your integrity intact. For that, I thank my parents who gave me the moral compass and the integrity to try and do what's right even if it doesn't always feel right.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fixing up the House

Well, after the wife had surgery a week and a half ago I found myself with a day at home with the boys making sure they stayed out of trouble. I decided it was about time the front yard got some love, in this case cleaning it up some so it looked nicer.

I took the cottage stones from a stack in back that have been waiting for a year to be used in another project. Picked up 2 yards of 3-way topsoil down at Carpinito Brother's and put in a full day plus some to get it done. Next up is to plant some of the potted stuff we have around the house and make it look all sorts of pretty. Probably will also include a run down to McClendon's or a nursery to pick up some grasses and other nice plants/flowers.

This is what I had to start with...


After the grass is all removed, it's time to start filling back in with topsoil and setting the stones to build a small planter area.


The finished product, minus plant life. Hopefully this weekend we'll get down to a nursery and get it fixed up.


After the planter area was completed it was time to add a raised garden bed out front and see if we can get some nice fresh veggies one of these days...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sometimes the warranty does payoff

I have always been torn between buying something with an extended warranty or buying a more expensive model because it has a longer warranty. This really goes for anything, electronics, cars, tools, appliances, etc. I have made a few exceptions in life, like I prefer Craftsman hand tools and that's all I buy given the chance (OCD thing really). The reason I like Craftsman hand tools is simple, Sunday afternoon and I break a wrench or pliers or whatever and a quick trip to Sears gets it replaced for free.

Now, the real reason I decided to blog about warranties today is because of the water heater in the house. In the fall of 2004 when we bought our house and had the plumbing replaced from the meter to the house and throughout the house we also have them plumb in a gas water heater. This, in my opinion, was a great upgrade to the electric that was there when we bought the house. Here we are, 6 years down the road, and we start having problems keeping the pilot light lit. Going on worst case, I figure we are out anywhere from $500 - $1500 depending on how we replace it. My dream would be to go with a tank-less water heater, and bigger than we actually need for upgrades/add-ons to the house. But I digress, the next step was to hit Google and see if I could figure out what was wrong. After 5 minutes of checking multiple sites, I concluded that it's probably the thermocoupler. Being mechanically inclined, I figure this is something that I should be able to replace, if I can find the part...

Yup, that was the real problem, finding the part locally seemed to be nearly impossible. However, as I was gathering the model number, serial number and other information I noticed that it stated on the tag that there was a 9 year parts limited warranty. What the hell, why not! So I call the number on the side of the water heater, spent 5 minutes talking with the customer service representative at Whirlpool support; yes, we have a Whirlpool water heater. He came to the same conclusion, bad thermocoupler. He then took the time to explain how the thermocoupler that came with mine worked and how they discontinued that model; instead he would send me a whole new kit to replace the thermocoupler and the over-heat shut-off. He then went on to state that the parts are covered under warranty and that they would waive the over-night shipping fees for me.

So here I sit, wondering if I will need to re-light the pilot light tomorrow morning before I head into work. The answer is probably yes, but if things hold out like they are, Friday morning it will be lit and stay lit until the water heater is either intentionally shut off or removed from service in the future.

The long story short here is, sometimes having a warranty is a good thing. Will this change the way I look at warranties, not really. I will consider the cost of the warranty compared to replacement cost of the unit and how long I personally expect to have to deal with this problem should it actually fail. Had I been flipping the house in 2004, I probably would have taken price over warranty. Since I plan on living here for the foreseeable future, I will honestly consider going with the longer warranty just to make my life easier.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trailer is just about done

Well, it's been a long project for me, but we are getting close to finalizing the first part of the roof rebuild. First part really just means it's installed, canvas is up and the entire trailer is completely (100%) functional. What's left for other phases is things like getting some lights mounted, eventually putting up insulation and a ceiling, and any other modifications that I think need to be done.

Friday, April 23, 2010

An Engineer's Son!

Well, leave it to an engineer's son to come up with plans for building a LazyKate. First off, for those non-family members who might stumble across this, my father is a retired Mechanical Engineer. Second, for everyone who is wondering what a LazyKate is... It's a device to hold multiple bobbins for plying yarn after it's been spun. Or at least that is my understanding of it based on what my lovely wife has shown and explained to me.

The task at hand was to come up with a simple design for a LazyKate that I could build to suite her needs. After doing some searching I found a bunch of DIY projects that generally involved using boxes and knitting needles along with other items to create this. I decided that just wasn't going to cut the mustard, as that is what she has been doing thus far.

Upon further investigation I found there were several different designs both commercially available and homebuilt. These started with a wooden box or frame based on the DIY box method either laying flat or angled in some fashion. There were also some along the same design as what I plan to build, where 1 bobbin is raised higher than the other 2. I choose this design as it gives the whole setup a smaller base, in this case I am planning on 10" long, 6" wide and 4" tall. With the bobbins in place the height would be 5" to account for the diameter of the bobbin.

Without further ado, the plans can be found here!

My standard disclaimer on this... Just because I designed it, doesn't mean it will actually work as is. Should you take it upon yourself to build anything based on this design you do so at your own risk and can not hold me liable for any damages.

With that said, I don't mind if you pass these around and build one for yourself or a spinner you know. If you improve upon the design, let me know and I can either host the updated designs and/or will definitely link to them. Once I build the first one and know what costs/time is involved I may even build you one for a minimal cost of materials, and shipping/handling.