Tag Archives: modern life

Calling Forth your year

Yoo Hoo? Forth?

I had to make that statement. When we make our New Year’s Resolutions, we are painting a picture of our future: What we’re going to do, have, learn, improve…

We put our resolutions down into a brand-new planner. We write our goals and the intermediate milestones and our plans to get there. WE HEREBY RESOLVE THAT…this year will be different, better, more profitable, and more fun. Why are these wonderful visions of our better selves abandoned after a couple of months?

Try to find a parking space at the gym in January. Go back in March. Check out the produce aisle in the grocery store in January…very little lettuce, carrots, zucchini, kale, onions… Everyone is going on a salad diet. Oops? Go back in March. Check out the section in the pharmacy for nicotine patches in January, then again in March. This is the time when financial gurus make the most investments other than tax time.

As I said in an earlier post, most of these resolutions are incomplete. They only look good on paper because they are two-dimensional. We focus on the results that we can see. Therein lies the problem. To reach those lofty goals, you have to become someone worthy of those goals. It is not the goal or the path that makes you successful, it is what you become to bring that goal into three dimensions.

So you want to be slimmer? What kind of person do you need to become to bring that into being? What kind of habitual thinking got you into your current shape? Since you wish to be slimmer, some of those thoughts did not serve you well. You need to replace those with some that do. You’re looking at the water stains on the ceiling in your living room. You can paint over those, but you haven’t solved the problem…there’s a leak. Bandaids don’t help broken legs. Putting gas in a car without a working transmission won’t make the car go.

If you focus, instead, on what you need to become to bring about the change you wish to see, things will start to open up for you.

So in Calling Forth your year, you’re not yelling into the void of space to bring you what you want. You’re pulling inspiration, imagination, resources, and determination from within yourself. What kind of person do you need to become to have what you want, to improve your mental and physical health, to allow you to relate better to your family and friends?

Call Forth That!

Thoughts on Avatar

Based on the review by Christian Simpson who was moved to tears, my son and I ventured forth in the sub-freezing weather to the local cinema to view the second in the series…the way of the water.

There are many levels to this film.

Firstly, there was a mantra or prayer that all the water folk knew.

“The way of water has no beginning and no end. The sea is around you and in you. The sea is your home before your birth and after your death. The sea gives, and the sea takes. Water connects all things – life to death and darkness to light.”

~ Avatar II, the Way of the Water

It is like many of the indigenous peoples from around the world: they are connected to nature and the life force of all flora and fauna.

You can also recognize this feeling of the oneness of life in the ancient Greek text of the New Testament.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

~ 1 John 4:12-13

We see how the characters relate to their world and their world, though some of it is quite scary and dangerous, it is still beautiful. It is heartbreaking to see that the first thing the people from Earth do is destroy the forest and kill all the living creatures where they want to set up their command center. They don’t see that in claiming this world and taming it, they are doing exactly the same thing they did to their home planet. They’re like locusts.

Secondly, they originally were mining “unobtanium” which is a substance they can’t obtain on Earth. It was supposed to be a source of power for the Earth as it has used up all its resources. (So, used up the sun, the water, the air… then they overcrowded the planet.) This time they are planning to colonize the planet and they’re killing the big whale-like animals for a substance in the brain that gives allllllll these people (who can afford the $80 million per vial) the ability to live forever. In all, the invaders decide they will take what they want from the primitives if they have to destroy the planet, then make their people live forever and MOVE ALL OF THEM TO THE PLANET THEY JUST DESTROYED TO MAKE THEIR MONEY. I would guess they’d move all the people that could afford to PAY to the planet, not everyone. This would leave the Earth in a mess without resources and without a way to survive.

We’re the cockroaches of the universe–we’d find a way. If these evil people leave and take their toys with them, it wouldn’t take too long for all the plant and animal species of the earth to take back their planet. Disease and starvation would reduce the human population and predatory animals would reduce it further.

The point of this rant here is that greed and short-term consciousness makes for horrendous long-term damage. LT? These locusts would already be inoculated with the life-extension substance, so they wouldn’t be able to sell any more of it. And if you’re living forever, why have kids? If they mine all the unobtanium from the floating mountains, they wouldn’t float. I would think that would be a bit unpleasant. They’d have to build workers to do the unpleasant tasks. Then they’d develop AI so you don’t have to tell your robot what to do all the time. Then the robots would take over…

Thirdly, the plot:

In Avatar, there are 3 elements: The bad guys invade the peaceful planet. The main officer is seeking revenge against the human who becomes part of the people he was supposed to evict and decides he likes the natives better and fights the officer. He has to sacrifice himself to save the population of indigenous inhabitants.

Evil invaders seek to take beautiful land and peoples and twist them into ugly landscapes and dehumanized creatures.

  1. Lord of the Rings: Sauron uses technology to mass-produce badly-made weapons and armor for his twisted and ruined creatures. He’d rather rule an ugly world populated by evil and cruel hominids than a beautiful land with amazing flora and fauna that have successfully survived millennia. For example: Orcs are former elves that have been mutated into evil, corrupt, and cannibalistic beings. Another example: The scene where they uproot an ancient tree in order to feed the forge to make (badly) weapons and armor. And last: they repair their wounded by riveting metal plates to their heads and attaching ill-fitting prostheses that look like leftovers from a body-building competition for morons.
  2. Harry Potter: Voldemort seeks to use evil to twist men’s souls so he can rule the world. He lives in a world of death but seeks every opportunity to escape death. Even when surrounded by his followers, he is still self-absorbed and relates only to his pet snake. His loyal followers do not like him much, though they worship him. As a follower of Voldemort, Snape, the headmaster after he murders Dumbledor, focuses on punishment for even the slightest infraction and imposes a slave-like or robot-like culture in the once-beautiful school. There is a decided lack of color.
  3. War of the Worlds/Signs/Independence Day: Aliens attack and try to take over the world because they used up their worlds and this looked like an easy mark. They decide to eradicate all humans.

The underdogs must confront and serve as cannon fodder in order to allow time for the hero to defeat the enemy. They go up against a superior force with bigger technology or numbers.

  1. Lord of the Rings: Aragorn, the king, exhorts his followers to fight the hoards in order to give Frodo the time to destroy the ring and therefore Sauron. There are no deserters, and they all fight until the minions turn to dust.
  2. Harry Potter: They enlist the teachers, the students, and all the statuary to fight off the evil wizards so he can find the last of the vessels containing Voldemort’s soul. They all believe in Harry and have a definite dislike for Voldemort as he likes to kill people.It costs them many lives, but they are encouraged by another July boy to fight for their values and their beliefs. The deserters are those in the school whose parents are followers of Voldemort, though one of them died in trying to kill Harry because he didn’t know how to wield his spell and it backfired.
  3. War of the Worlds/Signs/Independence Day: The common people rise up and fight hand to hand, or the brave soldiers go to save the day even though they know it’s a hopeless battle. They believe there’s a plan in place and will give their lives to save their families and communities while the plan is in effect.

The hero has to be willing to die to save the day.

  1. Lord of the Rings: The fellowship of the ring decides to fight a much larger opponent with no compunctions about self-preservation. 4 hobbits, 1 elf, 1 dwarf, 2 humans, and a wizard lead men, elves, and dwarfs, against Sauron and his uncounted minions. Our hero, Frodo, has to sacrifice himself to get the ring to the mountain to destroy it. He loses a finger and almost his life and destroys the ring, but loses a part of his soul. (And they win.)
  2. Harry Potter: Voldemort and his ADULT FOLLOWERS attack a school full of children in order to kill a small boy (who doesn’t know much magic) because of a prophecy that says some child born in July will kill Voldemort. 3 teenage children (one of them is Harry) systematically destroy the vessels containing the parts of Voldemort’s soul and then Harry is brave enough to offer himself as a sacrifice to save the school children. He gets murdered by Voldemort but doesn’t die. They destroy all the vessels and Harry gets into a duel with a fully grown, expert wizard without a nose, and beats him. (And they win.)
  3. War of the Worlds/Signs/Independence Day: Our heroes have to find the weakness in the aliens and be willing to sacrifice themselves in order to save the planet. (And they win.)

Avatar, then, is just a retelling of a Hero’s journey, but it is beautiful and creative. It is a three-dimensional portrayal of the characters and a message that isn’t preached at the audience but implied. Everyone gets a differing interpretation as to the moral of the story, but that’s ok because it speaks to the person’s inner voice and that is unique among all the individuals in the theaters.

Ain’t Christmastime Grand?

Part Deux

We were sitting around the table the day after Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house. Dear, Sweet, Pat says, “What are Christmas plans this year?” Crickets

“Well,” said I, “I’m planning to have Christmas Dinner on Christmas day. We’re picking up Ben so he can be with family for the holiday.” Realizing this is a 7-hour drive down, an overnight stay, and a 7-hour drive back up, I’d have to get most of my pre-cook dishes done and stored before we left.

I don’t know how you do your Christmas planning, but I used to start mine in June. I’d get everything ready so on the day of Christmas dinner, all I had to do was thaw, pour, heat and eat. To understand this, you will need to picture a zombie apocalypse shelter filled with canned food (home canned so in jars) a freezer full of side dishes like breads and stuffing, containers of fudge and candy, and a todo list on a spreadsheet with times and instructions. Now Pat is talking about having the family assemble at Grandma and Grandpa’s house…so 13 people in all. OK, I just need to amend the recipes a bit. But when I thought about it, THERE WAS NO WAY I could get it all out of the oven hot at the same time!

So I started delegating guests to bring a side dish. We got Creamed Corn, Sweet Potato Casserole, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Bundt cake. Yum! I only had to do mashed potatoes, string beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin bread, cranberry/orange bread, the gravy*, turkey, and ham. We set the time to gather at 11 AM so we could eat at 12. We weren’t sure my middle boy was going to have to work that night so we needed to be done by about 2 PM.

Best laid plans: (AND THEY WERE GREAT PLANS!)

Do the turkey in the roaster and the ham in the crock pot! All the other heatables could be done on 2 racks in the oven. Problem Solved. Except… The ham didn’t fit into either the crock pot or the roaster. In fact, it didn’t fit into the roasting pan without having to use a foil lid instead of a regular one. It was too tall to add another shelf. Oops.

Then I started the rolls. DO NOT USE BUTTER-FLAVORED CRISCO to make bread. It doesn’t form the gluten very well so it doesn’t rise. (Note to self.) I kneaded that stuff for about 30-35 min and it never got that “roll dough” texture. This is Christmas morning, so to get the turkey into the roaster, the stuffing mixed up, and everything else figured out, I was up at 5 AM. It’s now 9:30 and I’m needing a nap! I form the rolls anyway, and they’re pathetic little teeny things. The kitchen smells marvelous, however!

Kids are supposed to arrive at 11. I’ve got time. Ding Dong…?? 10:30 and they’re here? Well, they certainly didn’t get that from my side of the family.

Oh, and BTW, the corn has to be baked for 30 min at 325. Oh, and BTW, this sweet potato casserole has to bake for 10 min at 325 (No, it’s in a glass dish and it won’t warm up the center that fast). My rolls haven’t baked yet. I’m smiling. I have 2 granddaughters helping me now! Cooking buddies! One is finishing up my gravy. One is cutting up potatoes for the mashed potatoes and I’m washing dishes to get counter space and microwaving the beans. We have the potatoes heating, the sauce is strained, and it’s time to take the ham out.

  1. The ham is heavy
  2. It has 7 cups of liquid in the roaster
  3. I have a bodybuilder for a son
  4. He expertly moves the rack with the ham out and sets the liquid waves in motion. (we can’t see this because it’s in the foil.)
  5. He deftly lifts the pan 4 inches and 1 -2 cups of liquid spill out on the inside of the oven door, but he gets it to the stovetop.
  6. The creamed corn and the sweet potato casserole go in.

My rolls have not risen. They’ve been not rising for over an hour now. My middle boy suggests we air fry them, which, since he has an air fryer, he knows how to do. We get it out of the garage and set it up and do the rolls. They are still pathetic and teeny, but now they are brown.

Wait, why aren’t my potatoes boiling? Oh. The back burner is small and I have a stock pot on it. So we move the stock pot full of water and potatoes to a front burner. They begin to boil in about 10 min. I have one of those paddle-type stand mixers where the paddle moves and the bowl is stationary. I used to have one of those with the beaters and the revolving bowl. When you add potatoes to that, the beaters break up the potatoes and everything stays in the bowl, more or less. I don’t have that mixer anymore. I thought it would have the same effect, though. We pour the potatoes and some of the water into the bowl to mash. Bad idea. Remember the exploding flour when we made gingerbread trees? Exploding potatoes with scalding water makes it a suicide mission to turn the thing off. Now, in the kitchen are my 2 oldest granddaughters, my youngest son, me, and my daughter Pat. “Look out!” and screams of fear bring MORE people into the kitchen. We get it stopped and use a potato masher to cut the potatoes into smaller chunks. There…that ought to do it. Turn it on…YIKES. It didn’t quite work. Now we’re wondering why we thought putting it into a mixer was the shortcut.

We plate the side dishes and put the decorative bowls on a card table. Pat has cut up the pumpkin bread and cranberry/orange bread onto a platter. Hubby and Pat’s husband are carving the turkey and the ham. Plastic dishes and our flatware are put out and people serve themselves buffet-style. Then I realize I haven’t put out glasses for drinks. Youngest retrieves the glasses and we have sparkling grape juice, and I have wine.

I have to write all these things down because I’ve been informed that my memories of past Christmases are totally fictional. But this was, without a doubt, one of the best Christmases ever!

*The gravy is a brown warm sauce from a French cookbook that I got for a Christmas present 40-some years ago, and it must be referred to in italics–it’s that good.

Taking Christian Simpson on a Hike

It was just a short hike, no more than an hour round trip.

We meet at the trailhead and he says, right off the bat, “Is it OK if I come with you?” Well, this is silly; I invited him. I say, “Of course,” and we head out.

We’ve gone about 15 feet and he says, “What an amazing blue that sky is! How would you describe it?”

“Um, blue?”
“Where have you seen that color before?”
“We were in Glacier Park and it was early in the morning.”
“What made that memorable?”
“We’d arrived at the park late the night before, about 11 pm, got the tents up and had a really late supper. My kids were experts at getting the camp set up by the time we got to Glacier and it took only 15 min to get the tents up, the sleeping bags unrolled, the fire started, the ‘kitchen’ set up and the water collected from the pump. I don’t remember what we ate that night, but the next morning we had a big breakfast. It would have been about 6 AM. The sun rose about 5.”
“How did that feel?”
“Cold, but peaceful. It seemed like everything was right with the world.”
“How was this feeling more memorable than earlier in the trip?”
“We were traveling without my husband. He had to work and didn’t have paid time off. It was just me and the five kids, and it was a bit stressful. I was trying to instill in them the feeling of adventure I used to get when I went on vacation with my parents. Growing up, that was a special time for me. It took a while to feel like a united group with my youngest being 5 and the oldest being 17. But that night, without prompting, without complaining, the camp had gotten set up and the fire started in record time, and I got the feeling that we were starting to gel into a working organism.” I smiled at the memory.

We walked along for about 30 seconds in silence. Then he said, “What’s that over there?”
“Over where?”
“By that structure over there?”
“Brambles. I never go there.”
“What keeps you from going there?”
“The brambles? They poke and they scrape and get caught on your clothes.”
“What’s in the shelter?”
“I don’t know because I never go there…Brambles remember?”
“If you could find a way around the brambles, would you explore it?”
“I guess. I might, I might not.”
“Let’s go look around the brambles.”
“Oh, all right.”
“When was the last time you were at the brambles?”
“I wasn’t very old. It was late in the day and when I got home, I was dirty and disheveled and crying. I remember my mom trying to pull all the thorns out and comb them out of my hair. It seemed like it took forever!”
“They hurt?”
“Yes, and I’d never seen brambles like that before. I hadn’t planned on going there, but my curiosity pulled me. I didn’t get very far and they scratched and poked and caught in my hair and tore my clothes and I couldn’t find my way out. I was by myself so I was scared.”
“How do these compare to the ones you saw when you were little?”
“OH! They’re raspberries! I didn’t know that before! They seem smaller. I can see over the top. The thing about raspberries, you bite them and the seeds get stuck between your teeth. But if you don’t bite down all the way, you can squish them with your tongue.”
“How did you learn that?”
“I don’t exactly remember, it could have been that girl scout trip I went on…”
“How did you find the door to the building?”
“I didn’t. I couldn’t see over the top so I just went straight in.”
“There wasn’t a path?”
“There might have been. I wasn’t looking for one.”
“What would have been different if you’d found a path into the structure?”
“I suppose it might have led to a door, a way through the brambles. Somebody living in the building would have had to have a way to get past the brambles to get to the door, I suppose.”
“Where would we find a path?”
“We could circle the building and see if we can see a door, and the path would be leading away from the door.”
“What do you want to do if you find the path?”
“See if someone lives there?”

We walk around the building and find the door and sure enough, there’s a path and a fence with a gate. It isn’t locked so we go in. We knock on the door and a big burly guy answers the door. He looks like he could star in a western. He greets us with a big smile and a “Howdy!” It smells glorious in the cabin. Something is cooking. He has a wood stove in the middle of the room, a dining table near the wall, and handmade chairs. There are fresh flowers in the window well. He grabs a towel and pulls out a pie. He says he was out hunting this morning and saw us come into the tourist area. He had canned some raspberries and just threw them into a pie.

Now, this is weird, we’ve only been hiking for about 10 min…oh, hmm. We’ve already been hiking for an hour? Where did the time go? It must be subjective on this hike! In a blink, the pie is cut up and put on metal plates like you’d get in a camping set. Our host tells us about the area and some stories, and then he puts some raspberries and blackberries in a box so they won’t squish when we carry them.

I decide that I want to head back to the trailhead and so we head back up to where the cabin path meets the main trail. Every few steps, Christian is asking, “What’s under that rock?” and we have to look! Sometimes it’s worms, sometimes it’s roly-polies, we found an arrowhead under one and discovered that one of the rocks was a corn grinder. Then he’d say, “Is that water I hear?” and we’d have to go see the waterfall and the cute little stream.

So, we didn’t get even a quarter of the way to the end of the hike, and yet uncovered so much fascinating and beautiful and curious stuff. The distance we traveled in 1 hour should have taken no more than 10 minutes, and instead of finishing the hike, we took two hours to discover the area. But I had been on this path countless times and had never seen any of this stuff. This trail was just a way to get from the trailhead to the destination where we’d look and say, “Now ain’t that pretty!” take some pictures and then turn around and come back. I had missed all these interesting things, and I’d never met the guy in the cabin.

The purpose of the hike is not to ARRIVE somewhere, but to enjoy the journey. The journey is part of a process, and when you stop (because you never finish!) you have become more. More aware, more conscious, more curious, more adventurous, and more brave.

If you have a coach, you are giving the grand tour of your inner world, taking a hike with someone who’s never seen it before. If you have a really good coach, he asks you about everything, including some things you have never explored. You learn things about yourself; you clarify your thoughts and feelings; you keep what you like and discard what doesn’t suit you. You explore like a child and you grow into a much better person.

I would take Christian Simpson on any hike again!

Ain’t Christmastime Grand?

Could you watch the kids so we can go Christmas Shopping?
Sure! We could do some Christmas baking!
We’ll bring them by about 9:30, and you can bring them home when you’re done.
No problem!

OK, kids! Here are the projects. Bread? Cookies? or Fudge? Each of you pick one.
Bread and cookies!

Um. 1 each.
I was choosing for me and her.
No, you can only choose for yourself.
Well, then, Bread and Cookies.

OK. Choose 1…for yourself only.
So I show them the cookie book.

This is the cover

This is what you see when you open the book. The inside of the book is upside down to the cover. It is a silly book. I don’t think it was supposed to be.

I figured about 1 hr to make cookies, without frosting or decorating, 1.5 hours to do a Christmas bread, and 1 hour to do 4 batches of fudge. Each grandchild would pick a project so we wouldn’t be doing all 3. So while one grandchild would be decorating the tree, the other would be baking. Then they would switch. 2 hours, lunch, and then home. Best laid plans… O’Toole’s Commentary: Murphy was an optimist.

Among the recipes, there is one for a gingerbread VILLAGE. Yup, 3 houses, 8 trees, a pond, and a wall. The recipe makes a lot of gingerbread, and it calls for 6 cups of powdered sugar for the frosting. I wasn’t anticipating this. Each pan of cookies has to bake for 10 min, and each piece has to be cut by hand to the specs in the design. 6 roof pieces, 4 steeple pieces, 6 side walls, 6 front and back walls, 8 full trees and 16 half trees, and 3 round bases for the houses. This is what O wanted to make. He insisted. Y decided to make fudge.

The cookie recipe wasn’t clear on how things were to be done, so we put the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. I had the mixer plugged into a power strip, and had the power strip off. Oldest was putting things in and measuring and doing a pretty good job. Youngest then chose to abandon the tree and Grandpa and get in the way. I’m trying to get her back into the living room and told O to wait until I could help before he turned on the mixer. He said, “No problem” and then turned it on anyway. The power strip was off, so the mixer didn’t turn on. MEANWHILE, Y is still in the kitchen and whining that she wants to help. Suddenly the mixer goes on, FULL BLAST HIGH SPEED. O had found the power strip on-switch, and Poof! Flour explodes all over the kitchen. Now we’re sliding all over the kitchen on the flour. Y finally goes to the living room.

Now we cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and ginger using the hand mixer in a much smaller bowl. We’ve already doubled the number of utensils it usually takes to make cookies. Then the book says to slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture. Yes. Of course. Put the 5 cups of flour and spices (well what’s left of the 5 cups after the explosion) to the small bowl where we mixed 1 cup of butter and a cup of sugar and a cup of molasses. The hand mixer cannot withstand that kind of resistance, so now we have to put the stuff in the small bowl into the large bowl. The mixture ends up crumbly. It doesn’t want to hold together. Now we have to roll it? O goes outside to play. Y follows him out. Grandma goes in to have a nervous breakdown in the living room with Grandpa.

O had insisted that we make the whole village and I have found myself alone in the kitchen. Oh no. So O and Y come back in and wonder why I’m not working on the cookies. “Me? It’s your project! Now we COULD roll them out and cut them into teddy bears…”

“NO! Why make gingerbread if you’re not going to make houses?” “So how would you like to proceed?” Y volunteers to roll out the crumbs and see if she can make them stick together. She does pretty well!!! We cut out the trees and the round bases. Then we cut out 3 teddy bears. Baked those and by now it’s 12:15.

Let’s go to Wendy’s! Wendy’s is locked. Um. Let’s go to Runza! We have a nice, civilized lunch and discuss volcanoes and compare Crater Lake to Mt. St. Helen’s. Then we discuss the volcano under Yellowstone Park. Grandpa starts driving toward Omaha. Wait! We haven’t made the fudge yet and we have to put together the gingerbread! Oh. oops. We head back home to finish the ordeal…um, the baking.

It takes about 5 min to make 1 batch of fudge so we make 1 batch and then start the frosting. While I’m making the frosting, the fudge sits in the fridge.

I can’t find my cookie press or my decorating kit. I find a ziplock bag and cut a hole in the corner, fill it with frosting, and split the seam. Argh. Grandpa finds the cookie press and decorating kit. YAY! We put together the trees and stick a teddy bear in the forest. It would not win any prizes.

Now it is after 2. It’s been about 4.5 hours with the grandchildren. I am out of shape. I cut the fudge and put it into a cookie tin. It is still mostly liquid. The kids really want to go home, so we get them all loaded up. We are informed by Y that we need to not hit any bumps because the teddy bears keep falling down.

Ya, This is Omaha. If we swerve to avoid the potholes, we’ll get pulled over for drunk driving.

We get them home about 3:00 and return to our home a little before 4. Grandma takes a 2-hour nap. It looks like a giant troll sneezed in a bakery. I love making candy, cookies, and quick breads… but my keto diet does not allow for any of those. Soooo, Sigh. I guess I’m done baking for the Christmas season. 😦 Ain’t Christmastime Grand. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Confidence and the Lottery

I read a blog by Seth Godin on the subject.

“It doesn’t matter how sure you are that this is a winning ticket, the ticket doesn’t care,” he says. Why not? You put emotional effort into picking the right numbers! You’re sure these are the magic numbers that will get you those millions of dollars. You do research to figure out the numbers that come up the most in winning tickets, where they’re purchased, how big a batch of tickets to buy… You’ve expended mental effort and physical effort to get the numbers just right. Then some random number generator picks the numbers.

I used to play a lot of MMORPG on the computer. I tend to go with the city-building types but after you build your city, you get attacked by 1 million scouts who take out your archers, and the lookouts on the walls never see 1 million scouts coming over the horizon…

ANYWAY, if you built the required materials and did all the right things in the right order, you would get “drops” of needed materials based on a random number generator. They would post the odds of you getting said item. Now, being a student of statistics, you would assume that if you had a 1 in 2 chance, after 100 tries you’d have basically 50 positive and 50 negative results. If you have a 1 in 20 chance, Out of 100 tries, you’d have about 5 positive and 95 negative results. In this game, however, if you had a 1 in 20 chance, out of 10,000,000,000,000,000 tries, you’d have 0 positive results. Don’t ask me how I know this… So why was this? Were they lying? If you look at it from a different perspective, you had a 19/20 chance of getting a negative result, so that’s what you got 100% of the time.

The odds of getting all the numbers in the lottery are much smaller than that. You’re more likely to get bitten by a shark in the middle of Kansas than win the lottery. Why? Because your actions have very little to do with the outcome.

Seth mentions that there’s a 15-year-old boy whose 10-year plan is to get into the NBA. He also says that the strength and skill needed to get down to the last 5000 applicants is important, but after that, it’s just a lottery and you better have a plan B. There are physical attributes that would enhance your chances like being 6’8 or better, and a 90% from the free-throw line wouldn’t be a bad thing. But what if you’re short?

RankPlayerHeightNBA playing career
1.Muggsy Bogues5-31987-2001
2.Early Boykins5-51998-2012
3.Spud Webb5-61985-98
 Mel Hirsch5-61946-47
5.Greg Grant5-71989-96
 Keith Jennings5-71992-95
 Red Klotz5-71947-48
 Wataru Misaka5-71947-48
 Monte Towe5-71976-77
10.Dino Martin5-81946-48
 Willie Somerset5-81965-66
 Charlie Criss5-81977-86
In case you were wondering

Obviously, skill and accuracy are important when you’re not 7′ tall. Spud Webb, #3 on the list, also had a 46″ vertical jump!

When you look at the draft, being at the right place at the right time with the right skills and a good agent are good. So what are the right places and the right times and the right skills?

  1. You have to be on a college team that has scouts coming in to check out the players
  2. You have to be good enough to stand out from your fellow players
  3. But you also have to be good enough to enhance the team and not just yourself
  4. You’d also have to spend every waking minute improving your jump height, your strength, your endurance, and your agility with the basketball (shooting, dribbling, passing)
  5. You have to have good enough grades so you don’t flunk out of college before you get noticed.

So for someone who wants to spend the next 10 years preparing for the NBA, there are steps to prepare to be noticed in college, noticed in high school, in basketball camps, and by influential coaches who can help you improve just to get to the platform where you can compete. Can you do this in the lottery? Nope. If, however, you are cursed by bad genes to be short, you may not even get a glance. HOWEVER, this does not preclude you from being a coach in the NBA, an announcer, or a referee.

The difference between the lottery and any goal you have is that with the lottery, you have no control over the outcome. What lotteries do you contend with? Tax audits? the Stock Market? Your health roll against a red dragon in Dungeon and Dragons? If you are smart, you have many alternative plans because the one thing you do NOT have control over is the subjective opinions of those scouts. Just like you have no control over the administrators that are looking to hire you as a teacher, or the HRs that think some people should be relegated to grabbing coffee for the real businessmen in the room. Doesn’t your whole livelihood depend on the subjective behavior of the people you work for or those you serve as an entrepreneur? All the world’s a Lottery and men and women but ticket scratchers. (Sorry Will) But make your plans and set your goals anyway, just don’t get attached to a particular outcome. It’s not the goal that makes the man, but the journey–It’s what you need to become to be worthy of it.


Note the date.

So you buy a ticket in August for a trip in October, and they cannot guarantee there will be a bus trip. Yes, I got my money back, but no, that doesn’t solve my problem.

My youngest son is getting married and now 2 of his 4 brothers and sisters cannot make it to the wedding.

“We have a bus service that can take you anywhere in the US…when it’s convenient, or if nothing goes wrong, or whatever… We don’t even have to tell you ahead of time that the bus will not be running or why. Don’t like it? Try and do it cheaper any other way. HA!”

Time To Get Away!

Take a tour; jump on a cruise; get away from it all!

What are we getting away from? Hmmmm…LAND?

If you go on a bus tour, you’ll be traveling with 40-60 strangers. You choose the places you want to visit, and the tour company will match your interests. You could spend a couple of days in 3 or 4 spots, or you could go on those “If it’s Tuesday, we must be in Belgium…” tours where you get a 1/2 hour to shop in one place, 20-minute lunch, drive to another place, take a 1-hour walking tour, drive to another place, sleep for 6 1/2 hours, then do it again tomorrow. On the last day of the tour, you spend 20 hours on the bus to get back to the airport.

If you go on a cruise, you’ll be traveling with a small city…5000 of your closest friends. They’re your closest because you stand in line for everything! There are lines for food, lines for the swimming pool and water park, lines to get into the shows, lines to get off the boat for the tours, lines to get on the boats after the tours, and lines just because someone up the way stopped to talk with one of their closest friends that they met yesterday in line for lunch and nobody can get by them.

If you want to get away, you 1st need to know what you’re getting away from. Close your eyes and picture what your perfect day would look like? Who would be with you? What would the weather be like? What kind of activities would you do? Would this include food and drink? How long would you want to stay away?

When Mark and I went on our cruise, it was a small Princess Line ship. There may have been 1000 people on board, but not much more than that. We knew the crewmen and the line servers. We got this cruise from our kids for our 30th anniversary, and they must have read our minds. We went to Alaska, and the boat was small enough to go to places the big ships couldn’t. We had some great tours and informational sessions, and even on a wildly rocking boat, the shows were amazing!

When Mark and I went on our bus tour, we were with our best friends and their son and new daughter-in-law. There were challenges: one of our party lost a wallet, and I got lost in Edinburgh, but on the other hand, we had so many memories and the camaraderie was first-rate.

I cannot imagine “getting away from it all” by being on a crowded boat that you never have to leave…A floating shopping mall with cubicles you can sleep in.

When Mark and I went on our road trip to New Mexico and Arizona, it was just us and some touring with my cousin, Sara.

Wonderful trip! We have to do this again.

This, IMHO, is getting away!

This isn’t.


One of the exercises we did at our Elite Influencer’s Summit in England was one involving values. It was very intense. We’d tell our stories and describe our avatars and the traits and characteristics we admired and those we hated. From those conversations, our values were made known. Because we were on a tight schedule, we only listed 10 values…the 10 most important things in our lives. If you look around, you will see companies, organizations, school systems, and governmental entities claiming these qualities: Respect, Integrity, Sevice, and Excellence. However, the qualities and values we revealed were through our actions, our speech, and our relationships. The ones claimed by the companies were chosen because they resonate with the clients, customers, constituents, and children’s caretakers. They were not derived from their actions.

If you were to interview the top echelons of these entities, you would discover they have 20-30 of the values that are really important to them, and though Respect, Integrity, Service, and Excellence might be on the list, they’re not very high on it.

Here’s how the exercise went. After discovering the values expressed by the person’s way of life, their thoughts, and their actions, they were put into a list. Then their coach had the participant choose between them to arrive at a prioritized list.

Integrity or Independence? Integrity
Integrity or Truth? Integrity
Integrity or Freedom? Freedom
Freedom or Honesty? Freedom
Freedom or alignment? Freedom…and so on and so on until all of the values are in order of priority.

Our guinea pig had to choose among 30 of these values and it took 1 1/2 hours to get to the definitive list. It was a grueling exercise! You could tell he was exhausted! Have you or anyone you know ever done an exercise like this? I’d be willing to bet that none of these executives have.

One of my values was impact. I was unique in that aspect. Another participant had Dependability for his #1. Another had Contribution. Given the choice of Honesty, Truth, or Integrity, most chose Honesty 1st. Given a choice of Respect, Alignment, or Loyalty, most chose Loyalty. It’s not that those traits aren’t important, it’s that they’re less important than others.

Looking through the Toastmaster posts on the Facebook page, I would infer that Service and Integrity are something desired more by the membership than by the Leadership of the organization. They are high on the complaint list! What kind of values do the Leaders seem to stress? Alignment, Loyalty, and adherence to cultural norms within the organization. Respect seems to be an accessory and Excellence is a bonus. How do you measure excellence? With a contest, right? It’s why they have the Olympic games and Spelling Bees. It’s why there are Michelin Stars and JD Powers awards. Yet, if TM could get rid of contests, they would in a flash. TM is a non-profit business that sells the promise of competence as communicators and leaders while providing materials for study. Do they produce good communicators and leaders? How would anyone know? Yet, their core values are Integrity (doing what they say they’ll do), Respect (showing appreciation and consideration, and treating people with honor and dignity), Service (providing support and aid to further the members’ goals), and Excellence (celebrating the best of performance, quality, and merit).

Look at all the other organizations that present themselves with those same values. Are these traits apparent in their behavior, their advertising, or their relationships with their clients or students?

When have you ever done a deep dive into your core values? If people could look at what you write about, how you express yourself, how you behave, what makes you happy and what makes you mad, the people you surround yourself with and those you shun, what conclusions would they draw about your values? I tell you, I was surprised when I did this exercise.

Mine were these:

  1. Impact
  2. Autonomy
  3. Intelligence
  4. Quality
  5. Curiosity
  6. Creativity
  7. Integrity
  8. Beauty
  9. Open-mindedness
  10. Equity
  11. Choice
  12. Persistence
  13. Humor

Some of these values may not even seem like values to many people. This, of course, is not an exhaustive list, and more values may bubble up to higher priorities as I continue to live on this beautiful blue ball.

If you claim values, you better live them. If you choose values because they help you sell cars, Integrity, honesty, or truth isn’t even on your list. Remember, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson