Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snow-Covered Forest


I think walking through the woods with my two beautiful white shepards during a snowfall can quite possibly be the most peaceful thing a person can experience. The dogs absolutely love the snow, they run, jump, and prance about, they bury their faces deep into the snow and come up smiling. Molly hears something in the distance that I cannot. She stops, her front paw comes up, pointing, listening, her ears stand up straight as she tries to focus on the sound, and then in a second she is gone. The chase is on! Her speed continues to amaze me, even in the snow filled forest as she leaps like a dear over fallen trees and dodges around the brush with the quickness of a rabbit. But this time the rabbit was quicker, as she emerges from the wood with a dejected look on her face as if to say; "I missed." But she quickly recovers and throws her front paws up in the air like a kangaroo boxer, and nudges Jake with her nose. Then drops to her belly in the powdery snow, trying to tempt him into chasing her. But he could not be bothered; he is searching for his own hidden treasure as he buries his nose deep into the snow every few feet, following along the path beside me.

As we walk, I cannot help but notice how quiet it is. No cars rushing by, no people talking, no TV or radio noise, no phones ringing, or computers buzzing. I do not even hear a bird chirping, or chipmunk scurrying through the thick brush. The deep snow muffles the sounds of the forest as it covers everything in sight; it weighs heavy on the branches, bending them over the trail, creating a portico of bright white and evergreen. I can hear the dogs light panting and I notice the sound of my footsteps. I smell the winter air, and feel the cold on my skin. I am totally focused on what I can see, hear, smell, & feel. All of me is right there at that instant. Is this what they mean by living in the moment? The dogs are always in the moment, and walking through the snow-covered forest with them, allows me to see why. The quiet of a snow-covered woodland can transform you; bring you into a single moment in time. It is here that we can finally hear ourselves. The snow muffles all of the sounds and the silence is embracing. If you listen, at that moment, you will find all that you have been looking for. Alone in the calm of a snow-covered forest, you can go inside yourself and discover the answer to a question, resolve an issue, heal an illness, or pray for a friend. Some might say you can hear the universe speaking to you. Listen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I think I am a bad grill cook.

I think it's time to admit that I am not a good gas grill cook. Do you even understand how hard that is to say? Talk about taking a direct hit on your manhood. I wonder if any other men, throughout history, have ever been able to admit such a thing. I might even say my wife is actually a better grill cook than I am, which is an even a harder thing to admit.
(I can hear all you guys cringing and saying "ugh, he didn't just say that" )

It's kind of like golf. Every year I tell myself I am going to practice and learn to improve, but it never really happens. I think I know what the problem is. I don't have the patients to slow cook something, and pay attention to it the whole time it is cooking. Usually I forget to take the meat out of the freezer so it can thaw before cooking. I preheat the grill by turning it all the way up after lighting it. Then I throw the frozen burger on the warming rack in an attempt to thaw it out a little. After a while I will move it down to the grill and close the lid while I go prepare a vegetable or watch a game for a while, then come back and flip it over and repeat. As you can imagine the end result is a hard crusty exterior with a blood red middle.

Now, I am exaggerating a little bit. Obviously, if I did that every time, no one would ever eat my grill cooking. But the fact is my grill cooking never comes out as good as others. I have one friend that is a very good cook. There is an obvious difference when he cooks something than when anyone else does. I actually enjoy watching him cook almost as much as I enjoy eating his cooking. What I have noticed is, the time and effort put forth preparing the food prior to cooking it on the grill is far more important than the actual cooking. As a matter of fact, the time spent cooking at the grill is often the least concerning.

Preparing the non-frozen meat, mixing the proper seasoning, marinade, or sauce, and controlling the temperature at the grill, all play a key role in successful grilling. You would think that knowing this would make me at least a reasonably good grill cook. But, in my opinion, mine just doesn't seem to match up. Although I have received compliments when I did at least try to take my time and do it right.

OK , I take it back. I do not admit to being a bad grill cook. I can do it, if I just prepare ahead of time, take my time, and care about producing a quality end product. I am going to go try again.
Damn the propane ran out again.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I think people on financial news stations like to hear themselves say the word systemic.

Anonymous Asked,
Why do I hear the word Systemic almost everyday lately? I can count on one hand the number of times I've heard it over the previous 30 years. I doubt I have ever even used it in a sentence before today.

Now that you mention it, I must agree, I too seem to hear the word quite a bit lately. But mostly on the news when people are talking about the financial mess we find ourselves in these days. Typically though, the word Systemic is used more in medical terms when describing different systems of the body.
Here is the definition as given on Dictionary.com
sys⋅tem⋅ic 
–adjective
1. of or pertaining to a system.
2. Physiology, Pathology.
a. pertaining to or affecting the body as a whole.
b. pertaining to or affecting a particular body system.
3. (of a pesticide) absorbed and circulated by a plant or other organism so as to be lethal to pests
that feed on it.

I think you are referring to the fact that the word Systemic is heard repeatedly in the financial news. I have heard the word used by the President, several Congressmen and Senators, The Secretary of the Treasury, The Fed Chairman, and several talking heads on CNBC and Fox News. In this case the reference to systemic risk is about how certain things effect the entire economic system. Such as when a company is "To big to fail." The suggestion is, if we allow these monstrous companies to fail then they will bring down the entire financial system. Also known as systemic failure. Hopefully soon we will hear the word when discussing a recovery of the entire economic system, or maybe even a systemic change.

I heard some talk of creating a position for a Systemic Risk Regulator. I wonder if that person would report to the Economic Failure Czar. Check THIS out, and read what Fed Chairman Bernanke said during a March 10 speech. he certainly articulates an explanation of Systemic Risk better than I can.

"Systemic", It's kind of a fun word to say. It certainly sounds like an important word. I doubt I will have much opportunity to use it again after today.

This is what Mack thinks

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I think purchasing a car is hard enough, but adding an Extended Warranty? Please "Just Say No"

Amy Asked:
I want to know if anyone ever has felt generally good after they purchase a car? What is the best way to go about this? And More importantly- what about the stupid warranty? Can I make myself feel better and think that maybe it could be useful down the line that I paid for this extended warranty? I just don't know. Lost some sleep over this one.


Buying a car is one of those dual feelings type of purchases. You get all excited you have a new car and that feels really good. But you cannot help but feel like you got screwed in the process. I personally have never walked out of a dealership feeling like I got a good deal, even when I went in knowing what I wanted, and left with the deal I imagined before going in. I still get a nagging feeling that I got taken some how. I don't know if I am alone in that thought, but I imagine I am not. Anyone that tells you they got the better of the dealer, is either lying, or they are a fool. The best thing to do is just enjoy your new car. If the salesman snookered you, ultimately that is his problem, not yours.

Now, let's talk about the "EXTENDED WARRANTY" ! You know how I feel about it. It's like insurance. and I hate the idea of having to have insurance. This is, in my opinion, the biggest rip off in retail. Granted some people may have a story about a time when something went wrong right after the manufacturers warranty ran out, (which if something is going to go wrong that is when it will happen,) and they saved money on repairs because they had the extended warranty, but I would bet they are few and far between.

Selling you an additional warranty is a method for dealers to make more money and it is often a big deal for them. The salesmen make a nice commission off of the extras they sell. Often more than what they make off the car itself. Ultimately I think you need to run the numbers and usually you will see that it is not really worth it to buy the extended warranty, especially if you roll it into the price of the car, and pay interest on it.

Now I don't want you to feel bad about your decision. Enjoy your car, and rest comfortably knowing that you are protected if something does come up down the road.

This is what Mack thinks!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I think I need to Test the Question/Comment box

Steve Asked:
How do you think this question box will work on your blog?
I was very excited when I found a method for people to ask me their questions or pose their situations right here on the blog site. I would, however, have preferred to make it smaller, and place this comment/question box in the right hand column beside my postings. I will continue to see if I can redesign the page to that end.
People will have to page down to see the rest of the site, which I am not thrilled about, but I think this will work for now.
Please let me know what you all think. Or, If you have any suggestions for making it fit better on the page, I would appreciate the input.
This is what Mack thinks

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I think completing small task can improve your mood.

If you really want to feel good. Complete a task, meet a goal, or finish a project. It does not matter how small of a goal it is, just the act of completing it can really improve your mood, and your self esteem. It must release some kind of chemical in the brain or something. I just finished one of my winter projects, I set for myself back in November or December, and it really got me thinking about the health benefits of completing a task.


It was not a big project. I painted the two Adirondack chairs we bought last summer from the unfinished furniture store. Every week, after we bought them, I kept telling myself, "You have to paint those chairs." Then I finally decided it will be a good indoor winter project. That way I didn't have to think about it for a while. I've found I have gotten quite could good at justification for procrastination. Well several weeks ago I was looking at the chairs and said, "you will never forgive yourself if spring rolls around and you still have not painted those chairs." So I bought the paint, and a brush. I set up the chairs in the garage and cleaned them off. Then, of course, they sat there for a couple of weeks. Finally I started painting, I did one coat, on one chair, then the next night I did the other chair. Then they sat for while. Eventually I got three coats on each chair.


When I finally finished this very small, seemingly meaningless goal, I was surprised at how good I felt. I remember thinking, " Easy big fella, it's just a paint job." That's when I realized it wasn't the task itself that matters, it was the fact that I had completed the goal. I am not saying this is an unusual thing, for me to complete a project. I just happened to notice this time, how good it feels.


So, if you are in need of a little pick me up, or even just want to be able to check something off the list. Pick one project that needs doing and just get it done, even if it is just a little one. You will thank yourself afterwards.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My handiness is second only to my story telling.

When I was about 12 years old I found myself in need of a place to store my clothes. So one Saturday afternoon I set about building a burro. I did not have money for materials so I had to make do with whatever my father had available in the garage. I found an old piece of plywood that was painted a puke shade of green. I also found some other type of board that seemed to be made from compressed saw dust. You could actually break it with your bare hands. There were also many other random pieces of wood, nails, screws, and such, lying around for me to make use of. I started by measuring out how many shelves I could cut from the sawdust board. I was able to get 4 pieces about 2 feet long, by 12" deep. Next I took the green plywood and drew out the shapes of the sides and the top. there was not enough to also get a back piece. I cut the side and top pieces out with a sabre saw. Then I attached them together with some small screws. I couldn't understand why it was so wobbly. Next, using some very small nails, I attached a few small pieces of wood, 6 inch pieces of 1/2 inch square pine, inside the back and sides, at about 1", at 12", at 24",and at 30", from the bottom. Then I cut the sawdust board shelves to fit. It was still a little wobbly, so I used a couple of thin pieces left over from the green plywood ,and fit them across the back and srewed them in place. That helped hold it all together a little better. When I was finished I was very proud of what I had accomplished, even if it looked like it was thrown together in 20 minutes. I dragged it into the house, so I could put it to use. When I walked through the living room with my hand crafted piece of furniture, I found several members of my family staring and snickering. Someone said, "We have been hearing sawing, and hammering, and drills going for the past 4 or 5 hours without a single break. We were expecting you to come in with some spectacular work of art." Someone else said "That's is what you came up with after all this time." I just turned and smiled and said, "I did the best I could with what I had to work with." That has been about the level of my Handyman abilities eversince. Oh, by the way, I used those shelves for my clothes until I graduated from highschool.

Positive thoughts would set this country straight


Mt Shasta by cursedthing


What this country, and the world, need is to move away from all the negative thoughts, words, and actions. I know, I know, easier said than done. Every where you look someone is complaining about something. The economy being a major focus lately. I know you can not wish everything good again just by thinking postive thoughts. But we are what we think about. The more we dwell on the bad, the more bad we bring into our lives. When you think positively you begin to act positively, and through those actions good things begin to happen. The more people dwell on the bad, the worse the situation gets. As more people start to think about and act on good things then the better things will get.

My life is getting better every day, and I hope that yours is to.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Stimulus Shmimulas

Fran Roberts Asked:

So what do you think about the stimulus package?

First let me start out by saying I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, I was listed as independent, but now they show me as non-affiliated. I do hate the way they play with words. I tend to be very central, neutral, maybe even a bit of fence sitter, on most issues. When it comes to economic issues I tend to fall to the right.

I think that the democratic leadership has taken the first steps towards dropping us down a deep spiraling hole. Quite an awesome task considering the hole this country was already in. Don't even get me started on Speaker Pelosi. It is my opinion that the democratically run congress contributed far more to the dyer economic state we are in than the previous president did. But that is a post for another day the question at hand is the "Stimulus Package".
I am not a fan a Big Government and this plan will add more volume & girth to the monster. I believe the less the Government is involved in the better. I do understand, and agree, that something had to be done. Extreme measures needed to be taken, and it still may not help. A Stimulus package was needed but this is not the right one. I disagree with the idea that putting something out there is better than doing nothing. I think the President should have pushed back a bit more, and eliminated some of the crap that was added to this package. I understand there are over 8000 pork barrel items in this thing. Every Senator and Congressman trying to get their little pet project paid for. Most of these items adding nothing of value, and will not contribute to the turn around of this economy. This was not the time or the place to pay for some of these things.

More needed to be done to put people back to work this year. They still have not resolved the housing problem. More attention from this package needed to go to solving those issues. This plan does offer some tax relief, but not nearly enough. The Republicans were right to try to push for more tax breaks. It's been proven over and over again that keeping the money in the hands of the tax payer is the best way to move the economy forward.

I hope I am wrong. I myself am in a position that can be hurt if we do not turn this economy around this year. I will spend a little time getting more informed about the Stimulus Package itself, and Re-Post a more articulate response to this question.


For now, This is What Mack Thinks.




Thursday, February 26, 2009

I think scrabble questions can be detrimental to a relationship. So please be careful.

Thank you Pidge for throwing out the first question. Pidge Asked:

Bev and I have a constant debate over the use of the 2 and 3 letter word list in scrabble. According to the rules, these words are completely legitimate and great for your scores, however, I believe they are absurd and ridiculous to use in a friendly game. In a tournament, you should absolutely use them, but in a non-competition game amongst friends, they take away from the game.
Here are some good examples of the absurdity of what is allowable in competitive play: AA, AE, MI, MM (what kind of a word is that?!), UH, OUD, HEH, BRR, HM...the list goes on. These are not in my mind real words. Debate...

MM, I just ate a warm chocolate chip cookie. UH, my initial reaction to this question was to say "HEH, this is an easy one." But the more I pondered it, I had to stop and think, HM, maybe there is more to this question than I first thought. BRR, it suddenly got cold in here. MI,MI,MI, sorry had to prep my voice.

One rule of thumb might be, if you can use the word in a sentence then it should be allowed in Scrabble.

I don't know from competitive tournament Scrabble, but I think it's a bit strange that the official rules would allow words that are not in the dictionary to be counted. The way we have always played is the word must be in the dictionary, although I don't recall anyone ever actually checking.

One of my rules is, if you can come up with a reasonably agreeable definition for a word, then most people will allow it. (except maybe Carol.) But I digress. We are talking about 2 & 3 letter words here. Personally I feel the 2 & 3 letter words are the life blood of the game. Because most of the time that is all I can come up with when I play. I will admit though the "words" you gave as examples would never have occurred to me as acceptable in Scrabble. But, if the official rules state that they are acceptable, then I think you have to allow them.

If you are about to play a "non-competitive game amongst friends" (like there is such a thing.) Then I would suggest declaring, and agreeing, before the game starts that 2 & 3 letter words will not be allowed. If I were a regular player of the game, and was not involved in tournament play, then I would prefer to leave those words out and force the players (friends?) to think, and develop real words to keep the game more interesting. High score is not everything. (This coming from someone who has never been the high scorer.)

This is What Mack Thinks!

OH, this is interesting, my spellcheck only flagged AE, OUD, & HEH.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What do you think about this?

I think I have decided to try to make this blog into an "Ask Mack" sort of a site. Anyone can pose a question to this blog, and I will tell you what I think, and then everyone else can comment on my thoughts or give their own opinion on the original question. Ask about any subject that is on your mind.
-If you just have a subject, or an idea, that you have been thinking about, and want to here other opinions, ask me, and I will tell you what I think.
-Maybe you and a friend are arguing over something and cannot come to an agreement. Tell me what the disagreement is about, and I will tell you what I think.
- If you have a situation that you might just need a different perspective on. Tell me about it, and I will tell you what I think
- Questions about Business, Money, Relationships, Anything at all that is on your mind.

Post your question anonymously, or tell me about yourself.
Between my thoughts and advise, and the other readers opinions, you may find the solution you are looking for.

I will also continue to post random thoughts of my own from time to time for you to comment on.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I think I am totally screwing up my puppy

I don't think I realized how different dogs can be to train. Molly, our new white German Shepard has been terrorizing our home. I thought I could handle any dog, because 10 years ago I had a Shepard mix puppy named Maya and she was a very good dog most of the time. I took her to puppy school and learned the basic training techniques, and she did well. So when we got Molly I figured, no problem I know how to train her. Well needless to say she has a few issues that Maya did not . She is afraid of any strangers that come into the house, and she violently protects her space from our 7 year old White Shepard, Jake. The more I try to work with her the worse she seems to get. I feel myself loosing patients and I know that can hinder the training. I wish I could be like Jake. He just ignores her even when she is millimeters away from his face, growling and snapping. (She has never bitten him). He pretends she is not even there, even as I am yelling at her to stop. Sometimes I wonder if he would just snap back at her or put her down, then she might get the message and stop.

We adopted Molly from a rescue agency about 3 months ago. She was 15 weeks old at the time. It is unusual to find puppies through a rescue, but Molly's mother had been turned into a shelter while she was pregnant and the shelter could not take care of the puppies, so the mom and her pups were rescued and placed in foster homes until they were old enough to be adopted. We decided Jake needed a new companion after Maya passed. I think Jake was just as happy to be the only pet in the house.

Molly and I have enrolled in a "good manners" training class and hope to find the source of her issues and stop this unwanted behavior. It is more work than I expected but once you make a commitment to a pet you have to stick with it. She is a part of our family now and we love her. She is very good with Jake when they are eating, or when playing out in the back yard, and when we go on walks together. But when she is laying in her spot, (her spot can be where ever she is lying down at the moment,) she gets real nasty if Jake comes walking by.

The problem did not present itself right away and it has gotten progressively worse, which is why I feel I am totally screwing up this poor dog. We will keep at it though, and I will update you all on her progress.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

20 things I thought about in the minute it took to write this blog.

  1. I think writing a good blog is harder than it sounds.
  2. I think taking care of two puppies is harder than taking care of two kids.
  3. I think my wife thinks I am working hard at my computer when I am just blogging.
  4. I think my daughter may be a better cook than my wife.
  5. I think my seven year old dog is not to happy we have a puppy now.
  6. I think we are going through a major paradigm shift, not just an economic recession.
  7. I think the government wastefully spends our money.
  8. I think I would like to pay less taxes than I do now.
  9. I think it is important to have few really close Friends.
  10. I think it is fun to have many friends from all walks of life.
  11. I think it is good to spend as much time as you can with your entire extended family.
  12. I think the Patriots made the right move by making Matt Cassel a franchise player.
  13. I think Football is the best professional sport.
  14. I think Baseball is boring
  15. I think I need a new computer.
  16. I think Verizon sucks. (Although I have not tried fios yet)
  17. I think I would like to get an I-phone.
  18. I think working from home is the way to go.
  19. I think it is time to take the dogs for a walk.
  20. I think if I really thought about it I could come up with a better list of the things I think about.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I think I like working from home

I think working from home for yourself can, and should, be far more rewarding than going to an office every day. Although I do miss the social aspect of working with a good group of people.

I have been working from home for a couple of years now, closing out contracts and disposing of assets for a company that decided to move their operations out of State. Although I am not officially working for myself, I have found that I enjoy working from home, setting my own hours, and having the time to do and learn other things.

As I wrap up the work I am doing now, I need to start thinking about what I will do for a living. In this economy it is difficult to find a job through normal channels and I really want to continue working from home. That is why I am looking into several different opportunities. Earning money working on-line sounds nice, but I have found there is lot of crap out there. Everyone wants to sell you an opportunity to earn money on-line. I am not looking to buy a job, I am looking to get paid to work.

I believe it is necessary, and desirable, to have multiple streams of income. So instead of looking for that one high paying, time consuming, opportunity, I have decided to try and find multiple, less time consuming, but still high potential for earnings. Nothing is easy but the process can be simple. I am learning how to blog and hope to find a niche subject matter to blog about and eventually attract money making opportunities from that. I also have started doing voice over work, which is expectantly slow but I will continue to work hard and market myself to build a clientele. I also do some article writing on-line through O-desk, and can generate some cash from that every week. I am also a process server and bring regular cash flow in from serving legal papers. The main focus of my time while working from home is developing a website for a water filtration products company and help them to increase their on-line sales. None of these things requires 40-60 hours of work per week on there own, but all can bring revenue in. As the voice over work takes off I will redirect my focus, or if I find the Water Filtration business is growing then I will maintain my focus on that. All the while supplementing my income with the other lines of business.

I will continue to look for other opportunities to bring in income from different sources. I think and believe I am onto something here, and am excited about continuing to work from home. Working from home allows me to spend more time with my wife and daughter and allows time to enjoy our dogs. Even in these tough economic times it is important to decide how you want to attack life and go after what you want. The important thing is to take some action today!

Please let me know what opportunities you have found that allow you to enjoy the freedoms of working from home, and still bring in a good living for you and your family.

Mack

Monday, February 2, 2009

I think I should start writing. I started this blog in order to post the message about Simple-ology's blogging course, which aloud me to get the course for free. As I take the course I am sure you will see dramatic improvements in this blog.

The thing about Simple-ology is, it has helped me to start doing the things that I think and talk about. Like setting up a blog page for instance. I had thought about it several times but never made any real attempt to start one. But now I make note of the things I want to do and accomplish, and I take the steps to get them done. It's "simple".

I will let you know how the course is after I complete it. Hopefully you will see how it is working just by reading this blog.

If you have taken the Simple-ology blogging course, let us know what you thought. If you haven't then click on the link in my first post and check it out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I think this is something to start with.

I'm evaluating a http://www.simpleology.com/training/blogging/index.php">multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you http://www.simpleology.com/training/blogging/index.php">snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.


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