Category Archives: Food

My kind of vacation

For the second year in row, our dear friends from Texas (AJ, Laura,and #8) drove all the way to our home in South Carolina to spend a few days of their vacation with us and to celebrate our Independence Day together, blowing stuff up and eating lots of yummy food.  We laughed, shared memories and just enjoyed each other’s company.

Somehow this year, we started talking about Meyers-Briggs personality types and my brother-from-another-mother pointed out a simple description of the difference between Introverts and Extroverts.  I, being an Introvert, lose energy with prolonged exposure to people, even beloved friends.  He, being an Extrovert, replenishs his energy supply from being around people.

So, when I wake up in the morning, my batteries are fully charged because I’ve had a nice long break away from people (well, except for my beloved wife).  AJ wakes up depleted and needs company fast in order to recharge.  Basically, my brother is a vampire feeding off of people like me.  😂

Thing is that I love being around my friends and family, but I don’t really have this burning need to DO stuff.  I just love knowing they are near.  I do, however, need a plan or some milestones for the day – like what we’re going to eat or if I need to drive anyone anywhere or if we need supplies, etc.  Guess if you are a father of seven, much of this stems from necessity.

At one point during our weekend, I think a circuit just snapped in my head and I made a mess of the festivities, getting short with my wife and embarrassing myself in front of my friends because “I just needed to know the details of the plan!“. 

Sigh, thankfully my wife and our friends love me too much to hold a grudge when I get stupid.

Have you ever seen Weird Science?  There’s this scene where Gary and Wyatt are hosting this huge, rocking party and where are they?  Hiding out in the bedroom, taking some consolation that everyone else seems to be having a good time.  I can totally relate to them.  😁

But here’s how thoughtful and wise God is.  In all my quirks and oddities, my wife is the glue that keeps it all together for me.  She, being an Extrovert, can graciously host dozens of our friends at our home without batting an eye.

Well, the Fourth came and I was super excited.  I had a stock pile of fireworks all planned out.  And then, our friends brought even more!  They brought food, children, and most importantly, themselves.

I was a little nervous because of the rain in the forecast, but it cleared up just in time for the show.  God is good! 

The week was a huge success.  We had such a good time with our friends.  I didn’t have to drive cross country and enjoyed the comforts of home.  We blew up a ton of explosives.  AND, no police showed up!  (We’ve got a cranky neighbor that complains to them anytime we’re out in our yard after 9 pm).  

I am so thankful for all of you in my life.  Thanks for the best vacation an INTJ can ask for.

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Do you even know what you’re saying?

Socialism, and her inevitable offspring Communism, are gaining popularity once again.  Visions of Che Guevara swell in the hearts and on the T-shirts of the ‘working class’.  Students flock to the local Leftist “Equality” rallies, iPhones and Starbucks Gluten-Free-Mocha-Frappa-Caramelitos in hand.  Disgruntled workers, not feeling the love, covet their CEO’s bonus payout last year without the slightest clue of what it takes to run a company that may employ tens of thousands of workers.

And why not?  On the surface, there’s some appeal to the idea of Socialism.  Why wouldn’t we want everyone to have guaranteed food, shelter, education, medicine, clean air, pothole-free roads, high paying jobs, time and money for vacations on the beach, USDA Prime filet mignon for dinner every night, or blazing fast wifi?  Unless you’re a real sociopath, no one wants to actively prevent someone from having these things.

The problem is that in reality, everyone can’t simply have all of these things just because we want it to be so.  As I’ve written previously, the fundamental truth of economics comes down to 2 basic, opposing forces – the insatiability of our appetites vs. the scarcity of available resources.  You cannot completely satisfy even a personal insatiability because of the scarcity of resources, much less the desires on a national or global scale.

Don’t misunderstand.  That’s not to say individuals cannot find contentment in their situation.  We may resolve to be content with what we have.  But tomorrow, we will be hungry again.  We will need shelter again.  We will want electricity and heat and water again.  That’s what it means to have an insatiable Demand over time.

Despite these fundamental truths, modern Socialists want you to believe that it IS possible for a central planner to gather up all of the resources and equitably parse them out to the masses.  They also want you to believe that in this fairy tale, individuals will choose to work, not for selfish gain, but for the good of humanity.

Can a central planner actually accomplish this better than the free market?

This clip from Milton Friedman explains why no one can even build a pencil on their own.

What is Socialism?  How do they propose to distribute all these goods and services for everyone to enjoy?

Here’s a quote from MarxMail.org —

Instead of wanting to take away people’s private property, socialists want more people to have more private property than ever before.

There are two kinds of private property. There is property which is personal in nature, consumer’s goods, used for private enjoyment. Then there is the kind of private property which is not personal in nature, property in the means of production. This kind of property is not used for private enjoyment, but to produce the consumer’s goods which are.

Socialism does not mean taking away the first kind of private property, e.g. your suit of clothes; it does mean taking away the second kind of private property, e.g. your factory for making suits of clothes. It means taking away private property in the means of production from the few so that there will be much more private property in the means of consumption for the many. That part of the wealth which is produced by workers and taken from them in the form of profits would be theirs, under socialism, to buy more private property, more suits of clothes, more furniture, more food, more tickets to the movies.

More private property for use and enjoyment. No private property for oppression and exploitation. That’s socialism.

So first off, Socialists want you to have MORE private property by taking away your second kind of Private Property.

wait-what-meme

But let’s take a closer look at this nonsensical banality.  You have the right to your property for use and enjoyment, just not the things that will produce more property for use and enjoyment.

How many of you have 2 separate bank accounts – one for your use and enjoyment (say a checking account) and another for producing more money (say an IRA or Savings account)?  Well, that second account would become property of the Socialist State.

For those of you that are business owners or employers, how many of you sacrifice some of your “use and enjoyment” private property to invest in your business or to create jobs for employees?  Well, you might want to reconsider because the Socialist State would immediately seize your tools of exploitation and oppression.

So what’ you say?  As long as there’s equality and people’s lives improve, isn’t that good?

Let’s imagine if we measured the Total Global Production of Goods today, and declare it be equal to 100 units of measurement (let’s call them widgets).  So as of Jan 24, 2015, there are 100 widgets in the world today.  Socialist believe that if the global population equaled 100 people, well then each person would get, on average, 1 widget to consume.  (True Socialists differ from hard-lined Communists in that they won’t distribute the stolen goods equally per person, but that’s another topic).

So what happens when 100 widgets are consumed?  Will they all be replenished and can we continue to perpetuate this rate of consumption once we take away Private Property (Capitalism and Self-Interest)?  Will consumption remain constant or might it grow?

Ask yourself – what if you could continue to consume what you do today (or even consume MORE than what you do today) without increasing your workload?  What if not a single hour of additional labor would net you any additional benefit in compensation?  You get paid regardless of if you work 8 hours a day or 4.  Would you work as hard as you do?  Would anyone?

I don’t know if you’ve recently been to the United States Post Office.  Take a look at the floors, the walls, the supplies stations.  Even the self-service kiosks.  Unlike privately-owned businesses that are meticulously maintained in order to keep customers satisfied, most of the time the USPO is filthy, out of supplies, understaffed and totally run by clock watchers.  Try walking into the Post Office with a stack of packages at 5:01 pm when the place closes at 5:00.

So now think about the 100 widgets being consumed.  Is there any likelihood those consumed widgets would be replaced or even grow past the current level when you take away the incentives to work harder and longer?

Of course not.  In fact, very quickly, the Socialist State has to scale back their promises of free goods and services, institute rationing and price fixing, and nationalize mandatory labor (e.g. slavery) in order to keep the State alive.  Forget about iPhones and free wifi or healthcare and education.  Now, you can’t even manage to keep everyone fed.

When this happens, you have gone from the Socialist’s Pipe Dream to the hard reality of a Communist State.

So what’s so bad about the Communist State?

Plenty.

Now, any lingering seed of individualism or free thinking is met with severe hostility, violence, persecution, torture, starvation, and death.  This account of the horrific genocide perpetrated by Mao Tse Tung on his own people should be a sobering wakeup call for those who live on some Fantasy Island thinking that we can just take everyone’s property for the good of the people, yet production will be able to keep up with the increased demand.

alewitz2

(okay, I added a bit of truth to this Socialist propaganda.)

Even more disturbing to me are the attempts by Socialist fan boys to re-write or ignore history.  Like Mao, the history of Stalin, Russia and the Soviet Union is written in the blood of millions of people, murdered and tortured by their own leaders.  This film of the Soviet Story is disturbing but must be shared.  If you watch to the end, what’s particularly alarming are the current trends in Russia under Putin to go back to the days of Stalin and ethnic cleansing.

You can also go here to see the film with full English subtitles.

Now I know there are still some naïve daydreamers out there, sitting in your dorm rooms, looking up at your Bob Marley posters, sipping your dandelion tea and thinking “we would never resort to killing and violence and torture in order to achieve equality.  We just want to stand up for the 99%.”

So to you, let me ask you this:  If I choose to ignore your demands on my Private Property, if I refuse to fund your regime with my taxes, if I protest anything that has to do with “contributing My Fair Share”, if I stand defiantly at the doors of my business and do not allow you to come in and take what I’ve created or earned – WHAT IS YOUR NEXT COURSE OF ACTION?

Will you leave me alone?

Will you go pick on someone else instead?

Will your master plan survive with the existence of Choice?

Thanksgiving is a religious holiday

We had an interesting study in church this morning, and we looked at several verses of Scripture, but in particular, we read Psalm 136 together. It got me thinking.

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving every November. In grade school, you might have learned about the pilgrims and the Indians, the harsh winter conditions, near famine.


You might have even learned about George Washington and the “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving” or Abraham Lincoln and the Federalization of the holiday.

These days, the observance of Thanksgiving has different meaning and traditions for everyone. Many people get together with friends or family and have a big meal.


Others get excited about Football games. Some look forward to the official beginning of the holiday shopping season and the madness known as Black Friday.

But for most, this holiday centers around the notion that we should be Thankful. You will hear countless politicians, business leaders, preachers, celebrities, and even members of your family and community tell you “we should be thankful”, especially during this time of year.

So I ask.

Why? Why should we feel Thankful? And what exactly does that mean? To Feel Thankful?

And I’m not looking for specific examples. I’m not looking for the “I’m thankful because I’m healthy or have a job or my kids go to the best schools, etc.” answers. I’m asking, what is it about our nature that would prompt anyone to feel gratitude? Is this a natural inclination or are we taught how to ‘feel’ grateful / thankful?

Some may say that when someone extends a kindness to you that you didn’t deserve, when you feel like someone has gone above and beyond the minimum call to duty, it’s that ‘extra something’ that elicits gratitude. So in response to the knowledge that something other than the bare minimum was done for you, your natural response is one of gratitude.

But what if the object of your gratitude isn’t a person’s actions? You’ve heard people say “I’m grateful for Freedom.” Or “I’m thankful that I have my health.” Or “I’m grateful that I could buy dinner tonight (because I labored, earned a wage, paid my debts, and had enough left over).”

If you follow the “extra something” logic, then your gratitude for things or circumstances may stem from an idea that you have more than you “deserve”. So for example, if you are grateful for Freedom, maybe it’s because you believe you don’t deserve freedom, but it’s kind of like a bonus.

Of course, if you’re an atheist and purely pragmatic, maybe you don’t feel gratitude or thanksgiving at all. I’m not exactly sure how that works.

IF, however, you feel the need to show gratitude, to be thankful for ___, or to appreciate your lot in life, and you are planning on celebrating part of this Thanksgiving holiday in reflection, I pose one final question that I alluded to above.

TO WHOM do you direct your gratitude and how exactly do you express that?

Is Thankfulness basically a warm and fuzzy feeling you get or does it manifest itself into some action?

How do you show your thanks for the men and women that defend our country? Do you wear a pretty yellow bow? Place bumper stickers on your car? Vote for higher taxes to give our soldiers more __ (incidentally, you can always pay extra taxes to the Treasury if you are so inclined without having to steal from everyone else that doesn’t share your patriotism.)

How do you give thanks for your job, your car, your home?

How do you show gratitude for the welfare check you received this week (or do you believe you deserved that check, so there’s really nothing to be thankful for)?

How do you give thanks if you studied really hard for months and got an ‘A’ on your college mid-term? Do you treat yourself to beer, giving thanks to yourself?

How do you show gratitude for the Constitution? The Bill of Rights? Obamacare? Great books? Your favorite band?

How do you show gratitude for the privilege of being a parent? Do you go out for some “me time”, buy yourself a new car because you deserve it, or have your nails done?

I submit to you readers that Gratitude comes from our Creator. Just like our natural ability to feel and understand JOY, for example, God gave us a natural desire to feel Thankfulness because it is our natural reaction to His goodness. The Bible tells us that God is Good and that all good things come from Him. If there was no God, there would be no Good, and we would not have Thankfulness in our hearts. We did not deserve His goodness. We have no rightful claim to it. But He pours out His goodness on us because He loves us.

Our response to His goodness, our gratitude that we show, is evidenced in the Love we have for Him.  Jesus said “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

Our thankfulness should not be limited to the 2nd to last Thursday of November. It should be the core of defining who we are. But as you prepare for the festivities and celebration this Thanksgiving, be sure to recognize that the very act of Giving Thanks comes from God to whom all Thanks is due.

Quick updates

Happy Easter / Resurrection Sunday everyone.

Sorry for not posting of late, but there’s been so much going on . . .  as usual.  Haven’t even been able to get much reading done lately.  

First off, I’ve got a new position at work.  It’s technically not a promotion as it’s the same title / pay.  However, it has the potential for opening up big opportunities if all goes well.  The good news is that I’m gaining 3 existing Sr. Analysts to manage.  The bad news is that the one woman on my team now will be reassigned to another manager.  I’m flying out to California Monday night to spend a couple days with my new team / manager.  The children were sad to hear I’d be away from home.  They’re not used to me traveling.  Praying for Jenny while I’m away.

With the new job, I’ve been thinking about how I need to get more expertise in Accounting.  I’m a Finance Manager and I’ve been able to get by with minimal actual accounting experience.  But if I’m going to take my career to the next level such as a Director or CFO, I’m going to need my CPA.  Even though I just finished my MBA last August, I’m looking into going back for a Masters in Accounting to prepare me for the CPA exam.  This would be different from my MBA course load which was a crazy 3 x 3 cr hrs each semester.  The MS program can be spread out taking only 3 cr hrs at a time.  It would take longer to complete, but this way A) my employer would pay for my whole program and B) I wouldn’t have to completely abandon my family again (like I did during my MBA).

Health

So, I’ve been a type II diabetic for over 10 years which means my body produces insulin, but I’m not absorbing / utilizing it enough to keep my blood sugars under control.  In 2001, I wasn’t even 30 years old yet and was already taking some serious meds for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.  Too many years of fast food, drink, and a sedentary lifestyle.  When I was first diagnosed, this is what I looked like:

Sept 2001

In 2006 when we moved to TX, I started to see a new general practitioner for normal checkups.  For the most part, we maintained the same regiment of drugs to try and keep me going.  Here’s what I looked like shortly after arriving in TX:

April 2006

Then, my GP put me on a medication called Actosplus Met which is a combination of a couple different diabetes medications.  The only problem was that it made me hungry ALL the time.  Why you would prescribe a diabetic medications that could potentially make him hungry 24/7 is beyond my comprehension.  But the result was that I had ballooned up to 210 lbs by the end of 2007.

March 2007

Finally, my GP was ready to throw in the towel with me and referred me to one of the best endocrinologists in the DFW area.  My new doc quickly switched me off of Actosplus Met to a couple injection type meds — Levemir (which is pretty much insulin) and Byetta.  The later is probably the most miraculous drug for diabetics made.  Not only does Byetta do a fantastic job at keeping blood sugars at normal levels, but it has the added benefit of appetite suppression.  When I was on Byetta, I felt fuller faster and probably cut my caloric intake in half.

As I started to shed pounds, I eventually joined a gym and began to exercise.  Slowly, the weight started to come off.  In about 2 years, I lost almost 40 lbs.  For the first time in I don’t know how many years, I was under 170 lbs.

August 2010

The downside to Byetta is that the appetite suppression effects do not last forever.  Eventually, your body gets immune to it.  In 2011, my doctor had taken me off of almost everything except for Metformin.  My blood pressure was normal.  My cholesterol was doing great.  Even my blood sugars were under control.

Since then, I started to slide a bit.  Stopped going to the gym because I said I didn’t have time.  Started overeating again (the holidays are especially tempting for me.)

Well, in late Feb, my endocrinologist told me that I had put on over 10 lbs since my last visit 3 months prior.  That was enough for me to get off my tail again.  I started watching my caloric intake – especially carbs (which are the killer for diabetics).  I started going back to the gym.

It’s now been 45 days of Healthy Living and I’m pleased to say that I’m back to my 2010 weight.

April 2012

I’m about 1/2 way to my goal.  If I can shed another 12 lbs, I will officially be at a normal BMI — something I don’t think I’ve seen since before high school.  My goal is to get there before my next endocrinologist appointment in mid-June.

Someone asked me what the secret to my success is this time around (since I don’t have Byetta to control my appetite anymore).  I would say the first thing I cut out was eating after dinner.  I used to be a terrible late night snacker.  That, BY FAR, was the hardest bad habit for me to kick.  Secondly, I’ve been really conscious of watching carbs.  By no means am I doing the no-carb, atkins diet.  But I try to limit total carbs in a single meal to 30-45 g.  There’s this great little app that I have on my phone from http://www.sparkpeople.com/ that helps me track calories, carbs, and exercise.  Third, I’ve started doing strength / resistance training as opposed to just hours of cardio.  In 2010, I used to get on an elliptical or treadmill for 45-60 minutes at a time.  Now, I’m doing a quick and hard 15 min cardio with 30 min of strength training.

Jenny’s also been really helpful with cooking more veggies and better quality meats in our meals.  We’ve started to buy more organic and locally grown produce, grass-fed beef, and fresh local eggs.  Egg white omelets and tuna (in water), btw, are 2 of my staples.  Pretty much eat them everyday.

Anyway, will soon return to blogging about Liberty and Freedom.

Have a great day everyone!

Fellowship through Food

(My youngest brother is probably laughing at me, if he even reads my blog.)

 

There’s something very intimate and touching about the food we eat.  At the most basic and biological level, we need to eat in order to survive.  But beyond getting our rations for sustenance, so much of our lives revolve around food.  People are passionate about Food.  Food tends to reach down deep to our spirit and stir up emotions and urges unlike anything else. 

 

There are entire industries devoted to promoting, producing, selling, distributing, storing, teaching, protecting, developing, and sharing the experience of Food.  There are people who write about the ‘healthy’ consumption of food while others love the excesses.

 

From creation, God provided fruits and plants for mankind.  The first temptation was to eat a forbidden food.  One could debate whether the fruit was pleasant-looking and desirable because of the God-like discernment of Good and Evil that came with it or if it just looked really yummy (I’m thinking for former).  Later after the Flood, God also gave us the animals to eat as food.

 

Food can be a way to bring people together or divide them.  The pilgrims that landed here, cold and hungry, celebrated the friendships they forged with the Indians with a Thanksgiving feast.  The Bible teaches us that Food can also lead to our demise.  Esau was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew.  Dietary restrictions on the Israelites were a cause of division and separation from Gentiles.  (Later on, God shares to Peter and Paul how the divisions to keep the Israelites separate under the Law had changed with the resurrection of Christ.)

 

In this respect, Food is a huge social cornerstone of civilization.  The breaking of bread together with friends, family and total strangers can open doors of conversation, compassion, and sharing.  I believe very strongly that in order to really get to know someone, it’s essential to share meals together.  I know that every single celebration, announcement, remembrance, and memorial I have ever attended involved Food.

 

I will also share that it is because of Food that my wife first caught my eye.  We met in college.  We lived in student apartments.  Jenny and her roommate were always hosting dinners or coffee in their apartment.  One day, she invited me over for dinner and put together the most incredible pork tenderloin meal.  The meal was delicious, but what grabbed my attention was that she cooked with her soul.  I could see her heart poured into her cooking.  And it was beautiful.  From then on, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to snatch her up.

 

I’ve said this before many times in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but I do mean it in all sincerity.  Ladies – if you are trying to attract a man to court you, start with his stomach.  If you don’t know how to cook, LEARN.  You will get far better results in the investments you make in learning how to cook vs. learning how to pole dance or rock climb.  Mothers – TEACH your daughters how to serve a meal including how to write up a shopping list and go buy groceries, plan for the number of attendees, time and prep, and serve.  These are skills that are quickly disappearing from our society, but I can tell you that my daughters will someday stand out from the crowd because Jenny has been training them from a very young age.

 

This weekend, we’re hosting a potluck dinner after church at our home.  We try to host one at least once a quarter.  We usually get a pretty good turn out and the food that people bring is incredible.  There are some churches that dine together every Sunday or Wednesday as a part of their fellowship.  Others are deathly afraid of the associations that might be insinuated with their congregation if they start having picnics on the lawn. 

 

I believe Christians are called to gather together to worship God and Christ, to keep each other accountable, to help in times of need, and to support and encourage one another.  Too often Christians focus only on having excellent worship that we neglect the social connections we need to have with one another.  Sharing the experience of a meal together – not just eating together – is the most simple way to open doors and build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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