Friday, May 27, 2011

Preperation - My Thoughts

Because you didn't.

Here is what I think.

Some years ago as a boy scout group, we took off to St. Joseph, MO - north of Joplin a few hundred miles, to help out with some cleaning up from flooding along the Missouri River. I recall, though details are slim, that there were a couple of times that as we were out helping to clean up, many of us were getting dehydrated. Not to the point of something way serious, but I remember our scout leader leaving us to find some water because he was concerned. It wasn't an easy task to find it.

As simple as it seems, water in an emergency zone, is a most crucial supply. For those that have been affected as well as those that came to help. If the services and distribution system aren't working correctly, emergency supplies stocked up by those who were not affected in the disaster zone could be priceless. In Joplin, the Tornado took out a Walmart - and who knows what other retailers. Even if it was just a Walmart now gone, distribution of food and water in the area has become that much more tight.

Even for those residents whose homes are not gone, they would likely need an emergency supply of some items as they would not have access to normal supplies and supply lines.

But I think preparation isn't just for you. Honestly, I don't think it is so self serving. Perhaps partly. But mostly selfless-serving.

If you had emergency supplies, you would be able to go help, indeed, you would feel compelled to help, and give to those in need. If you were the one in need, you would hope that somebody would come and help you in your hour of need.

There are angels among us. And usually they are the ones that have taken the time to be prepared.

Are you?

Cheers,

Nathan

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Preparation

My brother posed the question in my last post, essentially – how does one prepare for certain disasters? 

He lives in and around the Tornado Alley, experiencing the chilling and I am sure frightening power of Mother Nature.  Had he prepared with food storage, water, and other essential emergency items, a tornado very well could rip them up and taken them away, being of no worth as there are no longer any supplies.

I have some thoughts on his question posed, but I thought I would try an experiment and pose the question to any readers who may be out there (and I am sure there are a few lurkers who check in from time to time) – How, why, and what would you do for preparations for natural disasters.  Feel free to respond concerning tornado disasters, tsunamis, flooding, earthquakes, etc. 

I am sure there is a wealth of ideas and thoughts out there – please reply with your own thoughts.  Tiffany and I would both like to know.

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joplin - in our hearts

I beg you take courage; the brave soul can mend even disaster.
~Catherine II

Our hearts go out to Joplin this week. We are saddened by the loss of life. We hope and pray for many miracles to happen as the time progresses and more people are found alive and well.

This incident, along with everything else that has been happening this year, and really the past few years, has been quite interesting. Tornado's, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Flooding. And my guess is that this may just be the beginning. Either I am becoming a lot more aware of natural disasters, or they are really happening a lot more often.

Staying away from the religious tenets that came up in my last post, all of these disasters have caused me to consider me and my family. Would we be prepared in the case of one of these things happening near me? Would I be able to take care of and keep safe my little ones (though, some, not so little any more)? Do we have a sufficient emergency plan that everybody would know what to do or where to go in case of emergency?

I hope that each of you take opportunity to consider what you would do under similar circumstances in Joplin. Or in Japan. Or Haiti. Or in your own backyard with your own possible disaster circumstances. For those of us not directly affected, we have more time to consider and prepare for the disaster that may ultimately change our life.

Hope you are ready. For if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. Or something like that.

Cheers,

Nathan

The World - Still Here

May 21st came and went, and as we have seen, there has been little world destruction. We have, however, seen a localized destruction in the form of a tornado in southern Missouri (misery?). More on that in a bit.

Part of me found this Harold Camping fellow a little too zealous for my tastes. His 'calculations' on the world ending, apparently, were off by five months (see today's new reports), so in another five months we will get to hear all about him again.

Predicting the end of the world is not new. There are religious zealots who have always and will always predict the 'end of the world'. Heck, the ancient Aztecs have probably the biggest prediction of the world ending in December of next year. If the frenzy created by this Mr. Camping fellow created such a stir, I wonder how much larger the talk will be as we near December 21, 2012.

Many of us call this guy 'crazy' or 'silly' or full of hot air. But is it wrong to believe in an 'end'? Essentially every Christian denomination agrees that there will be some sort of ending of the world. The bible is not quiet in this thing and creates a buzz in every religion that reads it. A second coming of Christ, a renewed earth, an earth draped in fire and destruction - it is all there.

And, yes, I do believe this. But, to say you know the day and the hour in which this will happen, I don't believe anybody can say. What I do know, is that we can always prepare. We can always live in such a way that allows us to be 'ready' for the event that would top all events. But to be ready means different things to different people. And the speed in which we prepare is different from person to person. It could mean putting money away for a rainy day, storing food and emergency items. It could mean changing your life, one day at a time, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It could mean we reach out to others to give a helping hand. It probably means we do more than sitting around and watching for the signs. We ought to be out changing and becoming.

Of course, it may not be in our lifetime. We may move on to the next life and may get to see this second coming from above. But, then, if we were prepared to meet our Savior when he came here on earth, we then would also be prepared to meet him if we met him on the other side of the grave.

Either way - one day we will know how it will all work out.

Cheers,

Nathan

Monday, May 16, 2011

Red Rock Relay - Moab

Last weekend was the Red Rock Relay down in Moab. I haven't spent time in that part of the state since my best friend growing up invited me to go with his family to Lake Powell when I was 13. A long time ago. And I am sure I didn't appreciate the beauty back when I was more concerned about video games and licorice chews.

This last weekend was a blast - and a real trip. Tiffany dropped the two youngest ones at her moms house, and came back and picked me and the two older ones up and drove down to Green River, UT to stay the night. We met up with the rest of our team there and had dinner together, venturing another 50 miles in the morning into Moab.

For those that have done relays before, this is both the same, and different. Most of the relays around here - the Wasatch Back, or the RRR in St. George, or the Ragnar relay in Las Vegas, consist of 12 member teams each running 3 legs. Usually you start Friday morning and end sometime Saturday afternoon, with somebody from the team running all the time. This ends up being about 180 miles - give or take a few.

This relay included only 6 members per team, each running two legs, and going a total of 70 miles that starts in the morning and ends before the sun goes down. It was a different experience, but one that was tougher in some ways, and easier in others. But when all was said and done, it was an experience both Tiffany and I enjoyed. Running around the Colorado River, seeing the rock formations, including Tower rock, running up one side of the mountain and down another, we got a non-touristy view of the Moab area, and another experience that pulled Tiffany and I together as we went through another challenge together.

Our team name ended up 'Running from the Law'. Our team captain's husband works for the Utah Highway Patrol and thought we could get some good props for the vehicle through him and made the name fun. There are some creative names for many of the teams out there, and we added to that fun. Our team T's were jailhouse orange (though I think mine came out closer to a salmon/pink color) and each shirt made some sort of mention about being a convict. Katie decorated our van to make it look like there were bars on the windows and had placards that attached to the doors that said, 'Convict Transport Vehicle: Do not pickup hitchhikers in the area' - an added funny in that we were always opening the door to 'pickup' our runners - as well as all the other teams.

The two older kids went with their Uncle Travis (Tiffany's Sister was part of our team - So he came down to babysit our kids - along with his) and hiked in Arches National Park and played in some sand dunes and a few parks. They enjoyed their time and would like to go down there again sometime. I think we will.

Here are some pics from our experience.

Most of our Team: Carrie (my sister), me, Andrea (Tiffany's sister), Katie, and Jackson - John's son who was our cheer squad and water boy. (John not pictured nor Tiffany, who was probably taking the picture).

Our Van - er, convict transportation vehicle.



Me running along the Colorado River (not seen)

Tiffany taking off for her first run.

Tower Rock - before we climbed the mountain.

Tower Rock from the top of my last run. Not sure it was a run... more of a hike. It was too steep for me to run. I felt like a loser until at one point I looked over a ledge and saw 4 out of 5 runners also walking or 'hiking' up the road. Altitude and a steep incline kept most of us from posting good times.

Tiffany ready for the baton handoff from Carrie (my Sister)

Tiffany and Carrie showing off their guns - and convict T-shirts

Here is Tiffany again, lovin' those guns of hers. Who knew she was so vain?

Our Team: Andrea, Carrie, Me, Tiffany, Katie, Jackson, and John

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cameron and Britany - Congratulations

On April 30th, my older brother was married. He asked me to take a few pictures of his new bride and the new family. Here are a couple I opted to share with you.

To my brother: Somehow she seems to like you. Not sure how you got her to do that, but hey, congrats and keep the flame burning bright!

Cheers to you and your new little family.

Fred




To the Weather Man:

Can we stop this weather, please? As much as we all love to ski, May is the time to put our skis up and get out the bikes. It is not time for more wet, cold weather. It is not time for more snow. It is not time to keep the heavy blankets on our beds. It is not time to bundle up when you go to school. It is not time to think of the dark days of winter.

It is a time to enjoy the cumulus in the sky while we take sunny walks with our families. It is the time that we open the windows throughout the day, for fresh air, to hear song birds, and to save our gas and electricity bills. It is a time to send the kids outside and get them away from the TV and computer. It is a time to prepare soil to plant gardens and flowers. It is a time to be outside to smell the wonderful scent of lilacs and tree blossoms. It is time for Spring.

Spring brings out the best in us as we go from dark and dreary to bright and beautiful. We become enthused to get out and do and become. The springtime allows us to renew ourselves while the world renews itself.

So if you wouldn't mind, would you add a few more days of sun to our coming days? We would appreciate it. Because before you know it, you will be forecasting 95 degrees with the hot and blistering summer. And we really would like to enjoy spring for more than a month.

If you would be so kind,

Nathan

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cars, Walmart and Other Prideful Musings.

Mom had a framed cross-stitch quote that hung out on the piano while we were growing up. It read something like this (mom, feel free to quote the real thing; I think I messed it up).

All is vanity when you buy things you don't need, with money you don't have, to impress people you don't like.
~Author Unknown

In today's society, it seems like we need more and more toys, bigger homes, more things to fill said homes, bigger vacations, and the list goes on. Most of us, even if we try to be, are not exempt from this thinking. It is a hard thing not to be. And if we don't have these things, we feel ashamed, which changes how we live our life. We work longer hours, get two jobs and even send both spouses to work (kids, fend for yourselves for a bit), go into debt, and become slaves to this debt for the rest (or much) of our lives - and though I am not suggesting that these things are wrong, I think if we all take a look closer to ourselves, we do those things more to keep up with the society than we do to build relationships (see previous post).

Case in point. Tiffany and I went to a wedding at the Tuscany down in the Salt Lake City area last weekend. We didn't have our kids with us, and due to logistics, we left the van where they were and we took my little civic - a 97 Honda that gets me to work and back and usually used for little else. It is getting old, has a few minor body issues here or there. The passenger side mirror is stuck on with duck tape (actually, gorilla tape - it holds better and it matches the color of the mirror casing) that has held since I put it on a few years ago and I don't see the reason on paying $150 to fix it since it works and nobody can tell the tape is holding it on. The engine fans and belts scream, making it impossible to be unnoticed, while the glove compartment broke when I was fixing the heater fan a few years ago - it now just hangs open (though I have tried to fix it a couple of times. It is just plain broke).

Nobody, at least almost nobody, gets in the car with me. It is simply used to commute 50 miles to work and 50 miles home. Sometimes I will take it other places when the van is being used, but it generally sits idle otherwise. It is paid off, gets 35 mpg, and just continues to run, no matter what I do to the thing. Can there be anything wrong with this? One day I dream of a truck, but that won't happen until this thing dies.

So there we were, arriving at the Tuscany, and both Tiffany and I were shuttering at the thought of valet parking. Not only did some kid have to get in and drive it, but there would be many others who would see us get in and out of it. The insanity! We laughed at the thought that we would rather be driving the van. (Now there is a cool thought. The fact that I would rather be seen in a van than my little red coupe, tells you a lot about what we think of that car.)

You see, we are not exempt. We started to, in essence, covet what we did not have. The nice thing is, I know that I am not alone. And that can sound kind of cheeky, but, c'mon, how often do you find yourself thinking or feeling the same way? No seriously, 9 out of 10 of you probably do.

I don't know what this means as a society. Financially speaking, it has been what has propped up the economy for so long. But what if I was so embarrassed out of pride, that I decided not to attend the wedding? The sad thing I find is that when we don't build relationships because we are so focused on attaining the next great thing, when we get that new toy, we won't have anybody to share it with. Or at least anybody who cares about us. They might like the toy, however.

From time to time, I get my camera out and take family photos, and when occasion permits photos for other family members or friends. I do a nice enough job - I did pics for a happy couple the other day. I took some pictures of them in the morning, came home and rushingly loaded them up to Walmart to develop some before I went back to the actual wedding.

When you think nice pictures, you don't think Walmart. Of course not. Walmart is just cheap. But I have found that once a picture is in a frame, unless there is something unusual about the photo paper, nobody can tell if it came from Walmart or from somewhere else. I find if you take good pictures, the Fuji printer at Walmart does just as nice a job as the Fuji printer at, say, Mpixpro, or Snapfish, or whatever. (There are a few options out there aside from a these photo options, but going into them would mean to digress into unnecesary topics. We are just talking about general photo prints.)

Tiffany, being the respectable gal that she is, told me to not give the pictures in the Walmart envelope. 'Who wants to look at pics from a Walmart envelope?', she told me. 'At least don't advertise where you print your 'professional' photos.'

I said, 'Nah! They will love the pics no matter how I give it to them.'

They loved the pics, of course. But I was surprised later when somebody made mention about the uncool nature of carrying around a Walmart envelope.

Tiffany is always right. Why don't I listen to her more often?

Oh, yeah, my pride. To which I remember someone saying,

"I don't recall hearing of anybody choking to death while swallowing their pride."

Cheers, and happy swallowing. Doing so, I think, gives us character.

Nathan

Monday, May 9, 2011

Have You Ever Wanted to Adopt?

It has crossed my mind a couple of times.

And sometimes I am somewhat serious as it crosses. Though, not really.

I verbalized this a few weeks ago to Tiffany when the topic of foster care came up on the radio.

She was somewhat surprised, but the discussion trailed off into some unknown and we really haven't discussed it since.

However, a few nights ago, Tiffany was feeling exhausted. She was feeling a little tightness in her throat and had a busy day taking care of her normal duties while babysitting for a neighbor who needed some help. When we put the kids to bed, she stated she wasn't tired, but was ready to sit back for a second.

So we turned on Netflix, and we ended up finding a documentary called "The Human Experience".

It touched both of us as we saw a filmmaker go homeless in NYC, head to Central America to some of the children homes down there, and then headed off to a leper colony in Ghana. Each of the segments had their own story and their own charm, but the segments about the children made me wonder if I am doing enough in this world. One comment made by the filmmaker is that these people he was filming, and 3rd world countries in general, know the purpose of their existence. It is to survive - get enough food, get shelter, and foster relationships. In our world, though we have to take care of these as well, they come at a much smaller cost and we have additional time and means to do other things. So we get confused as to our purpose.

We could go on a big discussion about purposes and reasons for living, using intellectual knowledge, spiritual or religious themes, or some other way of thinking about our purpose. All of which are worthy for discussion. But for lack of time and weary of the discussion topics, I simply believe that once we have taken care of our needs, we ought to look at how to take care of others. Simply put. I don't think there is anything else that gives the same satisfaction.

I am not very good at it, though. So I don't necessarily live what I preach. Thank goodness for Tiffany to help me out in this area. But with that said, people will always be the number one concern on my list. Work, as much as a necessity it is, will always be a means to and end, and for me, never and end in itself. Much to the chagrin of some, I am sure.

But back to the topic at hand... Have you ever considered adoption? I just know that I haven't ruled it out.

Cheers,

Nathan

Monday, May 2, 2011

Minute to Win It

So Tiffany came home from her exercise class and gave the kids some jobs to do. Emma and Logan are off track (the joy of year round school) and they both had to clean their rooms. Logan's job was simple. With three boys stuffed into their room, there isn't much room for a mess, so he was done within a few minutes.

Emma's room, however, is where the action happens. We have the old TV in there, with the Wii, add her gerbils and the room becomes a kid magnet. And anybody with kids can attest that where they are, cleanliness doesn't just appear. Suffice it to say that she had some extra work to do.

One thing with Emma is that you will find that she is a witty, common sense kind of girl. We laugh at the humor she displays as well as the well-thought out questions and answers to ours.

Today, however, this wit was used in a Tom Sawyer like fashion. Tiffany and I both over heard she and Logan in her room while she said, 'You have ten seconds to put this away - go!'. We would then hear footsteps running to take care of whatever Logan was tasked to do. We laughed at what she was doing, but laughed a little harder when we over heard her say, 'You got a minute to win it!'

Her room was clean in no time. And I don't think she moved a muscle, well, except her jaw.

Within a short time, she came bounding down the stairs, telling us her room was clean and that she was going off to play with her friends.

Not sure we should put a stop to this or not. How useful could that be when she becomes a mother?!

Cheers,

Nathan