Thursday, February 26, 2009

A little science project

I often underestimate how much science and chemistry are involved in baking and cooking. I can mostly attribute that to the fact that I know little about what is actually happening in my kitchen in terms of science. I have learned a few things over the years though, one of those being that it is beneficial to run more than one trial. And run more than one trial is just what I did tonight while making crusts for the two lemon tarts I will be making tomorrow manana.

I followed the same recipe for each crust but my method of getting the crust in the tart pan was different. My first trial consisted of following the recipe; I rolled the crust out and then placed it in the pan, folding over the edges and so on and so forth. I was unable to see the purpose in the whole rolling out thing so I decided to take control in trial two. I just plopped that perfectly mooshy ball into my second tart pan and set to work mooshing and gooshing it around until I had it in every nook and cranny. It took me all of five second in trial two to understand that the rolling pin would have made whole venture in trial two much more enjoyable. And it would have definitely made for a more uniform crust. Let's be honest, crust number one is going to be smooth and uniform and beautiful. After all the elbow grease that I threw into crust number two there is no guarantee for beauty, only love in that one.

Lesson learned. Follow the recipe from trusted sources. They usually know what they're talking about. I should quit trying to fool myself; science or not, I'm still an amateur.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ode to Cotton

I felt compelled to write an ode to cotton after forgetting a towel on an FFA overnight trip last weekend. I took students up to the White Mountains in eastern Arizona for an FFA ski trip. We stayed on the campus of Round Valley High School and slept on the oh-so comfy floor of their football dome. Staying in a high school sports facility kind of requires you bring everything you need to survive, or at least get ready in the morning:-) Needless to say, I forgot a towel so after washing my face off that morning I found myself drying my face off with...toilet paper! Nothing is quite as refreshing as seeing your sleep deprived face in the mirror to pick off the pieces of toilet paper.

Ode to Cotton

You're so cuddly and clean
Absorbent and nice
I love drying my face off with you

You don't leave tiny pieces of paper behind
You don't fall apart in my hands
I love drying my face off with you

I hope to never forget you again
Magnificent fiber that makes the world go 'round
I love drying my face off with you

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thankful Thursday...err Friday

On Thursdays, my friend Emily posts what she is thankful which motivated me to do the same. As you can tell though, I kind of missed the boat yesterday. Nevertheless, God was faithful in providing a very applicable piece of scripture to me this morning so I wanted to share that with you today.

I found myself becoming overwhelmed and tired this week. Work has been piling up. I can't sem to accomplish "enough" on my to do list. I feel like I am behind. I have some anxiety over upcoming events, both for work and my personal life. Basically I have become weary. I long for a break, both physically and mentally. A break is the farthest thing from sight at this moment though but God provided this morning in my quiet time and I am reminded of his provision, protection and abundant grace in all things. I pray that you find Psalm 27 as encouraging as I did. I underlined some particularly encouraging parts....blessings to you today!

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. The one thing I ask of the Lord-the thing I seek most-is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music. Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don't leave me now; don't abandon me, O God of my salvation! Even if my father and mother abandon me, The Lord will hold me close. Teach me how to live O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I've never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Posted February 9, 2009 by Tom Ziglar

I asked Dad what he thought about the stimulus package. He had a faraway look in his eye. You could tell he was searching his 82 years of collective memories and wisdom. "Son," he said, "there ain't no free lunch."

I don't know about you, but I am suffering from a severe case of Stimulitus. Stimulitus is a condition brought on by borrowing money to be spent by people who produce nothing,for things we don't need, to help people who either caused the problem or don't believe in paying taxes. Stimulitus is what you get when you realize that the people you have elected value self-interest first and foremost, and believe that common sense is a dreadful disease that can only be cured by printing money.

Stimulitus creates some very interesting math problems. My daughter is in 8th grade and occasionally I help her with the dreaded math word problem. Here is a word problem for you. The current $750 billion Stimulitus plan (give or take $200 billion or more) says we will either save or create 2.5 million jobs. How much does it cost to save or create one job? Dude, that is like $300,000 per job! I want one of those jobs!

Here is an idea for you. We elected a bunch of "smart" people. Let's tell them to cut $500 billion in government overhead and reduce our taxes by $250 billion this year. That's a $750 billion adjustment just like the current Stimulitus plan. See, I can work with big numbers, too; the only difference is the reality that we are going to have to do with less for a time. Of course, 90% of us have already figured that out, and for those of you without common sense, 90% is like, a lot.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Less taxes = better economy

I am a staunch supporter of low taxes, no taxes. Same with the government; I'd prefer as little government as possible. Anyway, my sister sent this email to me and I love it. Just wanted to pass it along to you. If you agree with it, high five. If not, I hope you'll think about why it makes sense. While I am a Christian and wholeheartedly and passionately support the idea of charity, I also wholeheartedly and passionately support the notion of hard work and reaping what you sow...

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know,the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

Let me tell you some little tidbits of fact, which might help you decide what is in your best interests. First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understandthat for every business owner there is a back-story. This back-story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my new car outside. You've seen my home at last year's Christmas party. I'm sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life. However, what you don't see is the back-story.

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time,I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for three years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you. My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, andsacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hoursa week, made a modest $50K a year, and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars, lived in expensive homes, and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was strolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1-year-old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the new car, the vacations... You never realize the back-story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bailout all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for. Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately,the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why: I am being taxed to death and the government thinks that I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes; payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire an accountant to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs andserves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business?Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next government check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hardwork? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into theWashington black hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that taxcut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death,you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more. Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

If you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens,you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about...

Your boss

The Great Surgeon

As modern day Christians I don't think we reflect often enough on how serious our terminal problem of sin is. And when I say terminal, I mean that without the salvation of Jesus Christ, we will die because of the sin that seperates us from God. If you like analogies, here's a good one that just hints at what we're facing...

When seeing the doctor about a problem, we all too often want that doctor to prescribe God pills. He'll say take one morning and night and you should be good to go. Is "curing" our sin that easy though? Some churches and religious organizations make it seem that way, but that isn't an accurate picture of the depravity of our situation as sinners. The conversation we should really be having is that we're facing a life threatening disease; maybe even cancer. It has metastisized and infiltrated every part of our body. It is painful yet we seem to be addicted to that pain. We don't have many days to live and death is guaranteed without intervention. The best news about this bleak situation though is that we have been given the best surgeon around...and for free. His name is Jesus and he has a 100% success rate. He's never made a mistake and once surgery is complete your future life brings eternal hope.

True isn't it? Our sin problem isn't small. No, no, it is far to big for our minds to fathom. There's no 12 step recovery program that can neatly remove sin from our lives. We must see the best surgeon and allow him to intervene and bring us hope. Praise God though that our salvation doesn't depend on our faithfulness in taking pills or following a 12 step recovery program.

"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she find it, she says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin." In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Praise God for the value he sees in the unsaved, or lost. I am so thankful that my life was turned upside down as God sought after me. And I am thankful that for every lost sinner that turns, and repents, the angels in the halls of heaven are rejoicing with joy. I pray for the lost in my life that they might seek and find the great surgeon so that after a life saving surgery, they may find eternal hope.