Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Don't Make Resolutions; Make Realistic, Measurable Goals.

Don't make resolutions; make realistic, measurable goals. I can't stress that enough. Resolutions are just dreams or wishes. Realistic, measurable goals are an actual plan with trackable milestones. Don't just figure out what you want from 2014, figure out and stick to a real plan to make it happen.

Both in your personal life and professional, merely setting goals alone won't get you anywhere. They need to be realistic. They need to be measurable. And most importantly, you need to keep vigilant with it and see it through.

Write your goals down and keep them posted where you will always see them. Set deadlines and milestones to keep and track. Stay focus on the end result. Keep things realistic and achievable.

If your goal is to get your finances in order, I can not recommend reading The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. I read this book a few years ago and it really changed how I looked at handling my finances.

It took me a while to put it into practice, because like many, I shrugged off much of the advice in the book. Once I gave it an honest try, I saw real results. Now I live on a written budget that I write for each month and I am really seeing the results now.

Happy New Years, everyone! I wish you all a safe, healthy, and productive 2014. Good Luck with your realistic, measurable goals!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Don't Get What You Want for Christmas? Then Pull a Knife on the Old Man.

I saw this news story and got a little dizzy from shaking my head so hard.
Teen Pulls Knife on Dad for Failing to Get Him an iPhone, Cops Say

Is this really what we have become? So self centered and materialistic if we don't get what we want for Christmas we end up pulling a knife on our parents? I guess being able to raise kids with respect and values is becoming a lost art.

That's right. I put the blame squarely on the parents. Not rap or rock music. Not evil greedy corporations. Not mind numbing television and video games. It is parents raising spoiled sub-humans that will pull a knife on them if they don't buy them what they want.

The more we move away from having a strong work ethic and being thankful for what we have and more to this entitlement mindset of "I should have what others have because it's not fair otherwise" the more civilization declines.

We will complain about how poor the economy is and how nobody can find a decent paying job, but we are still willing to stand in line for the latest smart phone or video game. We fight over gadgets and other crap on black Friday the way a pack of wild dogs fight over the scraps of a carcass on the side of the road. And the wild dogs are actually a little better than us. At least they are fighting over something required for survival.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Budget in Your Politics

On a recent drive around the area, I was pleasantly surprised to see this sign at the Brant Pines Ski Area north of Grantsburg. The DNR are grooming the cross country ski trails this year.
Last year they suspended grooming due to budget cuts. Since the trails were not groomed last year there was no fee to use them. But, nobody used them since they were not groomed. It's nice to see this year that the DNR figured out that cutting programs that actually generate revenue is not a good idea.

The decision to not groom the trails appeared to be another example of politicians and bureaucrats making their budget fights public. You see this all the time. When schools are asked to cut their budget, they threaten the public that they will be forced to lay off teachers; but some how they still have the money to buy the football team new practice jerseys. When cities are asked to cut their budget, they threaten the public that firefighters and police officers will be let go; but on Saturday mornings you'll still see two city maintenance workers watering the flowers that hang in baskets from the light poles on main street. And that is the game the politicians and bureaucrats play; target something the public sees for budget cuts while ignoring the fat that could be trimmed.
If you want more examples, just look back at the recent Federal Government shutdown.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"I am your wasted life" Nope. You're Ungrateful

Last night I was spending some time on one of my favorite forums. Somebody made a post with the title of "I am your wasted life." Well that got me curious, so I opened it up and almost immediately was severely disappointed.

The message was:
"I work for a Ford/Lincoln dealer writing service. Hero if the recession yeah right! 10.00 a year is our bonus but our punishment is work till 3 tomorrow and back 7am the 26th.
This message isn't for you out there that want to respond quit if you don't like it. It is for all those that have to work Christmas/New Years. You are not alone."
Of course this little bit of Holiday whining opened up a flurry of comments. Normally I just sit back and enjoy the show, but I had to voice my opinion on the subject after this guy responded to many people suggesting "to suck it up, you don't have it so bad."
"I see a few of have taken the position of being the one to give a lecture. As I stated, nobody is complaining, just letting others out there they are not alone. But to those of you who must be the ones to give the buck up and what not, Merry Christmas."
After reading that, I had to attempt to put the little buttercup straight. My comment was as follows:
No. That was you complaining. If you just said "those of you working this Holiday, you're not alone" would be one thing. You started off complaining about working and getting a small bonus. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, no employer is required to give employees time off for holidays.
Think you have it bad, try being a farmer or a rancher who doesn't get days off. Try being nurse, EMT or firefighter who is on call for 72 hours straight. Or a member of our military who has to spend Christmas on the other side of the world. Or even worse: homeless, unemployed, cold and hungry. Your Christmas isn't too bad.
And I repeat that statement now to anyone who is complaining about working on Christmas. Especially a desk job. Be thankful you have what you have.

I feel we all take for granted how great our "miserable" lives really are. I know for sure I do at times. It is easy to forget how truly blessed we are as we keep striving for something better.

No Christmas Tree for Me

I didn't put up a Christmas tree this year. Not making a political statement or anything. Not really a time management thing either. I just never got around to doing it. 

It's not that am not in the spirit of the season either; I love Christmas. I simply didn't put up a tree. It didn't bother me until I started "wrapping" presents. 

Wrapping is in quotes since I usually just reuse gift bags that were given to me. Gift bags really are the way to go. Simple, cheap, nice looking, reuseable; and if you have my wrapping skills, a huge frustration eliminator.

Anyway, about the missing tree. I'm still not sure why I didn't put one up, but I wish I did. It really makes the atmosphere of the living room invitings in these long, dark, cold Wisconsin winter nights. Which after all, is the original reason for putting a tree in one's living room and decorating it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Have Yourself a Crumbled Little Christmas.

Of all the things to get crunched in the mail, I wish it wasn't the Christmas card from my sister and her family. Especially since it included a great picture of the nieces.

When I opened the mailbox at the end if my driveway and saw the disfigured envelope with my sister's handwriting on it, I was less than happy. I wanted to drive into town and scream at someone, anyone at the post office. Even if it was just some unlucky person standing in line to buy stamps.

But I calmed down. The Post Office handles millions of pieces of mail. It actually impressive more mail doesn't look like someone made their first attempt at origami with it.

The card will eventually be thrown away. The picture of the nieces will be framed and the creases will just give it character.

There are more important things that deserve my rage's full attention. A crumbled piece of mail should be a distraction for it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Only Have Two and a Half Hours

"2-1/2 hours, I only have 2-1/2 hours" is what I just told myself as I looked at my "to do" list and my clock. I have a ton of stuff to get done and in 2-1/2 hours, I have my next family Christmas gathering to attend.

I looked at my list and started crossing off things that need to be done without doing them, as I added the time it will take me to get dressed up, things put away, drive time, and any other excuse I could find to not be productive in the time between now and  my next appointment. I do this a lot.

We all do this. Around the house, around the office. "Well the department status meeting is in 20 minutes, no point in starting my next task." Sound familiar?

Next time you find yourself doing that, which if you're like me it will be very soon; try something different. Instead of looking over your task list looking for items to put off doing, look for small items that you can do to get them out of the way of the larger ones.

You may find that besides being over booked for time, you are looking for excuses not to do what needs to be done. You might even be putting up your own roadblocks in a subconscious effort to avoid items you fear you will fail at. Yes. I said that.

Look at this example. I could have spent the last fifteen minutes going over my list and adding items like driving to town to reduce the amount of time I have until I decided to just set on the couch and Facebook or watch YouTube videos until I had to go. Instead, I wrote this post that I will be able to post on at least two blogs. I was productive. I added content to my blogs, allowing you to be able to read this.

Granted it wasn't a life changing event for either of us. I had some fun writing and hopefully you were entertained or maybe inspired to quit stalling on one of your projects. I didn't move mountains, but it was better than "liking" status updates and watching videos of funny pets.

Now I have about two hours. I just might have enough time to take care of a load of laundry and mop the kitchen floor. Look out world: I'm not stopping myself with excuses today!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting Better at Getting Better

Everyone's life these days seem to be nothing but pure chaos. Well maybe not that bad but, chaos is a fun word to say and write. To say the very least my life has been very hectic the last year or so.

I work a fairly demanding full time job as a Project Engineer and Estimator for a defense industry machine shop, work part time for myself as a freelance designer, run a local outdoor news website, and try to keep a couple of other blogs (like this one) going. Outside of work, I'm going to school part time for an additional certificate in business, plus trying to keep up with my house, family and friends.

Now I'm not trying to brag about how busy I am. In this chaotic time we live in, my schedule is somewhat normal. In fact, if you're a stay at home parent with two kids in hockey playing on two different teams, you're three times as busy as I am right there. And yes, chaotic is just as fun for me as chaos.

Far as my schooling goes, I just finished a class in Payroll Accounting. No offense to accountants, but that was THE most mind numbing class I ever took. I did learn a lot and I'm glad I took it, but I don't agree how it was structured. It seemed to have been a 2 or 3 credit class that was stretched into a 4 credit class by heaping on piles of repetitive homework. I spent hours forcing myself to do the same tedious calculations over and over and over.

I did get a big benefit from that class, besides memorizing the 2012 tax rates. Which is great since the 2012 tax rates won't do much good. I've gotten back into some of my better time management habits that have been neglecting. I'm getting better at getting better I guess.

The new year is fast approaching and I am being proactive this time. I have my professional goals already posted at the day job and I am working on my personal goals as well. Since this is the third day in a row I have posted to my very neglected blog, this is a habit I plan to keep up.

Yesterday I wrote a quick little rant about the whole A&E vs. Phil Robertson blow up. I was pleasantly surprise to see comments from complete strangers on G+ regarding it. I keep forgetting that not just friends and acquaintances sometimes stubble across my ramblings.

To all of you, thank you for taking the time to read what I post here, I truly appreciate it. I will be putting much more effort into this from this point on.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Don't Give a Duck About What Phil Robertson Thinks and Neither Should You

To all of who are shocked and outraged by Phil Robertson's views on gays: Where have you been for the last 5 years? I mean seriously? I pretty much live under a rock and I had a pretty good idea how he felt. People are getting worked up over one man's beliefs that have no effect on them in any way.

I am really tired of the PC BS of claiming to be tolerant of other's views, then demanding a show you never watched be taken off the air because one man (who you never would have heard of if you didn't see a cardboard cutout of him at Walmart next to some t shirts) doesn't share the same beliefs as you. Do I agree with Phil Robertson 100% on this topic? Nope, and it doesn't matter. One's personal life and views are just that, one's personal life and views.

Now don't think for a second I am only calling people from the left end of the political / social spectrum hypocrites on their claims of tolerance and diversity. There is plenty of that from the other side too.

Now if Robertson was one of those A-holes protesting military funerals and high profile events holding signs like "God kills soldiers because of gays" or something like that; then you have a reason to be outraged. But Robertson was asked his views on the subject during an interview and he gives them straight up wit no chaser. You shouldn't be whining because you don't like it. They're his views, not yours.

Like I said, I don't entirely agree with what he said and how he said it. But I have to tell you, I really admire how he gave his honest opinion. I have a lot of respect for people who give an honest answer knowing many will disagree with them.

I posted most of the above on my Facebook page this morning. Many personal friends of mine from all different beliefs and view points gave it their "like" of approval. I'm sure many read it and shook their head in disagreement and moved on down their feed of status updates. I'm fine with all of that.

But one person sent me a PM calling me a homophobic. That I'm not fine with. At all. Change the subject from Phil Robertson's views on homosexuality to anyone else's view on another hot button topic and my rant would be pretty much the same. Calling me names because I say you really shouldn't give a shit of someone else doesn't approve of homosexuality doesn't change anything. It only shows me that you like to call people who disagree with you (or at least who you think disagree with you) names.

Bottom line: if you can't tolerate someone else's views, opinions or beliefs; then you can't tolerate diversity.

Side Note 1: I didn't bother arguing with the friend who sent me the PM. Just simply deleted the message. Not going to waste my time debating someone who starts off by calling me names. Why fight a battle that I couldn't care less if I won or loss against someone that bitter?

Side Note 2: ALL rights come with responsibilities and consequences for exercising those rights. Including Freedom of Speech. Robertson almost certainly signed a contract stating A&E can fired him if he says or does things that are against the policies of A&E. Pretty much anyone who represents any corporation or group must do that.

Nobody should be shocked or outraged that Robertson said what he said and nobody should be shocked or outraged A&E fired him. Personally I'm surprised the show has made it this long on A&E without something like this happening.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Thoughts As I Sat in the Dentist Chair

Yesterday afternoon I had my semi annual check up with the dentist. This six month  ritual started two weeks ago with an email reminder to myself to start flossing. That way when I'm asked "have you been flossing?" I can answer "Yes" without being a complete liar. I know, with that methodology I could run for political office  if I lost just a couple scruples. Not sure if that's the right use of the word "scruples," but you get my point.

While I sat it the chair, the following thoughts went through my head:

  • The dentist office really needs to replace their 1970's era false ceiling tiles.
  • Wouldn't you think a nice ceiling be a priority for a dentist office?
  • Why do they polish my teeth, then scrap the tater off? It's seems like waxing a car then washing it.
  • They should make flavored examination gloves.
  • Flavored gloves may be a bad idea, some people may subconsciously start sucking on the dentist's figures, that would be awkward.
  • Although scented gloves would be an improvement.
  • They should give the patient some type of handheld device with 3 buttons on it. One for "yes" one for "no" and a third for "take your hands out of my mouth so I can answer your question" so the patient can carry a conversion with the dentist without the risk of having gums stabbed or choking on the hand held mirror.
  • How does that hand held mirror keep from fogging up anyway?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Law enforcement veteran enters sheriff's race - Your local online newspaper: News

Law enforcement veteran enters sheriff's race - Your local online newspaper: News

I was the first person to sign the petition (or act least the sheet I was handed) to have Ron Wilhelm's name placed on the ballot. He is also the last LEO to give me a ticket, but that was over 18 years ago and I deserved it.

I like Ron both as a person and a LEO. He is level headed and fair. I believe he has the leadership skills to turn around the Burnett County Sheriff's Department. He is well liked by the Department members and the citizens of the County. He will make an excellent Sheriff in my opinion.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Government Shutdown, Family Style

Did anyone else see the irony of all the Federal parks closing due to the recent government shutdown on the anniversary of the founding of the first one?
I started writing a rant regarding the Federal Government shutdown, but was distracted by other things and it was over before I finished my post. Then I decided to wait a while to see what would happen. I wanted to see what our Federal Government would do after the shutdown was over. Sadly they are doing exactly what I expected they would do to resolve our budget problems. Nothing.

All the emergency meetings, all the press conferences, all the finger pointing and name calling by politicians regarding the debt crisis abruptly stopped when the debt ceiling was raise. Then it was business as usual, problem solved. Even though the problem is still there, and is growing bigger by the day.

A good way to look at the problem we are in is to pretend the Federal Government is a family. A family that is spending more money than it makes. Over time luxuries mysteriously became necessities. Monthly bills increased, but income did not. Everyday items were put on a credit card with the thought of “I’ll pay it off next month,” even though they knew there would be the same amount of money to go round that month.

Now while blaming their money problems on the poor economy, even though they made the same amount of money back when the economy was supposedly so good, they are closing in on the limit of their credit card. Family members are getting nervous and the ideas to resolve their debt problem start.
The husband says they should sell the kid’s car, but the kid says “we can’t, I need that to get to school. If I can’t drive to school how can I get an education?” The wife says they should get rid of the cable television and save $60 a month. But the husband says “we can’t. I need that to get the news and information. The 24 hour cable news stations are a wealth of knowledge and of opposing views. One needs to watch them all in order to be informed. Plus watching movies helps us bond as a family and one can’t put a price tag on that.”

And so they go on, refusing to give up any of their “necessities” they have. A car for each member of the family, not to mention their own flat screen TV, smart phone, computer and tablet. It would be crazy to think a family could share one device, let alone do without them at all.

So they make some extremely tough budget cuts. The wife only stops for a $5.00 Starbucks coffee on her way to work four days a week instead of five. The husband orders water instead of a Coke with his $7.00 lunch he buys every day. And other major, major sacrifices like that.

But just when things look their worse, the family gets a letter from their credit card company that says their credit limit has been increased by $5,000. Problem solved. No they have a little breathing room and some time to figure out a budget that they can live on. One that allows them to pay down their debt, pay the bills and set aside some savings. All they got to do is come together and tighten their belts a little and cut down on the waste.

Unfortunately we all know they will not do that and continue their poor spending habits. Just like our Federal Government.

This problem hasn't been solve and is not going away. Eventually we will have to pay our debts instead of pushing the problem off to deal with later, hoping we will magically come into more money. Or in the government’s case; hoping we stay below the debt ceiling until someone else is in office. Then it’s someone else's problem.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It must be true, I saw it on Facebook. The Adrian Peterson Addition.

This week the two year old son of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was beaten to death by the mother’s boyfriend. This is an unbelievably sad deal. No matter who is involved, a two year being killed in such a way is heartbreaking.

The past few days I've seen many friends on Facebook re-post pictures and change their profile pictures. Some Packer fans changed their profile pic to the Green Bay logo, but in Vikings colors. I thought that one was pretty cool.

Then there is this picture.

At first, like many, I was touched by it. Then I started reading the news stories and found out that is not the child that was killed. In fact, Adrian Peterson has been pleading for people to stop posting the photo.

But of course, the masses are too stupid to do that. They see something posted on Facebook and take it as undeniable fact without checking the source or confirming anything about it. It must be true, it’s all over Facebook.

I've even seen posts were stupid people photo shops little angel wings on the kid in the above photo and asked people to share it and change their profile image to that picture. Sadly, idiots have done this.

This is just another example of the decline of mankind. We are too lazy to find out actual facts. We see a graphic or meme on Facebook that is funny or agreeable to our views on something, and we accept it as fact without question. For every social or political view or cause there are countless examples of this floating on Facebook that are complete BS, but people take it as fact.

Unless of course, if they disagree with it. Then and only then is it internet BS. But if they like, it must be true. It’s on Facebook after all.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Thoughts on the Last Week’s (un)Controlled Burn in Crex

I posted the below opinion piece on the Polk Burnett Outdoors website yesterday, regarding the recent fire in the Crex Meadow Wildlife Area. 

As many of you know on Tuesday October 1, 2013 the DNR was conducting a controlled burn in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. They planned to burn around 500 acres, but the fire spread beyond the containment lines and burned roughly 600 additional acres. With help from additional crews, including a Minnesota DNR air tanker, the fire was brought under control without causing any injuries or damaging structures and private property.

When this happened I saw multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter and overheard conversations in public regarding the fire. Many people couldn't understand why the DNR was conducting the burns in the first place. Some were quite vocal on how they feel such actions are a waste of taxpayer money and even stated it was an “arrogant” act by the part of the DNR to burn on such a windy day.

While some people question why the DNR burns areas of the Crex Meadows and Fish Lake Wildlife Areas; it is a very important process in keeping the grasslands areas healthy. Prescribed fires quickly remove dead grass weeds and woody growth, thus reducing wildfire hazards without the use of chemicals such as herbicides. This is not only better for the environment, but it’s also a more economical use of the taxpayer’s money. Burning off the undergrowth also restores nutrients to the soil and promotes new desirable plant growth. Woodlands, wetlands and prairies all benefit from controlled burns.

Some feel the DNR should quit spending its resources on burning and just let nature take care of itself. Those people need to keep in mind nature will take care of itself with fire too. While the DNR picks the most ideal times to burn a predetermined area when the conditions are favorable, nature will burn random areas at random times. A lightning strike can kindle a fire in the middle of the night that could burn for hours before it is reported and firefighting crews can respond. Lightning doesn't take into consideration the direction of wind or the proximity of private property and houses.

When the DNR conduct prescribed burns, they pick the most ideal times of the year. Early spring after the grounds dries out from the winter snow cover but before birds start nesting, and in the fall after the first frosts. The burn areas when the wind is blowing in a favorable direction, into the area they want to burn and away from where they don’t want to burn, like residential areas. Yes, that means windy days are a good time to burn. When you want to burn 500 acres safely before nightfall, you need wind to spread the fire across the area you are burning.

As last Tuesday’s fire showed, fire can be unpredictable and control can easily be lost; even by professionals. But when the DNR lost control of the fire, they were already on scene, the fire was moving in the planned direction and reserve personal were standing by. This allowed the DNR to get the fire back under control quickly with the damage being embarrassment, not loss of property or lives.

I will not criticize the DNR for their controlled or in this case their partially controlled burns. They are the most cost effective and safest way to maintain our area prairies. Given the alternatives of either crop dusting Crex Meadows with toxic chemicals or having wild fires threaten nearby homes and private property, I’ll take the DNR prescribed burns. Even when they burn more than they planned.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blackhawk Down: 20 Years Ago

It's hard for me to believe, but 20 years ago I was in High School. One memory was the tragic events that happened in Somalia. The U.S. was involved with a humanitarian mission to help the people out in that war torn part of Africa.

Many people are aware of the heroic efforts involved during the Battle of Mogadishu from the news reports and the popular movie based on the events Blackhawk Down.

I remember the graphic images of our Soldier's bodies through the streets. I remember thinking why? Why are these people attacking, killing and mutilating our troops? They are only there to help keep order and provide security for the people bring in needed humanitarian aid. Of course I know more now than I did in High School. Our troops there were not just merely providing security, they were there to take out the bad guys.

Last year a friend of mine, who knows I prefer to read books on history or autobiographies, suggested a book to me: In The Company Of Heroes. In The Company Of Heroes is the autobiography of Michael Durant, one of the Blackhawk pilots that were shot down.

It is an amazing account of his time as a pilot for the Army's elite 160th SOAR, being shot down during the Battle of Mogadishu, his time being held as a POW, and his eventual rescue from his captors.

In The Company Of Heroes is a book I highly recommend for people to read.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why Not Take BOB For A Walk This Weekend?

Got any big plans for the weekend? If you can, why not take BOB for a walk. You know BOB, your Bug Out Bag, Get Home Bag, Survival Bag or whatever else you want to call it. Mine is merely a hiking day pack with a few extras items. I refuse to call myself a "prepper." I just like to be self reliant in the event of a minor emergency.

Whatever you want to call it, having some basic items packed and ready to go is a good idea for anyone to have. Especially if you spend time enjoying the outdoors in remote areas. It's not uncommon for an experienced hiker or hunter to get lost and have to spend the night in the woods. Or have car troubles on your way back from a remote area

What you should have packed will vary greatly per individual, what the situations they plan for, where they live, and a whole host of other items to consider. But most will cover in one way or the other, the basics. Certainly some tools, extra clothing, medical supplies. Most likely food, water (or ways to gather), fire starters and shelter materials. One can, and often will acquire a lot of stuff for their BOB. Sometimes too much.

With the popularity of some reality TV shows, many people are getting into have some type of prepacked bag of essentials for quick access when needed. A person just getting into this can spend hours watching YouTube videos and spend hundreds of dollars on Amazon and army surplus stores building a kit that they feel will allow them to survive an apocalypse of any variety; be it Biblical, economic, man made, natural or zombie.

Having a little something for any possible situation may seem like good planning, but it can cause a big issue. You may have to actually carry around that bag. While I highly recommend anyone, especially someone who lives in remote areas or spends a lot of time in the outdoors, to been well prepared; it's best not to over do it. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to walk or hike a distance to get to safety, carrying a bunch of gear you really don't need can be a great hindrance.

As hikers know, ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. That's why I strongly recommend you keep things simple with your emergency gear. Like I mentioned before, my kit is merely a hiking day pack with a few extras. What those extras are will vary for each person and may not always be the same throughout the year. I take summer items out in the winter and vise versa. For example: having a small bottle of bug spray doesn't do me any good in the middle of a Wisconsin winter.

So, how does one determine if they have too much gear packed? Simple. Take your emergency kit for a walk. Sometime this weekend, put your BOB on your back and go for a 1 or 2 mile walk. You may want to take it to a hiking trail, so you don't look goofy walking around the neighborhood with an Army surplus backpack on, but make sure you go for at least a mile walk.

If your are worn out from that experience either you have too much gear or you're out of shape, and most likely both. Now you need to look into lightening up your pack.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Things You See Along the Side of the Road

I am fortunate enough to live in a great location. I have a small house on 8 acres of land between the Governor Knowles State Forest and the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. A great place for an outdoors lover to be.

Both areas attract a lot of tourist traffic. From hikers and hunters to fisherman and photographers. Some of the photographers I see when I'm out in Crex have some very impressive equipment. Giant telescopic lens, tripods, light meters,etc. A lot of cash invested into their hobby, that's for sure.

I've seen some real amazing nature and wildlife pictures taken by people from around here. Sunsets, inspect, plantlife, flocks of geese, deer, bear,etc. Many of the photographers this area attract have a lot of talent. But sometimes the photographers can be a road hazard.

Many times I've seen some have their car stopped right in the middle of the road with their gear scattered about. Once I came upon one setup on the road right where the gravel road came out of a series of sharp turns. I stopped and politely recommended the guy to move his car off the road. It was late afternoon during duck season. I could picture a truck load of hunters come racing around the corner faster than they should, trying to get to there favorite evening hunting spot on time. He responded with "F you! I can park where I want!" Gee, sorry for trying to keep you, your gear, and your car from getting ran over.

Tonight on my way home from work I saw another photographer set up in the middle of the road. I no longer bother advising photographers about blocking the roadways. Even if I still did, I wouldn't have said a word to this guy. It wasn't because he was stopped in the northbound lane of the straight stretch of County Road F. It was because of the what he was taking a picture of.

As I slowly drove by, the guy was focusing his camera with a ginormous telescopic lens sitting on a high end tripod at his subject five feet in front of him in the ditch. The subject for the stop in the road for a photo was a roadkill deer. Nothing fresh either, one that was bloated and quite ripe.

I guess if you drive up here from the cities with thousands of dollars worth of photography equipment to take wildlife pictures; you're not going to pass up any photo opportunity.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Being an Engineer Can Take The Fun Out of Things

Having the mind of a engineer can ruin a funny picture.
Sometimes being an engineer can take the fun out of things. If you have the "engineering knack" like me, you have a habit of over analyzing things sometimes.

I can rarely pick up anything with a plastic body or housing, such as a remote control or kid's toy, without looking it over to see how it was molded. After being involved in the plastic injection mold making trade, in one capacity or another since 1996, I can't help it.

I determine the parting line, look for actions, ejector pin and gate locations, and try to imagine the tooling used to mold the part.

The over analyzing plastic parts may be an occupational side effect, but nothing is safe from over thinking from an engineer.

Besides obviously all things mechanical, other everyday things are over thought. I have a hard time answering a simple question without going into great detail. I can't even laugh at a funny picture without thinking too much about it.

Like this picture a good friend sent me on Facebook this morning, stating the picture reminded her of me. I should have took that as a complement. I should have at least laughed at the picture. But I couldn't do that. I had to critique the concept of roasting marshmallows with a yard rack.

My thoughts in chronological order were as follows:

  1. There are way too many marshmallows for the number of graham crackers and chocolate.
  2. Why are the graham crackers and chocolate on the rake in the first place?
  3. Should I be roasting the graham crackers and chocolate?
  4. Hey someone else makes s'mores with peanut butter cups besides my family!
  5. I wonder if this picture is of a cousin?
  6. How would you roast the other side of the marshmallows without dumping the graham crackers and chocolate?
  7. Can't get even heat distribution over the span of the rack.
  8. Can't rotate and evenly roast each individual marshmallow.
  9. Those tangs are going to warp in the heat.
  10. They may carburized too. Probably snap off the next time the rake is used..
  11. The paint and God knows what else has touched that rake lately is going to cook into the marshmallows.
  12. With the small surface area bearing the weight of the marshmallow and the coefficient of friction of the tangs, those marshmallows are going to fall into the fall before they're done.
  13. If one of the center marshmallows caught fire, would it cause a chain reaction?
  14. Cant beat a soft wood stick for roasting marshmallows.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Road Raging in the Northland, Along the South Shore

A few weeks ago I was heading up to my parent’s cabin. It was the weekend of our annual family get together. My parents have a small three room cabin about a mile off of Lake Superior. Around the same time each year, a bunch of my extended family go up there and set up camp in their yard. With many of my aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws hanging around the campfire and the beaches of Cornucopia, Wisconsin, we always have a very fun time.

Wisconsin Highway 13 is a two lane road that runs along the south shore of Lake Superior. It’s narrow with lots of curves, hills and views of Lake Superior. It’s no autobahn like freeway, but it’s a very enjoyable ride. Unless of course you have some jackhole tailgating you. With all the curves and hills, there is a lot of no passing zones on this 55mph highway.

On my way up to the family get together I had one of those jackholes behind me for a long time. No matter how close he got behind my truck, how much he shuffled his car side to side like an Indy racecar cleaning its tires during a caution lap, or how much he mouthed “come on” at me, my cruise control didn't move from its 63mph setting. If my cruise control didn't see a need to adjust itself, I wasn't going to change it either. If you’re following me and 8mph above the posted legal limit is too slow for you, you’re stuck behind the wrong driver.

Finally this guy couldn't take it anymore and passed me in a no passing zone, flipping me off as he went by. I just smiled widely and waved to him like he was a long lost friend. I've found handling people like that with kindness just pisses them off more; which is a lot of fun by the way.

As the little Subaru wagon sped along with its two kayaks on top, I noticed a bumper sticker that made me laugh out loud. It was that “coexist” sticker with the letters made out of religious symbols.

Seems a great percentage of people who have this bumper sticker, don't exercise the very idea they're trying to promote.
Now I am not the confrontational type of person. With the exception of a rare internet comment exchange, I avoid it as much as possible. But in my mind, I imagined myself following him (at a safe distance of course) to his next stop. Calmly walk up to the back of his car, peel off the bumper sticker, and tell the driver he can have it back once he starts living up to it.

Of course I didn't even consider doing that. No one would allow a stranger to walk up to their vehicle and remove a bumper sticker in the first place. Plus have you ever tried to remove a bumper sticker in the first place? They don’t just peel off in one fell swoop. It can be a real chore.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Boycott Boycotts

Seems with every social or political issue flare up, comes a boycott. Don’t buy shoes from this store because their owners support abortion. Don’t buy gas from that station because their parent company extracts oil by fracking. Don’t buy this company’s product because they are against gay marriage. For every dividing issue in this country, there is at least one boycott or counter-boycott.
We are even taking up boycotting, or going out of our way to support entire states based on their policies regarding gun control, immigration, and a host of other issues.

This is a pretty stupid way of voicing your opinions if you think about it. The reason why the social issues that divide us are so hard to resolve is, well they divide us. They are not right or wrong, black or white in nature. The have a lot of maybe and gray mixed in to make a resolution palatable for everyone.

And there lays the problem. The big social issues, that never go away, typically divide us down the middle. Not always 50-50, but even 60-40 is close enough of a spread to prevent any real solution. And that is the reason why I feel it’s dumb to boycott for social-political reasons.

While the owners, and or Board of Directors, Shareholders, Union Leaders, etc. of corporation may take an official or unofficial stance on an issue; that does not speak fully of the employees. While a CEO for example may be for or against a social cause of your choosing, it’s reasonable to believe that 40% to 60% of the people who work for them agree with you. And who are you going to hurt more by not buying that $4.00 latte or $40 pair of jeans?

I do not wish to imply I don’t boycott. I do refuse to buy from or use the services of certain companies. But it’s not because I have strong beliefs that vary from management. I boycott mainly for poor service, poor quality, or for price gauging and other unethical business practices.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Another Solemn Day in the Family

Today we solemnly gathered to say goodbye to another family member. We did it in typical Lien fashion with as few tears of sorrow as possible, but with lots of family, friends, food, drink and laughter. Especially laughter.

We said goodbye to a true fighter and one of the kindest souls to ever shine in my life. Though she lived a life with pretty much daily migraines, limited mobility and occasional seizures caused by scar tissue from multiple brain surgeries; you would be hard pressed to find a more positive person.

Nothing could stop her kindness, her sense of humor, her love for others, or her joy of life itself. Even in the last few weeks, after battling cancer, breaking a hip, and having a stroke, she still smiled and had that ever present sparkle in her eyes. I need to remember all of this the next time I want to whine about my bad shoulder or sore back. My aches and pains were nothing compared to her daily endurance that didn’t even hinder her from enjoying every minute of life.

Even after months & months of cancer taking its devastating toll on her already fragile body, whenever I asked her how she was the response was always “Great! How are you?” Nothing got in the way of her happiness. I need to remember that as well.

I am beyond blessed to be part of such a strong, close knit family. After retreating from the church to the stronghold of my parent’s home, the old Lien Farmstead founded by my great grandparents. The stiff shirts, ties & dresses were replaced by shorts & t-shirts (formalwear is not well tolerated by our family, nor is today’s 95+ degree heat) and the food, drink and laughter went into full power.

Tears of sorrow for our loss were quickly replaced by tears of laughter from our memories. While sadden we will no longer be able to make new memories with the one we lost, we will never forget her and how she touched all of our lives. Fortunately I and the rest of my goofy family will continue on to make more memories worthy to repeat the story of again for other family gatherings.

Hopefully the upcoming family gatherings will be in line of the annual camp out, birthdays, holidays and such. We've had enough funerals now to last us for quite a while.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Worst Week To Be A Garbageman

This has to be the worst week to be a Garbageman. Last week July Fourth landed in it, throwing off the schedule for many residents. Since we are all creatures of habit, this means many people forgot to put out the trash for collection on the right day. Plus many people take a family vacation round this time to take advantage of the holiday pay for Independence Day.

That means on each garbage truck driver's route this week, there will be plenty of overflowing trash cans with an extra week's worth of trash that has been fermenting in the July heat. Maybe next week you should give your route driver a plate of cookies or a gift certificate to buy him lunch.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Dire Zimmerman Trial Prediction

I’ll get straight to the point. My dire Zimmerman trial prediction is this: If Zimmerman is acquitted; there will be mass protests in major cities that will quickly degrade into riots and looting. If Zimmerman is convicted; there will be mass celebrations in major cities that will quickly degrade into riots and looting.

Regardless of the verdict; cars will be burned, stores looted, other private property (all owned by people who have nothing to do with this mess) destroyed, and innocent people will be severely beaten if not worse. I sincerely hope I am wrong, but it’s going to happen, and we all know it.

I’ve made this prediction several times in several forums since this trial has started. Nobody I’ve discussed this with fully disagrees with me. Closest was “hopefully cooler heads will prevail.” Hopefully cooler heads do prevail, but I don’t see it happening.

We may not see mass riots across the nation, but there will be innocent people, who had nothing to do with this trial, will be victimized nonetheless.

Why? Why is this going to happen? Why has the media, from day one, been sensationalizing this story? Why has so much effort been put forth to make this a racial issue? Why? What is the reason?

This case is, sadly, nothing that unusual. Young thugs and thug wanna be’s are gunned down by the dozens every week in Chicago, Detroit and Washington D.C. alone. Where’s the outcry about their deaths? Is this the only time in American history that a confrontation between two stupid, macho strangers turn into a violent struggle were one is killed?

I’m not trying to downplay this tragically sad event. While both men handled the encounter stupidly and whether it turns out to be criminal or not, the results are the same: a young man is dead and another’s life is ruined. But this kind of thing happens often, and a transfer of power via a coup from the first democratically elected President of Egypt dose not.

While tanks roll through the protester filled streets of Cairo, the major 24/7 “news” networks here in the Sates carried coverage of the Zimmerman trial. I’ll ask again, why is there such a committed effort by the media to keep this case in our face?

Without sounding like a conspiracy theorist, saying the media is pushing an “agenda;” there is only one logical explanation: money. Sensationalized a tragic story, make it as racist as you can so you can jack up the ratings and cash in on the advertising.

First Zimmerman was White, then White-Hispanic. What the hell is “White-Hispanic? Is the opposite of a Hispanic-White? Are there also White-Blacks, or a Black-Whites, Asian-Blacks, White-Asians, etc., etc.? The media edits the 911 tapes and continues to show pictures of Martin when he was twelve. Why, to push for justice, or to push for ratings? You know there are book deals and TV movies in the making to capitalize on this frenzy. All for some people to squeeze out the last few drops of blood money.

This whole event is a horrible thing. And the media is pushing to make it worse. When the media is covering the upcoming riots remember: the innocent’s blood will be on the media’s hands.

I just wonder who the media is going to blame the riots and looting on.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dear Egypt, Keep Trying

As I type this post, there is chaos in Cairo (catchy phrase, isn't it). About a year after voting in their first democratically elected leader, citizens are massed in the streets demanding him to step down, and a military coup is in progress.

While this is going on, major media networks here in the States remain focused on a murder trial that should not be in the news in the first place. But since the media has put so much effort into hyping this case up by making it a racial issue, they need to follow through. Especially since they'll be covering the riots they  will have, in part, started because of their sensationalism. But that's for a different post. Let's get back to Egypt.

Egypt, one of the oldest countries in world, has been ruled by Pharaohs, foreign Kings & governments and Dictators for thousands of years. Finally it's people have freely elected their first leader, and in about a year they want him out of office. Not only do they want him out of office, if he doesn't back down and leave, they just might kill him.

While this may sound disheartening for freedom lovers around the world, no one should be discouraged. Chalk one up to inexperience, Egypt, and keep trying.

Just look at us, The United States of America. We've been at this government elected by free citizens thing for well over two centuries now. And it's been decades since we elected a President that the majority approved of for their entire term as our leader.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The July 1st Storm

As July starts, one has to reflect on the ferocious windstorm that devastated this area a few years ago. I am still in amazement of the pure power of that storm and I will never forget watching the destruction has it happen in my yard. While I knew that even the majestic mature Oak trees that were in my yard would not live forever, I never would image their demise would be so sudden and so complete.

The storm, in a matter of minutes, changed our area forever. Giant mighty White Pines and Oaks that stood proudly against hundreds of storms, over many decades or even a century plus, were snapped like match sticks.

Views from the roads changed. Woods that you could view far into were turned into a tangled miss. Lakes and homes that were well hidden from passing traffic are now visible. The pure power and undiscriminating force of nature was shown at full strength.

While the drastic changes made to our woods saddened me, what I saw take place in the wake of that storm was inspiring. Neighbors getting together and helping each other clear the fallen trees from their roofs and drive ways. People checking on neighbors, making sure they were okay. Those who still had power or generators, offered space in their freezers for their friends and family.

I remember the crews of the local power companies putting forth an enormous effort to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. I was proud to notice that not only very few people complained about the power being off; I saw many people dropping off bottled water and sandwiches for the crews when they worked in their neighborhood.

Small acts of kindness like that speak volumes about the character of people around here. When events like this take place in other places, curfews are put in place and reserve police and even the National Guard are called in to keep the looting down to a minimum. And a bulk of the residents complain that the cleanup is not happening fast enough, while they do nothing themselves to help out.

As I type this, reflecting on that storm; I am reminded that this area is an amazing place to call home. Not only for its ever changing remarkable wilderness, but for the terrific people who live here

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dogs and Little Kids Love Me; Cats and Women, Not So Much

That is something I often say about myself. People usually get a laugh from it, but it is really true. It’s just how I’m wired.

I’ve always been a dog lover and I think they know a human that likes them when they see one. I’ve seemed to always have a knack with kids. Especially kids under four, for one reason or another, I can almost always make them smile. Women on the other hand, I seem to have a way of driving them crazy. Cats, well, cats are cats. That’s pretty much way I’m the single guy with a dog.

This is my cousin's dog while I started writing this post. He was my guest the last few days.
The phrase came to me one time at some social function when I was being led by the hand of a two year old I hardly knew to go play. Someone said to me “you’re so good with kids, why don’t you have a family of your own?” The only thing I could think of to say was “dogs and little kids love me; cats and women, not so much.”

A while back I posted my little saying on Facebook, and many of my friends and family laughed, then agreed. My sister even half-jokingly pointed out that one of my ex-girlfriends may have been the real life Catwoman. 

Last weekend I was at a party for a friend of mine’s graduation. Those events are always kind of fun because there is a mix of people I know extremely well, people I know enough to say “hi” to, and complete strangers of all ages. While I was there, my personal saying was proved twice.

The first time I was sitting at a table in the garage, talking to family and friends. Out of the blue, the owners dog walk up to me, sat down and put its head on my lap. As I was scratching him behind his ears, the owner came up and said “that’s weird. He usually doesn’t come up to strangers like that.” It’s a gift I guess. A friend sitting next to me chuckled and said “if a dog is going to walk up to anyone, it’s going to be Shane.”

The second time happened while I was leaving. I was walking down the drive towards my truck and the same time another family was making its exit. They must have been heading home early to watching the Blackhawks vs. Bruins Stanley Cup Finals game too. 
I was walking past a little guy of around two holding a helium balloon. As I got alongside he looked at his balloon and looked up at me with the cutest grin. I stopped and said to the little bugger “you get to take home a balloon?” He stopped, smiled widely and enthusiastically shook his head yes. I smiled and said “lucky you! I didn’t get a balloon.”

The little guy frowned a little and looked down as if in deep thought. Then he looked up at me, smiled and handed me his balloon. My heart almost melted as I tried to convince the little guy to keep his balloon and I would be okay without it.

As I raced home to be in time for the opening faceoff, I was still smiling and thinking about the kindness the toddler showed to me. My theory on why little kids like me so much is because I make an effort to be kind and to interact with them. I think they respond to sincerity and respond to it positively because I seem to have a way to build trust with them quickly. Being young enough to not be lied to, cheated, or have their trust taken advantage of too much. Little kids seem more likely to return kindness with kindness.

I also strongly believe that same theory applied in reverse is why I have the opposite effect on women. They’ve been lied to, cheated, or have their trust taken advantage of so much; they see my sincerity as a threat. 

It’s either that, or I’m just simply childish.

It would be a much better world if we were all better judges of character. Be able to know right away who we can trust and who we couldn’t. Then we could act and treat each other more like toddlers, rather than like cats.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

NHL Hockey in June Just Ain’t Right

To say I’m a hockey fan would be stating the obvious. Grew up playing and watching every game I could. While I am no longer play, I still love to watch and follow my favorite players and teams. But, I am not and never have been a fan of NHL hockey in the middle of June.

Summer hockey should be for development and summer leagues for minor league pros and high schoolers who have a shot at college hockey. And of course high schoolers who’s over bearing, delusional, living-through-their-kids, parents think they have a shot for college hockey.

Side note: do you know who are some of the worse sports fans in the world? Parents of Class ‘C’ Bantam age hockey players. Because they are just realizing they have spent thousands of dollars and countless hours on their kid’s hockey career and they will never play for the Varsity High School team, let alone get a college scholarship out of the deal. Those are some angry ass people.

I wish they would go back to having the Stanley Cup Finals in April. You know, when there still is some snow and ice around. It’s the middle of June; I’m wearing shorts as I type this and last night the Blackhawks and Bruins kept me up with three overtimes. That’s fundamentally wrong.

At least the Blackhawks are in it. They have been one of my favorite teams since I was a little kid. And it is pretty cool they’re playing the Bruins, another Original Six team. What makes June NHL hockey worse is when a team like the L.A. Kings is playing. Nothing against the Kings, but nothing screams hockey like a team from southern California, playing in June.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

An open letter to the guy who flipped me off

An open letter to the guy who flipped me off a little while ago on the road,

 While you may feel I was tailgating, I was keeping a safe distance in relation to the speed we were traveling. You have every right to drive slow. In fact I would rather you drive way below the posted speed that over it. But to be honest, if you drive 23mph on a road that's posted 55mph and you intentionally block the line of cars behind you from safely passing, I don't care if your feelings have a boo boo now.

Not only were you being a self centered ass, but you were causing a potentially dangerous situation. A serious accident could have been caused if another self centered ass, much like yourself, was in that line of cars you forced to follow your redicoisly slow speed for the road conditions.

That self centered ass could have tries to pass five cars following your self centered ass, easliy causing an accident.

If you must travel these hilly back country roads at 23mph, ride a bike. 

No wait. Scratch that. Your probably one of those douchebags who scream "bicyclist have rights to the road" while you ride on the wrong side of the road, blow stop signs, and turn suddenly without signaling. 

The guy who just smiled politely and waved when you flipped him off.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

.357sig Initial Review

My initial review of the .357sig caliber handgun cartridge.

Originally, I had no interest in getting a .357sig barrel because I had zero interest in the .357sig cartridge itself. I never paid it much attention to since there are already so many options for handgun calibers. At the time it came out, I was shooting 9mm, always liked .45ACP, was falling in love with 10mm and was just becoming acquainted with .40S&W.

My opinion back then was there were already more than enough options for calibers for semiautomatic handguns. Without know much about it, I just assumed it filled the gap between 9mm and .40S&W and that wasn’t really a gap that required filling. I was wrong in every way.

Recently a friend of mine suggested I get the .357sig barrel for my Glock 23. I told him my above opinions, but he was politely persistent at encouraging me to do some research on it. So of course I went to YouTube and checked out some video on the .357sig posted by two people who I subscribe to their channels. I was impressed enough to buy a barrel.

Two boxes of Winchester FMJ target loads and a .357sig Glock barrel. 
I have had the barrel for a few weeks, but no ammo. This last weekend the stars aligned and I received a new steel target on Thursday and two boxes of .357sig target loads on Friday. Guess what I did Saturday? You guessed it, I mowed the lawn. But after that I set up my new target and did some shooting.

I started off shooting a .40S&W, something I shoot regularly so I could make a good comparison. When I put the .357sig barrel into the Glock and prepared to fire the first round, I was slightly hesitant. I was expect the gun to kick me around, but I was pleasantly surprised.

But the recoil was noticeably different from that of .40S&W. While the report was quite loader and kick was little stronger, it was very controllable. The kick seemed to be more straight back with  had less muzzle flip, which allowed for a faster follow up shot. The rounds were hitting the steel target WAY HARD. Extremely impressed!

Advertised ballistics data from Winchester.
If you haven’t tried shooting .357sig yet, I highly recommend you do. It is a very fun caliber to shoot. I will be posting a more thorough review once I shoot it some more.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Kayne West's Greatest Moment

So I have this old desk calendar someone gave me at work. Since I use Outlook and Google Calendar extensively, the only use I have for the desk calendar is as a scratch pad. The back of each page is pretty much blank, so it works great for jotting down numbers or a quick note for myself. I try to be as paper-less as much as possible, and being able to reuse things like this help out.

It’s a trivia calendar and the page shown in the photo cracked me up. I remember the Hurricane Katrina benefit concert when Kanye West let the world know that George Bush doesn’t care about black people. In fact, I remember it very well. By chance, I actually saw it happen live on TV.
With no intention of actually watching the concert on TV, I stumbled across it while flipping through the channels. The ONLY reason I stopped, was because I saw Kanye West standing next to Mike Myers. I thought “now that’s an interesting paring, I must watch this.” I made a great decision.
Within seconds of me placing the remote on the coffee table, Kanye said those magical, now infamous words. I truly believe is was his greatest moment in the spotlight. “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

That caught me off guard and I was a little shocked that, out of the blue, someone would say something like that on live TV. Don’t get me wrong, I can see someone saying something like that. People say stuff like that that about all kinds of politicians on your Sunday morning talk shows and the 24 hours news channels all the time. But not during a Red Cross disaster relief fundraiser being televised nationally on live TV. Out of the blue.  With no warning. I was caught off guard and was shocked. but not nearly as shocked a Mike Myers.

I will never forget Mike Myers’ reaction when West uttered that sentence. Now that was must see TV. If there was a hole nearby, that poor man would have crawled into it. He couldn’t believe what was happening. He tried to gain his composure and get the show back on the road, but Kayne West continued, well, continued to be Kayne West.

I laughed so hard at this, I kind of feel bad about laughing so hard. I was almost expecting there to be a wavy fade from that image on the TV to seeing Mike Myers lying in bed, awaking from a bad dream. Like in a Wayne’s World sketch with Dana Carvey at his side.

All these years later, when I think about this I break out in laughter.  But now days the laughter stops pretty quickly. Because I remember that West has breed a Kardashian. There may be no hope for mankind.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Being a Twit on Twitter Again

The three people who read this may have noticed I'm back to being active on this blog. The past few months got to be a little hectic for me and this got pushed to the side. Life has seemed to get back to normal for me and I'm trying to improve my schedule to allow more time to work on this.

The past few weeks I have been jotting down some ideas for posts and improvements to the site in general. Then some weird coincidences happened this last weekend.

Friday I met a good friend of mine who was in town visiting. She does the blogging social media branding marketing type thing for a living. She mentioned that she hasn't seen anything new from me and suggested I get back into it because she thought it was pretty good. I took that with a grain of salt because we were drinking a beer at a local establishment and she know I cry easy when my feelings are hurt. But then the next I ran into another friend who asked about this. So, I figure I better get back at it.

I paid attention to my social media guru friend's advice and I'm going to follow her suggestions before I forget them. One of her suggestions is to have a Twitter account to accompany this blog. So tonight, after trying to log into the Twitter account I haven't used in years, I created a new one.

Follow me @shane_lien if you're into that.

More posts are in the works, along with some improvements to the look and function of this site. Thanks for checking this out.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Are Canada’s $100 polymer bills really maple-scented? | CTV British Columbia News

Are Canada’s $100 polymer bills really maple-scented? | CTV British Columbia News

I saw a headline on Drudge for a similar story and my first thought was it must be from The Onion. Turns out it was on the Daily Mail, so I had to google it. I have more faith in The Onion. Sure enough, here's the story from British Columbia.

This could be a cool theme for the Great White North's currency. Back bacon $50. Hockey puck $20.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

"Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."– General Colin Powell

The American Military Cemetery - Bayeux, France

It's Memorial Day. That solemn U.S. holiday to honor our Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines who lost their lives in battle. Over the decades it has become the "unofficial start to summer" and the beginning of grilling season for those pansies who can't light charcoal while wearing a winter jacket. It's that long weekend break from the graduation open houses. And it has also become a "Thank a Vet and Post a Patriotic Picture on Facebook Day", which I am (in part) guilty of.

Today I posted the above quote from General Powell and the very moving photo. To me, that summed up nicely what this day is really all about. Those marble headstones across our nation's cemeteries and the marble crosses and Stars of David in France. Today is about what lays under the marble markers. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines who lost their lives in battle.

I thought the above picture was perfect. The perfectly align crosses in the perfectly manicured grounds calmly and quietly embraced in a fog. Haunting and peaceful at the same time. It is almost ironic how those perfectly aligned crosses mark where under that perfectly manicured ground lay many mangled bodies of our youth. Young Soldiers who died a death far from the peaceful, quiet, organized character of their final resting place. Many of them died a death in loud, confusing unorganized horror that is war. On the beaches of Normandy and battlefields of Europe filled with shouts, screams, explosions, chaos, confusion, anger, pain and fear.

The quote on the other hand, while very solemn and well meant, is not entirely accurate. Let's be honest, at the end of war, we pretty much always end up with more foreign land than a cemetery. The United States very rarely leaves. I'm not going to claim we are an Imperial Nation who takes over for it's best interests, like an anti-war protester. I don't feel that way. If that were the case, we would have a lot more territories besides a few islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific.

But we have a Naval base in Communist Cuba that's a leftover from the Spanish American War. Bases in Germany and Japan from World War II and tens of thousands of troops on the Korean Peninsula. Not to mention the Middle East. Like I said, we rarely leave.

While we are not an imperial nation, we are kind of the world's police force. I always thought that was a role more suited for the United Nations, but they are more like the world's mall security. If they see trouble they give a warning, then call the real police if trouble continues.

While I still really like General Powell's quote, I wish is was more accurate. I wish we weren't the world's police. It would really reduce the number of white marble markers I think about on this day. But just like the stronger and wealthier people need to take care of the less fortunate, so do the stronger and wealthier nations.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Think Dogs Know

Somethings I hear just stick with me. One that has been in my thoughts a lot is the thought that one of the biggest things that separates humans from the  animals is: from a very early age, humans realize that one day they will die.

Every once in awhile I am reminded that each time you see someone, that just might be the last time you ever see them again. People come in and out of your life. People move away. Relationships change. Someone who once was your inseparable best friend, can over time become someone you no longer know. People die.

This thought is hitting me everyday now, as some people I care a great about are battling terminal cancer. Now each time I see them, it is becoming more likely the last time I will see them. And this is not an easy place for me to be.

My uncle, who has been more like a big brother to me, is getting close to the end. The last few times I visited him he was either sleeping the whole time, or not able to talk coherently enough to have a conversation. It's a tough time now for everyone in my close knit family, especially when you factor in  one of his sister's is fighting a similar fight.

My uncle and I have spent a lot of time together. We share the same passions and the same loves. One of them is the company of a good dog. The last thing my uncle said to me that was clear: "say hi to Buck for me." Buck is my Yellow Lab and a long time hunting buddy to my uncle.

I don't know if Buck realizes one day he will die. But I do know he know things aren't normal with me. He seems to be in a gloomy mood too. I know he knows it's a sad time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

EVIL and the GUN

Everyone of his Youtube video rants are excellent, but this latest one from Mr. Colion Noir is simply amazing.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

World Politics Summed Up With One Photo

World Politics summed up with one photo: If a nation's army does the "goose step" march, their bad news.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Firearms Company Relocating To North Texas « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Firearms Company Relocating To North Texas « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

And now it's starts. The States that are pushing for stricter gun control are now pushing jobs and tax revenue right out of their state.

But at least they'll feel safer.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

CO Democrat Doesn't Understand High-Capacity Magazines Can Be Reloaded

CO Democrat Doesn't Understand High-Capacity Magazines Can Be Reloaded

....and she is in our Congress. Trying to ban something she has no basic understanding of.

One has to wonder how many bills she has voted on that she didn't read, and even if she did read, didn't understand.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Great Day to Live in Wisconsin!

Today was a great day for me. I actually got up well before the alarm and got a ton of work done at the office. Most importantly I voted today in the Spring Elections.

Speaking of Spring, as the below picture shows, Spring is starting to kick in around here. The frost went out last Sunday (at least at my place) and the yard is losing it's snow cover at a pretty good pace. 

And to top it all off, I was able to track down and buy a firearm I've had my I on for quite some time. And at a decent price to boot! I'll be picking it up from my auto mechanic in a couple of days. Got to love my little Wisconsin town, where the auto mechanic has a FFL.

Even though it's having a rough run right now, I'm reminded today what a great country this place still is. I'm able to work, to vote, to purchase a gun, to take the time to simply enjoy the changing of the seasons, and to write exactly how I feel about it and publish it in a place where anyone in the world can see it and read it if they so choose.

I know some people who read this my not like the buying a gun part and I respect there view. But they too can agree with me about the rest of my statement. If we, as a country, would take a collective step back and see how good we still have it and what common ground still remains, maybe we can quit dividing this country. 

Sharing what I can't on Facebook

I take no credit in writing the below Jeff Foxworthy style "you might be" list. It was something a friend and former co-worker posted on his Facebook page. I don't know if he is the true author or not. I suppose I could do a Google search or something, but frankly, I'm just too damn lazy at the moment to do that.

My friend had his Facebook post set so it couldn't be shared, so I put it here.

1. If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

2. If you have to get your parents permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

3. If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book, but not to vote, … you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

4. If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt, you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

5. If, in our largest city, you can buy "two" 16-ounce sodas, but not a 24-ounce soda because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

6. If an 80-year-old woman and 3 yr old child can be stripped searched by the TSA, but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

7. If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

8. If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is cute, but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable, … you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

9. If children are forcibly removed from parents who discipline them with spankings while children of addicts are left in filth and drug infested homes…, you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

10. If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government intrusion, while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and free cell phones,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

11. If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big screen TV while your neighbor buys iPhones, TVs and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

12. If being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you more safe according to the government,… you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The New Phenomenon Called PTSD

"The problem with expanding this is that you know with the advent of PTSD, which I think is a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War" - Senator Dianne Feinstein

WHAT?! WHAT?! How can any human being on the face of the earth, above the age of 8, possibly believe PTSD is something new? Please tell me that quote from Senator Feinstein is made up.

It's not. See the video here

Now I'm not a expert on world history or human psychology, but I'm pretty sure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been around since the dawn of man. It's gone by many names. "Shell Shock" "War Nerves" to name a few. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something that can effect anyone who has ever experienced a traumatic life changing event.

This is not something limited to combat veterans; who Senator Feinstein has mistakenly insulted every one before the Iraq War and I don't mean just U.S. Troops. Every man, woman and child that has gone to war she has unintentionally disrespected by that ridiculous comment.

Beside soldiers; countless police, firefighters, paramedics and first responders have dealt with PTSD from their chosen professions. Also victims of physical and sexual abuse have suffered crippling effects from PTSD, along with many others from all walks of life.

The term PTSD may be something Senator Feinstein never heard of before the Iraq War, but it's been around.

I wonder if she feels gun violence has only been around since 1965, when the AR-15 was first made available to civilians by Colt? Or if violence has only been around since the gun?

A friend forward the attached video to me, because of my views on gun control and the 2nd Amendment. But this goes far, far beyond that. This has me all worked up, and it is not a 2nd Amendment issue. It's not about a Democrat vs.Republican issue, or a Conservative vs. Liberal thing either.

What bothers me is this. Congress has about a 20% approval rating. Every election, we end up sending about 80% of the same people back to Congress, expecting things to get better. Even when we send someone "new", it's usually someone from the same old guard.

For a perfect example of that, one needs to look no farther than my state of Wisconsin. Last year one of my Senators, Herbert Kohl retired after holding office for 24 years. He was replaced by Tammy Baldwin, who had been representing Wisconsin's 2nd District in the House of Representatives for the last 14 years. Both are from the same political party. Along with Senator Kohl's predecessor, William Proxmire, who was Senator for 32 years.

(Side Note: for more on how I feel about that, please see my earlier post "Can We Recall The Candidates")

Even if Senator Baldwin becomes a one term Senator, by being defeated by a candidate from another party; that one Wisconsin Senator's seat will be held by someone from the party for 62 consecutive years!

From every state of the Union, our U.S. Congress is made up of, more or less, the same people. Same people, same ideas holding the same office for decades at a time. Ideas like PTSD, being "a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War."

I really don't care what Senator Feinstein's political views are. It wouldn't matter to me if she was as liberal as humanly possible, a smack dab middle of the road moderate, or a right wing extremist. If she thinks PTSD is something new, she shouldn't serve on a neighborhood zoning committee, let a lone the U.S. Senate.

But she does, and she will.

Regardless how her gun control bill goes, regardless how she votes on anything or what she says before the TV cameras; this woman will be re-elected until she dies, or wishes to give up her enormous amount of political power to a younger version of herself.

We will continue to complain about Congress and we will continue to send the same people there.

I'm a big fan of the twelve year term limit idea. But maybe one term is more than enough.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Jeb Bush: I won’t rule out 2016 White House run ’but I won’t declare today’

Jeb Bush: I won’t rule out 2016 White House run ’but I won’t declare today’

I will say it right here, right now. If in 2016 I find myself at the township polling booth trying to decide between another Bush and Clinton, any remaining hope I have for the survival of mankind as we know it WELL BE FOREVER GONE!

Jeb & Hillary, we have had 20 years of Bush and Clinton administrations. Thank you, that's enough.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'm on YouTube now.

Since I'm not a great writer, I thought it might be easier sometimes to create a quick video blog or vlog from time to time. I'm not a good public speaker, so they're not going to be very good either.

I tried for about 2 weeks to make the perfect video, but just got frustrated with the whole process. I decided to just do simple, one take videos and accept they won't be perfect.

Here is a link to my YouTube channel intro video

I have to warn you, it's pretty bad. But with a little practice over time they may become bearable to watch. You have to start somewhere, right?

I will post vlogs, product reviews and some general videos on things I find interesting.