Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More Christmas Pictures...

And still more Christmas pictures.

I think DW is in denial that DH is answering his phone while they're taking pictures in front of the Christmas tree.

DW's brother and sister-in-law.

DW enjoying a piece of chocolate.

Our Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

Breakfast on Christmas morning with DW's family.

DW and DH posing for a picture. This is DH's new favorite pic.

Not too shabby for a self-portrait.

Playing games with DH's family on Christmas eve.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas pictures...

These are just the first ones. There will be more pictures and captions added later.

This is us in front of the Christmas tree at my parent's house.

This my whole family on Christmas Eve (Eve). There were 42 people (25 kids) under one roof for five or six hours. Talk about crazy.

DW opening a Christmas present from me at our house.

Taking a nap together on Christmas Eve at my parent's house.

Me opening a present at our house.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Where we've been...

In the month of May,

We spent several weekends at the lake.

We moved into our house.

I finished grad school.

In the month of June,

We went to the beach with DW's family.

We went to Magazine Mountain State Park in Arkansas for
my Grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary.

We started enjoying our favorite summer snack, snowcones.

In the month of July,

DW took a road trip with her friends and...

took her nephew to the Zoo.

In August,

We celebrated 4 years of marriage!!!

In September,

We celebrated my 25th birthday with family at our house.

We started the OU football season off together with a trip
to Norman for tailgaiting (several hours before kickoff)
and a great game against the University of Alabama
Birmingham. OU won.

We went to the great state fair of, OKLAHOMA!!!

In October,

We went camping at the lake.

We went to the grand opening of The Cheesecake Factory.

We celebrated our first Halloween together not living in
an apartment. It was pretty fun handing out candy to the

In November,

DW took her nephew to Homecoming at OC.

We put up Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving.

In December,

We enjoyed two days off from school/work because of snow.

Well... that brings us just about up to date. I think this format will work a lot better than the old blog o' words. So much easier.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas, I give to the world the gift of a blog post.

The blog is officially going out of business. It's not that I don't have time to post stuff, but honestly what it comes down to is that there are so many other worthy things bidding for my time and attention, that blogging just isn't important enough to merit taking the time to update it regularly. I hope the three people that check this blog regularly will be able to get some closure from this post.

I haven't completely decided what the "out of business" process is going to be like though. I may convert what has mainly been a blog of words into a blog of pictures. It would probably be a lot less time consuming to do it that way and they do say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So that means I could post three pictures and that would be the equivalent of a 3000 word essay. Who knows? Maybe I'll just stop posting entirely and this will be the last post ever to grace the rolls of this overly inactive blog. We'll see...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blogplaints and Our Adventures in Living Room Arrangements

DW's uncle called me at work today, which isn't all too weird considering he's an alum of the University where I happen to work in alumni relations, and he got on to me for not having posted anything to the ole' blog in a while.

He also offered me a couple tickets to this Saturday's football game, making the part where he complained about our lack of blogging activity a little easier to take, which, if I may say so, is a great strategy for giving people criticism or bad news. Start off with the bad news or the criticism and then finish with the good news or an exciting offer. A lot of people try to do this the other way around, and it's just not as effective.

When delivering bad news or criticism to a friend, family member, co-worker, or employee, you want them to get the point, but when it's all said and done, you also want them to walk away from the conversation or hang up the phone with a good taste in their mouth about what's just transpired.

All that's to say - Richard... thanks for the free ticket offer, I'm sorry we had other plans, and you've inspired me to blog today. Without further delay, read on for another one of our adventures in life...

The other day, we re-arranged our living room and moved everything around so that the TV is no longer the focal point of the room. We really don't watch a whole lot of TV with the exception of The Amazing Race, 24, The Office, My Name is Earl, and the Biggest Loser (OK... that list might qualify as "a lot of TV") but anyway... we really just wanted to have a good seating area for entertaining friends and family.

I feel like the new arrangement, while not perfect, makes really good use of our long narrow living room.

Apparently long narrow living rooms are a pretty common problem. A Google search of the phrase, "long narrow living room problem" reveals 9.7 million results... if you take away the word "problem" the number of results increases to 13.8 million. I love the internet. It sure is good to know that there are millions of other people out there just like us who have long narrow living rooms that they don't know how to arrange.

Based on the picture above, if you have suggestions or ideas on how we could better arrange our living room, please comment and let us know. The only rule is that the two couches, the red chair, and the TV all have to remain in the room. I wonder if there are any interior designers out there reading our blog.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


This post is for my wife's cousins...

Got up at 6:45. Ironed my clothes (white dress shirt, black pants, and brightly colored tie). Brushed my teeth, shaved, showered, and got dressed. Grabbed two peaches and cream oatmeal packets and leftovers for lunch then left for work at 7:30. The weather was cool this morning. It felt nice.

Got to campus at 7:45. Parked in a different parking lot than usual. Walked through the Student Center to get to my office. It was empty then. Got to my office at 7:50, put my lunch in the fridge, and microwaved my oatmeal for breakfast.

Started responding to emails at 8:05. Scheduled a few meetings about homecoming and other areas of importance for the university. Caught up on email by 9:30. Worked on homecoming stuff until chapel at 10:45.

Went to chapel at 10:45. Sat with one of my old RA's. Lots of praise songs, scripture reading, and prayer... no sermon this week. Came back to office at 11:30. Responded to more emails. Edited a press release. Ate lunch at noon. BBQ chicken sandwich leftover from b-day party, cheetos, chocolate pudding, and ice water.

Put a survey together after lunch and emailed it to alumni. Went to a meeting at 2:00 (didn't start until 2:15) about some important stufff with another department on campus and got a lot accomplished. It was a good meeting... they have comfortable furniture and cool paintings on the wall in that office.

Back in the office by 3:00. Read and responded to emails. Enlisted the help of a friend to come up with a Top 10 list to use for a project at work. Met with director from another department at 3:45 to discuss his agenda. His agenda does not align very well with the university's agenda. Too bad for him.

Visited with the president at 4:15 about a program that he thinks I should look into starting. I tend to agree with him and think it could end up being something really positive for the school.

Finished writing two letters (that should have been finished last month) and submitted them to the appropriate people to be sent out. Got an email at 4:34 that made my day. Wrote an email to some important people about some important things going on and called it a day at 5:20.

Got home at 5:40. Checked the mail. Threw away the junk mail. Got a b-day card in the mail... made me laugh. Two movies from NetFlix that I've already seen but will be fun to watch again. Logged on to computer at 6:00 and started blogging.

6:18 - Grabbing a bite to eat and heading back out to church shortly.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Got up. Read about therapy with ADHD children. Went to group supervision. Had lunch and bible study with Kristin. Drove home. Ate smart ones. Went to church in the pm. Went to starbucks. (Came home to do nothing. :) Read cousin's blogs and cried. Talked to Audrey. Great weather today...Fall is coming.

Still I notice you when change begins and I embrace for colder winds, I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come...you are Autumn.
-Nicole Nordman, every season

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Some lyrics I like say, no words to say no words to convey these feelings inside I have for you... I feel as though I have so much to say, so many feelings, and yet so limited to verbalize things.
I find change very difficult, yet it happens around me all the time. I have been overwhelmed with sorrow with the changes that have taken place and the ones that will be coming in the future. The Sunday night I had to say goodbye to my Granny, I was faced with another overwhelming change. I think part of why change is hard for me is I often look back with regret instead of looking forward to what good will come from the change. I wish I had visited Granny more...at home and in the hospital. As I stood over her bed Sunday night I desperately wanted to speak, but there were no words. I took my bible with me to read the words of Paul that kept coming to my mind about her, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race...and I have kept the faith...but the words failed me. All I could do was stand over her and cry like a baby, which was the last thing I wanted to do in front of her. She reached her hands up towards me and I leaned over and she began wiping the tears away from my face. Every time I think about this moment I am humbled and overwhelmed that even in death Granny reached out to comfort me. She mouthed the words live a good life...I love you. I managed to tell her I loved her too (Although I was crying like a banshee...or bitter beer face as my cousin calls it).
When I think about the words live a good life I think of so many things that encompasses... Granny knew about living a good life. A life that is in service to God and his people. A life that is shared with someone who loves you faithfully. A life full of family that love each other. A life spent walking closely with God and in appreciation for his creation.
I hope to grow in these qualities and live a life that is with less regret. I believe that God brings blessings into our lives and He is always working in a way that I may not understand...but often my life does not live out that belief. I spend too much time in regret and anxiety about what has happened or might happen rather than allowing God to fill me with his peace that passes all understanding.
I hope and pray to live a life that can be called a good life...

Dallas Today

I went to Dallas today for a Baseball event for the University. We're trying to raise 2.5 million to build a new baseball stadium and today was basically an informational session for our alumni in the area to let them know about the things the school's trying to do. It as a lunch event at the Diamond Club in the outfield of the Ballpark in Arlington. There were about 25-30 alumni there and I got to meet a lot of new people. We didn't ask anyone for money today, but there were a lot of involved alumni there whom I expect will step up to the plate (pun intended) and help make the baseball vision a reality. Aside from the athletic director putting me on the spot and asking me to get up and say something on behalf of the alumni program without any advance notice, I really think the event was a sucess. And... if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job delivering a spur of the moment/off the cuff "speech" about all the exciting things going on at the University.

I rode down there and back with my VP and that went really well. I've known it all along, but today's trip made me realize that I work for a really good, really wise man (it's not sucking up when you don't use any names in an anonymous blog that only a few people read). We talked a lot about my job/role within the program and he gave me a lot of helpful ideas and direction. Not only that, but he also had a lot of wise things to say about being a godly man and a good husband. I feel like that if I could take one road trip per month with him, that I would never lose direction or motivation at work (not that that's happened yet).

So... that was my day in a nutshell. Did I mention that I'm really enjoying my job? It's funny because 12 months ago I never would've guessed that I would be doing this kind of work... much less enjoying it. God has always provided for me and this job is just one of the many ways that he continues to bless my life.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


My first two years in college, I worked at a bank inside a grocery store in the evenings and on Saturdays. After staying up until unholy hours of the night on Fridays, I would stumble out of bed on Saturday morning around 6:00, iron my clothes, shower, shave, get dressed, and make my way to bank by 7:30. Because Saturdays were never very busy at the bank, I would stand there and watch people, particularly couples that seemed to be a few years older than me, and think to myself, "Man... it must be nice to be graduated, married, and working a real job that doesn't require Saturday hours." While I was busy trying to figure out how to make that month's tuition payment, finish all my assignments, and still manage to have a decent social life, here were these people leisurely strolling through Wal-Mart on a Saturday morning who had no homework to worry about, no tuition payments, and a social life that was pretty much already established. I wondered if I would ever get to go to the grocery store with my wife on a Saturday morning and enjoy the freedoms of a life unhindered by college responsibilities.

I believe that time has arrived for me. This morning I slept in until 9:00, and then I went and bought a bag of peaches from a guy at a road side stand. I came home and ate a peach for breakfast, mowed the grass (there's something almost enjoyable about moving your yard on a nice Saturday morning), and then laid on my raft in the pool for about an hour. When DW came home, we folded laundry together, showered, got dressed, and we went and had lunch together at her favorite restaraunt. The waitress brought us cake afterwards, and not wanting to be rude, we enjoyed it. We came home after that, hung out for a little while, did some things around the house, took a nap together, and now she's doing something in the kitchen and I'm blogging.

We didn't actually go to the grocery store (we usually do that on Sunday's), but the point is that (even though DW is a grad student) we are in a totally different stage of life than we were in just a few years ago as undergraduate students. Being in college was fun and adult life certainly has its fair share of not-so-fun realities and responsibilities, but the more I think about what my life is like today compared to what it was like my first couple years of college (and I really enjoyed my college experience), the more I appreciate the stage of life I'm at right now. It's not perfect and there are certainly things I miss about being in college, but being an adult unfettered by the chains of academic deadlines, social pressures, and part-time weekend jobs is pretty cool.

Typically I tend to be someone who is never really satisfied with my current situation. I'm always usually looking forward to something in the future. Whether it's an upcoming vacation, college football season, christmas, the day I get my first promotion at work, the day I buy a new car, having kids, or something else that I haven't already experienced or don't already have, I always seem to have a difficult time being satisfied with where I'm currently at in life.

Well... at least for a little while, I'm going to try to make a more concerted effort to enjoy the stage of life I'm at and not wish it away on, "I can't wait until when's."

My name is DH, I'm a young adult with adult responsibilities, and life is good.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The World Has Gone Bananas

So this friend of mine has this friend whose dad owns a construction company. The construction company, as construction companies often do, employs a lot of immigrants (both legal and illegal I presume).

Recently the company's payroll system went bazerk and they lost all of the information on all the employees including the number of hours they'd worked in the most recent work week.

No problem right? You just get with each one of the people on the crew, have them re-submit their hours, re-run the payroll, and pay them a few days late... at least that's what any normal, reasonable, sane, warm blooded, abstract thinking, rational human being would think.

Well... the guy who owns the construction company sits down with each one of his employees, goes over all their hours, re-inputs their information into the system, and everything's fine. Then, he gets to the last guy (He probably wasn't the last guy, but it adds flare to the story to say he was the last guy).

So he gets to the last guy (or whatever order of guy he was) and goes through all the information with him, explains to him what's happened, takes down the number of hours from the guy, and then asks him if it's OK if he cuts him a check on Monday (this was on a Friday).

The construction worker (who - by the way - was a citizen of Mexico... not that that's relevant to the story but it helps you get a better mental picture) looks at the construction company owner and with a straight face says, "Actually, if it's OK, can you just pay me in bananas this week?"

A little puzzled, the owner asks Pedro (probably not really his name, but by now you're getting used to my creative liberties) if he's serious and Pedro assures him that he is in fact 100% serious.

Pedro goes on to tell him again that he would indeed like to be paid in bananas and if it'd be alright, could they go together after work that day to the supermarket and purchase them.

While I don't know exactly how many bananas were purchased, I do know that they had to go to multiple supermarkets that afternoon to buy them all.

I think the next time I'm up for a raise at work, I'm just going to ask my boss if he could just keep paying me the same salary I've been making, but for my raise, would it be possible to have that in bananas?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Talkin Bout My Generation

I heard about this on someone else's blog recently, but apparently there are bunch of people my age out there that appear to be having what experts call a "Quarter Life Crisis."

Said quarter life crisis is characterized by the following attributes or feelings:
  • confusion of identity
  • insecurity regarding the near future
  • insecurity regarding present accomplishments
  • re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
  • disappointment with one's job
  • nostalgia for college life
  • tendency to hold stronger opinions
  • boredom with social interactions
  • financially-rooted stress
  • loneliness
The entry then goes to say:

After the initial excitement of adult life and its responsibilities wears off, some individuals find themselves in a world of career stagnation and extreme insecurity.

As the emotional ups-and-downs of adolesence and college life subside, many in the quarter-life crisis experience a "graying" of emotion. While emotional interactions may be intense in a high school or college environment – where everyone is roughly the same age and hormones are highly active – these interactions become subtler and more private in adult life.

Furthermore, a contributing factor to this crisis may be the difficulty in adapting to a workplace environment. In college, professors' expectations are clearly given and students receive frequent feedback on their performance in their courses. By contrast, in a workplace environment, a person may be, for some time, completely unaware of a boss's displeasure with his performance, or of his colleagues' dislike for his personality. Office politics require interpersonal skills that are largely unnecessary for success in an educational setting. Emerging adults eventually learn these social skills, but this process – sometimes compared to learning another language – is often highly stressful.

A primary cause of the stress associated with the "quarter-life crisis" is financial in nature. Real wages for most people have been dropping since the 1970s, and most professions have become highly competitive. Positions of relative security – such as tenured positions at universities and "partner" status at law firms – have dwindled in number. This, combined with excessive downsizing, means that many people will never experience occupational security in their lives, and this is doubly unlikely in young adulthood. Generation X was the first generation to meet this uncertain "New Economy" en masse.

The era when a professional career meant a life of occupational security – thus allowing an individual to proceed to establish an "inner life" – is coming to a crashing end. Financial professionals are often expected to spend at least 80 hours per week in the office, and people in the legal, medical, educational, and managerial professions may average more than 60. In most cases, these long hours are de facto involuntary, reflecting economic and social insecurity. While these ills plague adults at all ages, their worst victims are ambitious, unestablished young adults.

In The Cheating Culture, David Callahan illustrates that these ills of excessive competition and insecurity do not always end once one becomes established – by being awarded tenure or "partner" status – and therefore the "quarter-life crisis" may actually extend beyond young adulthood. Some measure of financial security – which usually requires occupational security – is necessary for psychological development. Some have theorized that insecurity in the "New Economy" will place many in a state of, effectively, perpetual adolescence, and that the rampant and competitive consumerism of the 1990s and 2000s indicates that this is already taking place.

So why do I post all of this? I'm at the age where I've already experienced or am currently experiencing many of the above mentioned characteristics of a quarter life crisis. Apparently a lot of other people my age are too.

There are two things that I find interesting about all this.

One, until yesterday I believed that the so called "quarter life crisis" that seems to plague so many people my age was just called "life." Growing up, I was always taught that change was a natural part of life and that with change, sometimes came difficult adjustments. Life is full of transitions... do we need to name them all? When a five year old starts kindergarten and is faced with all the emotions and struggles that accompany a new life away from Mommy and Daddy, should we call that a "One Twentieth Life Crisis?" Is it really necessary to attach a name and scientific study to everything? I won't even get into the fact that most people don't live to be 100.

The second thing I find interesting about this phenomenon is that (as much as I dislike the name of it) up until yesterday (having experienced many of these same emotions myself) I thought I was in the minority of people. At work, church, and other activities I'm involved in, I see people my age who always seem to have it all together. Come to think of it, I probably seem to have it all together to most of the people I know. What's interesting to me is that we're all a lot more complicated underneath than we ever let people see. We're all a little bit like a cake that's been taken out of the oven too soon. It looks good and done on the outside, but if you poke it with a toothpick, you end up getting a bunch of gooey cake mess all over the toothpick because the inside's still not done yet. Even more interesting is the fact that the gooey cake-covered toothpick phenonemon is the same with every cake no matter what kind of cake it is and no matter who made it. The same applies to people at any age... not just to those in their mid-twenties.

Anywhooo... if you think you're having a "Quarter Life Crisis" don't sweat it. If the above mentioned characteristics are indicators of a "Quarter Life Crisis" then you, me, and the rest of the people on this planet are probally all suffering from one. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't always think it's necessary to attach a name to something to give it validation. From now on, let's all make a concerted effort to refer to the characteristics above as they were meant to be called - life.

One more thing, let's all try to show a little more of our gooey undone inside a little more often... adult life does not have to be characterized by it's "private nature" and "graying emotions." Just because most of our parents and grandparents did it that way, doesn't mean we have to too. At the same time, let's not turn into a bunch of over emotional way too in touch with our inner-self over-the-top flaming pansies either. That would just be too much to stomach.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Personally, I'm not sure. However, if you've been wondering where in the blogosphere is the contributor of Our Adventures in Life... he's been very busy taking care of some academic pursuits.

Said academic pursuits should be completed by the end of the month and regular blogging should once again commense.

In the mean time, with only 53 days until football returns to Norman, why not read about my beloved Oklahoma Sooners?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Thoughts that aren't developed enough for a lengthy post yet

I'm stealing the idea for this post from another blog I read.

1. Why don't churches take better care of their ministers? I know there are exceptions, but it seems like for the most part Christians expect very much from their ministers without giving much in return. A lot of gifted ministers or ministers-to-be are turned off to or get out of ministry because they don't want to have ________ (insert the # of people in a congregation) bosses always take take taking from them and their families without any regard for the fact that ministers are real people with spiritual failings and needs for encouragement, prayer, love, and support just like anyone else in the congregation. Just because I give 10% of my income at church, doesn't make me the boss of the people who have committed to doing a job that often times undervalues them for the service they provide. I've got a lot of un-cohesive thoughts on this that might warrant a more fully developed post in the future... in the mean time, TAKE CARE OF YOUR MINISTERS, THEY AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE NOT AND CAN NOT BE PERFECT, SO DO NOT EXPECT THEM TO BE. In closing, just because you give a financial contribution to a church doesn't give you the right to treat the minister, his wife, or his kids at your congregation like your own personal spiritual servant.

2. Why is it that I can't ever seem to get all of the cylinders in my life firing at the same time? By firing cylinders, I'm basically talking about the different physical, mental, spiritual, professional, academic, emotional, and relational realms of my life. It seems like at any given time, I never seem to be able to excel at more than a few of these realms at a time. I'm not talking about the times when things are in the dumps and all I want to do is sit on my couch in the dark and eat candy corn while watching old reruns of Colombo. No I'm talking about the times when things are for the most part going well, but for some reason I can't seem to have success in more than two or three areas of my life at any given time. For example, the last few months have been pretty good for me professionally, relationally, spiritually, and physically. However, during that time, I've noticed that I've begun feeling a lot less comfortable about my financial well-being. Prior to a few months ago, I was feeling pretty good about financial things, but I was not in very good physical or spiritual shape. Please don't confuse this phenomenon with times of great self doubt or great self confidence. It's the in between stages of life lived in the milieu of that which is neither terrific nor terrible that throws me for a loop. It's easy to express feelings of great happiness and great sorrow of feelings of great achievement, and great failure. I'd like to write a book about the life in the middle, but the words to express it evade me. What is the appropriate response to life in between the extremes when things are going good but not great; when people have problems, but aren't devastated, and when blog thoughts are neither long nor completely underdeveloped?

3. Why do I always end up staying up late when I plan to go to bed early?

4. Why are blogs so popular? For centuries people have been keeping secret diaries that they haven't let anyone read until after they're dead and it's out of their control. Now, people put their innermost thoughts on the internet where anyone with a computer and modem can read them. What is the lure of writing something personal about yourself on the web so that others can read it? I participate in this madness and if you're reading this, so do you, but why?

5. What would Jesus like for me to know about him or life or me or someone else right now as I sit in my living room at 10:45 p.m. on a Wednesday night typing the last few sentences of a really random blog post?

6. Why do I all of the sudden like Indian (dot not feather) food so much. Oh what I wouldn't give for some creamed spinach on flatbread followed by curry chicken and fried spinach leaves with tamarind chutney.

I hope I haven't confused anyone, but as I said before, I don't have very cohesive thoughts on any of these yet.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Washing Machines and 500 Pound Desks

Around 7:30 last night there was a knock on my front door. I answer the door and it's a guy I go to church with who also happens to live about a block away from me. He says, "Hey neighbor! I was wondering if you could help me move a desk." So I say, "Sure... but you've got to help me move a washer and dryer first." We recently got washer and dryer hookups installed in our house and I needed someone to help me get the washer and dryer from the garage into the house. He agrees and without a lot of effort, we get my washer and dryer moved inside and proceed to his house.

We get to his house and, NO LIE, the solid oak or elm or cedar or granite covered in wood panel desk that is sitting in his front yard basking in the shade of a tree that probably wasn't even a sapling when the desk was built weighs 500 pounds.

Long story short, we break our backs/knees/arms/hands and get the desk up the stairs on his front porch and inside his house. We proceed to put it on sliders so we can slide it through the living room, down, the hallway, and into his office (they have wood floors).

We get the desk started down the hallway and everything is going good until we get to the door frame for the office. Come to find out, the desk is 32 inches at its narrowest and the doorways in his house are all 30 inches wide at their widest.

After about an hour of brainstorming, removing screws from the desk trying to get it apart with no luck (they don't make them like they used to), and a few glasses of ice water, we finally pull the desk out of the hallway and set it up on it's side in the middle of his living room. I wish my neighbor luck and leave to go home without having helped him accomplish anything.

Back at home my wife is doing laundry for the first time in our new house while my neighbor is still sitting in his living room trying to figure out the best way to incorporate a 100 year old 500 pound solid wood desk into his living room decor.

The moral of the story: Sometimes life isn't fair, but you should always answer your door when appliances need moving and someone knocks on a Sunday evening.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Cul-de-Sac = The American Dream

According to a story on NPR this morning, it looks like we should've bought a house in a Cul-de-Sac... or maybe not.

Cul-de-Sacs: Suburban Dream or Dead End? by John Nielsen

Next time you take a plane flight, take a look out the window. If you're over a city, you'll see roads that form a grid connecting homes, offices and stores.

But if you are flying over the suburbs, you'll see roads that look like trees. The trunks are great big feeder streets with branches splitting off. At the ends of the branches are what look like circular leaves.

Those are the cul-de-sacs, the dead-end streets that have become a symbol of suburban life. Since the end of World War II, millions of cul-de-sacs have been built on the fringes of American cities.

The Lure of the Cul-De-Sac

In recent years, however, the cul-de-sac has fallen out of favor with urban planners and architects. Some cities have even banned them.

To understand why, I recently visited a cul-de-sac in Carderock Springs, Md., where I lived when I was in the sixth and seventh grades.

Traveling with me was Jeff Speck, an urban planner who works at the National Endowment for the Arts.

Behold "the American dream, circa 1960," he said, surveying my old neighborhood. "One, two, three, four, five houses surrounding a circular drive. Each house looks inward at the donut hole of plants in the middle. Each house is very carefully designed with windows on the front and back and not on the sides, so they don't really see each other."

Now, I had some trouble finding my own house because the trees are so much taller now. But some things haven't changed. First, you can still hear the rumble of traffic on the nearby freeway.

"And the other thing we hear are the birds," said Speck. "And that's actually the Scylla and Charybdis of the suburban condition. On the one hand, you do have this feeling of a close contact with nature, because you don't have cars going by every minute within the community. The only cars that come by are going to be the ones that are parking nearby."

Suburban Isolation

On the other hand, there's the problem of having to drive you car almost everywhere. Or, in Speck's words, the uneasy feeling that "your car is no longer an instrument of freedom but a prosthetic device."

Driving is the only way to get from a typical cul-de-sac to a restaurant, a store or your office. And on the roads that funnel back to that main trunk, the traffic is usually awful.

That is one reason urban planners such as Speck do not think much of cul-de-sacs. Neither do anti-sprawl activists, many architects and some city managers and mayors.

If these critics have a leader, it is probably William Lucy, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Virginia. He says a national debate is brewing about the future of the cul-de-sac.

"The era of the cul-de-sac is certainly threatened; it’s a battleground," Lucy says. "The professionals tend to think that the connected neighborhood is the good neighborhood. And the developers and the realtors are more of a mixed mind."

Some of the earliest American cul-de-sac communities were built in Radburn, N.J., in the 1920s. By the mid-1950s, they were everywhere. Developers learned that cul-de-sacs allowed them to fit more houses into oddly shaped tracts, and to build right up to the edges of rivers and property lines.

"Going over the lines had two problems," Lucy says. "One, it was expensive to try to traverse the obstacles. Second, it made connection to other neighborhoods or other subdivisions, and that was contrary to the notion of safety."

Safety Hype

Lucy says safety has always been a big selling point for cul-de-sacs. From the beginning, builders noted that they gave fire trucks extra room to turn around, and that they prevented strange cars from speeding by on their way to somewhere else. Ads for cul-de-sacs often pictured children riding bikes and tricycles in the street.

These days, those images seem grimly ironic to people who actually look at safety statistics. For example, Lucy says cul-de-sac communities turn out to have some of the highest rates of traffic accidents involving young children.

"The actual research about injuries and deaths to small children under five is that the main cause of death is being backed over, not being driven over forward," he says. "And it would be expected that the main people doing the backing over would in fact be family members, usually the parents."

Armed with such arguments, critics of the cul-de-sac have won some victories in recent years. In cities such as Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas, construction of cul-de-sac-based suburbs has basically been banned. In other places, cul-de-sac communities have been retrofitted with cross streets.

Safe in the American Dream

But one important group still appears to be in love with the cul-de-sac: homebuyers.

Theres Kellerman, a realtor who lives and works in Carderock Springs, says buyers still line up to live on dead streets.

"When I put ads in about a house that has just been listed, if it has a cul-de-sac I say: 'Cul-de-sac location -- location within location,'" says Kellerman. "It has no through street, [so] nobody will race by -- not even the teenagers that go on their little racing sprees, because they can't go anywhere."

A recent study backs up Kellerman. It showed that buyers will pay 20 percent more for a home on a cul-de-sac.

Even cul-de-sac critic Jeff Speck says he understands the attraction. In recent years, he's helped design some well-known grid-like "new towns," where it is possible to walk to places like a corner store. But for some cul-de-sacs -- like the one in Carderock Springs -- Speck says he would do some extra driving.

"I am not embarrassed to say [that] if I could afford this I would happily raise a family in this environment," he says.

And Speck says this isn't just an American dream anymore. He says that in countries like the Philippines and China, and in parts of the Middle East, cul-de-sacs are fast becoming all the rage.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Living in a Kingdom

Although the title of this post could easily lend itself to an entry about my newest earthly kingdom, the new house, I'm actually talking about a different type of kingdom entirely.

A recent sermon at church reminded me of something that I've known for quite a while, but had never really articulated in my own terms. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here before, but I am a Christian... a baptized believer in Jesus Christ and a member of his church.

As a member of Christ's church, the bible says that my citizenship is in heaven and that I am a member of the God's Kingdom. When I think about this idea of living as a citizen of God's kingdom, thoughts of ancient imperial Rome come to my mind.

I assume, without having actually experienced life as a Roman citizen, there are so many parallels between the ancient Roman Empire and God's Kingdom. I will delineate them now... (don't you just eat it up when someone uses big formal words like "delineate" in a blog post?)

Similarity #1 - Legend has it that ancient Rome began on a hill called Palatine and (I'm skipping some major stuff here) eventually expanded to all corners of the world. Christ's kingdom had its earthly roots on a hill in what is now modern day Palestine and has expanded to all corners of the world.

Similarity #2 - Citizens of Rome were under a different set of laws than the rest of the world. Although some were restrictive, most of the laws were both beneficial and protective to the people of Rome. No matter where in the empire they went, Roman citizens were protected by the laws of their government which always superseded any local law. There was both honor and peace of mind that came with being a citizen of Rome. As a member of Christ's kingdom, I am under a different set of laws than the rest of the world. Although some are restrictive, all of Christ's laws are beneficial and protective to me. Christ's laws also supersede any and all laws of human origin. They are of a higher nature and call Christians to do more than any earthly law ever calls for. No matter where I go and no matter what happens to me in this life, I know that eternally my soul is safe as a member of Christ's kingdom and a follower of his law.

Similarity #3 - If I were a citizen of ancient Rome, no matter where I happened to be in the world and no matter what I happened to be doing, I was first and foremost a Roman Citizen and one of my duties was to advance the cause of the empire. And what was the cause of the empire? GROWTH. Ancient Rome and the ancient Romans were all about taking the glory of their empire to remote parts of the globe to people whose way of life would certainly benefit from a little Romanizing. Some would argue with me on this point, but in my opinion, never before and never since, has there been an earthly nation whose cultural and political influence has had as far reaching and long lasting an effect on the rest of the world as the Roman Empire. This was not accidental either. The people of Rome had an insatiable appetite for expanding their nation and often packed up and moved to some remote part of the empire in order to help with that cause. As a citizen of Christ's kingdom, no matter where I am in the world and no matter what I am doing, I am first and foremost a Christian and one of my duties is to advance the cause of Christ. And what is the cause of Christ? Simply stated, it is to SEEK and SAVE those who are LOST. Although I often spend my time doing other less productive things, as a member of Christ's church my primary objective is to try to advance Christ's kingdom by taking his message to people whose soul is eternally lost without it. Simply stated, that message is as follows: "God is by his very nature, perfect and without sin. He therefore can have nothing to do with anything impure. Because of sin, man is separated from God. In order to be restored to God, death must occur as payment for sin. Christ was God's son; he came to earth, lived a perfect life as a man, was crucified on a cross, and was brought back to life three days later by God. Because he was perfect and without sin, Christ's death paid the price for all of the sins of the world and gave me and everyone who's ever lived before me and after me access to God's grace, love, and power. Through Christ, despite all of the sin in my life, I am presented to God as perfect and can therefore live with him eternally in heaven someday." Although I have drastically oversimplified the message of Christ, the point is that, just like an ancient Roman, I am to have an insatiable appetite for spreading the kingdom of Christ.

I could go on with the similarities until carpal tunnel syndrome sets in, but I believe I have hit on the important similarities. If I haven't' articulated well the significance of living in Christ's kingdom, I apologize. This idea, although not new, has only recently started receiving serious critical and reflective thought from me. There are just so many things in life that take on totally different levels of significance when I start to think about the fact that I am a citizen of Christ's kingdom. While Christ offers me forgiveness of sins, love, and eternal safety, I (in return) am to devote my life to advancing his kingdom. The only outcome in my life that really matters is that I bring others to Christ.

With that in mind, many things lose significance. However, living in Christ's kingdom does not mean I stop taking care of my earthly responsibilities. For example, consider my job. As a member of Christ's kingdom whether or not I get promoted at work does not matter. That does not mean that I slack off at my job. What is does mean is that as a member of Christ's kingdom I am bound by an obligation to be excellent in all parts of my life and that is what should drive me. Therefore I am to strive for excellence in all of my endeavors with only one "end game" in mind... that is to make reflect positively on Christ and bring others to him. What better way to show people the benefits of life in Christ's kingdom than by living, and working in such a way that people look at my life and think, "Wow... that guy's got it together. I wonder what makes him different." If I have done my part as a citizen of Christ's kingdom well, they really won't even have to wonder what makes me different... they will already know.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Can life get any better?

I submit that it can not...

To see what I'm talking about, click here for FREE STREAMING INDIAN MUSIC.

I recommend the
Punjabi/Bhangra section.

All you have to do is click on the albums or songs you want to hear, press the play button, and you've got hours of FREE STREAMING INDIAN MUSIC at your fingertips.

I've never felt such an affinity toward a website in all my life. If this website were a woman and if I were single (two huge if's but you get the point), I swear... I would be on my knees proposing.

I have no idea what they're singing about, but I don't care. This stuff is practically Zeppelin on curry. I'm sold.

Can life get any better? No... However, if by some chance, they let us start downloading the FREE STREAMING INDIAN MUSIC, then my answer would be a big hearty YES.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Strange Emotions

So this has been a pretty good week for me...

I don't know I've ever gone into it on here or not, but a big part of my new job is planning events that either help raise money for the University or help make friends for the University. Well, this last weekend, I had three of those events (one friend raising event, one fund raising event, and one event that was sort of a blend of both).

The friend raising event pretty much took care of itself, the fund raising event raised $10,000 for an endowed scholarship, and the blended event raised over $3000 for the same endowed scholarship. While $3000 doesn't sound like much, it was the first time since this annual event started that it actually made money for the endowment. Although I was a part of the planning for the other two events, the blend event was completely mine. I went out and got corporate sponsors, negotiated a great deal on t-shirts, and got a lot of stuff donated that we should have paid for. After the event, several people (including my boss, my vice-president, and another vice-president that I don't directly report to) told me that I had done a great job with everything and that they were (I'm paraphrasing here) thoroughly impressed with my performance thus far. So professionally, the week was off to a good start.

On Monday, I got an email from OU saying that I had passed my Comprehensive Exams. That means that now, aside from fulfilling a few minor technical requirements; I am officially a Master of Education. This is the test that I wrote about almost a month ago. I believe I mentioned the fact that I was having trouble studying for it. Well... although I had every intention of studying, it just never materialized. I was worried at the time, but looking back, it's clear that (yes folks) when it comes to the testable portion of Higher Education knowledge, I am a stud. I would feel a little boastful saying that, if it weren't for the fact that the messy problems of Higher Education don't really lend themselves that well to the testable portion of my degree. I digress... but the gist of it is that Monday was a good day.

On Wednesday, the president of Rwanda was on campus and I got to hear him speak. He was quite a visionary and it was really exciting listening to him talk about where his country was headed in relation to where it had been. In addition to getting to hear him speak, I was also invited by the president's office here at OC to a private reception in his honor that afternoon. Even though I found out when I got there that I had been invited to be the valet parker, it was still a lot of fun driving all those rich people's cars. And hey... after all the cars were parked, I was told that it would be OK for me to come in and join the party. I declined, but Wednesday was still a pretty neat day. After all, it's not every day you get the opportunity to drive the cars of people that get to rub elbows with heads of state.

Last night was Senior Night (another event I planned) and although only four people showed up, I'm still happy about it. I got to spend an hour or two getting to know four alums-to-be that I probably wouldn't have met if all 300 members of the Class of 2006 had showed up. Not only that, but I also only spent $11.15 of the $1000 budget for the event. Looks like next year's Senior Night will be AMAZING! So... Thursday was a good day.

I called this post "Strange Emotions" because although this week has been an extremely good one for ME, it has been a real struggle (academically and to some extent, professionally) for the one person in this world that I care about more than anyone else, DW (Dear Wife). I know this may seem like a pretty duh statement, but when you marry someone, you really do become one person with them. Even though this week has been good for me, there is still a big part of me that hurts for her and the tough time she's been having.

It's weird. I don't feel like she's raining on my parade or anything like that. I'm still really happy about the "success" I've had this week, but at the same time I am sad for her. Don't get me wrong, I don't pity her though... she is not a pitiable person. She is amazing in so many different ways. There's not a day that goes by that she does not encourage or challenge me to be a better person spiritually. My day is always better after I've spent some time talking and listening to her. When it comes to deep thinkers, DW takes the cake. You might not guess it from casual conversation (she likes to keep this side of her a secret), but within her mind is a thought life that is even more beautiful than the face that it often hides behind... her ability to intuitively read and navigate even the most complicated of situations never ceases to amaze me. Emotionally, she is probably one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. She has an uncanny ability to assess and understand her own emotions and the emotions of others. I've seen total strangers completely open up to her and start pouring out their soul to her as if they've known her for years. While this may be a bit annoying for her now, when she's a therapist and can start charging $100 an hour to be opened up to like that, it will totally be worth it.

I digress, but the point I'm trying to make is that DW is truly an amazing person in so many ways more ways than she will probably ever realize, and although she's been having a tough time these last few days, and although I'm sad for her, I also see an amazing inner strength in her. I know she will get everything done in time and I know that her clinical interview will go fine and I know that she will be a great therapist some day... so while there's a part of me that's sad for her, there is also another part of me that is more impressed by her than words could ever express. As an outside observer with fairly intimate knowledge of the person she is, I know that her struggle is temporary and am completely confident that she will emerge in just a few days (when everything is behind her) a much stronger person, and so a part of me is happy for her.

And that's the long and short of the strange emotions I'm experiencing. I'm simultaneously proud of what I've accomplished professionally, happy to be finishing my master's degree, happy to be finishing my job, happy to be moving into a house, hurting for my wife, proud of my wife, amazed by my wife, and completely confident in her ability to successfully get through this but not sure how to express that without seeming like I don't care.

Wow... that was a long post. I hope I have clearly articulated not only the content and reason behind the strange emotions I'm experiencing, but I also hope I have clearly articulated the difficulty I'm having processing all of that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Speaking of eating lots of fiber...

Experts make flatulence-free bean: A method of creating super-nutritious but flatulence-free beans has been developed by scientists.

Beans are a cheap and key source of nutrition especially in the developing world, but many people are thought to be put off by anti-social side-effects.

A Venezuelan team says fermenting beans with certain friendly bacteria can cut the amount of wind-causing compounds, and boost beans' nutritional value.

The research appears in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Flatulence is caused by bacteria that live in the large intestine breaking down parts of food - such as soluble fibre - that have not been digested higher in the gut

Beans, such as the black bean commonly eaten across Central and Southern America and tested by the team, contain many of these compounds.

Researchers from the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas found that by boosting the natural fermentation process by adding a particular type of bacteria , called Lactobacillus casei (L casei), the amount of these indigestible wind-causing compounds were reduced.

Soluble fibre was reduced by two thirds and the amount of raffinose, another flatulence-causing substance, by 88.6%.

But the amount of insoluble fibre, which is thought to have a beneficial effect on the gut and help the digestive system get rid of toxins, increased by 97.5%.

The team concludes that fermentation involving L casei could decrease flatulence compounds and increase nutritional quality.

They suggest the bacteria is used by the food industry to create better bean products.

The team led by Marisela Granito said: "Given that flatulence is one of the main limiting factors for the consumption of this important foodstuff, the implementation of processes which allow for nutritious and non-flatulence-producing beans to be obtained would be interesting."

'Social concerns'

Dr Frankie Phillips, a nutrition expert and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said: "This study provides an interesting lead in helping us to overcome some of the less desirable aspects of eating legumes - i.e. flatulence - whilst ensuring that the nutritional benefits from eating them remain.

"On a practical note, some people find that gradually increasing consumption levels of legumes helps, as the body adapts, and others have no symptoms at all.

"I'd suggest trying small portions of legumes as part of a meal and gradually eating larger portions as they can be tolerated."

She said that products existed, mainly in the US, which can help reduce flatulence.

She added: "Despite the obvious social concerns, there is no physiological harm from the flatulence caused by eating beans and other legumes, and considerable nutritional benefits from eating them owing to fibre content as well as a wide range of other nutrients and phytonutrients."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/04/25 23:05:51 GMT


Biggest Loser Here I Come...

Well folks, I did it. For the first time since junior high, I stepped on the scale today and weighed less than 200 pounds. While 199 it may not seem significant to most of my readers (both of you), I haven't been below 200 pounds since I was in junior high. DW (Dear Wife) has never known me when I've been below 200 until now. I'm not an overly emotional man, but I swear to you that I almost started crying this morning when I saw that old scale of mine tip below the deuce mark.

For those of you that don't know, on February 6, 2006 at 250 pounds, I (along with DW) started doing Weight Watchers. Although DW was the only one of us that actually went to the meetings, we both began a lifestyle change that now (almost three months and 75 pounds later) we both feel is a lifestyle we can maintain for quite a while.

A lot of people have asked me what we've been doing to lose so much weight so quickly. So for the sake of not having to repeat the same story over and over again, I have decided to include a step by step recount right here on this blog for the whole world to read once and for all.

First of all, I started paying attention to the point value (calories/fat/fiber) of everything I put in my mouth and didn't eat anything that wasn't point worthy. At 250 pounds I was allowed to eat 28 points per day plus another 35 points per week to use at my discretion. The beauty of Weight Watchers is that you can eat whatever you want as long as you don't exceed your daily point value. Although there were certain foods I had to start eating smaller portions of, this part of it was really not that difficult to me (AND I REALLY LOVE TO EAT). Some might think it would be really difficult to keep track of how many points you're eating, but it's really not. As creatures of habit, there are really just a very small handful of things that any of us ever eat anyway and once you learn the point values of those foods, "counting points" becomes almost second nature. The bottom line is that if you really want to do something bad enough, you will be willing to make a few sacrifices along the way. In my case, I really wanted to lose weight so when it came time to visit my favorite Mexican restaurant, I didn't have that hard of time ordering the chicken taco salad and only eating a small plateful of chips and salsa instead of getting my normal chicken enchiladas, two baskets of chips, cheese dip, and tortillas.

Second... and this one is huge... before February 6, I was drinking around 12 to 24 ounces a day of either Dr. Pepper, sweet or flavored tea, or some other sugar enhanced drink and NO water. Since February 6, I have had around 12 ounces of Dr. Pepper and around 24 ounces of sweet or flavored tea... TOTAL, and my water intake has increased from ZERO ounces per day to anywhere between 80 and 120 ounces per day. This made a huge and immediate impact on my weight loss. If you are "addicted" to caffeine or Coke or Diet Pepsi and you are using the fear of potential headaches as a crutch, let me just encourage you to give it up for a month and see what happens. You might get a few headaches at the start, but what you'll find (if you drink enough water) is that you will start feeling better than you've ever felt in your entire life once you start drinking enough water. I really think that proper water intake is something most people on a "diet" overlook and I think that's a shame. Once again, it may be a sacrifice for you to give up your daily trips to Sonic or Starbucks for your Route 44 or Double Mocha; if you really want to be healthy you will make it work. One side note, for those of you who have a weight problem because you don't ever feel full (MOST OF YOU), there's really nothing quite like drinking 64 ounces of water to make you stop feeling hungry.

Third... because I have bad knees and running is very painful on joints, on February 6, I got on an elliptical machine and did 10 minutes of strenuous ellipticizing. For the next few weeks, I worked myself up to 20 minutes and have done at least 20 minutes a day, five or six days a week, since that time. Don't feel like you have to devote an hour a day to working out in order to lose weight and be healthy. There are very few days when I spend more than 20 minutes exercising. As long as you are eating right, 20 minutes a day of good moderate intensity (makes you sweat, but your breathing is light enough that you can still have a conversation with the person next to you) cardiovascular exercise will do the trick. If you think you don't have time to spend 20 minutes a day investing in your health, I beg to disagree. If it's something that is important to you, you will make time. I'm a full-time graduate student working two full-time jobs, with a wife and (at least what I consider to be) a pretty healthy social life. If I can find the time to spend 20 minutes a day, five or six day a week, so can you. No more excuses.

To sum all that up, and I won't even charge you...

1. Switch from white to wheat bread. Switch from mayonnaise to mustard. Eat less cheese and red meats and more fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, and chicken. Take time to figure out how many points are in a particular meal... a salad with egg, cheese, ham, and ranch dressing has just as many points as a pork chop or chicken breast plus broccoli, a roll, and a baked potatoes with a table spoon of butter and sour cream.

2. Stop drinking so much sugar and start drinking at least half your body weight in ounces in water every day. Your body will have a much easier time burning fat if it doesn't have to burn off all that excess glucose first.
3. Spend 20 minutes a day doing something that makes you sweat.

Just in case you're wondering what I looked and look like... here you go:

Before...... and...... After

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I read this quote tonight...
"If you want to reach your dream you must stay past the point where normally you would have given up"
I want to give up, surrender, be poor, and be done with it.
I ALSO want to finish strong, do well, and have a job I love.
Some may see the major discrepancy in those two thoughts, and thus the struggle continues...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Speaking of Residual Income...

This article was in the Oklahoman today... I don't know what's worse, the fact that he included 12 year olds in his search parameters or the fact that he thinks a woman is only worth $1000.

By Ron Jackson and Sheila Stogsdill
The Oklahoman

BRAY - Michael Thelemann struggled Wednesday to understand why a homemade sign staked in his front yard caused such an uproar in his neighborhood. Neighbors are equally baffled by Thelemann's attitude.

Thelemann's sign offered a $1,000 reward for a virgin bride between the ages of 12 and 24 who can bear him children.

"I'm just somebody who is getting up there in years, and I'm looking for a born-again, God-fearing virgin between the ages of 12 and 24 who can bear me children," said Thelemann, 45. "What's the problem? I just think I have some wicked neighbors."

Thelemann posted the sign on Sunday.

So far he has had no offers, only protests.

"I feel like I'm living down the street from a pedophile," said Christy Sternadel, a neighbor. "We want him out of this neighborhood. Who asks for a 12-year-old virgin bride? I would think he could get arrested for soliciting a minor."

Neighbors flooded the Stephens County sheriff's department with complaints.

"We are in the Bible belt, and we needed to address the situation, so I sent out two deputies," said Bob Hill, Stephens County undersheriff. "But the sign was gone by the time we got there."

Thelemann claims his sign was stolen. He posted a new sign Wednesday, but omitted minor ages while adding that he doesn't want a "pig-worshipping, heathen, white-supremacist wife."

Hill said the matter is under investigation. But Stephens County District Attorney Gene Christian doesn't think Thelemann has broken any laws.

In Oklahoma, individuals under 18 need parental consent to marry.

"His timing is awfully bad," said Christian, alluding to the recent abductions and murders of girls in Tulsa and Purcell. "But he hasn't crossed any legal lines yet just by putting up a sign. Now, if he actually acts upon his reward by soliciting money to a minor and drawing them away from their parents, then that's another story."

Neighbors, meanwhile, remain braced for something bad.

"I'm scared," said LaDonna Solomon. "I have a 17-year-old, a 14-year-old, and an 8-year-old -- all girls. I'm truly scared."

Thelemann, who was divorced in 1989, doesn't equate a 12- or 14-year-old bride with sexual child abuse.

"My grandmother got married at 14 to a much older man," Thelemann said.

If all else fails, I have a sneaking suspicion that this guy could make a killing selling something on eBay. Come to think of it... he should try listing this on eBay.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Residual Income

I've been thinking lately (since I've chosen a career in Christian higher education - which I love - and the odds are pretty good that while I will certainly make a comfortable living someday, it will never make me rich) that I need to start a side business. You see, I like to travel. Ideally... I'd like to spend two weeks a year traveling in another country, one week traveling within the US, and one more week at the beach (country doesn't matter on this one) EACH year. While I could strategically schedule all of my out of town "business" trips for the advancement and financial support of Christian higher education in cities that have beaches, I've recently had an idea that I think just might help me achieve that goal without having to soil the integrity of my department's travel budget.

What is this idea you ask? One word... INFLATABLES. Yes you heard right... INFLATABLES. I found out recently that these amazing producers of residual income can be purchased for the low low price of $1900. Word on the street is that going rate for these beautiful bouncy jackpots is somewhere around $200 per four hour rental - AND - it's not just the folks in Nichols Hills or Gaillardia that are renting them either. No. These things are popping up at kids birthday parties all over the place.

Let's say I pay a college student $50 to go, set it up, come back in four hours, deflate it, pack it back up, and take it back where it belongs... that's still $150 per rental. To be conservative, let's say the actual profit (after advertising, storage, and insurance) comes to $100 per rental. Then, let's say I rent it out four times per month eleven months out of the year. That's $4400 per year in residual income and the inflatable is paid off after the first five months. Let's also say that I purchase an additional inflatable every year for the next five years. Being conservative again, let's pretend I'm able to rent each of the four inflatables out three times per month, ten months out of the year. That's $12,000 residual income a year that really shouldn't involve much work on my part.

Obviously there will be some work. I'll have to hire workers, collect the money, write the paychecks, do some advertising, schedule the birthday parties, and take care of the taxes. However, I work on a college campus so there are always good trustworthy students who are looking for work that I can hire. Collecting money never did bother me much. With the help of QuickenPro, writing paychecks and keeping track of taxes should be a breeze. With the help of the Microsoft Outlook Calendar (which I am a very proficient user of), scheduling doesn't worry me. As far as advertising goes, the beauty of these inflatables is that you can put your company logo and phone number right on the top front panel. Obviously it would take a little leg work to get the company name out there, but after the first ten or twenty parties, most of my business would probably end up coming from word of mouth and referrals. After all, it's all about keeping up with the Jone's when it comes to kids' birthday parties. If one kid on the block gets an inflatable for his or her birthday party, they're all gonna want one.

Other than everything I've already mentioned, there are two reasons this idea is extremely appealing to me.

Reason #1 - I will probably be partnering with my brother-in-law on this deal. If we each put in half, it's only going to take $850 out my pocket. If I have over estimated the market demand for this product and we can't get anyone to rent, we'll still have our own moon bounce. How cool would that be? "Hey guys, do you wanna come over to my house? We can watch the game, munch on some buffalo wings, and jump in the moonbounce." Nope... it doesn't get any cooler than that.

Reason #2 - There will never be a shortage of children's birthday parties, and I can't ever foresee a time when inflatables will not be a huge birthday party hit. Granted, the economy could tank and people might stop wanting to spend $200 for an inflatable rental at their kids' birthday, but that doesn't worry me. If the economy does tank and people stop renting inflatables, I won't have paid for any of them with credit so I won't have to worry about missing a payment. It's not like inflatable moonbounces are perishable either. When the economy does come back, I will be there waiting to pounce, like a fat man at an all you can eat Chinese buffet, on all of the exciting "Welcome Back Economy" parties that just won't be complete without an inflatable moonbounce. If the economy doesn't come back... what to do with a few inflatable moonbounces that no body wants to rent will be the least of my problems.

Europe, Nassau, Maui, and Australia, here I come. Yes sir! It's gonna be cool... real cool.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Addiction

I don't know if you've ever emailed me, but if you have, you probably received a response within five or ten minutes of hitting the send button.

They say confession is good for the soul... sooooo... my name is DH and I'm a compulsive email checker/responder. You may have problems with drugs or alcohol or something else that makes my problem look like a speck, but unless you've ever responded to a work email at 2:00 a.m. on a weekend, don't mock my pain.

The problem is... I'm really not sure why I check my email so often. DW, a therapist-in-training, would probably encourage me to unpack this problem. She would would probably tell me that I needed to examine the assumptions behind why I'm constantly checking and responding to my emails. So I will try to do that.

Assumption #1: If I don't check my email at least once every half hour, _________ will happen.

Assumption #2: If I don't respond to people as soon as I receive an email from them, ________ will happen.

I was afraid of that...

I tried really hard to fill in those blanks, honest I did, but nothing really came to mind so I guess the whole unpacking thing didn't really work. If you have any ideas what I might fill in either of those blanks with, please share them in the comments section.

Meanwhile, at least I've gotten this problem out into the open and I'll sleep better at night knowing that I'm not shouldering this burden alone. Don't expect to see any sudden changes in my email response time or checking frequency any time soon though.

P.S. We close on our house this coming Friday and we are TOTALLY STOKED!

My name is DH and I'm a compulsive email checker.

Monday, April 17, 2006

HDTV... almost

I almost had HDTV today, and I stress the word ALMOST. About a year ago, I bought a new HD ready television. For those of you that don't know what it means to be an HD ready TV, it simply means that with the right HD set top tuner and a decent pair of rabbit ears, my TV will display free over-the-air pictures perfectly. That means I can have a great HD quality signal on all of the network television that I watch.

So... after making this discovery, I proceeded to go to Wal-Mart and buy a pair of rabbit ears. After getting the rabbit ears, I hit eBay to find a set top HD tuner. I found one for $79 (Directv brand) and they normally retail for around $200. Never afraid to grab a bargain when I find one, I proceeded to bid on and win the HD tuner. Nearly a week later, it arrived in the mail and I (with almost uncontrollable excitement) began setting it up. I got all the wires plugged into to the correct wire receptacles, got the antenna antennizing, plugged it in, turned it on, proceeded to follow the simple on screen instructions, completed the process, did the obligatory reboot of the system, and then... (to quote a classic Jimmy Buffett song) "That's when I first saw the bear. He was a Kodiak lookin' fella 'bout 19 feet tall." In this case, my bear was a blue screen with the words, "Activation Required" displayed ever so prominently across the bottom of the screen.

Apparently, because the tuner was meant to be used with Directv, the only way I can use the over-the-air tuner is by ordering Directv and activating the unit. I called Directv and this will cost me $44.95 a month for a minimum of twelve months.

Needless to say, the unit will be back on eBay again shortly. I'm not overly concerned about the money... it was only $79.00 and I'm pretty sure that I can recoup that. Then using the proceeds from that sale, I'm also pretty sure I can buy a different, non-Directv restricted set top box (I found out this afternoon while researching my problem that Samsung makes a good one and they are also pretty cheap on eBay). However, I am concerned that it will probably be another two weeks or more before I have free over-the-air HDTV once you factor in the fact that by the time I list the one I've got on eBay, sell it, wait for the money to come in, ship it, buy another one, wait for the money to go out, wait for it to be shipped, and finally receive it in the mail.

That was my great adventure for Monday. I will post again when I finally have "free" over-the-air HDTV. The way things are looking right now... it will probably coincide with my Merry Christmas post.

If you happen to be an existing Directv subscriber and you're interested in owning (not leasing) an HD receiver for the ultimate Directv experience, email me and let me know. My price is extremely competitive and I can even show you how to set it up. I believe Directv charges an extra $4.99 month for the HD service, but you wouldn't have to pay that if you just wanted to utilize the free over-the-air local channels. Just in case you're not sold yet, the unit is also 250 gigabyte DVR. Any interested buyers, please let me know by making a comment to this post.

It's time for me to go work out and relieve some of today's HDTV frustration and disappointment.