• Work Ethic (11/3/2019) - I read recently that two-thirds of all parents in the United States give their children a weekly allowance of $30.

    I read recently that two-thirds of all parents in the United States give their children a weekly allowance of $30.  I was taken aback by that knowledge, wondering how you could justify giving a child that much.  It’s not that I begrudge them having that money, but it’s the fact they probably did nothing to earn it.

    I remember when I started giving my two children an allowance.  They were 8-10 years old and their mother came to me one day and said, “We need to start giving the kids an allowance”.  I agreed but thought they should earn it.  They were wonderful children, but I was sure handing them unearned money would not build good character.

    So, we sat down with them one day and told them our plan:  They would get a weekly allowance of $2 (equivalent to $14 today), but they had to make their bed every morning before school, take out the trash after breakfast and scoop up the dog poop in the yard upon returning home from school. If any of their school report cards showed a grade below “C” their allowance would stop immediately and only resume after the next report card showed “C” or better. 

    That plan worked well, tho my daughter grumbled a lot about the “dog poop” thing.  Seems her friends in the neighborhood would come by our house and make fun of her as she dutifully scooped up after our beloved dog. 

    I think the important thing both learned was that everything in life must be earned and that includes love, friendship, and success.  What message are we sending to our children when we give them a weekly allowance with no expectations?

    My best friend in high school became a billionaire.  His parents were not poor, but they insisted he earn his money.  He sold newspapers, cut grass, and drove a school bus.  In college, he busted tables and paid his own way.  Would he have succeeded had his parents not insisted he work?  Maybe, but I think it played a big role in his success.  We still see each other at high school reunions and he’s still the same old fellow I enjoyed being around as a kid.  I can’t say for sure, but I’ll bet he did the same with his children. 

    I recall telling a co-worker back in the ‘70’s about my son’s successful athletic exploits and he looked me in the eyes and said plaintively, “But have you taught him how to make money?”  The answer to that, unknown to me at the time, was yes.  My son went on to be very successful in his career.  I prefer to think it’s because he started early in life earning his way.

    Suze Orman said, “The key to making money is to stay invested”.  Now that’s a horse we should all be riding!   

       🏈My wife and I were returning from a trip to visit our grand kids in Tennessee a few weeks ago, and we stopped at a rest stop to use the facilities and walk around the campus for about 10 minutes.  As we returned to our truck, a young man, looking to be in his late 20s, approached us and asked for help. 

    He had, according to him, $23.50 and needed $20 more to get him, his wife, and daughter, to their destination in Arkansas.  His eyes were filled with tears as he recalled serving in Iraq and Pakistan and being unable to find a job upon his return home.  The AC in his truck had ceased to work and his wife & child were suffering immensely.  He informed me that he had contemplated giving me his wedding ring if I would help.  He, of course, knew that no one would take it. 

    I was concerned by the constant flow of tears that found their way down his cheeks and dropped painfully on the pavement.  I decided to help him, but I had one condition: take me to meet your family.  He stuttered and said, “They’re in the truck over on the other side (where large trucks park), and I really don’t want my wife to know that I’m out here begging for help”. 

    I replied again that I would help him, but he had to take me to meet his family.  He said he couldn’t do that, it would upset his wife and he would feel so ashamed to admit to her how bad the situation was.  I then said very bluntly that I could not help him if he was unwilling to abide my request.  He said he understood and walked away.  We left the Rest Area feeling confident that we did the right thing, but I was a little embarrassed about how easily I was seduced into believing that young man’s story.  

    I have forgiven that young man for his deceit but as Ken Hubbard said, “No one ever forgets where he buried the hatchet”.  I’m hoping I don’t retrieve that hatchet with my next encounter with someone down and out on their luck.

     🏈“Thank You”.  How often do you hear someone say that after you have helped them in some way?  Maybe you sent them a gift for a special day, or it could have been for no reason other than you wanted to bring a smile to their face.  Maybe, they were in a bind and you helped as much as you could? 

    I think we have all been guilty of not saying, “Thank You”, as often as we should, and we tend to put the blame on a younger generation.  I can remember as a young boy not saying it very much and my mother’s condemnation after each failure to do so. 

    As I grew older, I became aware of the importance of thanking someone that lent a hand, gave me a gift, or just showed me kindness when I needed it.  As a Christian, I constantly thank God for his many kindnesses to me, but I do know that I should thank each person that does that as well.  Newly weds often receive many gifts, and it is vitally important they respond to each gift given.  Parents should teach their children to always respond to people that shower them with love, affection, and gifts.

    We have all heard that “It is better to give than to receive” and that may very well be true, but I also believe that statement should be expanded to include, “but the receiver should always say thank you”.  I think that helps build good character.

    Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.” – Heraclitus

  • I love Dogs (2/22/2020) - A recent study indicated that dog owners are four times more likely to meet today’s physical activity guidelines. Most of them walk close to 300 minutes each week, which is 200 minutes more than those without dogs. I have seen dog owners in our neighborhood walking their pets in complete darkness, in pouring down rain, and in hazardous snow and ice. ...

    ⚽ A recent study indicated that dog owners are four times more likely to meet today’s physical activity guidelines.  Most of them walk close to 300 minutes each week, which is 200 minutes more than those without dogs.  I have seen dog owners in our neighborhood walking their pets in complete darkness, in pouring down rain, and in hazardous snow and ice.  I mean to tell ya, these people are serious about their dogs getting their exercise.  It is easily realized that they treat their pet as if it were a child, both in the affection it gets, and the physical care it receives.  They will spend untold money on its health and pay more to get it groomed then they pay their barber or beautician.  My son owned a Pomeranian named Grace and he was exactly the type of owner described above.  She slept on the bed beside him and when he rolled over, she went around to the other side, always facing him.  At 5am she would rouse him from his sleep, and he’d get up and take her outside to the backyard to use the bathroom. 

    My wife and I have refrained from getting a dog, not willing to make the commitment required based on what we see from other owners.  Our reasoning is that we travel a lot and would have to find a place for the dog to stay during our travels.  But, deep down, I suspect that there’s more to it than appears on the surface.

    John Galsworthy, perhaps said it best about dogs, “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many of our years,”.

    ⚽ My wife is a serious house cleaner.  I often joke about buying her a riding vacuum cleaner because she is so particular about our home being clean.  The other day I came into the house from working outside and found her vacuuming underneath the refrigerator.  She had removed the lower grille, and upon finishing asked me to put it back on.  Bad move on her part.  I inspected it, observing that a metal expander goes into a slot on each side of the fridge.  I laid down on my stomach with my trusty flashlight and attempted to shove one of the expanders in its slot, it wouldn’t go so I try again, only this time I pushed harder.  Yup, you guessed it, I broke the plastic rod that holds the expander in place!  So, now I’m relegated to trying to repair the damage I caused.  I looked in my tool drawer and whipped out a tube of “Magic Glue”, and glued the plastic rod back on its base, suspecting that it would never be strong enough.  I left the grille on the garage workbench overnight and inspected it the next morning.  To my surprise, it appeared to be firmly glued back in place, but I wasn’t satisfied that it would endure the shove I needed to place on it to secure the grille back on the fridge. I noticed the plastic rod had a hole down the middle of it, so out I go to my workshop (shed) and rummaged thru my screws to find one that will let me anchor everything tightly.  Sure ‘nuff, I found what I needed, inserted the screw in the hole of the plastic rod, and screwed it tight.  By now excitement was building up within me because I could smell success.  I put a light film of Vaseline on the metal expanders to enhance their ability to slide into their assigned slot and headed for the refrigerator in the house.  I grabbed a flashlight, laid down on my stomach and aligned the right side of the grille with the hole, and it slide in effortlessly.  I can feel a celebration coming on, but I stayed calm and slide over to the other side and aligned the left side, giving a slight push, and it pops into the assigned hole.  Flashback:  My high school football team (1958 Dragons) are playing a Friday night game somewhere.  The ball is snapped to our Quarterback (Benny Coxton) and he drops back and throws me a pass and I scramble into the End Zone. The excitement within that 17-year-old boy’s heart is exactly the excitement in his now 79-year-old heart when that grille snapped into place.  Funny how the requirements for “excitement” changed as you age. 😊   

    ⚽ Irish Poet, William Yeats said, “There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met”.  I think old Bill is correct, but I see very little evidence that this is how we all feel about our fellow planet dwellers.  If we roll back the clock to mankind’s early existence, and follow him for a day of his life, what we would probably see is someone that spends most of his time foraging for food to feed his family.  More than likely, animosity towards his neighbors did not exist because everyone was in the same dire situation.  Estrangement from one’s neighbors did not exist, in my opinion, until the neighbor became more affluent.  Eventually, this affected countries and caused unrest and wars.  Heck, we see it in our local community when there is a big disparity in income between different sections of the same town.  The people that have status think they worked for it.  The people that don’t have status feel those that have it inherited it from someone and didn’t have to work for it. 

    What can we do to change this situation?  I think we start by helping those less fortunate than we are, extending a helping hand to those in need.  By being a friend.  That could involve money, advice, or just listening.  People are more likely to resort to bad conduct when they lose hope that things will get better.   We are Christians because we believe that living a “Christian life” will get us into Heaven.  That is our motivation to live a good, productive life.  But if the possibility of redemption was non-existent, would we be the kind and gentle people we are today?  Probably not.  So, I think our job as human beings is to have no strangers in our lives, only friends.  And if we treat our fellowman as a friend, not a stranger, soon, in my opinion, our world becomes a better place to live. 

    There’s an old country saying that goes something like this, “When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy them by asking if there’s something you can do.  Think up something appropriate and do it,”.   Now that’s a nail I can hang my hat on 😊.

    ⚽ I enjoy playing the guitar, I have never done so publicly and never intend to.  My wife seems to enjoy listening to me play, but I have not practiced since her first surgery back in October. It’s been four months and since playing the guitar is all about muscle memory, as you can imagine, my muscles have forgotten a lot.  I sat down to practice the other night and my fingers were having a difficult time locating the correct position on the strings.  I had to watch very closely to get a clean chord.  In a lot of ways, I think life is exactly that way.  Relationships suffer if ignored, health deteriorates if unattended and skills erode if you stop using them often.  So, how do we ensure those things don’t happen?  Well, it must be something we want to do, not something we do if we have the time.  I read once that if you want to see what’s important to a person, look in their checkbook, because what’s important will have many entries.  I think that is very true.  I look in my checkbook and I see the names of a lot of people that I love and care about, and I see their names often.  I also have quite a few entries in there that reflect my enthusiasm for all things pertaining to computers. I see that my wife and I attempt to help others thru our donations to our church and charities.  What I realized as I scanned the entries in my checkbook is that giving is important to us and that we do what is necessary to help others less fortunate.  We travel to places to spend time with those that cannot travel to spend time with us. In other words, the things that are important to us get our attention.

    I think the hardest thing to get from someone is their attention, at least for any length of time.  Often, that’s what your wife or husband wants and what your children need.  Most of the time we fail to give it because we are involved in our work, but sometimes it’s because we are pursuing our own special interest.  Francis Baker said, “Attention is a hard thing to get from men”.  There’s likely more truth to that statement than we are willing to admit 😊.