Day 31

The heartland is bracing for what could be the perfect storm. The weathermen have no real idea just how soon the rain will turn to ice and then snow. This morning it was misting real lightly and it was really slick going out to get the paper. I walked in the crusty snow to be able to get out. Where I cleared the sidewalk it was like greased snot slick. Try to imagine ice covered with jell-o and then WD-40 slick.

My last post of January is about getting ready for emergencies. No, I didn't drag out the generator this summer and get it started. No, I didn't drag the tractor in the garage this fall and put the snow chains on it. No, I didn't make any special attempts to stock up on food. Wait, there is probably enough staples to keep us the the week after I run out of body fat. I have a great rechargeable flash light and the battery on the computer is all charged up. I have a cord to plug the generator in and run a couple of things. I can keep the fridge and the furnace running if I can get the darn generator started.

Oh well, my last bit of advice is don't wait until the last minute to get ready. Rush around like the rest of the world and get it done.




When I went to KU, I never saw a game there. I did watch them on TV and attended one game at K-State vs KU but I didn't have a clue what the games were like in the Fog Allen Field House. I encourage you to at least once attend a game for your favorite team in their home. At KU, they start the singing of the National Anthem and the Alma Matter song. Just to be in the stands and hear the song and be a part of it with the fans is an amazing feat. We clap, sing, chant and enjoy the antics of the players on the floor and the actions of the fans.

During half time when you are learning about beer and assorted other things, the fans at the game have the smile camera and other activities that include the KU Dancers. Most of the half times have some recognition for many things. The game yesterday had the Reverend Wayne Simeon speak as they retired his jersey. Can you imagine having your jersey hanging up with the likes of Chamberlin? You also get to see that over the years, the many championships the Hawks have won and it is amazing.

So my recommendation to you is at least once in your life go to a game for your favorite team and be a part of the fun you have in the stands. Scream as loud as you want, chant and cheer and you will get to see what the fans at the game get to see. I have been to Disneyland and Walt Disney world but neither were as fun as a game at Allen Field House. Do It!


Day 29

Did I mention that if you are going to do something every day in a month, pick February? This started as a labor of love and has slowly become a labor.

Have I told you how proud of my wife barb I am? Yesterday when we went to the Kansas Natural History Museum, we met about 700 kids there for the free lesson on Kansas. About 11:30, the Governor showed up to meet and greet the kids. Him (Gov Brownback) being a republican and me being an old Republican, I couldn't wait to get a chance to meet and listen to the Governor. Barb, not so much. But, because I went, she went. The Governor had about 200 kids in the conference room and played the crowd. He asked the kids to shout out the State Motto, and lots of different things. He asked the kids what they wished for Kansas to get on its birthday and one little guy piped up peace. I am darned proud that Barb held it in check and didn't holler, "More school funding. "

Tonight will be the Sunflower Show Down. KU and K-State will meet in Lawrence to see who can carry the title of best team in Kansas. The Governor said that on Saturday everyone could pick a side but on Friday we were all JayHawks. I agree that we are all Kansan's and that should be good enough. I can't tell you how many years they have split the series. One year, I saw Kansas win in Manhattan at the game and K-State win in Lawrence on TV. Oh well...

Support your team but remember that it is only a game and even if the best two teams play, one has to lose.


Day 28

Lots of things happening here in Topeka starting today. Tomorrow, Kansas will be 150 years old. We were the 34th State in the Union and from east to west we fall from just over 4000 feet to 639 feet along the Verdigris river in South Eastern Kansas. The high plains or the short grass prairie in west of the 100th meridian and the tall grass prairie to the east. From Topeka on east, we are gently rolling hills with lots of woods. The weather is pretty much 4 true seasons and very extreme. here in eastern Kansas we get about 40 inches of rain and can grow about anything. West of here, not so much. There is an old saying that if you don't like the weather, wait a day. As kids, we said the only thing between us and the north pole is a few strands of barb wire in Nebraska.

Barb and I are going over to the Natural History Museum to see a special display of items celebrating our birthday. I hope that you too love your State and can find things to be proud of it for.

Tomorrow evening we are going to Lawrence to see the KU vs K-State "Sunflower Show Down" Should be a great evening. Both teams are on a high right now and games between them are never dull.


Day 27

There are two old sayings that I like to kind of combine. "Keep our enemies close and your friends closer." The second is "Act Locally but think Globally." Today I encourage you to give locally and worry about what the rest of the world is doing.

I watched the news and they are talking about the stability in the Arab world. There are many protests in Egypt and so far most of it is against the old leaders that have had a firm hand and kept things in check for many years. Will the changes result in more Government based on the Muslim religion or not? I wondered if it took someone as brutal as Saddam to control his country. Will they ever achieve stability until they elect or appoint, or accept a strong man as their leader?

If there is any good news out there, Korea is again on the path to some stability. Wonder if China is worried about being sucked into another war there. I don't think it would make much sense for the US and China to be so involved in trade and finance and be in a fighting war.

Warm day today so there should be some good snow melt. A lot will be gone in time for new snow on Sunday or Monday. We'll see.



Day 26

In a couple of days, Kansas will be 150 years old. I think that by the original date we entered the US as a State were 38th. I think those States that dropped out for the Civil War should lose their place in line and have to start over. On time in Texas, I asked a State Trooper guarding the Capitol Bldg when Texas came into the Union and he said, "Which Time?" Duh Dennis. I wonder how many people see the irony in KU and K-State playing on the State's 150th birthday this Saturday? The Republicans will have a chilli lunch in honor of the birthday.

Today's subject will be getting and maintaining a sense of humor. Here is one of the funny things I read in today's paper:

  • You know where the little Apple is? You Know what Rock Chalk means. You know that at a lot of funerals, there will be at least one pair of overalls. You know where Rock Post Country is and why? You know that people wearing Purple might be driving a pick-up. You have driven to Colorado in the wintertime to watch a basketball game and don't snow ski. You watch the clouds because there isn't a lot of scenery in your data bank otherwise. (On my reverse bucket list, there will be no games for me in Boulder watching Kansas vs Colorado in basketball)

The bad part of getting old is that while you have a good chuckle reading the paper, you can't remember all of it in about 30 minutes. I guess that is in its self funny. Smile and make them wonder what you are up to.



Day 25

Sharing and caring what happens to your friends is an interesting area of study. When I was young, I absolutely hated it when good things happened to someone else and not me. I think it created the feeling that I could not succeed if someone else did. Some where in the maturing process something changed and I realized that there is almost always room for lots of people to get theirs and have some left over for me. This isn't a universal thing. I hear a lot of gossip about the people that win and we all know how quickly the media loves to dish out bad news on people that make a small error (or two).

What does it mean when your Basketball falls from number two to number five in the middle of the season? Not much really. What does it mean when your friends team wins a tough game? Not much really - to me, but why not celebrate for them? History is full of people, States and entire Nations looking for someone to blame instead of just trying to move forward.

I am not sure where I found the concept that life is a journey and no one place is the destination. I was never accepted by the general as the Chief of Staff but I did get to retire with a pension and my health. Would a few extra dollars then and now have been worth the extra strain on my health? Who won? In the long run, I think I did because I am now retired and alive.

Things change in our life and I think if we do our best and smile as much as possible the end will be that we can find peace and other than the fact that there was change, we can generally move on.

I am going to try to live my Motto: "Smile and make them wonder what you have been up to!"



Day 24

A wise man said, "Find ways to love what you do for a living and you will never work a day in your life." During all the years I worked full time in the Guard, Mondays was the day I would dig out my desk from all the new projects picked up during drill. I would have to incorporate all the new stuff into the work flow and then make it all work. Once I became a supervisor, I also made it a point to start the week out by visiting each employee if I could. I would put off visiting with my boss until later on in the week as he would always be buried with weekend crap.

Another way to look at Mondays is that if you are living your life right, Mondays at work lets you earn money to have another good weekend. Just how much fun could you have if it weren't for the money you earn going to work? Oh, by the way, retirement means that Monday is just another day. How fun is that?

Oh well, remember My Mom's motto; "Wanting what you have is better than getting what you want."



Day 23

In the winter, here in the heartland , there is just no way to stay in shape except to go to the mall and walk. That's the rub, if you go to the mall, you have to smell the food court. $20 bucks for lunch, if Barb drinks water. If we go to Walmart, about $50.00. I have never gotten out of Sam's club for much less than $70.00 (More if we fill up the car at their gas pumps)

It really sucks to end the year riding 8 miles or more on the bike, three times a week and now to be so out of shape. I wonder if the sidewalks were dry if I could ride 8 miles. I guess I have to find a way to get and stay in shape. I would give you some good advice on this but I for one am at a loss.

No, I don't want to work for someone and have it add to my tax bill.



Day 22

In honor of the KU Jay Hawks that will have 70 consecutive wins and be 19-0 in the Big XII after beating Texas today at 3 PM, OOPS, KU played about 15 Minutes of Exccellent Ball and Texas played about 25 Minutes worth. Final Texas 74 KU 63. I write to give you the advice that games are just games. When you get so involved that you can't enjoy the performance of your team for fear of losing, you need to lighten up. There are many fine coaches out there in the BIG XII that will coach a game today. There are many fine facilities that will host a game today. there are a lot of fans out there that will watch a game today. At the end, some teams will lose and some will win.

To men, this is like an analogy for life. We grow up competing for the win and guess what? Sometimes we lose. Does that mean that we stop trying? Nah, there is always another game to play, watch, follow. For those of you that are younger, play hard because there will come a time where you spend more time on the bench and watching games on TV than playing. If you make it your attitude that games happen and you will play on, chances are that you will play a lot longer and enjoy the ride better.

If you follow professional sports, I feel sorry for you. To get worked up over a bunch of people that are way overpaid to play games, you need a better way to channel your activities. My hero's are the Firemen, Policemen, Teachers and Military folks that put it on the line for enough to live on and a little for retirement. They are the people that compete with real events in tough jobs.



Day 21

Oh Dear, at the start of this month I started sharing advice and had several days worth of material written so until today I was at least a day ahead. I feel like that little wren in the seed feeder and don't have any idea what to do. Most of the birds fly in and take a seed and go back to the trees to eat. The newby's just fly in and get the hell bothered out of them as everyone else stops by to get a seed. Perhaps the piece of advice that makes life better today is just that. Learn the Rules.

If you read Facebook with any regularity, it centers around the emotions of the teenagers. Mostly it centers around the boy/girl relationships. Some of their observations are - Tell the truth, Girls Know... Girls will talk to their friends and eventually they will get around to analysis of what you said. I think that telling the truth is the best way to live because you don't have to remember what lie you told and what you only imagined. The second is "Boys". The truth is that most boys are in it to get in it. The idea that you will have to get married and live forever with someone that young is just not in the picture. My rule is to tell them how pretty they are and how they make you feel. Tell the truth about it and play fair.

Young loves will end and I think that each love helps you grow better able to understand and get over the last one. Being able to move on is the tough part.

Love, laugh and enjoy the trip through life and keep moving forward.



Day 20

When you start to think your political party's position is the "ONLY" one you need to stop, look and laugh. The difference between what either the Democrats or the Republican do is so small that both parties are over spending and under controlling the business of congress that they both should hang their head and walk away. That doesn't mean that the rhetoric they speak isn't on the opposite end of the world. It is that when they have to perform they do a lot of the same things. I predict the new Tea Party congressmen will wind up doing a lot of what the past congressmen did. How many of you remember the Newt Gingrich move to take over and change what was happening?

Every once in a while I have to remind some of my friends that we are a Republic not a Democracy. The people we elect are there to do the business of Government not to represent us in our every thought. Just how schizophrenic would our congress have to be to reflect how vague our opinions are even within each district. Just look at Kansas. We have cities that are Democratic enclaves and rural areas that run almost 100% Republican. Just watch the voting results on the State wide offices. The early results are done by machines and Democrats always are way ahead early in the day. By late night the hand counted ballots from the rural precincts come in and the republicans win (Not always, but more often than not).

What I think we should all do is to care enough to support those that reflect the majority of the things we do, send money and finally do the most important thing - VOTE


Day 19

In the world of problem solving, my biggest problem at 18 was just the hell did I want to be when I grew up? I had a girl that I thought I loved but was way too young to marry and hated to give her up. I started college but didn't register for with the Selective Service as a student. At Wichita State in the 60's you had to take ROTC and that was an immediate deferment but I didn't care.

Yes, Boys and Girls, I knew there was a War on (or an armed police action where they shoot back) I didn't do anything to stay out of the draft and the result did cause me to be included. As a baby boomer, I grew up in a world where almost every one's Dad had gone to WWII and I couldn't figure out why not. Looking back, why not might have included the line, "War is a darned good way to get yourself killed stupid!" Go to OCS and learn to be a forward observer to go out with the infantry would greatly increast those odds - even more stupid.

Problem solution - Do Nothing and let luck sort it out. I was lucky in that - The girlfriend met and married some poor sailor. I was lucky (That was the sailor's nick name) that I got drafted and qualified to go to Office Candidate School. I was lucky that I went and I graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant (And I am lucky I can spell Lieutenant) I was lucky to have met Barb and damned lucky she would marry me. I was lucky to have gone to war and survived. I was lucky to get to go home all in one big piece. I was lucky that Barb wanted me to get my degree and darned lucky to complete it in 10 years. (I started in 1965 and graduated in 1975) I was lucky to find a career where I loved almost every day of it. I am darned lucky to still be alive today.

So, one way to have your problems solved is to do nothing and let luck sort it all out. You really have to do a little bit of doing but it was the planning part I said "do nothing" about. One warning is the old maxim, "Do what you did and you will probably get what you got."


Day 18

Once upon a time, I found a saying from Hilleal the Elder, a Rabbi that told us to be mindful of what we say for it becomes our thoughts, Thoughts become habits, and finally habits become actions. There have been times when people have accused me of having a thought cross the front of my brain and it would fall out of my mouth. You see this on Facebook a lot. Today there was a post against the Westborough Baptist Church and their protests. I remember when the first Congressional hearings against Pornography were held and everyone said we were going to hell in a hand basket and the plethora of pornography was the path there.

I think that a lot of older people are conservative because they can remember what it was like to win a little league Ball game and today can't find, or at least don't remember names of people they meet. I will promise you that living in a time where we used the outhouse at grandma's and had no air conditioning wasn't a great time to live. People died of infections because there weren't good anti-biotics. As much as I hate it, things change and nothing except the fact that things will change stays the same. In the 60's, I worked a 40 hour week for $55.00. Hell, I drop that on most any trip to WalMart today.

back to the WBC Pickets. What freedoms are we willing to give up to achieve shutting this bunch of morons down. Freedom of Speech? Freedom of Religion? Freedom to assemble? Freedom to double space after a period...?

This is a repeat topic for me but BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR. IT JUST MIGHT BE THE ONE FREEDOM YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT! If you shut down the WBC folks, wouldn't you have to shut down Rap music. Wait, I am still thinking about that one. I am not sure if I really care if they tell us that we can't have 31 round magazines for our Beretta's. Have you bought ammunition lately?

Thanks for all of the comments on yesterday's blog.



Day 17

DIVORCE is a subject that just should never be spoken. Talking about your goals and how you are going to get what you want out of what you do is a way to keep a marriage together. There have been opportunities for me to stray away from our marriage but I never did. I have seen many people fall in love with someone other than their spouse and then realize what a mistake they made. I contend you cannot be in love with two people at the same time. Any love you give outside of the marriage is lost inside the marriage. For us, a long car trip where we talked would do more than counseling. Yes, I have been fortunate and I love her for it.

Divorce is like a gun don't ever aim it unless you plan to use it.



Day 16

About half of the marriages today end in Divorce so I am writing on the subject of marriage and how I got so lucky. Here's how it is at Rabbit Run.

MARRIAGE When I met Barb, I was a 20 year old 2nd Lieutenant stationed at Fort Irwin, CA. How I managed to get so lucky to meet someone with such good common sense eludes me. Hell, I'm not sure that I would have recognized good sense back then, or if I just had good luck. There was no doubt that she had a plan for her life and the ability to make them happen. I felt confident that while I was in Vietnam the first year of our marriage she was just fine back home. I joke that I was not there to train her during the critical first year of our marriage. I probably would have been better trained if I had been there the entire time. I doubt it would have changed her much. I would encourage young people to look forward and talk about their expectations. If you both are willing and able to plan a future and the goals are compatible you stand a chance. There is a lot of give and take in a relationship so the ability to like and love is important.

But, getting there is only half of the battle. Marriage is work on both sides. You must be able to communicate and then cooperate. It is a battle but it should be as one against the world not ever between each other. We joke about the fact that if i were in charge of our finances, we would have every new toy and nothing saved. Barb on the other hand would be a Spartan and have all her money saved. Somewhere in the middle is a pretty happy couple with enough things and money saved. It really didn't hurt that during my lifetime I got to travel with the Guard. I have been to almost every Military post in the west and San Antonio enough times to have my desire to go there quelled.

If you read back to day 7, you will read how people can turn your dreams into reality. The act of turning dreams into reality requires a common goals and asset allocation and can be the way that you both get enough out of your marriage. For some reason I find long car trips as good a time to discuss many of these things and we have always taken about one trip a year in the car.

I am firmly convinced that most men have enough love in their heart for only one woman. Those that flirt with the idea of having a mistress, girl friend or an affair are trying to figure out how much love they can give up for their significant other and give it to the other person. It also means that honesty must go by the wayside and that is one of the most important things in a marriage. There are enough warts on most of us that we don't need to be dishonest with the one person we are to share our lives with. That works both ways.

I don't have a good idea about the compatibility based on sameness or differences. They say differences attract but I am pretty sure that attraction isn't the answer, just the question in meeting and greeting the other sex on the battlefield of dating. I am fairly sure that having a common type background helps but it isn't the only part of the equation. If one of you had their College wardrobe bought at Neiman Marcus and the other at Tractor Supply Company I wouldn't say that is going to be a highly functional relationship. In High School, I dated a girl who's daddy met us in Dallas when the Choir went to SMU to sing. He bought her a significant part of her college wardrobe at Neiman Marcus. The cheapest thing I found in the store was a piece of cheese with a gold plated sword tooth pick for $7.00. I bought it and had a blinding flash of the obvious that that pretty girl was out of touch with anything I could afford. On the other hand, Barb drove a 1950 Ford and worked at a Civil Service job. Her folks were pretty much catch as catch can when we met and our common backgrounds worked out to be a good match. Perhaps the difference was that barb was more quiet and I was, well me.

Oh well, the synthesis of all this is to find a person that is compatible with where you expect to go in the world and is willing to help you both get there. Get Married and go there.



Day 15

The other day, one comment on face book went on to draw 109 comments. It was mostly a couple of people having a contest to see who could "text" the other one with the most numerous inane comments. Have we lost the ability to hold a really good conversation? I know that by the number of letters we receive, the ability to write a letter is on the decline. The following are comments of the type I read all the time:
  • I had a bad day.
  • I am sad
  • I am Happy
  • On no, something changed and my world is falling apart.
  • I am mad at someone and don't want to tell them what is is or why.

I really don't expect people to have world problems solved on a Social Network, but i would think that once in a while there would be some comments that are deep, meaningful or at least on some topic.

Where do I apply the maximum weight of my abilities? I try to reduce every complex thing to the simple "what matters." Do I over generalize sometimes? Yes but the Good Lord gave me an abundance of common sense and I try to use it. I find that counting on me to get things done is more often enough. I exert good old willpower. If you want to set a good example, learn to read and write. finally, Leadership is a learned skill that helps you motivate people to get things done and think it was their idea. Use it to motivate not intimidate. We all know right from wrong. use that skill and communicate what you think.

I am not sure what the label for this post should be. Something like If you write, make a difference.



Day 14, College

Dutch Uncle Talk Number 14.

COLLEGE OR ADVANCED TRAINING is another area that people will often over pay for what they get. Barb and I did our best to cash flow our college and finish with as small a student debt as we could. I think the semester Barb did her Student teaching we took out a loan for $500 . When Barb started teaching, it was in a Title 10 school and the Government paid the interest and a part of the loan each year and I don't think we had any carry over. We cash flowed most of my education due to the GI Bill. Barb also taught the last two years of my education. Look to the GI Bill, work programs where the employer will pay a good portion of the cost and get as many hours as cheaply as possible. Live at home and attend a local Junior or Community College. Go for the high priced college only as a last resort. If you know that a Masters in Social Work only pays a starting salary in most other fields, don't go in major debt to get one. I meet people that owe over $100,000 for an education that costs way more than the earning power. I also ask people can they eat their education? What I mean is there a real job out there for that degree? Most Business Degrees and teaching degrees are a ticket to quick employment. There is a growing need for people that can install or fix things. Consider the local Trade school for Heating and cooling or electricity.

The area that I want everyone to consider is to never stop learning. Even once you are certified in a field, there is a good amount of continuing education. Read as much as you can stand and 50% of that needs to be in your field.

Good Luck and Good Learning.



Microwave Saga

In yesterday's post written way early in the month, I mentioned the Microwave crapping out. I attempted to take it apart to see if there was an obvious fault and found out that there is a special kind of safety screw that holds the cabinet on. Oddly in spite of having Ken's good advice I didn't have a tool to take them out. I have almost every good kind of tool including a 1/4 inch drive socket set. Now all I need is a giant garage to organize it all.

On our trip to our Wholesale house, we picked out a nice looking microwave in a kind of dented box. I am not sure why, but it never dawned on me to take a look inside of the box to see if the microwave was in good shape. WRONG! When I got it home it was clear that it had been either thrown or fell a good distance and the corner of the cabinet was dented in a couple of inches. The foam corner to protect it was even gone so someone knew what had happened.

On my trip back to BB, I went by Harbor Freight and for about $9.00 there was a set of special bits that would get around any safety bolt or screw. I bought a set and came home. The new Microwave is excellent and it works like a champ. I turned my attention to the old one and soon had the case apart. The fuse was not seated and it was almost out. I put it where it should be and it seemed to work fine. Dang, I wish I had found that out before I purchased a new one. Oh well, life's grand and I have a spare microwave. Even when you can write good advice, you have things to learn.


Lucky Day 13

I am not even half way through the month and Blogger has already truncated January 2011 because I have exceeded the length of what they feel is normal. I guess this is not a normal month of posting for many reasons. It is a new decade and too darn cold to be boots on the ground outside except for side trips. Barb joked that we might go sledding and I made sure that she knows we don't have a sled and sledding is on my reverse bucket list. I am just too darn old to really get hurt doing something cold and stupid. I think she was making a joke because I know she hates the cold even worse than I do.

here is Lucky Day 13's worth:

INVESTMENTS are a great part of life and worth all the time you spend on them. In the Budget step, you need to set aside a portion of your income to cover investments. I consider a house to be the biggest investment as a start to investing. It should be the foundation of your program and your net worth for a large part of your life. (I have at least one reader that disagrees but he was in California for the housing crash and not here in the Heartland where houses generally have held up their value. Houses are generally 20 to 25% of your outgo. I advocate much like Dave Ramsey that you save a nest egg to help cover the cost of repairs and replacements that pop up. Just this morning the wife reports that the Microwave is making funny noises. If we were at an earlier place in our life, that could be a major budget buster. Now days, it will be a quick trip to Best Buy and no big deal. I would recommend that you have 1 to 5% of your salary in a savings account just for this item. I would then start a regular savings program for retirement. It will blow the wheels off you how this area can add up. I have an IRA that we put money in Tax Free in the 80's that have turned $8,000 into over $30,000 now. The only mistake we made was that when we did our computations, we did not figure the taxes we would have to pay on those investment would be about 30% when we used them. Lets see, $8,000 then, $30,000 now less 30% taxes - still about $12,000 to the good, and the return of the 8,000 - Bonus. The good news is that we will have the money to pay that 30%. The final investing advice is to spread your money out and DO NOT PUT IT IN ONE POT. Also the age old advice is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.. The only way an investor can beat the rest of the market is by using too much risk or stealing. Either way the return of my money has always been more important that the return on my money. My only bad investement place has been the Stock Market. I have lost all the money I put into the Over the Counter and the regular Stock Market. The good news is that in both cases, it was chump change.

Oh, By the Way, I do know I am a day ahead on these posts. I just wrote a lot of it way early and want to share.



Guns and Such

In my childhood, I carried a gun a whole lot more than I ever have as an adult and that includes a year in Vietnam where I had one with me 24/7/365... I have been a party in play to killing about a million Johnny Rebs, Japs, Germans and Indians and not once has it ever crossed my mind to take a gun and try to change the way someone else thinks. I have watched about a million cowboy movies and watched so many guys shot in the front and back that I tire if the scene isn't realistic anymore. With all that said, I am responsible for my guns and don't need society to make laws to protect you from me. The only people that the laws really should apply to won't change because of a law. 'Nuff said.


Day 12 Mo' Advice

Our Focus this Christmas through New Year's season on was on people. We hosted the family party and then had several different dinners with friends. I hope you had a great Holiday Season and in that avenue, I will share what I have found that rings true for us.

HAPPINESS - There is just no answer to having your family and friends close to you in your life. Few people are happy alone and/or friendless. I know people that are so sad and full of hate and I feel sorry for them. Even with the death of my mother this year my family had a celebration of her life not a funeral. Other than family, most of have a few things that make you happy. With Barb, it is gardening in good weather and reading when it is cold. With me, it is reading, cooking and sports on TV. I also spend a good deal of time each day expressing myself on my blog and writing pieces of a book. I probably have a book's worth of material but do not have it organized well enough to market. I'm not sure I even want to. My mother had a great poster on the back of her bathroom door, "Wanting what you have is much more important than getting what you want."

The person that gives you the most advice is the person you face in the mirror each morning. I hope you can put yourself in a place where you can continually learn new things and continue to improve. Remember, If you did what you did, you will continue to get what you got. Try to look forward and not to the past unless it is something funny as hell. Then write it down and laugh, laugh, laugh. You might even read about it here.



Day 11 Advice from MUD

This morning, the paper mentioned that the City of Topeka was putting in a water and sewer service to an industrial park. That led us to another one of our famous discussions on the responsibility of Government. I tend to see things from the side of helping businesses make money, pay taxes and provide jobs so I tend to see providing infrastructure to a Business park a part of what Government should do. Barb, See's it the job of Government to provide the requirements and social services and little else. My words of advice for today are, "Be careful what you ask for!"

There is a group of people that feel that everyone should pay their fair share of the cost of Government. The Flat tax guys want every dollar of income from any source to be taxed at a flat amount with no provisions for exemption. Get a dollar from Social Security, pay the flat rate. Get a dollar from a lottery ticket, pay the flat rate. The focus by the Internal Revenue Service would be at the source of dollars not at the end. This is every dollar not just some dollars. Our sales tax is nearing 10% here in the heartland and I don't see things getting "Mo' Better." The audits would be at the source of money not at the Taxpayer level.

The other end of the spectrum is the people that want to apply the Tax with the ability to shield the bottom people from the effects. This has resulted in 20% of the people paying about 80% of the taxes and nearly 50% paying almost none. Both have problems and we should really try to understand what is the right level of income tax and spending at the same time.

If you look at the different types of Government and how they failed, you don't have to look much further than the old Soviet Union. There, the amount of Government needed to control everything became a burden to the cost that finally put them out of business. Cuba never got anywhere that level of Government and there people are nearly starving because they can't eat just sugar and Cigars. Have no government and you wind up like Somalia where the War Loards run almost everything and people starve.

Turn to the United States and look at where we are on the Global List. Our students are performing poorly in spite of a lot of spending. Our Government is borrowing money from China like there is no tomorrow and we have tried to spend our way out of debt.

I wish I had all the answers but heck, I'm not sure we know what the questions are. Government is like the practice of medicine. We provide a medicine and then watch for the results. If we get lucky, the patient gets better. In some cases, the patient gets better with a placebo just like they would with no meds. In other cases, people die from the effects of the medicine.

It has taken us nearly 250 years to get into the shape we are in, it might take us a while to fix it. Just be careful what you ask for.


Old Joke(s)

One day, a Colonel and a Captain were talking about life. The subject of sex came up and they could not agree. The Colonel, being a lot older, thought Sex was more work. The Captain thought it was more fun. To help settle the disagreement, they called a Private over and asked him to decide. After a few moments, the Private said, "It must be all fun, if there was any work in it, they would have me on a duty roster and have me over doing it for you!"

The Old retired Colonel went to the Doctor and asked for something to boost his sex life. The Doctor said he had a new pill that combined Viagra with Ginko Biloba. If It doesn't give you an erection, it allows you to remember what one was like.

This is what happens when you get to stay home and watch it snow. At one time i was the Military Support Officer for Kansas and never stayed home because of the snow, ice or Natural Disaster. OK, I did get a pass when the tornado tore down our house but that was only once in a lot of years.

have fun but be careful.



Day 10, Buying a House

Back to the lesson's learned portion of the first days of the new decade. Houses are generally the biggest part of your net worth and really can and do make up the bulk of your savings. Knowing what you are doing is very important so here is a small discussion of Buying a house.

HOUSES are generally the largest item you will buy and one of the least understood investments made. Yes, I said investments. If you buy a $100,000 house today at 5.5% interest (fixed) on a 30 year loan just how much does that house cost? The cost of interest actually doubles the cost to $204,000. I would personally recommend paying it off by adding principle to each payment and using an amortization schedule to see what the cost really is. I personally recommend a 15 year fixed mortgage but understand that you might not be able to qualify for that so get it on a 30 year loan and pay it off early. Add Insurance and Property taxes and the cost will probably double again in 30 years. If I were to make a bold statement, your house payment should cost less than 25% of your take home pay. One way to make sure you have the payment is to have a regular amount taken out of your paycheck and deposited into a savings account. That account should be used to make a monthly payment on the house. I do not recommend property as an investment as rentals unless you are handy with tools and like to have to repaint your property a lot when people leave. The cost of rentals is a whole another discussion.

Do not be surprised when you find that your house needs a new roof in 20 years, need new flooring and carpet in 10 years and you will have repainted the inside three or four times bu the time you pay off the mortgage. UP KEEP will be required and can be costly.

One of the least understood part of a home loan is how the Mortgage company figures out the escrow account. If you have that $100,000 home in Shawnee County, Kansas, you can expect that an additional $250 per month for taxes and $100 for insurance will be needed. Right off the bat your $5oo per month house payment will swing towards $900 a month. Once you pay off 20% of the principle of your note, you might be able to get the Mortgage Company to let you pay that direct. I tell a funny story about a great friend of mine who like me, paid off his mortgage early. The next year I was reading the delinquent property tax names that were posted in the paper and there was my friend's name as delinquent. I walked down the hall to his office with a copy of the paper and asked him if he had forgotten anything. Nope, he had his day runner up to date and he was on top of everything important. I showed him the paper and his face got red, then redder, then he picked up the phone and asked his wife to go to the County court house and pay the taxes. After 20 years of having someone else pay his taxes, he just forgot that with a paid off mortgage it was now his job.

The last part of owning a house that I will address here, is insurance. For the sake of a few dollars, my first house was covered with a policy that just had coverage and it was a set amount to cover the loss of the belongings. Notice I didn't say replacement value replacement, but a set value. The insurance company expected me to list every item I owned and when I bought it to establish the depreciated value at the time of the loss. Thank god the tornado didn't blow my house away, just tore it up a lot. I was able to go in and take pictures and remind myself of what I owned. had it been a bigger tornado, or a fire, I would have been at a loss to do the paper work. Now, I take my Digital Camera and take pictures of every room once a year, put that on a DVD and put it in the fireproof safe.


Off Subject Post - Hatred

I am just struck by the open hatred of all things Political. What should be love of your party has turned ugly and into hate of the other party. The pinnacle of this has been when people feel so frustrated that gunfire erupts and people take to shooting politicians. I would think that this could be a real problem if everyone got off their butts and voted. If 99% + of the people voted and then they feel really unhappy with Government, I might be then inclined to think that it is all the Government's fault. I really don't agree with the President, Barack Obama's view on what's wrong and how to fix it. I do, however, agree that he is the President and he should be given his full 4 years to make a difference.

If you don't feel like you have a voice in our Country, get out and help your political party, run for office, write letters to the editor, go door to door, help your guys campaign and for sure get up off your butt and vote. I disagreed of with my sister when she stood on the streets of Lawrence and protested, but you can bet I was proud as hell of her for doing what she felt compelled to do. She was exactly what I think we all should have been during the Vietnam War. She supported me with letters and packages while hating the war.

Just yesterday Barb and I talked about guns. She can understand why people own them but doesn't understand why people think they need a gun to speak out. State your Political views with your voice, your actions and your vote but please, leave your guns at home.



Day 9

Once in a while, I read some of the stuff I write here and this morning had a blinding flash of the obvious (BFO). Barb and I talk about a lot of things and sometimes I just miss the small kernal of truth in a good conversation because I don't WRITE IT DOWN.

At one time I carried a Day Runner, a Day tripper or one of those black notebooks used to organize and remember. When I retired, I stopped doing that and now as I am getting older, I realize that my excellent memory and ADD cause me to lose the train of thought from time to time. I am thinking about how to get it all back and I am convinced that I need to write this stuff down. Yes, challenge number two is how to display this wisdom and wit. This month my BC&BS Medical Insurance goes to over $400 a month. I have Tri Care from my Medical Retirement but I have never really used it as our principle insurance. We also are about to enter the Medicare age and I need to develop a plan of attack. I'm sure that the extra $4,800 a year can do some good somewhere rather than in the hand of an Insurance company. Unless i write this down, my plan of action will be a conversation months from now where we agree that we should have done something about that.

So, find a way to put your Dreams into a plan, Set goals and tasks to accomplish those goals and WRITE IT DOWN!

Went upstairs and wrote down a page of things I need to look at and do. I can see that I some how need to tie it to some form of a daily schedule. That means that I need to put the tasks in some order like do today, do tomorrow, next week or next month. Might even have a deadline or drop dead date needed. Crap, back to a day runner for a while. Oh well, i asked for it. By the way, the task of organizing the garage when it is only 20 degrees in there just doesn't have the fun that it sounded. I want to bring the garden tractor in and put chains on it but I need to dress more warmly right now.



Day 8

So far, no one has told me to shut my pie hole and go away about the advice I am putting on my blog so I guess I'll just have to tough it out for the rest of the 31 days.

COMPUTERS - They are a wonderful tool and are getting cheaper each year. They have a lot of good software out there to help you do your daily tasks. The bad news is they die. When they do, they will take with them to computer hell everything you have worked so hard to put on them. The moral to this story is to have everything you really need backed up on an external hard drive. For a couple of hundred dollars you can have your data and read it too. Failure to do that will result in loss. The only question is when not if. You can apply this to cell phones, microwaves, no wait, microwaves die and just don't work. They won't take a slice of your life with them. Our Microwave died this week and I didn't realize how much I depend on one when I cook.

Wait, that is a good lead in to the question of extended warranties. For years I would never purchase an extended warranty and this year when I got a new LCD Samsung flat screen TV I bought one. Yep, it died and they fixed it. Moral of the story? It is a gamble and if it is something critical in your life and something you can't fix, it just might pay to have the coverage. It also helps if you have a Geek Squad son that can buy the warranties at his discount rate. It is like being Electronically Jewish, you can get it wholesale.


I'm here to Help

This is just a short note for my friends out there. I love to have people over and to cook for them. Things are better in warm weather where I get a chance to grill, but I try to not have bad meals in cooler weather. I am of the opinion, that people can be famous, successful or a failure without it making any difference to how I live my life. In that, I mean that I will celebrate when you are promoted, pass a hurdle along the way or just have a good thing happen to you in your life. I am probably not the person that will cry with you and that is my short coming not yours. If you want good company, good conversation and nice place to visit, you are welcome here at Rabbit Run. In spite of my name, Mean Uncle Denny (MUD) and the reputation as an equal opportunity offender, I will smile and play nice. I promise you that Barb makes me play well with others.



Dreams into Reality, Day 7

Dave Ramsey has a talk on his Facebook site where you can get his version of turning Dreams into vision then goals and achieving them. Having been a long range planner, I took a slightly broader approach to this and talked about goals in three areas. First there are short term. If you can do them this year, they are short term. Perhaps you might even slip some of these into the next year but within one year is my version. The next term is mid range, those things that will take from two to four years. the long range goals are more four years.

As an example of short term goal is to join weight watchers and lose 10 pounds. Another might be to really get a handle of what your expenditures are.

Mid term goals might be to change your wardrobe as you replace it. Save for a used car as the old one wears out. Try to cash flow home improvements a room at a time.

Long term goals must be something that you look at at least annually and might include where you live, where you you want to live when you retire, and a retirement finance plan with investment.

OK, now that you know what terms you need to apply your goals to, lets cover Dave's info quickly. 7 Areas for Goals; Financial, Intellectual, Family, Spiritual, Physical, career and social. I would have short term, mid term and long term goals in each of these areas.

His five things to do when making your dreams turn in to reality are: Make your goals specific. Make your goals measurable, Make sure they are your goals and you buy into them. Set time limits and best of all, write them down. This process is best done as a family so everyone understands where you are and where you are going. It is easier to say, when we get a yard, we can get a dog and put that on the timeline.

If you were a business, what you can fund this year is generally called a program for that year. You can lift and shift but it really helps is everyone has a share of the goals by term and can all at least aim for the end prize.

I call this entire process team building and family building if done at home. I think that having an understanding of what the family goals are is a key to long term happiness. It takes time to do all this and that time will be with the people that are the most important to you. Very early in our dating I saw that barb had a great plan for her life and I couldn't help but love her more for it. She was going to be a teacher (Done), get married (done), have children (done), buy a house (done and done) and retire well off enough to travel. A lot of people look at life as a series of days strung together that you live and don't try to understand that without working on achievement of goals, your dreams are just that.

By the Way, Dave says that the three biggest resolutions for the new year are to get out of debt, stop smoking and lose weight.


Day 6

I asked Barb if she knew the name of the new AD for Kansas University. She said, "Yes, it is Dr. Zenger." (Sheahon Zenger) My real question is how his first name is pronounced. Sean, Shawn, Sheahon or Dr Zinger are all in the ballpark. Oh well, tonight we'll get to see one of the last really fun games for the hawks before they start league play. UMKC will get to see the hawks run and dunk with a smile on their face. Oh Well, on with the good advice columns:

BUDGETS - Rule Number 1. Income must be greater than or equal to Outgo. If you don't know what your outgo is, you can never get this one right. I was going to put investments here but unless you have the ability to understand what a budget is, you will probably just save money to bail you out of problems later on. Budgets are a broad guide to trying to make an attempt to stretch your income to cover your outgo. If you want detailed guides, see Dave Ramsey. If you want simple, down and dirty here it is. The best place to start is to write down everything you spend for a couple of months. Never make a purchase that you don't get a receipt. Put the receipts in a zip lock bag for each day and after 30 days, just see what the results are. I'm sure that it will really open your eyes. The big fixed costs, house, car and utilities will not vary much but the discretionary spending will vary all over the place. I think you will find that with a little effort you will find places to save a few dollars every day. Eating lunch out every day is a budget buster unless you buy off the dollar menu at McDonalds. The cost of lunch is generally $8 to $10 dollars and if that is done 5 days a week for 50 weeks a year that amounts to $2,000 to $2500 a year for each person. Throw in the morning coffee and an evening meal out once or twice a week and you can spend big bucks just on meals away from home. Never go to a grocery store hungry and buy from a list. I try to buy personal use items at Walmart not Dillon's. A $1.97 bottle of deoderant from Walmart can cost $3.98 at the grocery store. If that is what you want, do it, but understand what it costs. I also try to cook from raw products instead of pre-packaged items. I find the frozen vegetables in the Steamers packages very good and pretty cheap but they are an exception to the rule of buying raw products and cooking them. TV Dinners are quick but not cheap. The budgeting part is actually setting an amount you want to spend on each item in your outgo stream. Once you know what you are spending, and have a plan to allocate money, you will better understand that life is a decision on everything and you can be in charge. Or Not! In buying things, there is an old saying that things can be two of three things; Quick, Good and or Cheap. Your choice. If you budget early on and save, you can be a little carefree later on. yes, a damn trip to Walmart for a few items can cost $50. Oh well.



Just Something Different

If your life is just too boring, try feeding the animals in the wintertime. We have a black oil sunflower feeder, a suet block feeder, a finch (Thistle seed) feeder and a heated water bowl. There is a constant level of activity out side the house and it is better than daytime TV. Do not put the feeders on your deck unless you want a constant mess there.

Do not buy the fancy bird seed, they love the black oil sunflower seeds from the Tractor Supply Store. Anything with Millet in it will just go to waste. Also, in cold weather, water is just absolutely needed by every animal in the yard.

We do put up a humming bird feeder when we know they are in the area. Generally this is April through late September.


Day 5

I am attempting to write on some of the general things I have endured or just ran into in my life. For general reasons, I am not trying to influence politics or religion. Just as Popeye said, "I Yam what I yam". I assume that you are what you yam and no amount of yamming it down your throat will change that.

Wills are the way you decide what the hell someone will do with the things you leave when you die. They can be as simple as everything goes to my spouse to directives that parcel out your things to your kids. You can buy a simple will writing program for about $40.00 or you can pay an attorney about $500 to a grand. Simple is easy and cheap, complicated costs more. You need a will, and I don't care who does it so long as it gets done. For example, when my Mom died, there was no question of how she was to be buried. She stated it in her will that a niece who worked for a funeral home would be in charge. She had even prepaid an insurance policy that covered the cost. From the get go, I said what I wanted done was what Mom wanted. She specified how her belongings were to be distributed and what to do with any residual income. There were some directed things such as I got the lamp my Dad made in Junior High wood shop and each sister and my brother got an item they had wanted. After the directed items were divided, the kids met and starting with the oldest, we selected an item in order until no one wanted anything else. There was a lot left over that got donated to the salvation Army and some that was sold and the money put into the estate. None of this was a big deal and it was handled in a way that helped us have time to mourn the loss of Mom without being mad at anyone else because someone got more than others. Like I said, simple is easy and cheap, complicated cost more.

By the Way, as a native Kansan, I am proud of the new Athletic Director KU hired. He has ties to Hays State, K-State and KU. From the newspaper article he even has driven from Dodge to Garden City. Heck, Lew Perkins hired a livery company to drive him to the Lawrence Airport to fly to Kansas City. It is great to see the face of KU become young men like Bill Self, Turner Gill and the new guy with the funny name. (Sheahon Zenger)



Day 4

For the first 31 days of this new decade, I am passing on some Dutch Uncle Advice I have picked up over the years. Some of the information I picked up just reading and listening to other people and some I learned the hard way. Here is another pile, er blogs worth.

LIFE INSURANCE is legal gambling with your money. It is something I recommend you do when you are younger. Later on, not so much. The cost of insurance is cheap if you buy term insurance. It is not a source of saving and should not be considered as such. I would advise young people to look at what they have in the way of debts and the fixed cost for survivors and to buy accordingly. A quick cremation funeral should cost less than $2,000 and a full bore cemetery burial about $10,000. Most of us don't have that just sitting around so that is not a bad thing. Most funeral homes have policies that can be bought that set the cost as of today and you can prepay. A cheap term policy for $10,000 is cheap and easy. This is what i recommend for single people. If you have a car loan, ask the bank what they charge for a policy that covers the cost of the car for the length of the loan. Cheap and easy in a lot of cases. The real advantage of insurance is that it is not considered as income to your family when you die. I recommend that you consider that it will cost your family about 2/3rds of what you take home to live you should have four or five years of term insurance to cover the cost. If a young man makes about $50,000 a year, his take home is probably about $30,000 a year. It would take about $120,000 to $150,000 for his wife to live for four or five years (Add the cost of your home into that amount) Later on, when the kids are grown, and the house paid for you can almost eliminate the insurance. Put the money in investments and don't touch it. Get some insurance, but not too much.

Today I was reminded to never go grocery shopping in an empty stomach. or with an empty wallet.



Advice for Day Three

TRANSPORTATION is just that. Your car really doesn't make a statement about you unless you listen to the drivel the Car Manufacturers say in their advertising. In the most recent past, Barb has looked in the paper and on line for the cars we bought. Let me state the obvious reasons we came out ahead on the 2004 Ford Crown Victoria. It had only 18,000 miles on it and it was less than half of the cost of a new car. The Insurance rate on the car was also less than half and the Property Taxes were commensurate with the value of the car. The first year alone, I estimate we saved over $10,000 on the purchase price and probably $1,500 on the insurance and taxes. (Don't forget the almost 10% sales tax on the additional $10,000 would have added a grand to the cost) The car is a dream on the highway and we have averaged almost 20 MPG around town and 25 on the highway. Barb made a similar purchase on her 1997 Buick Skylark and it has saved us a ton. Buy Used and save. I won't even mention the hassle Auto dealers figure into their car prices. Why the hell they think I'm responsible for the paper work cost is beyond me. Don't get me started on Dealer prep on a car. What the hell did they think? Would you drive a car right off the transport truck?

I have always loved old cars but there is a limit to my desire to drive one. Most of them have a lousy heater, no air conditioning, rattle and roll poorly. Somewhere in the middle is a happy medium where the safety features outweigh the problems. Dave said he has as his goal to own a car that was made in the current decade. With the number of miles he puts on his car each year, I can't say I blame him on that one. It is also nice that we can fix anything on his 2004 Malibu and have fixed most things at least once. It is also nice that he can come by here and take the Ford if they need to get out of town. He had accepted the fact that I will not stand for him to drive around with poor tires. Good tires and good brakes are a minimum.

Get a great car and have a great trip.


Oh No, They Found US

We have lived in the woods at Rabbit Run for about 20 years without a "Trick or Treater" or a Jehovah's witness ever setting foot on the place. This morning about 9:45 we had a pair of people show up to Share their views with us. It ain't Halloween. Barb was her nice, polite and firm self and thanked them for stopping by but making sure they understand we are not interested.

This is my Sharing and Caring Month of the new Decade. The thing I want to point out today is Sharing. I think that sharing our bounty is a way to look forward. We see the smiles on their faces and hope that it helped put a smile in their heart. We have a friend that lives in Texas that comes up once a year or so to visit with her friends and stays here with us. It doesn't hurt that she is our daughter-in-laws' friend and someone we have grown to care for. In her note as she was leaving she thanked us for our hospitality and sharing love to our favorite Daughter. Seeing that we didn't have a daughter of our own, This works for me.

For Christmas this year, we got to share with a large portion of our family for the family dinner. It gave us a good reason to clean out the corner spider webs and laugh with our family. We all eat soup and then open white elephant gifts. The girls also worked up a game where we all shared five things about ourselves that were either true or crap. Laughter everywhere. On a serious note, Barb adopted a family that is having a hard time putting it all together this year. They moved here from California and the single Mom is just starting a new job. We got to spend a couple of hundred dollars and bring smiles to three little kids. So, if you want to know a secret to happiness, look for the smiles on the face of people you get to share and care with.

This is day two of my hints for the new decade. I have a lot more to share. Just remember to read what I write with the thought that good advice may be worth just what it costs. This will be free so if it doesn't work for you, do it your way. Just remember that if you do what you did, you will probably get what you got!



31 Days of the New Decade

For the month of January, I am going to share at least an idea a day. The ideas will be things that I like or that I have learned that do me some good. Here goes.

Find a near by Credit Union and start putting some money there. When you need a loan or some small help for something financial they will pay it back in spades. When we bought the House Dave is living in they gave us a great rate on the loan and asked for no points in the deal. Because we had an account there, it was done quickly. From the time we started dealing with them to the time we actually got the loan, the interest rate had gone down a half a percent and they just lowered the rate on the loan. When we needed someone to witness our will, they did it at no cost.

From 7 PM Thursday to this morning the temperature has gone down 60 degrees. What a shock. If you count the wind chill it is closer to 80 degrees. I do admire 4 true seasons in Kansas but not in 48 hours. We have a skiff of snow but no where near an inch.

Yesterday evening, Barb got antsy to take down the Christmas decorations and take the tree out. Barb kept it watered well and it wasn't nearly as dry as some trees in the past were. Things look so plain without the trimmings. Be a lot easier to dust things though.

For some reason today must be cowboy day on Directv. About every other movie is a cowboy movie. I'm in heaven. Mom would have loved it also and she is in heaven.

OH well, breakfast awaits.