Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

January 30, 2008

Thought for Today

Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long.
- Leonard Bernstein

~Isn't that the truth! I sometimes wonder how some of you manage to always have such good things to say all the time? I guess you all just lead such inspiring lives :)

January 29, 2008

It's a small world

It really is isn't it? Particularly when you look at the way that the internet and the blogosphere has the ability to bring us together in a sort of neighborhood. For instance, in the last four days alone I've had visitors from all over the United States as well as from Bulgaria, Italy, Australia, Germany, Canada, India, Ireland, England, South Africa, Singapore and Japan. If that doesn't make for a small world I don't know what does.
And yet with all of that, I was so pleased to find today the blog of neighbor in the most local sense, right down my residential street. It was almost uncanny the number of things that we have in common from our conservative ideas to our progression toward a greener and lower impact lifestyle. The funniest part is that we have actually met before when I was interviewing for a job with a local company.
I love being able to meet and interact with people of a like mind all around the world. I am regularly inspired, encouraged, entertained, amused and educated. And as for your reading me, well, I can only say I am honored by your time. I hope you come away with some good information, or at least a smile.
So here's to a small world, to sharing ideas and encouraging each other in achieving our goals, and to finding new friends.

January 27, 2008

Here comes another one.

It's strangely warm out and blowing like the dickens; looks like a storm. According to the weather it's supposed to snow tomorrow through Tuesday, then again Friday and Saturday. I don't know about global warming, but global climate change is seeming pretty possible. But is it changing for the worse, or reverting? I'm in northern Utah now, but I grew up in California. My extended family however and my father are all from here though and I spent my childhood coming here at some point every winter. I always remembered there being snow on the ground. Didn't matter when I came, there was snow; a lot like this winter. So is it a cycle or is it change? I don't know, honestly, it's not my driving force, weather change that is. I want to reduce my impact because it is the right thing to do and because if I lead by example perhaps I can influence others to do the same. I can set an example for my children to follow, and help to build better habits for them for their future. But in the mean time, all I know is that there'll be shoveling to do tomorrow. No warming here, unless of course you count the "warm before the storm".

Hope you all had a good weekend. I took some pics of what I worked on this weekend, I'll try and get those posted tomorrow.


January 25, 2008

Chemical Sensitivity

What a difference a year makes? Well, almost a year anyway since A~ and I decided to make the move from chemical based cleaners, paints and home accessories. I've mentioned before that I feel like our general health has been better because of this, and I think so even more today. Our oldest son C~ who had missed nearly 3 weeks of school last year from asthma and allergy related problems has missed approx 3 this year thus far and only one of those days was because of respiratory problems caused from a classmate spraying a chem-based air "freshener" in the classroom. This alone makes the changes worth it.

Yesterday I noticed an interesting thing though. I too have become used to living in a cleaner environment. I've worked as a military mechanic, a printer and in various service industries that use a lot of chemical cleaners so I've been exposed to a lot of chemicals in my day. I've never had any real reaction to them at all. Yesterday however, half of the building that I work in was being repainted and Ugh, the fumes! I had such a headache toward the end of the day that I left an hour early. It was the weirdest thing. I've never had that problem. After getting outside and breathing some fresh, albeit very cold, but fresh air, I felt much better.

I guess I've become spoiled by a clean environment. My challenge to you is to take the opportunity to make a few changes in your habits this year and see if you don't feel healthier too. I thought that in order to clean with non toxic products that we would need to buy a bunch of hard to get expensive organic cleaners and such. YOU DON'T! (Although I do really enjoy some of the green products that my sis sent to our family for Christmas. That was the most well thought out and thoughtful gifts I think she's ever given us.) We use a vinegar and lemon based cleaner for our everyday spray and wipe stuff, washing powder instead of bleach in the wash, baking soda with essential oils in our baths instead of chemical fragranced bath products, and a pot with a little water and fragrant herbs boiled to add a little scent to the house to name a few. The products are cheaper, they work as well or better, and are absolutely non-toxic.

Give your home a once over and see where you can make a change that won't impact you too terribly and give it a chance. Then when you get used to that one, take on another. Little by little you'll see that it's really not hard and you'll feel better in the long run.


6 happy years.

Today was A~ and my actual anniversary. Six years and I can honestly say that I am every bit as much in love with her as I have always been. Thank you sweetie for a great day today. I always love taking an afternnon off to spend with you. Here's to '08, and many more.
Love you!

January 23, 2008

Thought for today

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
~  Herm Albright

January 22, 2008

Refocusing (For the record.)

Alright, now that I've had my weekend off, indulged myself in football playoff games and managed to generally talk my way out of working on my projects for a weekend it's time to refocus. This is not one of my strong suits. I'm a good starter, nay a great starter, but I die in the stretch. My attention's a little sporadic I guess. So here I am again, reiterating my goal.

I will finish my projects before I take time to relax.

I really want to get all of this stuff wrapped up before the end of February. The beginning of March is the time that I plan to start dilligent work towards preparing for the planting season so I do need to get it done.

Pakistan; searching for happiness?

After I posted my first installment to “The Algebra of Happiness” I basically heard, and not to my surprise mind you, crickets chirping in the silence that was the reaction to it. I didn’t really expect any comments on it, and have not to date received any. No biggie. I was surprised to find that I was linked to from a blog called the “History of Math” which seems to be some posted by some sort of auto-feed or something, since it linked to it almost immediately. But other than a couple of people reading hitting the page merely as my latest entry, nothing. Then this morning I checked my stats and looked to see where my visitors were coming from. I was surprised to find an inordinate number of hits from different areas of Pakistan. The IP’s are different and the cities of origin are different, but they all seem to be searching Google for “happiness based solely on contentment.” And there I was. Strangely, the few other direct hits I had had to this post were also based out of India; Pakistan’s neighbor to the south. Coincidence?
Is there a search going on for Happiness, or at least the components of it, in Pakistan and India? Could I bring clarity on the ever elusive idea to a people struggling with poverty and unhappiness? To the former, I am sure there is; aren’t we all searching for it? To the latter; I’m not that full of myself, although if my thoughts do relate to someone out there I‘d love to here from them. Never mind the language barrier, you do your best to communicate, I will do my best to understand. Of course there also the possibility that I'm just the victim of a internet spider and I'll soon be spammed into oblivion. Who knows?

On a secondary note, after posting my initial Theorem on Contentment, I Googled the topic "The Algebra of Happiness" and was dejected to find that I was not the first to coin the phrase. I glanced briefly at the posts that I found to see if they were in fact related and they seem to be. I have not read them yet, as I don’t want to have my thought process altered, but I will go back and review them for similarities after I've finished publishing mine. It should be interesting; the link I found was referencing a research project by a group of British mathematicians. P~

January 19, 2008

Pretty slow

Yeah, it's looking like it's gonna be a pretty slow weekend around here. I have basically finished the molding and finish work that I needed to do to our stairs and most of the de-cluttering work has been done for now.
Tomorrow, I'll spend a while drafting out some plans for the new "Library" that we plan to make out of our last basement room that needs finishing. It's a small area right at the bottom of our stairs that has no windows, so it can never be a bedroom, and has doors to the furnace and the cold storage room coming off of it. As I said we plan to build some shelves and cabinets for storage of our books that have been living in boxes and corners for the last three 1/2 years as well as board games and stationary. I need to design the components out fairly detailed to that I can have the hardware store make the big cuts on the 4x8 sheets for me so that they are straight.
Sunday, my wife and I have planned a trip out to Wendover NV for our annual anniversary weekend away. It's really the closest and funnest place to go that's not too long of a drive from home, and it has become our tradition for the last 6 yrs. Of course it's supposed to snow on both Sunday and Monday this weekend so it ought to be an interesting drive on the way out and back.
We're heading out early this year too so that I can be there in time to cheer for my S.D. Chargers to beat the undefeated N.E. Patriots! (Hey! I wouldn't be a real fan if I didn't hold out hope you know.)
I think we'll head down to our theater this weekend and spend a bunch of time with the boys watching some movies too, since we always end up missing them so much when we're gone.
All in all it should be a real nice weekend. I hope you all have a great one.

January 16, 2008

The Algebra of Happiness -       Contentment Theorem

I know what your thinking, "Algebra and happiness in the same title, not possible!" bear with me you might find it interesting. I have to preface this whole series of articles with a short explanation of why I think about things this way, other than of course the fact that I am a computer programmer and that's just the way we're wired. When I began High School I had a terrible time with Algebra. Like so many other kids I asked what's the point, I've never needed to add an "A" and a "B", and it doesn't even make sense. The Answers are still questions. if A+B=C and A+D=C then B = D. What the heck do either of them equal? They're still letters? I'm sure you can understand. My dad, whom I rarely listened to because I was a teenager and knew everything, caught me at a rare moment of attention and gave me this idea, that saved not only my algebraic High School career, but has influenced how I look at and solve problems throughout my life.

"Algebra has nothing to do with math. It's just a way of thinking and ordering your thoughts."

What? Nothing to do with math? What do you mean nothing to do with math?
Well, think about it like this:
If you have $2.00 and I give you some money, and then you have $5.00, OR
if you have $2.00 and someone else gives you some money, and then you have $5.00 you know that the amounts of money that either that someone else or I gave you were the same; $3.00. That's all A+B=C and A+D=C then B = D really means. We just never think about writing it out like that; we just know it. Once I learned that this was all that algebra was I never had a big problem with it and now I think things through like this all the time. That brings me to the Algebra of Happiness. I wondered if there were a way that I could illustrate very clearly the things that I see as affecting a persons level of happiness. I'll break it down into a couple of sections, and they'll all have this title, so if you see it coming and you’re not interested, I'll see you the next time I'm baking bread or experimenting with homemade yogurt.

The contentment theorem:
-(w) + g = C
'w' represents wants.
'g' represents gains or gets.
'C' represents contentment.

The variable 'w' will always be expressed as negative, denoting an absence or void, while 'g' will be expressed as positive to show increase or gain. A persons level of contentment 'C' can therefore be either neutral (most likely), positive or negative as a product of wants + gains. I would say typically that 'C' would be equal to zero, a neutral result, for a generally happy person; in other words the individual has had all wants met by an equal gain (i.e. -(4) + 4 = 0 ), whereas a typically unhappy person may be one that had very few of their wants met and therefore had a negative level of contentment. (i.e. -(4) + 1 = -3 ). The interesting part in thinking about it like this is that you realize that you can impact your level of contentment directly in one of two ways. You can either decrease your wants with relation to your gains, or you can increase your gains to meet your wants. Let's look at those ideas for a minute.

Decreasing want. (w)
How this affects the equation is dependant on how you decrease it. If you just say to yourself “It’s not realistic.” and resign yourself to the fact that you’ll never attain it, then you would cause an impact on another area; Serenity. (I’ll write more on this in a later post.) Doing that is like deciding that you’ll never be happy and there’s nothing that you can do about it. However, if you reevaluate what you “want” and determine why it is that you want it, you may find that there is no valid reason for it to begin with. I think the most important thing is to "want" things that will bring something else positive to you other than just the getting.

Increasing gain. (g)
I think that this area is not entirely dependant on physical possession or attainment. If one truly believes that the gain will be made in the foreseeable future it is seemingly equivalent to actually having it. For instance, if I wanted a new car but didn’t have it I may feel a lower “C” level. However, if I have in place a plan to achieve that gain, and am making progress toward it, I accept it as a gain not yet tangible; thus not impacting my “C”. Another possibility is that you could decide to work harder, or do whatever necessary to attain the things that you want. This could increase contentment, but it also could impact Serenity if all you did was work and toil in order to attain. If wants are in line, this shouldn't need to be increased too much to attain any thing we desire.

I've been through times when I was very discontent because of the things I didn’t have. I did whatever I could, using credit, or borrowing, or living on shoestrings to get the things but I found that as long as I attached my wants to "things" that there was always another “thing” out there to want. Essentially I was in a squirrel cage of consumption. I wasn’t happy in many other ways in my life, and I guess I thought the next thing would make it better. All I got was a bankruptcy, a repo’d car, and a credit score that I could count on my fingers; my “C”ontentment was very low. Lately, my equation has shifted. I still want of course. I just think that my wants have changed. I want to spend time with my family and for my wife to be able to be home for my children. I want to write and share my thoughts. I want to learn to grow food and make things by hand. I want things too; books, seeds for my garden, and god knows how many other little things I see. But the things I want are readily attainable, and you know what? My contentment is sky high.
I hope I haven't lost you in my prattling on. I get these ideas and they’ll just drive me crazy until I get them out. I have quite a bit more to say on it, so bear with me.
Till next time

An orderly home / A healthy child

We're not there completely, but we did clear out the things we had identified as "need to go" things this weekend. All the decorations and old frames that we had went to a nice lady we met through freecycle and a desk went to a friend of mine from work. The rest of the things went to our local charity thrift store on Saturday and lo and behold, we began to feel a little freer and had a lot of extra garage space all of a sudden.
Another thing that we have been doing so far this year, is to make specific plans with finish dates. This has served us so well It's amazing. It's like the world favors the prepared. We planned to take a trailer load of trash that's been sitting in the side yard since early fall before the first weekend in January, and we did. The day after we went, we started getting snow, and we now would not even have the ability to get the trailer out. Good timing. We also planned to take the last items to the Thrift store this saturday afternoon, and we did. The next morning, surprise, unexpected snow storm that would have been a pain to move stuff in; again, good timing.
A~ and I have really been happy with the way the new year has been shaping up. How's it going for you?


On the heart murmer front, we finally got the news from the echocardiogram. (I previously referred to it incorrectly as an electrocardiogram. My mistake.) It seems we have a healthy and active boy with a slightly leaky heart valve. In short, nothing for us to worry about. We will need to monitor it by having it checked every couple of years as he matures just to be safe but there are no expected issues.
Thank you all for you caring posts and encouragement. It means so much to have people we've never even met send us such well wishes.
I'll post more soon, I'm almost done with the catch up on the woodwork and will be a little freer with my time.

January 14, 2008

Thought for today

(Because I am a Chargers fan…)


The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
  - Walter Bagehot



January 11, 2008

ECG for K~

My middle son K~ went in yesterday for his electrocardiogram. It took much longer that I thought it would, almost 45 minutes, and he had to lay very still on one side for most of it. He had a hard time with the laying still part, but otherwise did really well. We had incorrectly believed that we were going to be able to speak with a cardiologist at this appointment, but all we had was a ECG tech that was very stone faced and almost seemed to be just an extension of the machine, so very little information was gotten. It seems the actual cardiologist doesn’t come in until after hours and then dictates his diagnoses and we don’t get to learn anything until we meet with our regular physician. I’ll post more when I know more. Till then, thank you all for your well wishes and thoughts, they are greatly appreciated.


January 10, 2008

YESSSS! There here! / 100 ft diet.

Some of them at least. I anticipate a couple of more next week. So now the fun begins.

I have some things that I want to be able to accomplish before planting this year. Actually they're not just things that I want to do, they're things that I need to do. And as with so many of my other todo's, I want to take advantage of this space for setting out my goals and using you as my peer pressure to make sure that I get them done. I've have not, to date, used any kind of garden journal or rotation schedule; the only thing I've ever done is a crude drawing with some rectangles for garden beds and some scribbles for what I wan to plant there. This year I hope to do a little better. I don't expect to be anywhere near the level of detail in Farm Mom's logs, but hey, I gotta start somewhere.

So here are the immediate goals.
  • Identify and list the crops I want to grow this year with the help of my wife and the kids to that I can ensure we grow things that are not just novel or "different" but that we will actually eat.
  • Plan and illustrate a garden layout for where I will plant those crops. This needs to outline the areas, plant dates, and ETH (Estimated Time of Harvest.)
  • List plant by dates, especially for the early season cool weather crops and any plants that need early starts.
  • Design a basic cold frame to be built out of the re-purposed window frames I acquired this fall.

I'm sure this list will end up being incomplete, but it is at least the immediate things that I know for sure that I will need to do. I really want to try to optimize the space that I have available this year and get more consistent food from my 1/4 acre.

That brings me to my next thing; the 100 foot diet challenge. I don't generally participate in a lot of the challenges and group participation things out there like the Dark Days of winter or the one local meal challenges. I admire them, and honestly I do try to incorporate a lot of the things that I read on them in my day to day, but this is not really my area of responsibility in our home. Sure I cook a meal here or there, and have been known to make a little artisan bread on a rainy weekend, but this is an area in which my wife excels, and I honestly have no desire to impose (More than I do already that is. Thanks for putting up with my yogurt and bread experiments lately honey.)
The good folks over at Path to Freedom have started a challenge that I can really get behind though; "The 100 ft Diet Challenge". The garden is my area of responsibility and the place where I really enjoy focusing. I hope to be able to really get a regular and significant amount of food from our yard this year. This challenge will really help me to stay motivated about it. It will take me a while to be able to really get a start with having any100 ft meals other than some of the pickled and preserved things that we have in the basement, or some sprouts that I make weekly. If you are a kitchen gardener, or even just interested in it I encourage you to take a look at their site. At the very least, they are a incredible family and worth the read.
Till tomorrow,

January 9, 2008

BEWARE: Carbs on board!

Am I am freaking lucky or what? I'm the only guy that I know who gets to bring to work fresh home made donuts to share with his coworkers. I don't know if I've said it lately, but I am very thankful to have such a "Sweet" wife. We made some cake style donuts last year that were OK, but these are the bread style risen ones. Oh, man! I swear they're like Krispy Kremes.

Since we have begun to enjoy almost exclusively home made bread, rolls, sourdough pancakes and waffles, and now donuts I have to say I've been transformed. I have never really been a big bread eater, I just never got it. I would much rather have filled up on all the other stuff. Bread was just "Sucker food"; fills you up to fast you know? Has my tune changed! I know why bread became such a staple of mankind's diet no matter where on earth he lives. The smell of fresh bread, the soft texture, and the taste, Mmmmm. OK, I'm officially getting the midnight munchies... If you are not a big baker, take it from me, bread is not that difficult, doesn't take all that much time, and there is really very little else that you can do for your family or neighbor that says they are special to you like a fresh warm loaf, or in this case, some homemade tasty treats.

Question though, how is this supposed to help me reach my 190 lb weight goal??? All things in moderation I guess.

January 8, 2008

Freecycle - First try

As I mentioned in an earlier post. A~ and I are trying to downsize and free ourselves of some of our "Stuff" that we've been holding on to, and are cleaning out the garage, to clear out the obstacle course that it has become. Last night I posted an add on Freecycle for the first time, and have already received a couple of responses. We want to be able to clear this stuff out by the end of the week, or we will bring it to our local "DI" (Deseret Industries Thrift Store.). Either way I think it will be good for us to be free of the stuff, and will hopefully be of benefit to whomever is able to take it from us.

Do any of you have any experience with Freecycle? I'd love to hear your experiences. Wondering what it is? Check into it here. They have local groups all over the US and in many other countries so you may be able to not only help your old items to have a new life but who knows, you may find that "fill in the blank" that you've been looking for. I think it's a great idea, especially in a country where, by in large, we have a much higher standard of living than much of the world. If we can take a second look at some of the things that we have, and make a conscious effort to give a second life to them or to do the same to something from someone else I think we'll not only save a lot of our recources, but quite a bit of our dollars as well.
Hope you are all well. If you have a minute I've posted a new entry on "A mentis ad scriptum." give it a read.

January 5, 2008

The workbench.

In my effort to bring to light my serious deficiency in the area of clutter control, I give you the workbench.

This is my center of mass creation. My furniture repurposing, seed planting and toy fixing headquarters. How I manage to get anything done in it is beyond me. But it's getting better since this picture was taken last weekend. It's not clean, but it's getting there. Another of my resolutions was to make a serious effort to wrap up all of my projects so I gave it the once over so that I could at least get to my tools and try to finish the last bit of flooring work that I needed to do. I hope to have this area cleaned up soon so that I can start getting ready for finishing the rest of my todo's.
Any one making good progress toward their resolutions? let me know.

January 4, 2008

Catalog envy.

Alright I’ve made my requests, and I’m trying to be patient, but dang it, I want to start planning my garden and I haven’t received any of my catalogs yet. I know, I know, I can just go online to a lot of the different places and search through much of their information that way, but I’m old fashioned. If I’m going to look through multiple different companies for things, I want to lay them out on the kitchen table, get a big picture type of view and mull over them all at once. Not just that though, and you wouldn’t expect this from a guy who spends his days developing interactive web applications, but I don’t like to buy over the internet. I do love to research my purchases before hand online, I just very rarely buy anything that way. I’ve done it before, and I’ve had good results I guess; I just don’t like it. This will be the first time, I think ever, that I will be ordering something from a catalog for that matter and that will come only after looking through them and deciding what we want and checking the local sellers to make sure that it is not available through them. I like to stand face to face with a person, ask them questions or for suggestions, and have that interaction. I am after all the consummate people person; but I digress. I guess I am lucky in that I have enough de-clutter and project wrap up work to keep me busy for a few weeks so I will be able to keep my mind occupied and not obsess on my lack of garden planning ammunition. I’ll have to live vicariously through Phelan at Homesteading Neophyte who not only already has seeds, but has them started in her indoor grow box. I’ll be lucky just to have my garage back in time to start any seeds indoors! I’ll show you why tomorrow.



January 3, 2008

Resolutions begin - extreme simplifying

In my resolutions I said that we wanted to downsize, eliminate clutter, and simplify our life. A~, my wife, and I spent a goodly part of the weekend going through our basement, garage and storage totes to pick out what came up to be enough to fill a parking stall in the garage with "Stuff". These are things that were "great deals", or are things that we have used in the house, that we just don't have a reason for anymore. We have been toting a lot of stuff around for years that we basically just said to ourselves, " if we haven't used it in the last three years, we can live without it!".

We are having some relatives of my wife's over, that are just starting out on their own, take a look at what we have and we will be giving it to them if they want it. The rest I think we will post of Freecycle for a week and see if anyone needs it, or it will be donated to the local charity store. We thought about having a garage sale. I'm sure that we could make a 150-200.00 if we did. We have been the recipient of a lot of help from both family and the generosity of others throughput our time together, and we want to give back a little if we can. Someone out there will appreciate the stuff that we no longer need.
The other side of this simplifying is that we have made a commitment to each other to not purchase any new junk this year. There are things that we have determined that we will need; a chair for the front room that is not fabric (allergy issues...), a cast iron pot for bread baking, and essentials like clothing of course. The main idea is that we will talk purchases over before we make them, identify whether or not it is a need or a want, and make a slow decision as to whether it is something we actually want to purchase. I hope to have this change of thought process help us to reduce our consumption, simplify our lives, and save us money.
I'll keep you posted as we finish and have more info.

January 2, 2008

Introducing "A Mentis..."

First of all, I wanted to say thank you to all of those that responded to my question regarding my “scribbles”. I was very heartened to see the support out there for me sharing my writings. I decided after much deliberation to begin a new blog for them. This is not to say that from time to time they won’t show up here, I still think that will be an interesting way to break up the day to day stuff.  I looked at what it was I wanted to accomplish by putting them out there, and what it was I wanted to share. In doing this I felt I could be more inclusive of not just my scribbles and writings, but my paintings, drawings and photography as well.

With this blog I wanted to build the habit of writing again, something that I always enjoyed and had moved away from, and to document and detail my daily exploration of life and to share my passions for gardening, building, repurposing, etc. In making a new blog, I want to create a place where I can focus on my creative side, a side that I’ve kept quite for too long. I always enjoyed writing, drawing, painting, photography; really any creative pursuit. As I “grew up” and got caught up in the day to day matters of life I feel like I lost that part of me. It wasn’t even so much that I just didn’t have time for it; I just seemed to have lost my connection to that creative spirit that was so dominant in me for so long. I want it back. I hope that by sharing and revisiting some of my older works, that I will be inspired to create new ones.  

So I’d like to introduce you to my newest endeavor: “A mentis ad scriptum”. From my mind to the page.
(Notice the theme? Latin is such a cool way of saying things.)
There’s not a lot there right now, matter of fact little more than a Welcome and an introduction. But I will be updating it regularly, and I hope to have you check it out and give me your feedback. If you are similarly inclined, and have a blog of your own for expressing your creative side share it with me, I’d love to be inspired by you.

Tomorrow, “The resolutions begin.” Simplifying to the extreme!