Sunday, April 30, 2006

First Planting 2006

Or, "Oh my goodness...I have become my father!!!"
- OK, last year was my first spring/summer in my dad's old house. As you recall from yesterday's story, I bought the house when it became too much for him to take care of. Now, why I thought it wasn't too much for me to take care of is a good question. And another story. Last year, I thought....

"Wouldn't it be nice to grow some tomatoes in Dad's small patch" - and take them to him. It would kind of be like his legacy lives on. He already had worked a little 6x12 foot spot for years. The soil had plenty of mulch and loose dirt. It didn't take too much work. This was necessary because...

I had never grown a plant in my life!!!
- and it wasn't like I was looking for things to do. So, I planted about 6 tomatoe plants, 4 bell peppers, a couple of cucumbers, and a few jalapeno peppers. The tomatoes did quite well. The bell peppers suffered. I got one cucumber. The jalepeno's, however, were the success of the year. I dug a hole in the existing lawn. They fought off the encroaching lawn roots and poor soil preparation and turned into a bumper crop. I know it had nothing to do with me.

So, what do I do this year??!!??
- I till up the entire back patch to create 4 times the space!!! What am I? Nuts? Well, read the title of the blog. Anyway, here is the start that I am off to in weekend one of planting:

2 cherry tomatoes
4 bell peppers
2 strawberries
2 jalapenos
1 misc "wonder" pepper

Now before you say, "what a piker...get off the lard side and get some work done," let's re-visit yesterdays tilling and raking of this patch. I think we are talking 15 by 40 feet here.....and I got other things to do on the weekend as well.

Why didn't I listen to the guy when he asked,
- "is one bag of Miracle Grow potting soil enough?" I don't think it was a question. Unplanted at the moment is:

2 cucumbers
2 different basil

Here is what I know is coming

2 early girl tomatoes
2 beef steak tomatoes
1 watermelon (just for grins)
2 zucchini (because I love them and I hear they grow like a weed)

Dear readers, I ask - is there something else missing? I have the room. I am not crowding anything this year.

And, in the meantime - why on earth am I becoming my father? Could it be that I get enough of people through work and my basic social contact that I want to spend time in the garden? Is this man's urge to go out and kill something to eat (I'm not a hunter or a fisherman)?

I know what is going to happen next - I am going to name the plants. I just know it. After seeing some of them die last year, I realized that these plants are going to struggle.....just so they can put food in my gullet! How can I not root for them?!?

Besides, naming the plants is crazy
- and I am starting to appreciate craziness more and more as I see much of my world remove humanity and try to resort to pure logic.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Why I Live Where I Live

(A post forSundayScribblings)

I live in my hometown. I moved away for two years to a neighboring town a couple of decades back. It just didn't seem right to me. It never felt right. I headed back to the familiar surroundings. It's the place I call home. My mom died three and a half years ago. Dad stayed in the old home for a couple of years. Old men and old homes alone are a difficult combination. We moved my father to stay with my brother. In the same town. Of course. What should we do with his old house. My brother and I were too lazy to fix it up to sell. And too cheap to sell it "as is."

I went to visit the old house. Like it would be my house. Not like the boy who grew up in it. Not like the son who would come for holiday dinners and after work toddy's. No. Like it was my house.

Hardwood floors. Seen uncarpeted for the first time. An ugly mantle reimagined as beautiful through the eyes of ownership. The ascension up the steep stairs. The steep stairs that only old houses have.

"Will I be able to get up and down these stairs when I am in my 80's like my mother and father did?"

I continued scaling until reaching the summit. I sit on the top layer of a three layer cake. This house has a basement too. And a detached garage. With a funky side room connected to it. That room was where I used to live. Out back. Within proximity of my parents but with more privacy than was probably wise.

I live in this town because I now live in that house. I think it makes my dad happy as he waits for the angels to come. The house that he shared with the woman he was married to for 53 years is still in the family. But, even if I didn't live in this house, I'd live in this town. It's where I grew up. It's home.

Ro-Tow-Till-Me!!!....Baby!!! I can't rent a ro-tow-till-her
- because I can't keep it on the trailer (see Previous post "watch for falling rototillers"). Does that mean that Mother Earth wins?
Oh no, she may have been up on me for a bit but the game ain't over...

Especially when McGyver is around
- as I managed to "fix" my own rototiller. Well, actually, it was my Dad's rototiller but he left it behind when he moved and I nabbed it. Then, I tricked that wretched machine into starting...

Because, it wouldn't start a few weeks back - as it sputtered, coughed, and blew some noxious butt fumes into my face, I was thinking..."no tillin for this kid today."

And then she fired up - and I was headed for trouble. You see, I have NEVER tilled before. Other than one small piece of the yard that was a garden, this was all old lawn. While the soil was good and moist, it was virgin dirt. I had to do a little sod bustin. And then, our good Mother Nature threw a few nasties at me...

ROOTS!!! - she knocked me back twice and actually took my little machine (well as little as a 5 horse Briggs and Stratton on a small frame machine can be called) down twice. Well, not really down, but the engine was stalled. But Mother isn't going to win when the Nutster can resort to....

Row-Tow-Till-Her's good friend....MR AXE!
- "come here, Mr Root! You think you are a tough guy. Well, let's see what Mr AXE has to say about that!".....BAM!!! BAM!!!...and yet another irritation in my life removed!!!

Added to the ol skill set today
- I am now a Rototiller....wait...stop...if I use a rototiller, does that make me a rototiller? I think it does though I look nothing like the machine itself. Is there one word for someone that operates a rototiller? to my next adventure! - I can start planning the garden...or I can go get some topsoil/fertilizer...or make a trip to the dump. Hey, I can't lose either way. Fun times await!!!

Holding Out!

....well, maybe! - we're heading into the weekend for TV Turnoff week. NBA playoffs are in full swing so the basketball fanatics will be itching like crazy..."Where's my remote...where's my remote." I can hear them now.

While no fanatic
- the Sacramento Kings do draw my attention. I wanted to see the crowd at Arco Arena welcome back Ron Artest last night. To just get a feel of all of those crazies "spreadin the love" on top of their maligned superstar. He got jobbed with that game 2 suspension. There was no doubt that the fans were going to let him know that they were behind him...

I didn't do it! - nope. I didn't watch any of the game. I just went out. Grabbed a bite to eat. As I left the restaraunt, I looked up at the TV that was there to get the score (c' can't count that against me). Kings up by 12 in the third quarter. I exited. Walked around a store for a bit. I got in the car to drive home. I flipped on the radio to see how the game went...

"Can you believe it fans. 27 seconds to go. The Kings are down by 1 and the Spurs have the ball" - huh?!? How do Kings let that happen.....but they do.

Long story short - the Spurs sit on the ball and try to run out the clock. With 5 seconds left, Mike Bibby steals the ball, passes it to much unknown Kevin Martin who makes one of the greatest (and luckiest) layups of all time over Tim Duncan, the ball rattles around and falls through the cylinder as the clock goes to zero...

....and I am listening to the radio while I am 3 minutes from my house.

I sped home to see the replay.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Name Tag Guy

I wear a nametag - yes, I admit it. No one makes me do it. It's got my work logo and my name on it. "Scott, you're the boss. Why are you wearing that?"

Wouldn't that be a good reason to wear it?
- is usually my reply. After watching them turnaround with that quizzacal look on their face (yet again), I usually stop and bail them out with another reason....

"It makes it easier for people to talk to me that don't know me"
- now, you all know me as a fun loving sort. You can't always tell that by looking at me. I get caught in relatively deep shallow thought (yes...I meant "deep shallow"....stop and think about it for a second) frequently. Especially when I am out and about on my own. People can think that I am pretty serious when I'm really just thinkin. The nametag helps.

People that don't know me - call me by name. While scary to some, I rather enjoy it.

The company logo - also makes me approachable for business. The company definitely endorses that move.

Well, check this guy out
- I hate it when someone beats me to a great idea. Here is a guy who has figured out how to make a living.......all off of wearing a nametag!

Hello My Name is Scott

America! What a country!
- plus, the guy has a cool first name!!!

Garlic andthe Great Potatoe Renassaince

Sometimes, I wonder - and, after explaining what it is that I wonder about, people say, "You have too much time on your hands." Well....

I disagree - what is it that we love about children? It is their sense of wonder, isn't it? It is those "why" questions that we love.....until, of course, it becomes overly irritating because now they really don't want to know. They are just playing the "why" game with you.

The other day
- I was wondering about potatoes. I was out to eat at a very nice restaraunt. I was ingesting some large piece of beef that I had ordered. As a serendipidity, the hunk of cow was sitting on a pile of mashed potatoes. Quite honestly, the potatoes had nothing to do with why I ordered the dish. I did look at them as a welcome addition. I then said to myself, "I wonder if these are going to be GARLIC mashed potatoes."

I hit that one right on the button
- and they were gooooooooooood!

Then, I wondered further - about how much potatoe consumption has increased since it became popular to combine those brown tubers with garlic. This winning combo hasn't been on the scene all of that long. Now, you can't get away from it.

Ever been somewhere and had garlic fries - but, if they weren't garlic, you wouldn't even bother with the fries? I have to raise my hand to that one and say, "many times."

I wonder - and I hope this combination isn't causing another Great Potatoe Famine anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

TV Turnoff Week....3 days down

Now that's a good lookin TV - in the position it should be MOST of the time...the off one.

Hey, how are ya doin? - without the TV this week? Are you getting the shakes yet?

Not much infection going on here - but I have to admit to have cheated. Well, did I really?

I watched the fourth quarter
- of the King's playoff game last night. An NBA basketball game isn't really a game until the fourth quarter, after all.

I even got on the internet - to get an update on the score. With Ron Artest suspended, I figured the King's would be getting blown out....and I didn't want to waste my time.

But....the internet said the game was tied
- so I flipped on the tube. I watched the fourth quarter. It was exciting. The game went to overtime....and I watched that too.

...and that is all I have watched
- I'd say I was being extremely intentional. I knew that I was going to get some short term gain out of the deal. It would be a bit legalistic, I think, to say that I am a violator. Declaring me guilty may even fit into the "Foolish Hobgoblin" category (see below). least that's what I think.

Foolish Hobgoblins

I have been working through a situation regarding standardization. This one has been persnickety to say the least. I do understand where, amongst a large collection of people, entities, etc where rules become quite useful. Our civil laws, for example, attempt to keep us all cohabitating on this American portion of the big orb.

Yet, within the laws, we have judges. I'm not talking about jury cases. I am talking where a judge is there to take the law and interpret it. There are some laws that, while well meaning, do not fit the particular situation in which the law has been broken.

It drew me to a quote that I don't think of often but one I have known by heart for a long time. Many of us love quotes. We put them in our blogs. A lot of blogs have "quote of the day." These are all great quotes...they make you think. Each one of us that enjoys quotes seem to have a "pecking order" for quotes. The little thought of but easily remembered hold a special place in my personal quoteasauraus.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of mediocre minds." -Albert Einstein

This one has me thinking today. Is the situation that I ponder truly a foolish consistency or am I merely trying to justify and make my case for what I want?

I will be consulting with a Higher Power on that one tonight before bed.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

TV Turn Off Week Starts Monday, April 24th!!!

Can you do it?

Do you even care?

I am not one to be a joiner. We have enough of the herd mentality. I have a tendency to go against the current. I may consider this one, however, because we all know....

It is the minority that can pull this baby off!
- so this is definitely one time that, if you did follow along, you would be a non-conformist!!! Now, we start to spark my interest a bit.

Here's the link: (Sorry that I can't hyper-link code isn't working right for me tonight)

Now, one would think that turning off the TV - means turning of the TEEEE VEEEE. No DVD Video Games...nothing. I suppose that if you have some instructional material that you need to use, one could make for an allowance...

...wait...what about the Kings?
- the playoffs started this weekend. Surely we can watch the Kings this week. After all, if we don't watch them this week, we may not see them anymore this year! (They got spanked hard by the Spurs Saturday night).

Well, let's think about that for a second
- if the King's do get bounced in the first round, was there really a point of watching them in the first place? Just a thought.

But what about American Idol? - stop it!!! American Idol is a TV show that plays on the Teeeeee Veeeeeee. This is turn off week!!!

Here is how I approach it - I don't watch much TV. I am going to get one of those stick em up notes and put it on the front of the tube....NO TV THIS WEEK by orders of the management......or something like that. We'll see how it goes. If there is something that I feel I really need to see, I may do it but it is going to take a very conscious effort.

I'll even do my best - not to look up at the monitors when I am at the gym!

....I suppose National No Internet Week is next
- that one could be a little bit rougher!!!

The Asparagus Festival was this weekend!!!

....I didn't go.


Last night was the big Division Speech Contest. Yours truly was there...and competing....

...and failing to come in first place.

Let's see, what do they call that person? - the one that comes in first.....oh, yes.... Now I recall....Winner.

When you have a winner - you also have Losers. Last night, I was a Loser. Of course, in today's politically correct world, we don't say that, do we? "You're all winners because you all competed here tonight," is the phrase often heard at these contests.

...and it's not true!

The Winner
...WON!! - she did a great job. She deserves to be called THEE Winner. To call me a winner demeans her achievement.

The Problem that we have
- is how we look at the term loser. It's like it is a lifelong branding of someone. There is a bad connotation to it. I don't feel that way at all. I have come in second, third, tenth in lots of things. And I was perfectly happy with my placement.

As a matter of fact
- I came in 63rd in the California International Marathon about 25 pounds ago.......and I couldn't have been more thrilled. Yet, I was just as much a loser as the other 2000+ that failed to cross the finish line first.

It gets down to this
- if I expect the world to be politically correct so they don't hurt my feelings, I am going to get hurt if they aren't politically correct. For me, I don't put my mental well being in the hands of others. There is far too much risk there. If I did my best, I am quite content with being a loser.

The Key is the association YOU...YOU...YOU attach to the term
- hey, I would rather be a loser than a spectator. It means I mixed it up. I was in the fray. I stepped up my game. It wasn't as good as the winner's. But I saw how I can improve.....and I improved along the way.

It's easy to be a critic and call someone a loser...or think someone is a loser
- I'll take loser over critic.

PS Psssst.....hey, I'll let you in on a secret....shhhhh...don't tell anyone. If you can move yourself up to the top 20% in just about anything in this'll do just fine. Trust the ol Nutster on that one. Yes, you'll be a loser....but I've made a pretty nice life out of it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sometimes I Look Things Up....

It's not that I don't know what they mean. I just want to see if certain words are a word, more than one word, or if the dictionary really says it is a word. Now, I am going to keep using the word(s) no matter what. No one made Mr Webster the word god. If I say a word and you know what it means, it's a word. So today's word is:


as in, "what's all the hubbub about?" Have you ever spelled "hubbub"? I hadn't until I typed this entry. I honestly didn't know that there were two "b"'s between the "u"'s. See, you learn something everyday.

Hubbub - noise, uproar, confusion, turmoil

It is a real word in the dictionary. Now let's break this down a bit farther to the roots.

Hub - the center part of a circular object. A center of activity. A focal point.

- fellow, buddy. Used in informal address. "Hey Bub, did you see Nutter's Notes? That dude had an awesome post today." (Incidentally, I hear this all of the time.)

So, when we put the two together and form one word - we realize......uh.....well....hmmm...... that there is absolutely no correlation to the two root words when you put them together to form one word!!!!

I marvel at people who come here and learn our language.

The Gut Wrench Begins

It's that time of year again...

I've been a part of the Toastmaster's Organization for 20 years
. It's a network of clubs to help people overcome the dreaded fear of public speaking. It also allows people to improve all of their communication skills.

Once a year, they conduct the International Speech Contest
- it's kind of like American Idol. Well, actually, it was here first so American Idol is kind of like the speech contest. The local clubs have a contest within their club, send a winner to the Area contest to compete against other club winners, the winner goes to the Divisional, the winner there goes to the District, then Regional, then to the International until someone is ordained WORLD CHAMPION!!!

Tonight is the Divisional Contest - and I am representing our club and our area. I have been to this level quite a few times. Never farther.

I speak in front of my employees - and to outside groups. It's not that big a thing to me anymore. Sure, you have some butterflies..that's good. But THE's a Gut Wrench!

Woke up this morning - decided to run through my speech. It's been about a month since the last contest. "Why didn't I practice more? I'm gonna forget. You can't screw up. You can't be off the cuff. It has to be perfect. You are going to be judged. You are representing your area and your club. You are forgetting your lines. You should have been more SERIOUS!"

That little voice in our head
- sure can be brutal can't it? Worse than outside voices. I'm glad that I went over the speech first thing this morning...I think I have the voice under control. Sure, I need to run through the speech a few more times.

Hey, it was better to do it this morning than later this afternoon
- That's a HappyUP! way to look at it!!! I'll wait until the last minute sometimes. I now have all day to work unencumbered. I just e-mailed a friend today...

"I think that I put it off because I like that little voice and the nervous crap it brings up." - it makes me reach down a little deeper. To a place that I couldn't have accessed if I hadn't challenged myself. It's Me against Me. Me always wins...but Me also loses. Anyway, I continued on in the e-mail that I think this is why I do really brings out the best and prohibits me from being too smooth and overconfident. It allows me to keep an edge....

Either that or
- I have, once again, justified my procrastination!!!!

If I win tonight
- I'll start practicing much sooner for the next contest....unless, of course, I don't (start practicing sooner). Let's see...what did I say after I won the last contest? It was on a Friday night.

It was something about starting the very next day to make the speech perfect.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Watch for Falling Rototillers!

As if you didn't have enough to worry about. I'll give you another.

I stopped at the rental yard tonight. Picked up a 5 hp rototiller. This is the big one. Needs it's own little trailer. The rental yard guy hooks the trailer to my truck. I leave looking forward to tilling a small patch tonight and returning the dirt dismantler before work in the morning.

I drive up over a quirky litlle crooked bridge by my house. "Up" is the operative word and will be important to the story in a minute. I drive down the other side. I turn left and then right into the alley behind my house. My garden-to-be is back behind my garage next to the alley. I'm a thinking guy. Going to drop the tiller off as close to the spot where it will be used as possible. I am about two houses from my house. I hear a sound. I look in the rear view mirror:

"Hey, what a coincidence! There's a rototiller back there in the middle of the alley. I'm towing a rototiller. What are the odds of that?"

I stood corrected. I HAD BEEN towing a rototiller. I was now merely towing a rototiller trailer. Fortunately, no harm was done. The rental yard guy had not inserted the rototiller into the tongue of the trailer which housed two big steel pins to lock it down. Now, I am the driver so it was my final responsibility to have made sure my load was securely fastened before I left. It was my fault but....I have never towed a thing in my life like this. Once I saw what had happened, it wasn't hard to figure out what the problem was. But, at the rental yard, I had trusted the expert that he would know more about this basic operation than I. I know better now.

I just can't figure out why it rolled out while I was heading DOWN the alley and why it didn't roll out as I was going UP the bridge. If it had bailed during the ascent on the overpass, I am sure that the driver in the car behind me would not have appreciated it NOR cared much that my rental yard guy was a bit off game today.

I think that Someone was looking out for me today.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


This happy up thing won't go away. As you recall, I finished the formal experiment over a week ago. Yet, I still stop myself and go, "hey, gotta jot that down...that's a good one."

Tonight - had to go to the mall. Parking lot was crowded. I am a "deep parker." I usually grab the first spot I see. Sometimes it means a bit of a trek. It hasn't killed me yet. If it ever does, I figure there are worse places to go than the mall parking lot. For whatever reason, I drove in front of the main store. The VERY first spot in front...directly in front...of the main mall entrance was available. I couldn't believe it. I almost passed it by as I didn't want to be taken in by the mirage. Cause of space being open - who knows? Reason it made me happy - I, for one moment, was King of the Mall! Don't worry...the head isn't too big...I left in about 30 minutes. My 15 minutes of fame was doubled.

Employee Success Story
- if you are a boss, you'll dig this one. I had a meeting with a portion of my staff Monday. There are things they should do but they are not. I pointed it out. I circled back today to see the progress. One of the staff had poked around a bit at my Monday suggestions...still weren't going full tilt. An opportunity arose while we were on the phone. I told the employee, "here is your chance. Go do it now!" I went on my way and forgot about the conversation. She called me back 45 minutes later all jacked up. "Scott, I had to call you. I went down introduced myself. Told the one person about our proposition. Two other people jumped over the counter to hear about it. The owner of the store came forward, took me to her office, and wanted to do a deal right away." If any of you are in any kind of sales business, here is your:

Hot Sales Tip of the Day: People have a tendency to buy more of your stuff when they know it exists!

Incredible feeling of joy - not because I am so smart. I didn't do much. I just helped nudge someone out of their comfort zone....right out there where life happens! Next time, she'll do it on her own.

Am I a Sexist?

I made the rare trip to the mall tonight. Desperate for a tux shirt for a big shindig I need to go to. As I was riding down the escalator, I saw a man and a wife standing together. For whatever reason, she took some stuff out of her bag and put it into his....looked like sox. Not too kooky of behavior but a touch strange.

Then,HE went into Harry & David's. SHE went next door to Eddie Bauer.

It just didn't seem right to me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Over 55 Senior Discout

You are going to love this - well, you'll love it more if you actually know me and have seen me. Even if you haven't, you'll get the idea.

I had finished up a speaking engagement
- and it went reasonably well. It always can be better. This was no exception. I did feel good about getting the message across while we had some fun at the same time...., it's time to celebrate!
- I was down in the Berkley area. I heard they had a Territory Ahead outlet store there. It's one of only a few in existence and I had never been to one. I thought I would stop by and pick up a few threads. Territoy Ahead is a catalog clothing store that I occasionally buy from...I like their stuff.

After picking out a few select garments (I selected them which is what makes them select) - I go up to the register. I hand the nice young lady my Visa Card and she asks?....

- this is where the whole thing gets a lot funnier if you actually know me. I still have almost a decade to go until I reach the double 5's. Also, without a shred of vanity, most people would peg me for a few years younger than I actually am. I answered politely, "No, I am afraid I don't."

"No Offense"
- she replied.

"None taken,"
I responded, "I guess that I knew that the day would come that someone would ask me that....I just didn't know it would come so soon!!!"

Honestly, I took that she had to ask anyone close. What if you got home and found out you should have gotten a discount? You would be a bit peeved...a feeling you had been taken advantage of. That was my take at least.

But how many Pandora's Boxes is that young lady opening up? - I wondered what percentage of the population would be really annoyed to be asked if they were 55 when they were nowhere close. What do you think? 70-80-90%? More.

Then, I remembered
- being 37 and getting carded at the grocery store when I was buying a bottle of wine. Somehow, in the space of 9 years, I have been questioned as to whether I was 21 or 55! Hey, let me enjoy the in-between for awhile. God willing, I'll get there soon enough!!!

Do people think I am 21? Do they think I am 55?
- in reality, what other people think of me is none of my business.

- it was a crack up. If I was on-game, I guess I would have showed her my license and said laughingly, "You lose! ...and your penalty for being so far off and risking insulting a great customer, I will take that discount."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Bank of Jesus Christ - Open on Easter

A year ago on Easter Sunday - I was up early. Scurrying around. Packing up my music gear. Get to our place of worship by 8 (maybe even earlier...because we might have done two services on that Sunday). Meet the crew. We all start setting up. Rushing. We were no different than a bunch of roadies setting up for a rock concert. It was a job. None of us complained because it was all because we were "serving the Lord." As I reflect back, there is no way to tell whether we brought anyone closer to Christ that day. Maybe we did...maybe we didn't.

Flash forward to this morning - I'm down at Pacific Street Cafe celebrating Easter and having breakfast. I'm by myself. I start to reflect on the comparison between this Easter and the last. Since last Easter, we dismantled our Institutional Church structure and went to Home Churches...Simple Church as we call it. My Simple Church meets on Tuesday nights so it's Easter and I have nowhere to go. I thought about visiting a Sunday service. And then it hit me, "Why?" This is a day to remind us and appreciate that Jesus died on the cross for our sins (of course, a Christ follower can pick every day to be reminded of that....whole different story there). Why do I have to "go" somewhere to do that?

Jesus died for our sin
- I thought about that statement. Christians and Christ followers have been saying that forever. I remembered when I first starting taking a look into this Christ fellow and people kept saying, "Christ died for our sins." I didn't get it. So, I asked someone. He said, "Christ's death cancelled out your sin debt." While a bit more explanatory, it had a ring of accusation and legalism that kind of went, "....and brother you have a bunch to be cancelled out." While I have found that to be true, at the time, it sounded a bit like another church Jesus freak baggin on me because he is so holier than thou. While I am sure it is not what the person intended, based on my knowledge of Christ at the time, that is what it felt like.

So today, I am thinking about
- what Jesus dying for my sin to cancel out my sin debt really means. Then, "EUREKA!!!"....

The Bank of Jesus Christ - let's take a concept that we are all familiar with. A bank and debt. Let's suppose for a minute that every bank stopped and said, "Hey, today we are going to FORGIVE every single penny that everyone owes us!" I know. It's crazy...hang with me here. Obviously, the bank would be rupt immediately (Bank-rupt...get it? HaHaHA...had to throw in that funny). Let's just say that they decided to do it. All debt is forgiven. The only condition is that you have to abstain from using credit or getting a loan again. Now, if it was a Catholic bank, they may add, "and if you do, we will send Father Guido to take you on a visit to the harbor. We'll even give you some nice,new concrete shoes for your trip." Just kidding.....I love my Catholic friends despite some of the guilt that gets imposed around that particular branch of Christianity. And, no, the Catholics don't have a copyright on using that frailty of human nature to hang over people's heads. They are just the biggest so they are more fun to play with.

Anyway...back to our story - upon hearing the news that all of our monetary shortfalls are forgiven, we would all breathe a sigh of relief. Our shoulders would relax. Many would rejoice. We would have dancing in the streets. People would be buying each other drinks!!!...

...and a good many of us
- would go right out and put those drinks on our credit card. How could we do such a thing?

We would do it
-Because we are human. Left to our own, it is what we do. It's why we can't be left to our own. It's why Jesus is available to us. He is there to save us from ourselves and our own behaviors that destroy us without us even knowing it.

Jesus isn't Guido
- yet he did the same thing that our bank did when they forgave the credit debt. But, He went so much farther for us. All the bank did was go out of business. Christ literally said, "all of the sins that you have accumulated, put them on my shoulders. I will take them with me and they will leave when I leave on that cross. I am strong enough to carry them all. I only have one thing to request of you and that it is that you sin no more." While He didn't go out of business, to anyone that saw The Passion of the Christ, His suffering was much worse than just closing up shop.

No, Jesus isn't Guido
- because he died knowing that you would still sin. He knew you would go back on your promise. He is God. He is the only One that has the ability to go sin free. He put us all on the honor system. It's not up to me or you to define what sin is for other people. Sure, I can point out some of the things that are sinful. Believe me, I don't have far to look!!! Jesus' only request was that you sin no more....but He knows you are still going to sin.

So, for this Easter, in honor of the Perfect Banker
- can we reduce our sin debt? He is still there. He rose again on Easter Sunday to tell everyone that He is with you every single day. The Bank of Jesus Christ is open 24/7 everyday of the year. He is begging you....for goodness sakes, that's an understatement....he died to tell you, "give me your sin. You will feel better. When you feel better, you will willingly want to give me your next sin. Yes, I know you may not feel better right away but after the pain of giving a piece of that sin away is gone, I will go in and fill that hole that was created...if you'll let me. This is all I want for you."

The Bank of Jesus Christ -
I met with the Manager today. He is a wonderful guy. I don't recall seeing Him last year as I sat in that service. It was more like I was standing out in the crowded lobby. I don't know how many transactions were conducted. Frankly, it's none of my business. I only know that I walked out of the bank without seeing the Banker. I always figure that, if I do something, there are probably others that do the same thing too.

The Bank of Jesus Christ
- it's a solid institution fully worthy of my faith and trust. The customer service is excellent. If you have sin, you qualify to receive that service. The only question is whether you are willing to be a customer that wants to be serviced.

Sore Muscles

Remember that "dirt turnin" - that I told you about yesterday?

It's "muscles burnin" today

......posted because I know that you were wondering and you care. Thanks for that...your humanity overwhelms me.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Great Day

As my day got off to such a wonderful start, I thought that I would capture for all of you what a great day looks like in my world.

Nothing planned - this is the real key for a great day for me. A blank canvas in front of me

6 a.m. The Gym
- yes, it may seem brutal to some of you for a day off. When you are used to going at 5 in the morning the rest of the week, this is a blessing. I go at the excercycle for 40 minutes on level 12 (out of 20). Considering I have been to the gym about 8-9 days in a row, that's working it pretty hard. While I am there, I finish The L Factor, a book I have been working on.

7:15 The Gas Station and a Coffee
- I'm sweaty and the truck is running low. No one is at the gas station. What a perfect time to fill up? While I am there, I spend a $1.09 and get a half English Toffee, half Double Mocha. Sorry, Starbucks, I don't have $4 bucks for you at the moment.

7:30 am Back home and do some messing around
- a little picking up, a few pleasure e-mails, a bit of reading

8 am I head out back to start doing a little lawn to garden conversion
- Just cutting through the grass and turning dirt. Yes, I encounter a few roots from a tree that came down many years ago. I just had the stump removed to make room for more garden. No goal...just turn some dirt until I'm tired. I probably overdo it...but a lot of progress made. It's overcast so the weather is perfect for dirt turnin.

9 am - Come on in and catch up on the blog

9:15 - a nice long hot shower
....ahhh....when you have worked the muscles and the weather and the home are a little cool, nothing beats a warm shower. I'll be a bit stiff tomorrow...but we'll worry about that then!!!

10:15 Pick up those golf clubs
- I just had the tubes regripped! While I may not be at the links soon, I'll be ready to go. I thought about buying new sticks this year but....why? I need to hit the ones that I have a bit better first. And start playing. This is going to be just like new clubs with fresh grips on them!!!

10:25 Dry Cleaner - my dry cleaner deserves a blog of their own....and they'll get one. I love my dry cleaner

10:30 Hardware Store - Roseville Hardware is awesome. When you want to get in and out or need some real help, this is the place. Today, it's just a can of spray paint.

11:00 Spray Paint Trash Can
- I love taking something old and making it new again. It gives me joy. Sure, I save some dough....but now it's just like I made the trash can. At least that's how I see it.

11:15 Logo Work - I find the tools that I need to touch up my logo a bit. I am really liking the look of it.

11:30 Found Lost Calculator
- I LOOOOOVE finding lost stuff so much that it's almost worth the pain of not having it for awhile. In my line of work, the calculator is paramount. I had been using one that my ex-CAT had chewed up and scratched. While I don't rely totally on presentation or hold that much stock in it, it was a bit below standard to carry this mangled assemblage of keys and a screen around. Now...if only the IPOD Nano shows up!!!! Could it be next. I wrote that baby off but I just can't let go. I think it is in this house.

11:40 Unboxing boxes and House Stuff
- OK! This is not my favorite stuff to do but I have been living in my remodel....did I say remodel? I mean refugee camp. Anyway, while the remodel isn't done, I can at least start to restore a bit of order in the meantime. I am making great strides today.

4:00 Off to Grocery to Get Dinner - how about some salmon on the grill smothered in butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, and "the secret herb"? Throw a salad and some asparagus on the side...we're talking a good day had by all!!!

6:00 Eat said dinner!

9:15 Finish up the running blog for the day
- notice that I missed the Sac Kings on TV......but found out they won!!! One more win and they are in the playoffs. Sure, unless they go unconscious, they'll get bounced in round 1. Maybe they could get to round 2. Still, before Ron Artest got here, the season was going to be over 2 games from now. They're at home both nights against sub-par think they HAVE to win one.....don't they? You never know which Sac Kings will show up on any night.

A good day.....a simple day.....for a simple guy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chocolate Fountain?

"Hey, there's a chocolate fountain in the office!"

OK, so here I am. The big boss. Ruler of the place. And I hear this comment. What's the first thing that comes to my mind:

a. The lunatics are running the asylum again
b. Is that corporate approved?
c. I hope the janitors don't find out
d. None of the above

Correct answer: d

I just got out of my chair because I didn't know what it was but I figured chocolate and a marshmallow might be involved. I was close....but not totally on the mark. Oh yeah, marshmallows were involved...and pretzels...and strawbs...and bananas...and rice crispie treats.

You have to get to one of those chocolate fountains. That will make you HappyUP!

Happy UP! Summation

We made it!....OK...I made it. I invited you to start along with me. How did you do? Did you record your 3 good things, what caused them to happen, and why they made you feel good?...every day?....for 7 little days?

You didn't, did you?

Of course you didn't. Perhaps you joined us late. Perhaps my directions were unclear or my initial invitation wasn't inviting enough...yeah, that's right. You can blame it on me. I don't mind.

But, the neat thing can start anytime you like! It's not as easy as you think. The question is: do you want to increase your HQ - Happiness Quotient? I'm not talking about your FQ (watch how you say THAT)- fun quotient. Some of you have plenty of's probably why you didn't bother doing the excercise!!! You were out FQ-ing all around! Anyway, fun is not the same as happy. One of my favorite sayings is, "you don't have to be sick to get better." We can all be a bit happier.

Here's some tips from the lab rat himself who performed the Happy UP! excercise upon himself:

Get yourself a notepad.
Use your journal if you are a journaler. Use your daytimer if you are a daytimer. If you are nocturnal, use your nighttimer. Get something handy.

Put sticky notes or reminders everywhere that say, "Happy UP!"
- it's a reminder to you to change your focus. Start looking for the things that make you happy. You walk by a million of them everyday.

Jot down the thing that brings a little happiness into your life as you come upon
- you don't have to analyze at this point

Make a firm appointment with yourself at the end of the day
- 10 minutes. C'mon, I know you can find 10 minutes toward the tail end. If you want to do it earlier, that's great.....but you might have to update if you come across something later

Look at your list during the appointment - take the top three and describe "why" they make you happy and "how" they came into your life. The how could be totally by chance. It could be that you drove a different way to work and you saw the park in a new light....because you took a different way to work.

The key - YOU HAVE TO LOOK for the HappyUP! items. The CrappyUP items (or, I guess we should say "CrappyDOWN" items stand out like a nudist in a briar patch). CrappyDOWN, left to itself, trumps HappyUP! all day long for most of us.

The commitment - 7 days. Give me 7 solid days. Then...

Comment in - right here to Nutter's Notes. Make it your goal. You can throw the comment into my most recent HappyUp! article (yes, it's going to be a reappearing guest here at the most popular blog on the blogosphere) or to any other posting I have going. Just label it "HappyUp! Alert!" All the regulars here will know what you are talking about.

Make it a goal - "Seven days from now, I am going to post a killer HappyUP comment." (Yes, you can use "killer" in the same line as "HappyUP!")

What I found - it's a change. Changes, even good ones, can be difficult. It's why most people don't do it. Then, they go try to buy fun....on their credit card...and the fun ends when the Visa statement arrives. I've been in the credit industry for 20 years. I have met tons of fun people....but it is the happy...the content ones that I remember, admire, and want to emulate. Sure, we'll have some CrappyDOWN days...but they don't need to be CrappyDOWN weeks, months, years. Maybe we can have CrappyDown hours, minutes, moments instead.

Who knows? Find out. Get excited for the next 7 days. HappyUP! What's not to like?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Happy UP! Part 7

It's hard to believe that a week has gone by. We'll do a wrap up tomorrow or Wednesday to summarize the experiment that we have been conducting.'ve been watching. I've been doing the work. Which means, you get to be entertained but I get the best part of the deal. Isn't that kind of how life works? Sure, it's nice to be at the edge of the pool but the fun is in the water getting wet!!! It's still not too late. If you have been playing along, comment on in and let us know how you have been doing.

Impacting Someone's Life in a Positive Way - is good thing number 1 today. I received a great e-mail from a person that caught me at a live talk last week. She said that the few words that I spoke were just enough for her to do something that she had been avoiding. Why was she avoiding it? It was that little voice that stops you, "you can't do that," "what if they say 'no'", etc. THAT little voice is not your friend. Anyway, she took some action and it looks like it is going to lead to a breakthrough for her. The cause of this was that I said "YES" when I was offered the speaking engagement. I'm busy like everyone else. It would have been easy to say no. Why does it make me feel good? BECAUSE there is not ONE benefit that I get from being a teeny tiny little help to this person. She did it. She just needed someone to come along and give her permission to MOVE forward....and suceeed....or fail....the key word was MOVE. If you don't move, the view doesn't change much. I'm not a big Dr Phil fan but I do love the comment that he has when people tell them what they do and he says, "well, how's that working out for ya?" when he knows full well that their current program is a disaster.....and they are repeating it!!!

Heard from a former boss
- and we had a great chat. The chat was caused when I picked up the phone. I have a bad habit sometimes....I won't ask for help. "It is the strong man that asks for help," is something that I remember hearing awhile back on the road of life. It's funny that I can remember the quote....and then fail to put it in action as often as I could. The chat was good because it gave me an answer, an action that I could take, to a particularly vexing work issue that I have been going through.

Blew off some bad news - I walked into the office today. I got an e-mail that was pretty crappy...yes, I said, "crappy." It may not be elegant but, when it is the correct word, you have to go with it. Under certain conditions...OK, I'll get honest...most of the time, I would have spent some time obsessing over my reply to it. While I still spent some time fighting off the urge to counter attack, I ended up just ignoring it. I'd give myself an A+ if I would have read it, said "whatever" and deleted it but I am going to give myself a solid B. Hey, that's up from a D or a C that I may have earned previously!!! Progress not perfection is what we are after.

....there's more but that's enough for now. Keep it to three things here...but it's a good day when you have more to choose from.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Happy Up! Part 6

Number one to feel good about? - My neighbor's yard
The sounds of neighborhood mowers had moved me off of the couch after an afternoon of Masters Golf Tournament watching. It was late in the day. There was just enough time to sneak in a mowing before another week of rain...and a real tall lawn to mow next week.

I like cutting my lawn. Edging doesn't interest me much. It's why I don't do it. Probably has something to do with the neighborhood that I live in. My neighbors don't care either. Everyone does their own version of cutting the grass. There are a few that are impeccably kept. They are the exception rather than the rule. I like that.

As I finished, I looked at my neighbor's yard. My neighbor is a bit older. He finally found love late in life and married. They live in a neighboring town so his yard doesn't get the attention it once did. I thought that some people would be upset by the unkempt condition which has befallen his spread. Not me. I saw heroism of something that shouldn't be there triumphing as if to say, "hey, Scott. Check us out." I thought I would let you do the same.

Number Two today - the Masters Golf Tournament

Yes, I am using this again. The Masters lived up to it's billing. The time that I dedicated for it was not wasted time. The human drama of Rocco Mediate triumphing, contending, and then being destoyed with a 10 on a par 3 made me feel for him. He has overcome so many injuries and is such a nice guy. Everyone wanted him to do well. It looked like he would...and then disaster. He'll be back...he is a warrior.

Tiger Woods hit the ball as well as I have ever seen him hit it. But, in golf, the last 15 feet between your ball and the hole count just as much as a 300+ yard drive. Tiger knows it...and, with his putter deserting him, the greatest golfer in the world was humbled. Humbling is a good thing. He'll be back...he is a warrior.

Phil Mickelson wins. Phil is the guy who always looks like his pants don't fit. The Green Jacket that goes to the winner seemed to fit fine. It was just a couple of years ago that everyone said, "he's a choker. He'll never win a major." Then, after winning, they said, "he'd never win again." I guess Phil is a guy that they like to root against. Well, today, he was back.....he is a warrior.

Rounding out the list- A Self Portrait

I was one of those kids that loved to draw. By the time that you get to be about 10 years old, if you haven't developed an eye and make pictures look like they should, you stop. I took a sketch pad and spent 10 minutes in front of a mirror. I do have to say, "what a good looking model," I had to work with today!!! I don't know if the picture really looks like me. It does look like a drawing rather than a cartoon, however. It was because I started to draw what my eye saw. The lines, the angles, etc and not what I THOUGHT I should see. When was the last time you drew? You can, you know. really can. I like the idea of calling myself an artist. You are one too.

The Book of Judas

....or "here we go again."

I received an e-mail on Friday from a colleague asking, "what is this big deal about Judas?" At that point, I didn't know that Judas Iscariot had resurfaced recently. I only knew him as the disciple in the Bible that sold Jesus out for a few pieces of silver. He then paid horribly for it. My reply to my friend was, "I don't know. I'm OK with Judas. Someone had to do it or the Story doesn't play out."

I was at Border's yesterday and saw two books dedicated to "The Book of Judas." I wondered, "is this going to be this year's DaVinci Code?" I took a quick perusal. My quick, totally uninterested summary is that Jesus may have had a conversation with Judas, told him what he had to do, and you know the rest of the story. So, I suppose that there will be accusers saying that this makes Jesus less honest...oh brother! How would it accomplish that?


If Judas really did sell Jesus out, we shouldn't do things like that.

If Jesus did have the conversation, Judas is an example of someone that gave everything for Christ.

Pick one....better yet, pick them both. Don't sell people out and give it all for Christ.

Admittedly, my summary here is raw and uninformed. I have a feeling that I'm probably not far off. I did see that the Book of Judas may have been supressed in the year 180 by some religous leader. What? A religous leader bending something to make religion fit the model they think is right? at 11.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Happy UP! Part 5 .71428571 Done

Well, we have arrived where we are .71428571 complete on our journey together through our experiment with YFP (your favorite person....that's me!!!) volunteering as the lab rat! Will we ever really be done with this, however? Nope...not by a long shot! Here is what I am finding out - it takes a real conscious effort to stay focused on the good things in life. I am not saying that you don't notice them. I am talking about stopping, looking at them, appreciating them, analyzing them, etc.

The study that was behind our experiment this week is really nothing more than a validation of what we have all heard our entire lives: Stop and Smell the Roses.

I have a question for you. Are you ready for it? Really....I want you to really be ready. Don't give the, "yeah, yeah, yeah, Scott...I'm ready. Shut up and get on with the question. " If you are thinking that, you are probably just like most of the population. You have been trained to do that. If you are thinking anything like that, you aren't ready for the question. So, knock it off!

Take a couple of slow, deep breaths, and then close your eyes and take a couple of more deep breaths. Close your eyes......DO IT!!!! I hate it when I have to raise my voice. Don't even make me jump out of this computer and shut them for you. Just shut your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Then, come back. are in an honest space now. What does "stop and smell the roses" REALLY, HONESTLY mean to you when someone says that to you. NO, I don't want to hear your flowery description of what it SHOULD mean. We will get to that. What does it really mean to you in the midst of your hurry, worry day? Jot that down....YES....write it down. Now, you can compare that to what it SHOULD mean to you...not to me...but to you. Jot that down. Compare the two. How do they differ? What does that gap look like? What can you do about it? (hey, a dose of HappyUp may be one solution.....7 days....journaling, spreadsheeting, smoke signaling, whatever....some record of three good things everyday.

It's 10 a.m on this Saturday's what I have so far.

Tile Guys - they showed up...on time. They liked me enough to squeeze me in as a little extra side job on a Saturday morning. These guys are busy. Why am I so thrilled about tile guys? First, it is great when you find a go to person or people that you can trust. I now have a garage door guy, a plumber, and tile guys that do great work and that I can absolutely count on. These people are at the tops of their trades. I am building relationship with them. Now, hopefully, I don't have to use them to often but, when I do, they are there. Oh, I have a great granite installer too! My electrician is OK. My carpenter does impeccable work. My mechanic is tremendous. My dentist is superb. My doctor is solid. My opthomologist is fabulous. I need to have people in my life that I can trust. Back to the tile guys, they just came back and did an extension of a project that I had them work on earlier. It was a great call to take the tile out a little farther....two more feet of tile made all the difference on a return wall in my kitchen.

Family that I wasn't born into - after hitting the gym, I stopped at "my place" for breakfast. It's my brekko hangout. I can always count on some form of my best friend's family being there for breakfast on Saturday morning. It might be his parents, his brothers or one brother or one brother and his wife, etc. I join them more than occasionally. I never give notice that I am stopping in. When I drop in, they take me in just like I am part of their family. It's nice to be welcomed and liked. Do I give that same gift to other people? Hmmmmm....I'm not sure that I liked that question much.

Taxes - they are done and they just came in the mail! I had the tax appointment a week ago. While I got the verbal from my accountant a few days ago, it's always great to see the numbers in front of me. (Oh my goodness...I forgot to list my accountant as another person that does great things for me.) " can you put taxes on your good list?" people are tough but I can understand it. Here is something that I figured out a long time ago. I hate writing a check on April 15. It is something that I really hate.....hate...hate...hate. I hate to have hate in my life. So, rather than go through the dreadful experience every year, I fixed it. While I hate writing the check, I LOOOOOOOOOVE getting checks back from my Uncle. I just pay in a bunch extra during the year. Yep, it's that simple. "Scott...that's not very good financial advice. You could be earning interest on that money!" C'mon....what are we talking about? How much interest? Besides, you and I both know that you just end up spending it as you go. Who's zoomin who here? Now, I get to look forward to those checks back from the government....nice tidy sums. Then, when I get them, the amount comes in a chunk that is investable or spendable on something really cool rather than the monthly dribble that would have rolled in.....and rolled right back out. During good times or bad, I always tried to pay more in....and somehow I always got by. Yes, perhaps I have deluded myself but I have deluded myself into an annual event that.........makes me Happy UP! Hmmmmmmm.....what other things could I apply this concept to?

Happy UP! If I beat out any of the above three today, I'll let you know and do a HappyUp 5.5!

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Guy is Here!!!

Hey, who is this new character?

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It's THE GUY!!!
He has arrived on the internet!!!
After years of being confined to paper...
....shirt cuffs
....logo wear
.....he's alive and on the WEB!!!

Happy UP! Part 4

What a great week to be Happying Up! As a matter of fact, I am probably going to find out that there aren't any weeks where it is good to do anything but.

Breakfast - I like to have a few brekko's a week at "my place." While I can't say that I know all of the regulars, the waitresses know me. I see a lot of people walk in that I know. The pancakes are great....hey, that is nothing to take for granted. I get them in some place where you would think they were allergic to syrup as you watch them disintegrate. It's a homey place that deserves it's own posting. It's just nice to have a place that isn't a big chain, has some charm, and you run into your friends/acquaintenances that you don't see very often. No pretense. It's like what they say at Cheers.."where everybody knows your name."

My compadre - who just made a very, very difficult life/work decision. It broke his heart. I know it did. I felt good that he called me. It's not like he didn't know other people to call. We also don't work that closely together. He's in another state. It was a "respect call" from one warrior to another. He honored me with his call. I hope that he felt honored after he talked to me.

The Masters Golf Tournament - I gave up being a sports junkie long ago. I went to a housewarming rather than watching the Super Bowl. The Masters, however, is special. I'll be bookmarking Sunday afternoon for this. The drama is usually intense. The golf course is one of the most beautiful sites in the world. The tradition is incredible. The Masters gets attention from people around the world who have no interest in golf. I love watching competition at it's highest level...which includes sportsmanship. There is no trash talking. It is one of those things that IS good about the world.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Happy UP! part 3

Three more good things we keep our experiment going

Went to the gym and asked, "what do I like about this gym?" - and I was thrilled to realize that I asked the question. At 5 a.m. in the morning, I am barely coherent....let alone in such a mindset to ask what it was about the "house of torture" that actually makes me feel good about going there. My gym is clean. They play music I like in the mornings. I can read while on the exercycle and elliptical machine. The gym has been my partner in losing 12 pounds over the last 5 months.....goodness knows my appetite and consumption haven't pitched in and assisted the program. Hey, I think this was a two-fer....starting my day (though it still seemed like night) with looking for the good in a place I wouldn't have searched before.........and then finding it!

Picked up an old guitar - that I hadn't played in a long time. Ok, "play" is a loose term to describe what I do. I do own a few guitars and I have one that had been put away for a long time. I have been remodeling so I had to put a few toys away. I just happened to go into a room it was stashed in and had a few minutes to kill. I hadn't touched this guitar in so long that it was like it was a new instrument to me. The tone and the feel.....ahhhh

The Sun - yes, there are times when this definitely counts as thing to feel good about! This was no stretch in trying to get three good things in today. The sun beat out 2 other solid contenders. The reason that it felt so good is that we have been having so much unseasonable rain. People are getting grumpy.....grump...grump...grump. If I WANTED TO FEEL GRUMPY (it is a choice), I could join right in. I haven't. I hailed to the hallowed heater of the heavens on this day!!! I even made the comment to someone,

"hey, who says the weather is bad? Have you looked outside today?"

"Yeah....but it's gonna rain tomorrow," said gloomberg

There was a time when I would have tried to "fix" this person. Now, I realize that I can only fix myself. I'm always here to help a brother out....but I can't do the work.

Hey, this experiment...taken to the next level with the accountability to put it out to the multitudes that visit this site becoming quite interesting!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Happy UP! Part 2

As we discussed yesterday, we are going to continue on with a study done by Martin Seligman, past president of the American Psychological Association. ...with yours truly as the subject. Let's review three good things that happened today, what caused them to happen, and why I thought they were good.

Before we do that, I'll shoot you straight. Today was a tough day!!! I did feel like it was dog eat dog and I was wearing the milkbone underwear. I was grateful to be in the present enough to remain cognizant of this excercise.....ahhh....hmmmm.....maybe we're on to something here. I won't cheeeeze out on you and use this excercise as one of the events.

I woke up before my alarm - I know, you are saying, "hey that is cheezin out as cheezin gets." You have to understand. I was jazzed yesterday so I was up a bit late. The alarm was set so I could get up at 4:45 a.m. .....ugh......all so I could get on a plane and go to Hawaii??? was to go to the gym! I really appreciated waking up a few minutes early so I could lay there and enjoy the warmth before I psyched up to bolt out of bed. I don't know what caused it other than I actually did tell myself right before I went to sleep, "it would be nice to wake up naturally a touch early tomorrow." I've done that before. While I can't trust it enough to count on it, I can frequently tell myself when to wake up....even if it is off my normal pattern...and then do.

I had two great conversations at work - and I mean meaningful ones. We got some good business taken care of and then shared some important...really important stuff as well. The cause was rather difficult to pin down. The calls were both initiated by the other people. They were exceptional because it's really nice when you can put every bit of game face aside and have a nice heart to heart with someone. This is how we were meant to interract. Years of training to put up different masks of ego sometimes shields us from getting down to the nitty gritty. I think guys might appreciate these talks a bit more than the ladies......because, in general, we have fewer of these.

Lasagna for dinner - lasagna isn't a regular staple in my rotation....because it causes rotundness. The one that I had tonight was even store bought. Nothing fancy. But I really thought that it was tasty.....and so were the seconds that I had. I do have to admit that, knowing that I was going to post on the good things tonight did cause me to "tune in" on dinner a bit more intently than some meals at home........and maybe that's a good thing and something learned. Are you savoring your meals in thankfulness these days or is it "cram down whatever I can grab at the fast food window for me and the kids just to fill the hole?"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Happy UP! Part 1

I had the wonderful opportunity to address a large group of operations people for the wonderful State Farm Organization today. During the presentation, I encouraged them all to do a daily excercise for 1 week. I asked them to reflect back on their day and think of three things that brought some happiness, joy, or gratitude and capture it in written form. At the same time, they were asked to write what caused the event to occur and why it brought some sun into their day.

This follows a study conducted by Martin Seligman that indicated that people who did this for a week were shown to be happier.........6 months later!!! Now, it is possible that some of the subjects couldn't help but reflect back on their week and, whether they actually wrote it down or not (they were told not to), started to become more conscious of their surroundings. This approach won out over two other intervention methods that brought more immediate gratification....but then subsided.

We'll discuss more of this study and draw possible conclusions during the next week. But, in the meantime, let's all go on a week long journey and find three things every day that we can reflect on. Here are my entries for random order

Met a Vaulting Champion - I thought vaulting was the gymastics thing or like pole vaulting. It is an actual equestrian sport. This is where individuals and teams mount horses and ride them while in various positions. The positions include standing on the horse, doing a headstand on the horse, standing upon the shoulders of a person riding the horse, etc. I'll find out more in the future but I heard a young lady speak today that was on the 1996 Olympic Demonstration Team. Will this ever be an Olympic sport? Who knows! I'll hear more about this young lady's story in the future, however. She is a real live champion, however, and it is cool to hang with people with that kind of dedication. What caused me to be in a position to hear her story? I am a member of a Toastmaster's Club. This young lady came to improve her communication skills. Why do I think her story is so neat? I am going to get a chance to work with her and help her tell her story even more effectively....who knows who's life she may impact!

Met a Peace Corp Volunteer - who told of being sent to some island near Fiji...North of New Zealand. He had the task of preparing the 10th graders of the tribe for an exam. In the exam, if you pass, you get to move on with your education. If you fail, you are sent back to the farms for the rest of your do-overs! How much pressure is that? The success rate on the test is usually about 30%. The test results are broadcast over radio. Families celebrate the evening and gather around the airwave box to hear the results. For obvious reasons, it's a big deal!!! This person had 28 out of 32 students pass the test! What caused me to be there? I accepted the opportunity to speak at an engagement where this person was at. Why was this so cool to me? I think it is because I feel that we are under so much pressure sometimes. Compared to tests I take or withstand, mine is nothing!!!

Got to speak to a wonderful group of people - about one of my favorite subjects....the pursuit of happiness. Cause of me being there? Long version is my connection with my Toastmaster's group. The shorter version is that I was offered the opportunity late last week....and I said, "Yes, I will help you out!" Why was this notable to me today? For some of the people there, I gave them a few moments of fun. We can all use more fun. Fun is good....but it isn't happiness. I really believe that there were more than a few people in that room today that will change the way they view happiness and take some steps to increase theirs. Hey, this was no depressed group, either. They were one of the most energetic audiences that I have ever spoken to. You don't have to be sick in order to become better. Everyone can improve their happiness quotient. The other neat thing about the gig today? Who usually learns other than the student in a student/teacher relationship? Yup.....the teacher. In the process of my preparation and delivery, I learned a lot and I am in gratitude to this group for having me in today.

Come on along with me - on this week long journey. Get a journal, a piece of binder paper, or a used Jack in the Box doesn't matter. For the next seven days, see if you can find three things that are good in your day. Just look and make a brief note as you go along your day. At the end of the day, go through the brief excercise that I just did. It will only take you 10 minutes. Let's see what happens....feel free to blog in or just keep your thoughts to yourself. It doesn't matter how you do it....give it a whirl!!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cafe Sienna IN.....Starbucks IF Need Be

I was out running some errands yesterday. I saw a "now open" sign for a little cafe in Roseville. I popped my head inside.....and allowed it to continue. I shortly realized that I had better allow my entire body to follow it in or I was going to do a face plant.

I was lured in by the bakery case. "What a delectible looking display," I exclaimed to myself (yes, I do exclaim to myself). Tierra Masu, Champagne Cake, Deep Dish Apple Pie (that actually looked like a dish), etc....all awaiting to appease my tenacious sweet tooth.

"Nope, not today," I told my sugar incensed incisors. "I have a dinner to go to shortly and I am not going to spoil it."

NOTE: this is not to say that I have any problem whatsoever with eating dessert first...because I don't. To the contrary, I think a good dose of "being backward" is a good prescription. I just knew that the dinner I was going to was already going to involve dessert.

.....BUT I HAD NO SUCH DINNER PLANS FOR TODAY!!! off I went this afternoon for my early Sunday pre-dinner.

It turns out that this little cafe makes all kinds of sandwiches and scones and muffins in addition to doing the coffee thing. They IMPORT the pies and cakes from the Freeport Bakery down in Sacramento. While I have never been to that bakery, I had heard of it which means it has to be good. The people at Cafe Sienna will even pick up a special order for you.....hey, the gas and time savings alone means that I am making money to have them pick up my next Coconut Cream Pie!!! It's almost as if I don't get a C.C. Pie, I might go's wonderful to be able to justify an indulgence!!!

Anyway, the piece of Terra Masu (I only know how to eat it...not spell it so don't shoot me if I got that last part wrong. It wasn't in my least the way that I tried to spell it. It sounds like TareUHmuhSoo). This slice of heaven had to be 4 inches thick....6 layers...little chocolate rollup stuck in the top....nice! If you ever have this delicacy, you are always at risk of it being a little dry. I thought this one was going to fall into that category with the first bite. I then added a little of the bottom layer which was beyond can you have a wet pastry without it falling apart? This is part of the allure of the dish. It reminded me of the good terra masus that I have had in the's a unique combination of a little dry and a little wet.

As I was enjoying my cup of coffee, surroundings, and my cake, it hit me. I really don't like following the crowd. I'll go out of my way, as a matter of fact, not to do something JUST because the crowd is doing it. Why on earth would I ever go to Starbucks if there is a place anywhere nearby like Cafe Sienna? There's no reason other than safety. Yes, you'll always get the same boring cup of joe at one Starbuck's that you get at another. You'll even have bought in to the marketing scheme that you go because Starbucks has the best coffee in the world. Hey, coffee is acid...there are just different degrees. I would love it if, for one day, someone snuck some Folgers into all of their bins at Starbucks....heeheeheehee.

Starbucks doesn't have "employees", of course. They have "baristas." Oh my goodness.....the fact that we all know what a barista is shows the genius of Starbucks and the sheep that we all are in following the herd to dutifully pay our $4.

NEWSFLASH JUST IN - when you go to the office, if you put the coffee in the pot and then take a cup to have earned the right to call yourself a barista too. At least, that's what my good friend Webster's says.

Hey, I'm not bagging on the Starbucks. The company does some wonderful things, I am sure, which go beyond fooling the general public that you have to give them $4 for a cup of coffee or you aren't human. If I am on the run and no place else is around, you know you'll see me paying homage (and 4 bucks) to Green & White coffee sign in the sky. When given a choice, however, I always try to go support the little guy. If they are near a Starbucks, you can bet they are going to be friendlier. The people at Cafe Sienna were both days. If they aren't friendlier, they won't be there next week!

Hmmmmm......the way to out-Starbuck Starbucks is to be friendlier. What can we learn from that as we sojourn forward on this giant orb?