Sticks or Stars?

“Goals are stars to steer by, not sticks to beat yourself with”

Attributed to  Barbara Smith

I am not a big fan of goals or resolutions generally. In particular I don’t really care for the goals that are often required to be set (and then promptly ignored) at the workplace. You know, the S.M.A.R.T. goals? yeah, those.

I do believe in trying to improve oneself, and when I heard the quote above, I thought, that’s how goals are supposed to be. It’s not something to set and ignore. It’s not something to fail at and then feel like a failure (I think Satan particularly loves and encourages this kind of approach). It’s also not necessarily something that should be followed no matter the cost.

A good goal should be something that motivates you to do or be better. Something that guides you.

So, for 2014, what are the things that I hope to come closer to achieving? What will guide me?

Here are a few of my goals. It’s a pretty standard list, really…

  1. I want to have more meaningful scripture study. Too often I read a few verses or paragraphs when I have a spare minute or two (typically on the toilet, of all places). That’s not feasting on the word. It’s better than nothing, and I expect I’ll continue to have plenty of days when that’s all I get, but I hope to have a greater focus on really studying scriptures, and finding a regular time that I always do scripture study. I get the most out of it when I have time to think and write a few notes about what I am studying.
  2. I want to do more to teach my children the gospel. Typically we come up with some lesson or other for Family Home Evening shortly after I get home. I hope to take a little more time to put something together. I also want to watch for teaching opportunities more closely. In particular, I want to help my children understand the Articles of Faith.
  3. I want to help my wife more with the daily chores and messes. I don’t think I do too badly here, but this is one area where I think husbands can (and should!) always improve. I can be more observant and see what needs to be done and jump in and do it. I should make dinner more often.
  4. I want to be more healthy. I really should be eating better than I am. I also want to keep up a good exercise routine that includes other things besides running (which is my preferred exercise). I have gotten to where I will do a good run a couple times per week in decent weather, and that’s good; but I think it’s time to add to that doing other exercises regularly, particularly to strengthen my back and knees (which running tends to wear down, at least for me).
  5. I want to be more politically active, particularly at the local level. I want to know what’s going on in my city and state, and do what I can to advance those measures and interests that I feel are important.
  6. I want to advance the projects I’ve started. I’m really good at starting new projects, and really lousy at following through and finishing them. If I could make sure that I’ve done something 2 or 3 times each week, I might actually finish something.

So that’s my list for 2014. I’m going to add a calendar item to review this list each month and help me to remember them and work on them, and adjust them if needed. But I don’t plan on beating myself up if I don’t do all of them.

Thank You Matt Walsh

For the Thanksgiving season I wanted to write some thank-you notes to some of my favorite bloggers.

I came across your blog relatively recently, but I have been very impressed with many of your blog posts. Thank you very much, particularly for your defense of marriage, family, and Christian values. I particularly enjoyed your post about parenting and freedom.

I love your boldness. I love that you are defending truths and standards you’ve come to understand and value. Many of those are things that I also have come to value more as I am now raising my own family.

Thanks again for your efforts.

Thank You Diane

You may be aware that I’m doing thank-you notes to my favorite bloggers… now it’s your turn.

I have enjoyed reading your blog as well as your articles on United Families International. Coming from a large family, I like seeing your thoughts as you raise your own large family, and how you and John have met the various struggles and difficulties that have come your way. I have sometimes thought “Is that what my mom went through/thought/did?”

I also enjoy your current format of giving a report on each member of the family – how they are doing and what’s going on with them. I like that you make sure to give space to each of your kids.

I also really appreciate your efforts to defend marriage and family. Thank you for your writings defending faith, religion, motherhood, and family. It takes a lot of research to put some of that stuff together. Thank you also for your efforts on these outside of your blog.

Finally, I want to tell you how much Rosanne and I have enjoyed your friendship and hospitality, how much we love hanging out with you guys, and how impressed we are with your testimony of the Gospel, and your efforts to live by the Spirit. Thank you for being our friend. Thank you for being a great example.

Thank You Josh Weed

For the Thanksgiving season I decided to write some thank you notes to some of my favorite bloggers. I have been following your blog for some time and have been quite impressed with your sincerity and desire to do good. I appreciate you sharing your experiences as best you can, and in particular your defense of the Church.

A favorite scripture of mine is from Mosiah 20:11 – “But they fought for their lives, and for their wives, and for their children; therefore they exerted themselves and like dragons did they fight.”

For one thing, the scripture mentions dragons, which is awesome.

But the main thing about this scripture is the need for us to exert ourselves to keep, protect, and defend our families. I believe that this level of effort is needed more and more in the world we live in. I think the spiritual warfare happening today is on a similar level as the physical battle described there.

As I’ve read your blog, I have been pleased, impressed, and astounded at the level of effort you have put forth to have and keep a family, and stay true to your faith.

Thank you for your example. Thank you for your faith. Thank you for your efforts.

Thank you Jeff Atwood

I’m taking the opportunity of this season to extend my appreciation for some of my favorite blogs, and Coding Horror is one that I have enjoyed for quite a while.

Thank you for your thoughts and your enthusiasm. I love how much you enjoy the topics you post about, like your awesome HTPC build, or what the best computer books are, or how you designed the perfect keyboard.

I have particularly enjoyed the posts you’ve done about your family and/or parenting, and have described and shown your parenting chart to lots of my friends. I absolutely agree–that one percent really does make all the difference!

So I hope you continue to enjoy your job, your fun computer toys, and especially your family, and wish you all the best. Thanks for your words.

Thank you MMM

So this may seem silly, but for Thanksgiving, I decided to spend some time saying thank you to some of my favorite bloggers. And I am pleased to inform you that your Middle-aged Mormon Man blog was one of those few amazingly lucky winners. Try not to get too excited from the prestige of such an honor…

I did want to tell you that I appreciate your blog very much. I have enjoyed your humor as well as your insights. I’m always excited when a new blog entry from MMM shows up on my reading list. Your blogs are consistently fun, uplifting, and/or insightful (OK, yeah, there was the monkey post, but I’m willing to overlook that).

Another thing that stands out to me is your “my blog, my rules”… er, well, rule about comments; that they all need to be respectful and not disparage the Church. I’m not sure why I found that particularly refreshing, but I did. I appreciate that you continually uphold the Church and its standards, and do not let anything on your blog that could be construed otherwise.

I’m grateful that there are people like you who are able to express themselves well and use that gift to uplift and strengthen others and spread the gospel. Thank you very much.

The new computer

We have finally decided to enter the world of smartphones. My wife and I have been on a family plan with her parents until now, but do to various circumstances, it was time for us to get set up on our own phone plan.

I have to confess, I am really enjoying my smartphone.

It’s nothing really spectacular, a LG myTouch. My wife got a nicer phone (HTC Amaze 4G), but I like the smaller size of my phone–it actually fits into my pocket nicer than my old feature phone.

I am certainly not a fan of the wonderful data plans that come with the phones, but I am finding myself really enjoying a lot of the basic features of this new world of apps and constanct connectivity. The question “How did I get along before without this” is an indicator of successful technology.

I did have some planned uses for getting a smart phone. The main things I was thinking of were the ability to synchronize contacts and calendar items between computer and phone (and to share a calendar with my wife). I was also wanting to have the LDS Gospel Library information (scriptures and manuals, etc) available–ever since we started carrying a diaper bag, we’ve had a harder time bringing our scriptures to church.

Happily, my phone does not disappoint on either of those points. I have been able to have a better management of contacts and calendar, and have already made a lot of use of my phone at church. But there are a number of other things that I have really found useful. One of these is simply Google Reader. I have lately found an awful lot of really fun/interesting/informative blogs, but I have had the hardest time keeping up with them–every so often I would just have to skip a whole bunch of entries. With the phone I have been able to read blogs in my spare five or ten minutes while I’m waiting for the carpool, or in the bathroom… after washing my hands very carefully and thoroughly…


I have also enjoyed the GPS navigation apps, especially since the in-laws have just moved and I haven’t quite got a good handle on where they live and how to get there. And I have never really been all that great with directions anyway.

The next app I have enjoyed is audiogalaxy. This allows me to stream my music from my home to my phone. Awesome.

The, a couple weeks later, my company gets a tablet for me to use! So I am typing this post from my new Lenovo tablet. It’s a little heavy and (as with all things lenovo) the speakers aren’t that great, but so far I’m pretty impressed. I have an external keyboard that goes with the case, so I can really use this as a pretty nice netbook.

It is interesting to see how the computer has shifted over the years. Laptops and desktops certainly have not gone away (but mainframes and servers haven’t really gone away, either), but the common user device is now part of your phone. Maybe a tablet.

Continue reading

Evil Site. Ingenious. But Evil.

QuiBids is ostensibly a bidding site. Each bid increment is one cent. The auction ends when 15 seconds goes by without someone bidding on it. Many items are sold at far less than retail price.

Here’s where it gets fun: Placing a bid costs 60 cents.

A co-worker came up with an example: lets say an IPad sells for $50.00. Someone got a really good deal, assuming that person didn’t bid very often. How did the site do? Well, since each bid increments only one cent, and each bid costs 60 cents, so that’s a simple .60 times 5000 bids plus the $50 for the sale, so the gross proceeds for the auction are $3050.00


April Fools!

So on April Fools offered a number of fake items, including this awesome item: The TaunTaun sleeping bag!

tauntaun sleeping bag

Note that the inside pattern of the bag is entrails. My favorite part is that the zipper is shaped like a lightsaber.

What’s even better is that ThinkGeek claims that they got enough positive comments about it that they are going to see if they can get the rights to build and market it (see the original ad here).

While you’re there, you should check out the miniature trebuchet that they sell (throws small objects up to 20 feet)…

Private Blog Now Available… uh, privately…

A while back my family had a camping trip that was rather fun, and I was excited to post about it in my blog. Unfortunately, I realized that this blog is public (on purpose–I’m sure there are lots of people that wish to discuss their favorite movie music composers).

At any rate, I decided to create an additional private blog (invitation only). It will be used for posts that have somewhat more sensitive information on it (family pictures, etc). When I post to one blog, I’ll try to make note of it in the other.

If you have not received and invitation to my private blog, and would like one, first check your email. Then if you still haven’t received an invitation, send me an email.