One Day

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What if you knew today was your last day?

One day.  Not enough time to plan to tackle a bucket list.   Or much of anything.

Except for what is MOST important.

Can’t over think it either..the time will fly by.

How would you spend that one day?

I bet I can answer that for anyone reading this.  Talking to their loved ones.  Being with them if possible.  Being in the moment.

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In…not so much.

We all are distracted by modern life.   Watch any group of people together.  They spend as much time looking at their phone as they do each other.  Maybe more.

If you knew it was your last that how you would spend it?

Or would you want more?

One day..and chances are this one is not it.   Why waste it though?  The people you will spend time with on special occasions, particularly over the next couple of months, are likely who you would want to spend time with on your one day.  Lets get focused on those moments if we agree that they are how we would spend our one day.

If we only knew.

I Survived!

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A weird thing happened last week.  I had a birthday and I didn’t die!

I assume since you are reading this that news pleases you.  Maybe that is a bad assumption.  Pleases most of you.

By now, you are likely wondering what in the world I am talking about.  Did you know that a study of over two million people over the course of 20 years found that we are more likely to die on our birthday than any other day?

Sadly, as you review this study, it does appear the statistics are somewhat weighted toward people who take their own lives.  Interestingly, there is a significant number of people who die on their birthday by falling down accidentally.  This might be the best excuse ever for not going out dancing or rock climbing to celebrate a birthday!  Fortunately for me, my birthday did not include any real thrill seeking.  I can recall a birthday or two (lets just say those lovely anniversary dates) where I might have enjoyed myself a lot more than this year.   This was just a nice birthday spent with family and friends, and best of all, spread out over several different days.

Maybe that is the secret to a longer life.  Don’t celebrate your birthday on your birthday!  Spread out the risk by having multiple parties and celebrations.  When I turned 50 everybody joked that October became the month of Joel.  This idea has seemed to catch on with other friends who have enjoyed their own birthday month celebrations during the years of their major anniversaries.  If you are likely to take bigger life threatening risks on those 30, 40 and 50 birthdays, then just spread it out.  Avoid the risk this study suggests.  Improve your mortality!

Plus it is a lot more fun to have a month of parties.  From the sound of this study, I would suggest that avoiding celebrating with family and friends might be depressing.  So those of you that keep your birthday secret, reconsider.  We all need a little celebration for our good health!

How To Spend The Time?

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Three day weekend.  Lots of rain.  More time spent inside than I have spent in a long time.

How to spend the time?

Household projects that have been waiting for months?

Hundreds of emails that will never stop arriving or screaming for a response?

Bills..I can get ahead on handling the bills…

Shopping…uh no thanks unless somehow I can make it a social outing with my wife or kids.  Or pick up some stuff at the hardware store for those household projects!

Watch baseball games on TV…there is a weak spot.

How about spending time sitting around talking with family and friends?  In other words, doing nothing.  Or doing everything.  The most important thing.  Relationships with family and friends.

If you have spent the first two days of this three day-er pursuing your list of personal interests, maybe it is time that on day three, we take time to visit with family and friends.  Check in with loved ones.

Spend time on what really matters.

I know it is cliche…but other people are the only real thing in your life.

Don’t worry, when you die there will likely still be a lot of household chores.

But will there be those relationships?

Three day weekend with a Monday holiday.   Spend it on the best things in your life.

While you are at it, remember those folks laboring for you today and not enjoying a holiday with the same opportunities.  Hopefully they will have another opportunity to do so soon.


Occupying Homes As A Solution?

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Seriously..I am torn.  I just don’t believe this is the right way to deal with a lender when you can’t make your previously AGREED TO payments.

I recently became aware of the website  The site is full of heart tugging stories of people who can’t make their mortgage payments and the issues they have had with the banks in attempting to get a modification or stop an eviction.

I have to start with a basic idea here.  All of these people signed mortgage contracts under lawful circumstances.  If it could be ruled they were not of a right mind, or capable of understanding what they executed, then by now the attorneys would be attempting to void out mortgages based on the incompetence of the borrowers.  Not heard that case being made.

As I wander through this site, I see that the one thread that ties all of these people together is that they can’t make the payments they agreed to make, and getting to live in their homes at a lower cost (or even no cost) is a right extended to them by living in America.  Or under God..or some other deity.   The theme, as we now have heard it from the media so many times, is the 99% will have their voices heard.

The reasons I am torn?  A bunch really.

1. I do feel bad for people who are able to enter agreements (contracts) and really not understand the possible repercussions.  On a different scale..I assume most of these folks purchased cars on credit and signed notes for the cars.  If they can’t make the payments, the car gets repossessed.  No modification programs are being advocated by the government for car buyers.  I have heard talk of them for student loan borrowers.  I suppose cars are next..and I guess has already been acquired.

2. Admitadely, the banks have not shown a lot of excitement to provide modifications.  They have done it under the strong arm-twisting of the federal government..but the reality is they are complicated beasts with a VERY high rate of failure.  As I have witnessed so many times, the people who are unable to make their house payment also often choose to not spend money on maintenance.  The longer the situation exists, the more the value of the home drops (as do the ones around it).  Modifications, due to the high rate of failure, don’t stop this cycle..only prolong it.

3.  As I review the website, it appears there is a lot of good money being spent on this cause.  It in fact troubles me as to where the funds are coming from.  Yesterday, a press release found on AOL Real Estate brought me to my tipping point on this issue:

NEW YORK – Aug. 22, 2012 – The “Occupy Our Homes” movement is taking its anti-foreclosure message to the airwaves. The protesting group, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has a network of participants across the country, announced it has launched a national television ad campaign to speak out against foreclosures and show struggling homeowners how they can fight against evictions.

In recent months, the group has staged “sit-in” protests at properties of homeowners facing foreclosure.

The TV ads direct viewers to the (Link: website for a field manual on how to “start an occupation,” which details how homeowners can protest a foreclosure using sit-in strategies.

The ads are set to appear on networks like CNN, FOX and MSNBC.

This is not inexpensive advertising!

The great thing about America and our system is there is plenty of room for groups like this to exist.  We do have laws and at some point those laws will need to be enforced.  There are thousands and thousands of people involved in the housing business who have all kinds of empathy for people who made bad decisions.  Nobody really wants people to be put out on the street.  Don’t worry..they won’t be.  There are so many options for renting and public assistance today.  What I have on my mind is who is funding this anti-capitalism, anti-law, protest movement?  And why?

That is what we all should start to be concerned about.   If you have information on this please comment and share so we can all draw our own conclusions.

Reverse Migration

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It seems like just the other day I lamented about the change in our lives brought on by the return of our two college students.  We have experienced this migration and disruption for several years now.   The expected total change in lifestyle took place through the summer, but with a little more calm.  I guess that is part of the kids being 21 and having jobs and maybe finding they enjoy mornings more?  Not sure…but as the summer has gone on we have had to start to see our lives change even more significantly.  Our two 18 year olds would also be leaving.  One to Purdue.  The other had a decision to make.  He is our hockey goalie and despite my ranting and raving about the world of hockey when kids reach this age…it didn’t change anything.  He wants to play in college and the colleges like the players to spend an extra year in what is called Juniors.  Tryouts ensued and as the summer rolled on it became clear that his selection, and the best choice for his development as a hockey player and young man, was 2300 miles away in a place we have never been..Medford Oregon.

How do you move a soon to be 19 year old boy across the country?  We spent the summer on that one.  Fortunately we discovered that he qualified for on- line classes from Indiana University.  We really wanted him to not just sleep and play hockey.  Starting his college classes and having the most flexibility for the future was our goal.  Being the partisan that I am I must brag… Indiana University offered the solution.  So we can officially also now say we have four in college!  Bragging rights is what this game is all about!  Look..we are much more broke than you are!

So, three at Purdue and one going to Indiana University while living in Oregon!  While I am not sure this fully qualifies that I finally got one of my kids to go to my school, at least for a semester,  I can feel a little better about how the college savings flow.  If you know anybody who has saved enough to have four kids in college in the same year they have likely either 1. inherited wealth,  2. won the lottery, or 3. sacrificed for years.   We fall under #3.  Maybe this helps a little more to explain my conservatism?  Not an excuse…but a lifestyle choice.

So, the point today is that 30 minutes ago, our son and my wife hopped in his Chevy Silverado to make the trek across country.   My first observation is thank goodness he is a boy.  He is able to move himself and make decisions I have never seen our girls make.  Travel light.  I carried Jennifer’s suitcase downstairs and realized she would pay the suitcase up-charge if she was flying.  She took up 25% of his cargo space and she flies back in a week!  He was lighthearted about it.  He knows his Mom and had saved plenty of room in the covered truck bed for her (suitcase that is)!  Our 8 year old son said his goodbyes and I know I was about to lose it.   I hugged our hockey player/IU student and told him I am proud of him.    I do not believe I could have ever made the decision he made at his age.  As Mom and I said our goodbyes, her face full of tears, I realized just how hard this was going to be for her.   Not the three day drive, but leaving her baby boy so far from home.   This is not a one hour drive to Purdue!

On Thursday I will have a U Haul truck loaded up to deliver the rest of our girls to Purdue.  When I return it will be the 8 year old and me until Mom comes home.  Then it will be just three of us in a house that is now too large for three, but needs to be able to accommodate seven.  The kids do migrate home.  Then they fly the coop again.  It is a stage of life.  One between needs and support, and total independence.  It is a time of growth and excitement, and a heart tug that can’t be described unless you are a parent experiencing it.    The birds have flown from the nest again.  It is quiet.

For some reason, I am sad.