18:19

That is what my clock is reading.

I’m in my truck, parked at the gym and Emotionalism (Avett Brothers) is playing on my stereo. I might exercise, but that will take time and time is oh so precious.

Time is a limited resource.

I will be going home soon to see my beautiful wife and our blessed daughter. My heart speeds up just thinking of them.

Today has been a dance. I’ve been through the OODA loop several times. The first client ran long, and we didn’t get to finish all we wanted – so it actually felt short.

The second client was much more efficient than historically (I have yet to follow up with them over the results).

The blood draws at the calf ranch physically went very well, but we had a mixup with numbers and ended up spending an extra 25 minutes to get it sorted.

Finally got back to the clinic late for a remote appointment. We had prepared a bit of code to help their records program with a specific feature. We ran our code multiple times on our system and had it executing well, but it got a bug when we installed it remotely.

18:31 now. I leave my house at 04:15 tomorrow morning. So I’m going to get off here, shower, and spend some time with my family.

Which one?

I feel inundated with ideas and protects around the house. Rather than having no clue what to do, I have 10,000 clues what to do.

I want to work on the plumbing, and even just in that project I have three different areas of plumbing around my house that I want to work on; bathroom, garage, and front yard.

The front yard is the simplest of the three. A simple leaky valve. I would have to purchase only one tool and a couple brass fittings. I expect I could also finish the repair in less than 20 minutes.

The garage is going to be a more involved protect. The water pressure is unreasonably low – just a mere trickle from a 3/8″ pipe when the valve is fully open. From the calcium buildup I have found on faucets in the home, I expect that there is an internal mass of calcium restricting flow. Further, the faucets in our home/garage, that have the best pressure, have had the terminal 4-5 feet of their supply line replaced (PEX spliced into the copper).

So, I expect that I also will have to replace the terminal couple feel of supply pipe to get the blockage out.

However, in my two previous expeditions into the atrociously dusty, and spider web laced, crawl space under the house, I did not determine which pipe matched the one in the garage.

So what’s the next best step to move this project along?

Donut shop interactions

I went back to the donut shop this morning and I met Oscar who works in wastewater management systems here in the valley. We talked about the next level of recycling that is coming to California – nearly 100% recycling capabilities for the “flush” (we use water to rinse the manure off the barn floors and the manure/water slurry we call flush).

The solid bits in the manure will be separated, composted, and re-used as bedding. The dirty water will be allowed to sit, in a giant pit, with an enormous balloon over it, to trap the natural gas and used to heat homes or generate electricity. Finally, even the water can be cleaned to a level that it would be potable (but rather than sending it to human homes, it will fill the water troughs for the cows – because cows need to drink a ton of water).

It’s an exciting time for innovation 🙂

McMuffins pt. 2

They were a mixed success yesterday. I brought 9 of them to the dairy at 0530. When I left at 0900, all but one had been consumed by the men working yesterday morning.

The owner said he couldn’t eat a McMuffin since it wasn’t on his diet. He also said that donuts were not on his diet, but they were good enough to break the diet for.

Donuts to McMuffins

I buy thousands of dollars worth of donuts every year for my clients (my employer reimburses me and gets a tax break on them as business promotion).

I bought McMuffins, instead of donuts, today. I haven’t done this before, I haven’t asked the client (or my employer) if it would be ok to bring McMuffins instead of donuts. The cost for 9 was less than a dozen donuts.

The fellows might be disappointed, but I expect they will appreciate a little change up.

Start now

It’s so much easier to start tomorrow. Is it ever convenient to start today? There are pressing matters, and the clock keeps ticking through it all.

Today is the only opportunity that I have.

I wanted to write here this morning, but ended up rocking my daughter for an hour last night, and being woke up by her every two hours.(Tiffany rocked her much longer than I did last night, and fed her two three times – I’m blessed to have such a wife!).

So anyway, that’s all I’m writing now. Time to head out and get to work.

What’s happening

I had planned to keep writing about work ideas. I thought I would keep this blog semi detached from my personal life.

However, I feel much more comfortable sharing family things here in the complete public side of the internet, rather than Facebook.

Isn’t that funny?

With Facebook, we should remember, if it is free for us, we are the product, not the consumer. The designers of Facebook are looking to change our behavior through carefully crafted advertisements hidden in the free stuff, and companies pay Facebook loads of money to make sure you see their advertisement.

Anyway, it’s Monday and I’m excited to go to work! There’s a lot of opportunity in my field, and it’s just waiting for someone to harvest it.

Last night Princess Katarina slept well. This was a great blessing for Queen Tiffany and me. We have been intentional the last few days to be consistent in our timing of feedings, baths, and bedtimes – and it is really helping us all to be on the same schedule.

Here’s a picture of her getting a little Kat-nap while we get ready for work.

Looking forward

What a delight to have a goal. To look into the future, holding an expectation.

In Hebrews 12 it is written that Jesus “who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame”. Jesus looked at that joy during the immense suffering of the cross. I haven’t suffered but fraction of that level that Jesus did, and many times I have felt overwhelmed by it anyway.

As we go through our cold storms. As we suffer in our lives (for that shall surely happen), let us also look ahead to the prize waiting for us. This is not in vain. The seeds you plant in this life will bear fruit into eternity.

October 1 2018

The hottest days are now a little cooler. Clouds have moved in for the first time since May. We might even get some long awaited rain in the next 24 hours.

The dust is unbelievably thick this time of year. All summer it’s been building. Covering every exposed surface outdoors in a few hours and indoors a couple hours later.

October has arrived.

It is time for corn mazes in Ohio! Stalking the fat white-tailed deer on the first day of archery season, watching the leaves begin to change.

Mammals all around the northern hemisphere are getting ready for their long Winter naps.

Loose ends

A relationship with a client recently ended. I had evidence that the break-up was coming, and yet I still felt a little surprised when it happened.

What surprised me more than the decision to part ways, was the plethora of ongoing projects, unfinished plans, and unanswered questions still tying me to them. It was as if they were the arms of a cephalopod, or even better yet a myriad of dendritic tendrils crossing the neural synapse.

For 2 years I had been laying roots and growing branches into their fields. Not just dull couplings, but living connections that could sense and feel. I wanted to understand them, to really know them.

What made them tick?

What fuels them?

How they could make decisions and behave in a way so foreign to me?

All those tendrils were severed, unceremoniously, in a 12 second phone call.

Part of me feels like I should recoil and retreat into where it’s safe. But something else says this an opportunity.

It’s time to grow into other pastures. To plant seeds in other soil.

Early and Often

Conflict. Not voting.

Conflict is better when it’s small.

I remember my dear friend used to say ‘nip it in the bud’ in regards to addressing bad behavior in her children. I think she was expressing the idea of having conflict early.

I spent years afraid to have conflict with those I am close to. Perhaps I was afraid of hurting the other person, but at the core, I was deeply afraid of them withholding affection.

It was easier at the start to just go along with whatever they wanted. I convinced myself that all would be well if I only gave in to their demands on my time and emotions. I was dishonest. I lied to them pretending to like things just to not offend them.

All too often this set me on a path I had never intended. I frequently found myself feeling unfulfilled, mistreated, forgotten and thinking “how in the world did I ever end up here?!”.

I chose to go down those roads. That’s on me, not on them.

The more I learn of my Father’s love, acceptance, and care, the less I am concerned if they withhold their affections.

Why DIY?

We have been working to prepare our babies room over the last few weeks. The room is small (only about 10 feet by 14 feet) and had hardwood floors, white walls, and white trim. Tiff chose a flint grey semigloss and we put two coats on the walls. I pulled the moulding off and freshened it with two new coats of white.

I thought it would take me only a few hours to refinish the floor so I took my belt sander to it and quickly ran into a major problem.

It turns out the previous floor sealant was not an old coat of polyurethane, but shellac. The wax in the shellac gummed up the sander and ruined the belt in a few minutes. I applied several quarts of denatured alcohol to the floor and patiently scraped and rubbed. The wax and alcohol became unbelievably gummy and turned black in color.

The alcohol evaporated too fast and filled the room with it’s nose-burning odor. So later on, I laid out paper towels, drenched them in alcohol, covered them with a trash bag. This way they could sit for even an hour without evaporating and it gave more time for the alcohol to soak in.

I sanded, and sanded, and sanded with my little 3″ Ryobi belt sander and oscillating unit for the edges. I progressed through the grits, and every couple minuted used my shop vac and a sanding belt cleaner block.

I despised sanding previous to this. It was always the toughest part of a project for me. This floor provided a fantastic way to overcome that because it was the largest amount of sanding I had ever attempted. It would be no use to try to get to the end of it as fast as possible, with as little sanding as possible. No, this was going to take a while.

I consciously decided to embrace this beautiful opportunity. My goal was no longer to get it done in a certain time frame, but rather to become a better sander, no matter how long it took. It was both rewarding and surprisingly enjoyable to sand that floor.

I think that’s why I like to DIM (do it myself) – it gives the opportunity for personal growth, and many memories.

The Rains

We are incredibly blessed, in California, to have sunshine all year long. The fabulous winter consists of crisp mornings and bright sunny afternoons.

The funny thing though, is that I feel sentimental about the rains from Ohio. April showers did, in fact, bring May’s flowers in Gallia County, and those showers came like they were just off the ocean some days.

The air was somewhere around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with dense clouds reaching all the way to the ground and a misty spray all about. Sputtering and spitting the finest of droplets that collected on every available surface (including each and every one of the hairs on your head). It could chill your bones if you were in it for very long.

We also got that kind of rain in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

The drops grew fatter in May, and by June they were nice and plump and often warm. Early summer rains were expected and very welcome. Every pasture and lawn seemed to rally itself with a splendid burst of new growth after a June shower.

July and August – they brought the Thunderheads. Gulley washers some people called them. Cumulonimbus unleashing their fury.

Occasionally I would get “stuck” in a barn when one of those babies showed up. I remember the tremendous din of ten thousand drops hitting the tin roof. The goats and cows would enter the barn also, and together we watched the winds whip the branches of the maple trees, and the sheets of heavy rain, one after another, washed over the pasture.

Timely

It is written in Proverbs 21; A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Today someone said something very timely to me. They didn’t know that I had been praying a specific request to my Father in heaven. They told me they were praying over the weekend and God encouraged them to speak to me a specific encouraging word.

God has prepared good things for you to say and do also!

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Don’t be afraid to follow Him. Don’t even worry if you start to drown when you see the waves, just look to Him.

Consistency

The outcome is not guaranteed.

Many times I’ve been sloppy and still got the desired outcome. Other times I’ve done it all right and still had a poor result.

One thing I’m learning from this. When I am consistent, it is always better.

When I’m consistent the poor outcomes push me to dig deeper, to learn more, to find the influencing factor that I was unaware of.

When I’m consistent the good outcomes encourage me to keep going.

Inconsistency breeds fear and doubt, makes the whole situation high in tension.

Windows

Aren’t windows the funniest things? We build walls to separate us from what we don’t like. Our house walls keep the heat inside during the winter, and outside during the summer. They keep the noise of passing cars to a minimum. They keep us dry during the heavy rains.

The walls make us much more comfortable, but they also can make us forget. They can separate us entirely too much, so we put windows in.

We can let the sunlight and fresh air in through the windows too. They are in many ways a tremendous addition to the quality of a living space

One place where I think windows don’t get enough attention – they make the most delicate and intricate frosty shapes in winter.

Forest for the Trees

Have you ever been in the midst of heavy rain and remembered that just a few thousand feet above you the sun is shining? And it’s no different up there than when it was sunny for you yesterday?

At night, when the darkness is everywhere around, when it seems like there is no light left in the world, it is in fact dawning somewhere else at that very moment!

We really don’t see the whole forest most of time, and in fact when we do look out across the forest we are seeing only the canopy of the dominant trees. We can’t see the tree trunks, or the undergrowth, or the many funny looking mushrooms hiding all through old leaf litter.

No. We can’t see the whole forest. And what is above ground is only a small part of the workings of a forest.

We are severely limited by what’s immediately around us. So remember that your situation could look very different from someone else’s point of view.

Late Summer

In Gallia county, junior fair week is the first week of August. It’s muggy and always as hot as summer ever gets.

By that time of year, you’ve more or less reached a rythym with the heat, it doesn’t hit you on your face the same way when you step outside. You just expect it now. The sweat trickling down your back, and on the side of your head doesn’t bother you as much as it did on the 4th of July.

You can sense that things are slowing down. It isn’t autumn yet by any means, but out of the corner of your eye, you can see that autumn is on it’s way. The corn is still growing, but it won’t get to get much taller now. No, it is spending all it’s precious energy on the swelling ears and the golden tassles.

Your skin feels a certain way too. Your bare feet don’t notice the prickles in grass anymore when you walk over the hill. The grass is not soft and spongy anymore, because it is tired from growing all summer long. When you mow it now, it doesn’t bounce back with those green sprigs the very next day, like it used to in May.

This isn’t the end of the summer of growth, it’s just the beginning of the end.

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

I can still remember that wet wintery Ohio day. An idea took root when the thought of adventure found fertile soil in my soul.

It was early December, probably around finals time. I was finishing my first quarter at Hocking College, and I had immensely enjoyed the autumn dendrology course.

I walked East to West through the first floor of the Natural Resources building. That place had its own distinct smell, something of a laboratory crossed with a horse barn. We had a geology lab, a fish lab, a mammals lab, and wood products lab all on that first floor. Carhartt jackets, hiking boots, and camo hats were in Vogue for about 90% of the student population there. Occasionally the nursing school would use our geology laboratory as a space for one of their classes. The boys of rec and wildlife would sit around studying just outside of that laboratory – with the hopes of meeting one of the many beautiful female nursing students.

As I walked that hall, I perused the internship and job board that Jackie (I think that was her name) kept up. She had the most excellent penmanship and dozens of postings were there for available work experience at any time. She ran the resource room, and you could borrow stuff for your forestry or fish projects. Boy oh boy, you did not want to end up on her tardy-list at the end of the quarter. She knew every student and would not let you rest until you returned all your supplies.

Anyway, in the midst of all the advertisements that didn’t really appeal to me, I saw the short listing for Haliburton Forest.

Come spend 4 months in Ontario Canada as an intern with our horseloggers. Learn how to drive a team of horses and practice sustainable forestry. Room and board provided.

I could feel my heart pounding through my chest. Here was an opportunity for a true adventure. I really didn’t think they would choose me. I figured there would be other people with much more skill and experience that they would pick before they picked me.

Right there I said a prayer. I whispered to my Father in Heaven about this dream of adventure, and He heard me.

That idea seed grew in my mind over the next year, and the following winter I went to Haliburton. I stayed four months and it was truly beyond even my wildest dreams.

Picking One of Three

I had a conversation with a client today and I gave him too many options. I overwhelmed him on the phone call.

It would be better for me to pick what I believe are the best three options, and present those to the client. Choosing one out of three is much easier than one out of ten. I can always let them know there are more options, and those can be provided should they request…but the data dump can be just too much for a busy person to process.

I expect that if I begin to present solutions in this manner, overall forward momentum will increase. Clients will be more apt to accept what I propose, and it’s not only about closing sales, it’s about responsibility and growth.

Ahead of Time

They see your fruit, not your planting.

The important work you put in ahead of time. The relentless focus, the patient resolve, the innumerable repetitions. That stuff comes with a lot of failures along the way, and that work is never glamorous.

Only some of the seeds you plant are going to grow. So keep planting.

Leveling Up

I still feel uncomfortable when I am challenged in woodworking.

When my design is found to be insufficient, when I know I need better technique to make the next step, when the project goes out of my comfort zone – I still feel uncomfortable, but now I am growing to appreciate and even look for the challenges rather than avoid them.

The beautiful thing is that every time I overcome a challenge, I level up! Even if I made mistakes and have to redo it, I learn from those mistakes, and that knowledge opens new opportunities, and of course new challenges.

If the Lord wills, I will be practicing some traditional wood joining in one year. This seems like a major challenge, because I don’t have the tools or the experience yet. But that’s just it! I will get the experience as I move.

Point of Reference

I went hiking alone in Haliburton Forest one fine spring afternoon. I lived under the cookhouse as an intern. I told my roomate that I would be back by a certain time, and the general direction I would be heading.

I was planning to head for an hour or two northwest and see a general section of the forest that I was unfamiliar with. When I reached my time, I would follow the logging trails in a general southeast direction back toward Basecamp. Eventually I would run into one of the major logging roads.

The logging trails proved more difficult to follow than the roads. It was difficult to keep a bearing while deep in the woods.

I wasn’t lost, but I wasn’t sure of the way forward. Was I heading to Basecamp or getting farther from it?

I could retrace my steps backward, but that would be 3 or 4 more hours of hiking and I would be late for sure. So I thought it better to keep going forward, whichever way that was. As the evening drew nearer, I felt that my place was too slow and that made me begin to feel desperate.

I felt my confidence slipping away with every step. It was harder to think clearly and I felt anxious, the forest seemed unfriendly. I prayed as I walked and I pressed on.

And then it all changed when I saw a beautiful old snag (standing dead tree).

A great wave of relief washed over me. It all made sense now. I had been here. I had seen that same tree a month or two ago. I knew exactly where I was and the shortest way back. Basecamp was only a couple kilometers away. I would be home within the hour!

That one solid point of reference changed my entire perspective. It helped me make sense of the environment around me.

Finding the path

Today I spoke with a manager about some challenges at a couple of his worksites. He is receiving conflicting evidence from different team members on what is happening at a certain site.

Those men, whom are on site, are his eyes. How can he lead the team effectively if he isn’t sure about what he is seeing?

I think it’s the same way we navigate in the dark – we must be patient. We walk in the light we know to be sure, we rely on our other senses, and we take only ONE step at a time.

Just because the future around your project isn’t clear, doesn’t mean you have to stop moving forward.

Keep going. Do not be afraid.

Psalm 119:105

Turning out the lights

I enjoy the journey. Destinations have rarely been as memorable for me. I enjoy the feeling that there is much more to come.

I can still remember the final production of Much Ado About Nothing, with the Ariel Players – over 20 years ago now. We had 6 months of preparation and anticipation, and then that Saturday night we were all done. It has forever changed the way I feel about that part of the city, because I have so many memories right there. Things that will never happen again in the same way to me.

I think that’s related to why I dislike turning out the lights at night. There is a certain sadness to thinking that the living room will be empty, quiet, still, and dark.

It is more pleasant to imagine it as always full of life, friends, and activity.

Today’s Flow

I was in the zone today while coding.

In the realm of JavaScript, the project was quite primitive, but for my level of experience it was just right. I lost track of time and ended up at the computer for a handful of hours.

In the end I achieved my goal, and it felt great.

I hope the product is useful for it’s intended audience, and now it’s time to focus my attention somewhere else.

A step

A lady at Sorrel River Ranch once told me “Remember Daniel, God promises that His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path, it is not a floodlight. We won’t see the whole path, just the next step”.

That nugget has blessed me many times over, and I hope it blesses you too.

Five ways out

When taking on a new challenge, don’t choose to play the game that’s all about the outcome. The game that gives you only a single path to victory.

Choose to play the game of growth, where every challenge makes you stronger, every failure teaches you, and every step takes you a little farther.

Whenever, or wherever, you exit that trail – you will have won.

Take the example of magicians, they often have 5 ways out of a trick. Some exits are more desirable than others, but all are still a success and all still look like magic.

Suffering

It’s what we discussed at Radiant church today, and is always the case, it seems to be incredibly timely.

How can every message be so fitting for my situation, when everyone else has a situation too – and they tell me it’s fitting for them?

Just this morning I had listened to 1 Peter, and was thinking about this passage in particular.

Our endurance of unjust sorrows is a gracious thing? And this is serious pain Peter is writing about – not someone cutting you off in traffic.

What do you do when you are profoundly mistreated? Do you feel like retaliating?

Jesus shows us a better way.