11-20-18

I’m a fan of vaccines, a real big fan of them. They’ve helped our dairy cows for decades and saved millions of human lives. But this post isn’t about vaccines.

These thoughts post are about a lesson I am learning today of the risk to an entire herd by extension of it’s most at-risk member.

YOPI – Young, Old, Pregnant, Immunocompromised. This is the term we use when we are discussing populations at highest risk for contracting an infectious disease. My baby girl Katarina is very young and that means we have a YOPI in our home.

Anyway, our dear little YOPI contracted scabies (sarcoptic mange) sometime in the last couple weeks, and she exposed her herdmates (mom and dad) to it.

Thankfully the spiteful little mites are easy to be rid of. As obligate parasites, they can’t live for more than a couple days when away from their human hosts. They cause a raging itchy rash, but they are sensitive to permethrin, and a single treatment is curative.

We took the oily white paste (texture of sunscreen with a metallic smell) and rubbed it all over our bodies. Between every toe and finger and including every other place where the skin folds over itself.

My awesome wife attacked the environment with vigor and washed all expoed surfaces in our home as well as about a dozen loads of laundry in a couple days.

No more mites. The herd survived, and our little YOPI is ok.

11-16-18

I had a perfect plan this past Wednesday.

My schedule was empty for part of the afternoon, and I was going to be extremely productive during those three hours and catch up on my backlog of papers and reports.

Woohoo! It was going to be a great feeling to be rid of those nagging reminders, and to have those deadlines out of my mind.

Then an emergency calving came. I didn’t feel defeated and it would yet be ok… because the emergency took only an hour. I still had an hour and a half of the precious free time (after factoring in the driving to-and-from the dairy).

I was feeling good as I sat down at the computer and made my first phone call. That shiny feeling left me when I heard my name called only 5 minutes later. There was now an emergency prolapae holding at the same dairy I had just left.

The adrenaline started to flow, and I felt more like fight than flight. I went and took care of the prolapse and was hoping I could find some more time to get my work done. I called the office and heard a loud crunch as I was turning and backing out.

The passenger side quarter panel met a strong iron stake, and the thin panel didn’t fare well.

I spent the next two hours, back at the clinic, bending the panel back out so that I could open and close the passenger door.

Time was all gone.

2018-11-10

Today we went shopping as family.

Princess Katarina enjoyed the many colors of food we put in the basket with her. She must have countless neurons forming, connecting, and reconnecting in a marvelous myriad of intricate webs and networks.

It was only 40 degrees this morning and refreshingly cool.

Now it is 2:30 and it feels hot in the afternoon sun. The sky is thick with the haze of California wildfires, as ten thousands of acres burn.

Am I Enough?

A question that drives so many of us.

This past weekend was the annual Radiant Man Camp at Hartland Camp. Over a hundred fellows living in close proximity for a couple days. We had plenty of time in the chapel, competitive games outside, and food in the mess hall.

That was all good, but it wasn’t the best part of the weekend. We were invited to take off our masks. That was powerful. Until this weekend, I hadn’t considered how often our souls mentioned in the book of Psalms.

I have considered feelings to have a pretty low importance to our life overall. I considered feelings to be like the sprinkles, on the icing, on the cake. Kind of nice, but not important.

Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Psalms 86:4 ESV

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalms 131:2 ESV

Today I spoke with someone facing crisis in their business. In their long meeting with the bankers, they decided to liquidate some of their assets (even as the liquidation price costs them heavily, being below their investment). Much like a boat taking on water, they are throwing valuable supplies overboard just to float a little while longer and hope the storm stops.

This fellow told me he didn’t care much for the business anymore, because margins have been too tight for too long now, and stresses have been high. He would be ok to sell it all and move on now.

But the question of his worth hurt him deep. Not the worth of the business or the assets. No it was the question of his worth as a person. His grandparents started this operation and his parents passed it on, and kept it going for nearly a hundred years. Now he wonders if he has to bear the memory of being the generation to let it go. Now he wonders if he is worthy to bear his family name.

We all face this at some point in our lives. The end of ourselves and the end of our pride. When we get there, we have the opportunity to turn to the One who loved us and accepted us from the start.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
John 7:37‭-‬38 ESV

Slow Down

This evening, my daughter was upset in her car seat during a drive back to our house from our friends who had watched her for the day.

She wasn’t yelling (like she was last night when we all went to the local polling location – turns out her daddy had left a pair of hemostats in her car seat and she was sitting on them)…but she was crying tonight.

I turned on the song “Slow Down” by Mike Mains & The Branches and she stopped her cries and just listened. This has already happened, with this very same song, once or twice before.

It made me cry to go through this, because I’m going to tell her about this very thing someday when she’s much older and ready to leave home.

Here’s the chorus;
What about all our memories
When you would dance and sing for me
Slow down, slow down
What happened to my baby girl
Who used to sit on top the world
Slow down

I’m blessed beyond measure to get to hold her, protect her, and help her find her way in this world. But I won’t always be there for her. Someday will be the last day.

There is only One who stands timeless, and He will always be with her.

Embracing the Routine

I have had a life long fight against the mundane.

I dreaded those parts of my life that seem routine and monotonous. I always looked for the novel things.

Brushing my teeth, mowing the lawn, practicing scales on the piano – much less fun than cutting a new path through brush and briars, or turning the book to play a new song.

I’m 30 now, and that is still young, but I feel different than I did 10 years ago. I am learning to embrace the routines. Even though they aren’t as exciting, there is something attractive in the familiarity of them.

Old tricks

Had a fantastic time car shopping last weekend!

Over the last couple months, my wife has been to several dealerships, looked at many cars, and talked with as many salesman. One gentleman in specific has stayed in contact with her and has continued to let her know when he thinks he has a car just for her (incidentally they have all been out of our stated price range).

Two weeks ago, this fellow said he has a surprise vehicle for her and we needed to come see it.

Ok. I’ll play along.

Harmless as a dove, yes. However, the salesman was NOT expecting me to be wise as a serpent.

Thanks to Jordan Harbinger and Alex Kouts – I have been intentionally practicing my negotiating skills, and stretching the social fabric isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as it used to be for me.

Mr. Salesman used so many techniques on us!

He matched our postures, he excessively doted on our daughter, he made nonthreatening physical contact to press points home (taps on my shoulder), he gave us gifts (made a sort of display of getting us coffees), he told us he thought of us and our situation everyday, he answered the phone and told them he would call back (he then told us it was a very loyal and valuable customer and that he would make them wait for us).

When I told him we would never buy new, he asked if I was a bandit, and then he had us test drive a lovely brand new car. He asked again, and again, what I thought of it.

I praised the car and told him I would look for a used one. He told me I would never find one in our price range, so I pulled up Google and showed him one advertised – in our price range and local.

I can remember leaving the mattress store feeling flustered 2 years ago. But I didn’t have that feeling car shopping this time! I left in good spirits.

The haunted house wasn’t scary once I saw the actor behind the mask.

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.