Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Have a Happy New Year

What are you eating for New Years? Since New Years Day 1866, many eat the traditional black-eyed peas for good luck. Where does this come from you say? Well, many have suggested a tradition that dates back to the Civil War. The Union troops were given a strategy which involved destroying everything in the South. They burned what they saw, pilfered the crops, cows, and other agricultural items. The only thing they left were the black-eyed peas because the Union troops didn’t realize they were an edible food item. Many may say this about them today, unless of course you have someone like my wife who knows the right ingredients to add which make them taste terrific. Anyway, the black-eyed peas provided food for survival so people of the South associated them with good luck. Ever since New Year’s Day 1866, the South has hung on to the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on the first day of the year.
Is there such a thing as good luck or is it that some people just seem to always look at the good side of things; just go for it with no fear of failure and end up creating good luck for themselves. In the entire history of the United States, only one person has ever been officially hit by a meteorite. The year was 1954 in Sylacauga Alabama. Mrs. E. Hulitt Hodge was simply taking a nap in her living room when out of nowhere an 8.5 pound meteorite came crashing through her roof and landed on her hip. She received abdominal injuries which fortunately, were not serious. It caused extensive bruising which took a number of weeks to disappear. The funny thing about the incident is that she lived across the street from the Comet Drive-In Theatre. 

I think there may be something to just looking at the good side of things. A person just can’t sit around in fear of a meteorite hitting them. They’ve got to get out and go for it. No one can accomplish anything if they are always afraid of making a mistake. Why sit around and think of doom and gloom. If someone doesn’t like something, they should change it. Look on the bright side of things because even if something bad happens, it might make you famous. So if you want to eat black-eyed peas this year, go ahead, it’s not going to hurt anything. Then after dinner, open up your lap top or smart phone and watch an inspiring video on YouTube with positive quotes or something.
Of course, you could do like the farmer did on a local commercial in my area of central Texas one time. It was a commercial of an ice cream maker called Blue Bell ice cream. The farmer was having a bad day; his barn fell down, he was struck by lightning, and he fell in the mud. At the end of the day he was sitting at the table eating Blue Bell ice cream with mud on his face and frizzled hair. His wife walked in and asks, “How was your day”. As he took another bite of Blue Bell the farmer said “It turned out good”

After I eat my black-eyed peas this New Years Day, I think

I'll have a big bowl of Blue Bell.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Will be Your Story?

After dinner, Annie went out on the back porch. It was a Saturday evening and darkness had started to set over the Delaware sky. Her mom noticed that Annie was looking up at the stars so she went out to take a look. Annie’s Mom had always loved to star-gaze and had recently noticed that her daughter had this same passion so she had taught Annie the constellations. Annie’s Dad was finishing up dinner. Later he would meet with his business manager about a major project in his shipbuilding business.

Several years went by and Annie was home for Christmas. She was taking a few weeks away from traveling and dabbling in photography to think about her future. She decides to go out on that same back porch she used to go as a child to look up at the Delaware sky. She had graduated from Wellesley College recently where she studied physics and was contemplating reentering college to specialize in astronomy at Radcliffe College.

A few more years went by before Annie got word that she had been appointed to the staff at Harvard College Observatory to record, classify and catalog stars based on temperatures. Five years later, this would lead to the publishing of a catalog of 1,122 southern stars. In 1910, her system was adapted by observatories worldwide. Annie Jump Cannon’s system of star classification groups stars into categories labeled O, B, A, F, G, K and M (known by the mnemonic, “Oh, Be a Fine Girl, Kiss Me”)

She later compiled the Henry Draper Catalogue which was published by the Harvard Observatory between 1918 and 1924. The catalogue lists the spectral types, magnitudes, and positions of 225,300 stars and continues to be used internationally by astronomers.

This story is just one of many great stories found when we look into the lives of people that have made a difference. You see, Annie set in motion the tremendous discoveries that are being made today. Just recently, astronomers have found a new planet in a different solar system that may be Earth’s twin; capable of supporting life. They study the brightness of stars and notice a planet because its orbit crosses in front of the star and causes it to dim. Here’s a link: New Planets Discovered.

What will be your story? Right now, you may know of something that no one else could possibly know about. My hope is that this video will inspire you to give some thought to what great discovery you might make in the future: Giants Awakening - Vision for Success.

You may be like Annie’s mom and give a child a dream or you may be like Annie, looking to make new discoveries. Reflect on these thoughts each day and be thankful for the opportunity to reach for the stars in whatever you do.

Check out my other blogs where I receive a constant supply of inspiration for my writings by clicking on the links below:

Step Ahead

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

The year is around 1970 and two high school students were members of their high school programmers group. The group received free computer time in exchange for writing computer programs. Someone came to them one day about the need to process traffic information so engineers could make good decisions on how to adjust traffic lights and improve roads.

These two friends dabbled with an idea. They kept after their dream with a passion; even making friends with some college students who helped with developing the hardware to a machine. You see, their idea was to develop a device that would process traffic data cheaper and faster than local companies. They graduated from high school and went their separate ways off to college but maintained their dream. They finally got to know enough friends with the hardware knowhow to build a device that would work with their computer programs which would read traffic tapes directly and eliminate the tedious manual work.  

It was a useful device and they started a company called Traf-O-Data. The company produced a few thousand dollars of revenue but later the states started offering free traffic processing services to cities. This ended the need for their device so the company never did take off.  

It was a lesson learned though. They may have failed with their first company but they gained experience in developing software for computer hardware that did not exist. The experience gained in this venture later was used to write a program that started a very successful company. In 1975, the two young friends named Bill Gates and Paul Allen established Microsoft to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for Altair 8800. Microsoft rose to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by the Microsoft Windows line.  

The lesson learned in the story above applies to each of us today. Dream and imagine where you want to go or want to be. Don’t be afraid to take big steps and think about things no one else has thought about. Thinking, believing, passion, and working together may lead to something beyond your wildest dreams.

Check out my other blogs where I receive a constant supply of inspiration for my writings by clicking on the links below:

Step Ahead
This Day with God Devotional

Friday, December 2, 2011

Organize to Fight High Prices

Think of all the inventions that have been made because of having bad days. Bad days make people think up new ways to create better days for someone else. According to amusingfacts.com, it was after dropping and breaking a bottle of milk which spilled on his floor one morning that John Van Wormer invented paper milk cartons.

Last week, I tossed out some ideas on neighbors working together to cut living expenses. Some questions were presented like what if neighborhoods worked together using coupons or buying groceries in bulk? Why can’t neighborhoods run like a business? A business saves money by purchasing items in bulk and organizing to cut cost. Think of the savings on a family’s grocery bill.

The price of food seems to be going up dramatically which is causing a lot of stress and bad days for families. Think of the items like paper plates, paper towels, drinks, diapers, etc. that can be bought in bulk with no expiration date. The main problem is storage. What if neighbors organized so that these items were bought in bulk and then distributed to the neighbors that wanted to participate in this idea? Think of the money savings on the grocery bill.

If enough neighbors worked together and were united as members of a group called “Neighbors United”, could they make a deal with a grocery store chain so its members could get discounts on purchases from their stores? If none of the grocery companies would listen, they could study the possibility or even use as a bargaining tool the development of a website so members of “Neighbors United” could sell grocery products themselves.

If “Neighbors United” could make a deal with a grocery store chain, it would provide a way for its members to save on their groceries and at the same time boost membership growth. If none of the grocery chains were willing to listen, the comprehensive online grocery store idea would take some work but in the end hopefully help to achieve an economic climate that would save families on their monthly grocery bill. The public would get a better price on their food and families would have more money in their own pockets. The “Neighbors United” organization would benefit with growth in membership and gain some power to fight against high prices because of the following reasons:

·       Enhanced public perception of “Neighbors United”

o   Neighborhoods would see benefits of “Neighbors United” membership

o   Members would have a tool that would help provide the best price and quality on their food

·       All neighborhoods would be working together on a joint project to make “Neighbors United” stronger and able to bargain for good prices

If you are willing to fight for lower grocery prices, click to +1 this post. We’ll see how much support is out there to work together at getting it organized and going. 

Check out my other blogs; where I receive a constant supply of inspiration for my writings by clicking on the links below:

This Day with God Devotional

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Neighbors United

We live in a fast paced world and the pace starts to pick up this time of year.  It’s difficult to keep up. Christmas shopping, bills have to be paid, homework has to be done, meals have to be made, and groceries have to be bought. Think about it – all the schedules must somehow agree. How does everything all work out? What are some strategies to get it all done?  How can technology help?
In nature, think about how things work. What causes a rainbow? From what I understand it has to do with each individual raindrop behaving like a prism. The sunlight is dispersed into the various colors. All these raindrops are working together and bending the sun’s rays. Think of how a pencil is made. To make a pencil it took people to cut down a tree… shape the wood. It took people to coordinate and produce the graphite lead… the rubber for the eraser… the metal part to hold the eraser. It took all these steps with people working together so that we can all buy a pencil at a very small cost.

Think about a honey bee. They will spend a lifetime producing less than a teaspoon of honey. Yet when they work together with their friends, they produce enough for us to consume as food. Think of a pack of wolfs. They howl and bark to communicate to one another as they work together to hunt food. They are very social animals as they stick together; sharing as partners throughout life. If you think about birds, geese fly in a “V” shape in order to fly more efficiently. They can switch positions and give their team mate a chance to rest from the wind resistance.

We need to learn from nature and work together. We are all brothers and sisters that should live in harmony with one another, building each other up, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Like the golden gate bridge, which is suspended by strands of thick wire, weaved together. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  We all need each other. No one can have much success on an island. I heard a story once about Mohumid Ali who was talking to a stewardess as everyone was buckling up for a takeoff. He told her he didn’t need seat belts because he is superman. The stewardess paused and smiled; then said “superman didn't need a plane”.

Many of us work with computers as a part of our jobs to help make the company or organization we work for more productive but how can computers make us more productive around the house? Applications like Word, Outlook, and Excel can help. One example I recently came across is a grocery list builder. Click this link to find out more: Grocery-list Builder. The article has instructions on how to use the grocery list builder and at the bottom of the article is a link to download a copy.

I remember having to go shopping by myself as a bachelor. I didn’t make a grocery list and would end up buying whatever looked good. If I needed a specific item, I usually walked from one end of the store to another looking for the item. I would usually ask someone and they would say something like, “look on isle B”. Because of those memories, I realize how painful grocery shopping can be. This prompted me to download the grocery builder and play around with it to see if I could change things up. Instead of the categories like vegetables, fruit, etc., I was able to create categories by location or isle within the store. All a person would have to do is update the Grocery List with the isle and they would have a tool that could make grocery shopping so easy a cave man could do it. J

Neighbors have a common purpose. They want to live in a safe, clean, and friendly place. I realize that everyone is extremely busy, but there are some neighbors I know little about. We should consider our neighbors as a part of our team. With social sites like Google+, there is no end to the ideas we can come up with together. There are some common interest and needs that neighbors share. Google+ is a tool to help neighborhoods get organized so they will be involved in the problems and inspired by their common causes like the cost of things, crime, and family issues. 

Neighbors can work together to make sure no one is paying too much for property taxes. It seems that the value of homes is so subjective and taxes can fluctuate from one neighborhood to an adjoining neighborhood for no apparent reason. Another common interest is utility bills. Why is there such a difference? What are some ideas to cut cost? Why can’t neighborhoods run like a business? A business saves money by purchasing items in bulk and organizing to cut cost. What if neighborhoods worked together using coupons or buying groceries in bulk? Think of the savings on a family’s grocery bill. Other things neighbors could work together on might include ideas on home improvement, exercise, and self-improvement. With a little luck, neighborhoods, communities, cities, and even nations can take off – There is no end to what we can do together.

Check out my other blogs at the links below where I receive a constant supply of inspiration for my writings.

This Day with God Devotional

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Lessons of courage can be found in studying military leaders as they encourage their people to pull together. The tougher the enemy, the more they seem to pull together. Each great leader builds confidence that permeates throughout the group and there is no fear of defeat. Sometimes the enemy we face is not an army but an illness and it takes the same amount of courage to fight

One good example of a military leader is the man named William Wallace who was one of the main leaders during the wars of Scottish independence. He opposed the English rule under Edward I.  Wallace and his army drove the English from Scotland and then invaded Northern England in 1297. An account of the life and times of William Wallace where portrayed in the 1995 movie “Braveheart”.  The famous rallying speech below from the movie motivates the Scottish army to fight.

Wallace leads his fellow Scots in a series of bloody battles that prove a serious threat to English domination. He was later captured and executed in 1305 but his courage to stand up to the tyranny they faced from English rule eventually led to Scotland’s independence one year later.

An example of a person with courage in recent times is the 1999 winner of the Tour De France, Lance Armstrong. Three years before winning what most sports experts consider to be the most demanding sports event in the world, Lance was dying of cancer. He overcame the fear of death to become only the second American ever to win the Tour De France. Then he went on to win seven in a row. The starting point is desire. We all can control our own destiny by reaching a decision to have courage.

We can apply the same principle of courage at our jobs, businesses, and organizations. Leaders should encourage employees to pull together. The tougher the project, the more employees should pull together. In companies with good management, the attitude of the employee is to pull for the leader and everyone compliments each other. If a potential problem arises and an employee is able to handle it before it becomes a major problem, everyone should complement the action taken. Then, just as a leader rallies his troops for victory, so does a business leader rally each employee. Confidence grows to permeate throughout the company and there is no fear of failure.


Check out my other blogs; where I receive a constant supply of inspiration for my writings by clicking on the links below:

This Day with God Devotional

Friday, November 11, 2011

Everything is Possible

Mark Twain said one time, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore – Dream - Discover.”

In 1852, an eighteen year old from Scotland did just that. With fifty dollars, he set out to pursue a new life in the land of opportunity. By 1899 he had become a lumber baron who procured tracts of pristine timberlands in East Texas and Louisiana and operated over sixty retail lumberyards in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma with assets near $4 million. With inflation, $4 million back then would be like $100 million today.

Like Mark Twain said, we need to sail away from the safe harbor. We need to aspire for objectives that are helpful and good for everyone. I once heard a story of a young girl who planted one yellow flower in a field. Twenty years later, the field was covered with yellow flowers. The lesson is that we should take advantage of the chance to be generous and plant our flowers because there is no assurance that the opportunity will persist. We should act out of love with no expectation of anything in return.

The lumber baron mentioned above died in 1899 and his heirs gave a one-hundred acre tract of land to the city in his memory. In 1910, the city turned it into a park and the family donated more land during the next few decades, expanding the park to its current 416 acres. In 1993, a 52-acre zoo opened within the park. Cameron Park Zoo in Waco Texas is a natural habitat zoo that has grown steadily in size and reputation providing great memories for all that visit.

 Like William Cameron who took initiative to set out with adventure, who knows what may start as you set out each day. Ask for water, God may give an ocean. Ask for a flower, He may give a garden. Whatever you ask for, God just may turn it into something beyond your wildest dreams.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recognize Excellence

There was an article I read this week that caught my attention. It’s about a wheelchair-bound young man named Trent Glaze who always wanted to play football but couldn’t because of muscular dystrophy. Here’s the link to the story: wheelchair-bound-football-player-takes-field. It’s a great story not only about Trent but of Coach Tom McCurdy. Coach McCurdy recognized excellence in the unseen qualities of Trent and in turn we can recognize excellence in coach McCurdy. He knew how important it would be for Trent to wear the team’s uniform; how great it would be for him to be in on a play. He had an idea but it took some time to arrange. You see, the play would take place after the game was over. The other team’s coach would need to agree to do it and explain it to his players. 

If you sit down for the evening news, all you hear about are the negative stories; wrecks, crimes, and disasters that destroy any positive inner thoughts you may have. It’s refreshing to hear stories like this one. I don’t know about you, but I wish the news media would get acquainted with this idea of reporting the uplifting stories like this one by Rheana Murray of the New York Daily News. It’s easy to report on the negatives in our society but how about stepping up to a challenge by reporting on the unseen qualities that individuals demonstrate every day. 

A story like this one provides food for the soul. Coach McCurdy saw a way to make an impact in Trent’s life and in turn it makes an impact in all of us. Trent will always have this memory to share with others and it can never be taken away. Coach McCurdy not only came up with the idea but also planned out the details. Stories like this one build momentum for more efficiency, more effectiveness, and more enthusiasm as each task is completed for a successful day. The memory of this event is not only with Trent but with us all. 

This story tells us that doing the right thing is more important than doing things right. It makes us want to work harder, set goals, and use our time wisely just like Trent and Coach McCurdy. It tells us to always recognize excellence and model it in all we do; every activity, every conversation, every problem, and even every thought. It helps us understand the greatest commandment, “love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.”  The second is like it; “love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:36-40

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Plan to Grow and Prosper

Time and money are two very important resources that need to be managed wisely.

The questions we have to answer every day are what do we need to spend time on today and what are the monetary investments that need to be made.

In 1626, there was an island inhabited by Indians. The island was great for tapping and selling fur. This caught the interest of a man named Peter Minuit who worked for the Dutch West India Company. He offered the Indians $26 in beads for the island. After about four years, there were 200 people that lived on the island. They set up a town called New Amsterdam. Minuit didn’t plan that well for the island and mostly wanting to increase his own personal wealth so the island didn’t increase in value.

This Island didn’t grow at first until some planning took place. They started planning streets and planted trees to make the area more appealing. Today that island bought for $26 is worth somewhere in the vicinity of $200 billion dollars. We know the island today as Manhattan. Some say the most valuable land on the planet earth. Insignificant land became skyscraper building sites. Once a place valuable for trapping and fur trade is now a trading center for finance; home of Wall Street, fashion, and center of New York City.

Now neighbor and friend, you know the lesson of the day. It takes a lot of planning to make something grow and prosper. Sometimes you have to get up early or stay up late to plan before getting busy. Also, money has to be used wisely so you can multiply that wealth. 

How do we budget our time and money wisely?  We need to focus more on activities like preparation, planning, and relationship building. We need to use money wisely by investing and increasing what was entrusted to us. We should accept our lot and be happy in our work. It is important to be concerned about money but it is by no means the only way to keep score. There is much to be said for a job well done, the respect of others, or the thrill of building something from nothing.

Check out my other blogs; where I receive a constant supply of inspiration for my writings by clicking on the links below:

This Day with God Devotional

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Honesty Truly is the Best Policy

Like I’ve heard in sermons at my church, we should be honest with ourselves; having the attitude of wanting to know where we fall short and what we need to do.

Our founding father, George Washington once said these words, “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an Honest Man”. Abraham Lincoln, known as “Honest Abe” once worked in a store and walked two miles to return a six-cent mistake on a bill. Isn’t it ironic that the person, who was honest with pennies, now has his picture on them?

There are many stories about honesty being the best policy and today I would like to highlight one that starts back in 1881 when a young man seemed to have a keen interest in business. He had rather sell steel traps to hunters than do anything. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and was always inconvenienced by his boots becoming soaked with water when he would go on his outdoor activities. He set out to resolve this inconvenience by developing plans for a waterproof boot.

In 1911, at the age of 39 he took out a loan for $400 to produce a quality hunting boot with a rubber-bottom and a leather-top. The boot had some quality issues at first but he was honest with himself and the people that bought his boots. He continued to want to know how he could produce a higher quality boot.

Because the man in today’s story was a man of integrity and had a passion for building a high quality boot, his idea and business continued to grow. He then set up a boot shop in his brother’s basement in Freeport, Maine. 

By 1917, he had sold enough of his boots and had enough money to buy a building on Main Street in Freeport. In 1918, he patented his invention of the boot and then moved on to inventing and improving other outdoor equipment. Over the years, Leon Leonwood Bean expanded his store and at the time of his death in 1967, the annual sales were in the hundreds of millions. The company continues today as a mail-order, online, and retail business based in Freeport, Maine. They specialize in clothing and outdoor recreation equipment with sales now approaching $2 billion per year.  L. L. Bean Company continues to be known for its high quality products and customer service.

Check out my other blogs; where I receive a constant supply of inspiration for my writings, click on the links below:
Step Ahead
This Day with God Devotional