Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stuff only a nerd like me would find interesting.....

Today in History ...

1962 - United States President Kennedy went on radio and television to inform his nation about his order to send United States forces to blockade Cuba.

1986 - United States President Ronald Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986 backwards, writing his last name first. The signing is still legal.

1997 - For the first time, United States inspectors discovered E. coli bacteria in imported Canadian beef, halting shipments of 34,000 pounds.

Fun Facts ...

Winston Churchill named his country home Cosy Pig, although it was formally known as Chartwell.

In 1615, the English explorer William Baffin penetrated to within 800 miles of the North Pole. For the next 250 years, no one else got nearer.

The standard pitching distance in the game of horseshoes is 40 feet for men and 30 feet for women and juniors.

Did you know the popular phrase "The blind leading the blind" comes from the New Testament, Matthew 15:14.

Did you know that french toast isn't French. It comes from a Roman cookbook, dating back to 1000 or 2000 B.C. and titled "Apicius on Cooking."

Did you know a male baboon can kill a leopard.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The rights of Liberty...

Every time I dare turn on the television (to any station) or turn on the radio, I am constantly reminded that this is an election year.

I happen to be a military veteran so I am especially sensitive to our constitutional rights.
I try and stay about as far away from political issues as I can when it comes to most of my dealings, especially with the church.

What I do say, and say with conviction, you and I need to exercise our right to vote.
I am not a big fan of American politicians, and my list is extremely short for politicians that I will actually take what they say to heart.

For the most part in America, politicians serve themselves or the big corporations that are funding there campaigns in return for support on their agenda's. Many of them are the front for their particular party's views.

I am so far beyond political parties that I wouldn't even find my way back to them with a road map. I realize that most people in America are driven by the "party" that they support; however, I am more inclined to support a candidate based upon his or her personal ideas rather than what their party affiliation is.

Regardless of what office they are running for, Senate, Congress, or President of the United States.

Whenever an election is approaching, I like to look at the voting record for a candidate myself and see exactly how they voted on all the issues that are important to me.

Did you know that you can look at how any member of Congress of the Senate voted on any issue? Anything that is voted on by either the House or the Senate, such as the war in Iraq, The Farm Bill, Civil Liberties issues such as Equal Pay or anything else.

I encourage all people to personally check the voting record for your Senator or Congress Representative before you vote in order to find out where they stand on issues.

You can do so using this resource:

Just pick your state, and then pick the Senator or Representative and look at how they voted on all the issues.

Their record speaks louder than any campaign advertisement.

You and I have the right to vote however we want, and for whomever we want, or you have the right to not vote at all.

I encourage you to find out the facts and vote your heart. If we do not, we will never have a chance at changing to future of America for our children and the generations to come.

I am asked a lot about who I am supporting for the upcoming presidential election, and others "assume" that I am supporting one particular party over another because of my position.

I will be honest and tell you that who a America citizen votes for is a private and personal matter, I usually refrain from discussing the issues with people.

However, I will tell my readers that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
I support neither party. Politically, I am a "Constitutionalists" and nothing else.

That does not mean that I wouldn't cast a vote for someone running on either ticket; however, I find things unquestionably wrong with both parties. I firmly believe that America needs a "revolution" of sorts in many different areas, and American politics would be at the top of my list.

So I support the Constitution, which has served us pretty well for 200 years.
However, I try to do my homework before I cast my vote.

The upcoming presidential election will be easier for me considering that both "main party" candidates have a Senate voting record already, and so I can check them out myself and see how they voted on the issues without the "influence" of political advertisements. :-)

Either way, just do your homework and please exercise the right that so many have paid the ultimate price for and vote.

When you do, pray and vote your heart.

Your Friend,

Friday, July 25, 2008

Economic Outlook

I would like for us to look at history and reference the Economic crunch that happened in Argentina during the latter 1990’s and eventually ended in 2002. I am of the opinion that they have yet to recover from the full effects of the economic crunch. Let us carefully examine the facts and I will encourage your own comparisons.

“The Argentine economic crisis was part of the situation that affected Argentina's economy during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Macroeconomically speaking, the critical period started with the decrease of real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 1999 and ended in 2002 with the return to GDP growth, but the origins of the collapse of Argentina's economy, and their effects on the population, can be found in action before. As of 2005, the crisis is arguably over, though many challenges remain for the country.” (Wikipedia).

Ultimately, the problem began to arise from a series of weak governments and huge amounts of public debt that was largely due to “unfinished projects” such as the Falkland/Malvinas Islands War. Interestingly, the State decided to take over private debts (bailing out) and ultimately this led to a steady increase in inflation. In other words, the government could not pay the debts so they printed money to cover the cost and hyper-inflated the currency and caused it to crash.

They battled the inflation issue for years and in some regard made really good progress at slowing it down. But Argentina had large overseas debt to pay, and unfortunately they had to keep borrowing money.

There was a fixed exchange rate and that helped make imports cheap, which caused copious amounts of money to flow OUT of the country, which led to an increase in unemployment.

In the meantime, government spending was still high and corruption was common among the government. Eventually, by 2001 investors had no more confidence and people all over began withdrawing large sums of their money from the banks and converting their cash to another currency. The Government acted fast and implemented a law that essentially froze ALL banks accounts for one year. As you can imagine, especially if it was your money, this led to public outrage and social break down immediately followed the financial break down.

Well, I won’t bore my readers with this any longer but I do want us to wise up a little.In America, we have gradually deflated our Gross Domestic Product and now import as much as we possibly can from China, India, and other places where labor is extremely cheap (slaves in some cases). With a decrease in exports and an increase in imports, watch out.Did you know that our Government currently borrows $3 billion per day to fund its operational cost? ($2 Billion per day according to Business Week)

We borrow money to pay the interest on money we have already borrowed. Economically, that means that the interest is compounding daily. Furthermore, the FED now makes the decision to assume, or take over, large amounts of public debt by “bailing out” failing banks and mortgage companies.
Does this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, go back up and re-read the parts about Argentina’s failed economy.
As Christians, what should we do?

1) Spend and manage your money and assets wisely.
2) Remain Faithful
3) VOTE - not based on a party, but rather on your heart
4) Be prepared for troubled waters, just in case

One way God provides for us in troubled times, is that He gives us wisdom before the troubled times hit.Remember, Joseph saw the turbulent times ahead and prepared himself for what was coming.

Not that I want to sound like a “doomsday” kind of guy, but I use this as a Biblical example of Godly wisdom and protection. God didn’t take Joseph out of Egypt because a famine was coming, but instead gave him the wisdom to prepare for it.

5) Lastly, we need to pray. Pray for our nation and our leaders.

The upcoming election, I am not afraid to say it, troubles me greatly.This is going to be one of the most critical times in US history.God’s people must rise to the challenge and walk by Faith and in our Faith.Now I know what you’re thinking..”What are you some kind of a nut?”For the last 10 years or so the primary message the church has been hearing in the pulpits is a message of “prosperity”. Many have been blessed and done well in business; however, most have squandered it all away on bigger houses, bigger cars, and bigger jewelry. The “God is going to make you rich” mentality is one of the greatest tragedies of the modern times. At least for the American church anyway.

Remember, God doesn’t need much in a jar to make a meal last a long time. God doesn’t need much in a bank account to take care of His faithful. Walk in His ways, and watch Him do miracles in your life.

Your Friend,

Monday, July 21, 2008

Economics # 2 (Just some more preparatory thoughts)

It is time for lesson 2, so hopefully all of my readers have brushed up a little on what economics is and or does.

When considering the Economics of America, which is without a doubt the greatest and most successful nations in the history of the world, what exactly makes us successful?

Why are we considered the richest nation on the planet? (Even though we are now the world’s largest debtor)

The United States remains an industrial power, with chemical products the leading manufacturing field. The United States is the third largest producer of oil in the world. It is the world's number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. While agriculture accounts for just less than 1% of GDP, the United States is the world's top producer of corn and soybeans.

The country's leading cash crop is marijuana, despite federal laws making its cultivation and sale illegal.

The New York Stock Exchange is the world's largest by dollar volume. Coca-Cola and McDonald's are the two most recognized brands in the world. As American’s, it is vital that we examine the source of all of our prosperity.

We must understand that Almighty God –Jehovah, sovereign creator, is the source of our blessings and prosperity.

On the faith of the founders, God developed through His divine providence a nation that would embody the grafted “Olive tree” that would be used to usher His message and His Glory throughout the world.In the words that solidified the purpose of this nation, the founders declared:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Let us also remember the words of John Winthrop in his famous sermon “City on a Hill”:
“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken… we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God… We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us til we be consumed out of the good land whither we are a-going”.

For in this day that we have forgotten the blessings and guidance of God, let us quickly remember that He is Just, and “His Justice will not sleep forever.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Economics: Lesson 1

Before we can really begin to discuss our current economic condition and compare it the Biblical axioms, we must first establish a common understanding of the basics.
In this first post, I want to define some words and try and establish an understanding of the basic subject matter.

As these posts continiue, I will add the "Tom-ism" into these definitions.

Economics: (Wikipedia)
Economics is the branch of social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Greek for oikos (house) and nomos (custom or law), hence "rules of the house(hold)."

Modern economics developed out of the broader field of political economy in the late 19th century, owing to a desire to use an empirical approach more akin to the physical sciences.
A definition that captures much of modern economics is that of Lionel Robbins in a 1932 essay: "the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."

Scarcity means that available resources are insufficient to satisfy all wants and needs. Absent scarcity and alternative uses of available resources, there is no economic problem. The subject thus defined involves the study of choices as they are affected by incentives and resources.

Microeconomics/Macroeconomics: (Wikipedia)
Microeconomics is a branch of economics that studies how individuals, households and firms make decisions to allocate limited resources,[1] typically in markets where goods or services are being bought and sold.

Microeconomics examines how these decisions and behaviours affect the supply and demand for goods and services, which determines prices; and how prices, in turn, determine the supply and demand of goods and services.

Macroeconomics, on the other hand, involves the "sum total of economic activity, dealing with the issues of growth, inflation and unemployment, and with national economic policies relating to these issues"and the effects of government actions (such as changing taxation levels) on them. Particularly in the wake of the Lucas critique, much of modern macroeconomic theory has been built upon 'microfoundations' — i.e. based upon basic assumptions about micro-level behavior.

One of the goals of microeconomics is to analyze market mechanisms that establish relative prices amongst goods and services and allocation of limited resources amongst many alternative uses.
Microeconomics analyzes market failure, where markets fail to produce efficient results, as well as describing the theoretical conditions needed for perfect competition. Significant fields of study in microeconomics include general equilibrium, markets under asymmetric information, choice under uncertainty and economic applications of game theory.
Also considered is the elasticity of products within the market system.

Macroeconomics can be defined as a branch of economics that deals with the performance, structure, and behavior of a national or regional economy as a whole. Along with microeconomics, macroeconomics is one of the two most general fields in economics.

Macroeconomists study aggregated indicators such as GDP, unemployment rates, and price indexes to understand how the whole economy functions. Macroeconomists develop models that explain the relationship between such factors as national income, output, consumption, unemployment, inflation, savings, investment, international trade and international finance.

In contrast, microeconomics is primarily focused on the actions of individual agents, such as firms and consumers, and how their behavior determines prices and quantities in specific markets. While macroeconomics is a broad field of study, there are two areas of research that are emblematic of the discipline: the attempt to understand the causes and consequences of short-run fluctuations in national income (the business cycle), and the attempt to understand the determinants of long-run economic growth (increases in national income).

Macroeconomic models and their forecasts are used by both governments and large corporations to assist in the development and evaluation of economic policy and business strategy.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): (Wikipedia)
The gross domestic product (GDP) or gross domestic income (GDI) is one of the measures of national income and output for a given country's economy. GDP is defined as the total market value of all final goods and services produced within the country in a given period of time (usually a calendar year). It is also considered the sum of value added at every stage of production (the intermediate stages) of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time, and it is given a money value.

The most common approach to measuring and understanding GDP is the expenditure method:GDP = consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports), or, GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)

"Gross" means depreciation of capital stock is not subtracted. If net investment (which is gross investment minus depreciation) is substituted for gross investment in the equation above, then the formula for net domestic product is obtained. Consumption and investment in this equation are expenditure on final goods and services. The exports-minus-imports part of the equation (often called net exports) adjusts this by subtracting the part of this expenditure not produced domestically (the imports), and adding back in domestic area (the exports).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Samuel Adams

I have been reading lately about one of the "founders" Samuel Adams.

Interesting material and philosophies I am discovering.

“Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy, and, in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country; of instructing them in the art of self-government, without which they can never act as a wise part of the government of societies, great or small in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.”

Samuel Adams

What some great stuff!
Our American Leaders should be required to read some of the material from the Founders.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A janitor’s ten lessons in leadership Part 3

Lesson 6
Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same.

Lesson 7
Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way. Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should-don’t let that stop you. Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.

Lesson 8
No Job is Beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it.

Lesson 9
Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.” Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

Lesson 10
Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory. Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen. I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don’t miss your opportunity to learn.

Bill Crawford was a janitor. However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero. Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons.

Please note: Credit for this article is given to Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"A janitor’s ten lessons in leadership Part 2"

Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the difference. After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn’t seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger “good morning” in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often.

The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more. Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn’t happen often at the Academy. While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill’s cadets and his squadron.
As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past. The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977.

As I walked out of the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, “Good luck, young man.”
With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed.
Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor recipients living in a small town.

A wise person once said, “It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.” Bill was one who made a difference for me. While I haven’t seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years, he’d probably be surprised to know I think of him often.
Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons.

Here are ten I’d like to share with you.

Lesson 1
Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.” Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.”

Lesson 2
Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor recipient. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

Lesson 3
Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed. It made a difference for all of us.

Lesson 4
Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

Lesson 5
Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero. Moreover, he was just a private on the day he earned his Medal. Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team. Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar.

The rest to follow tomorrow...
Please note: Credit for this article is given to Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

Monday, March 24, 2008

"A janitor’s ten lessons in leadership"

I came across this article sometime back and I thought it was simple amazing, and it has really given me some things to "chew on".

It was written by Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander at a date that I am not sure of. But I just wanted to share Col. Moschgat's wisdom with my readers.

The aritcle is lengthy, so it will be shared in pieces over several days. Please note that each of these postings all come from Col. Moschgat's article on "A janitor’s ten lessons in leadership" and I give full credit to him.
It does remind us of our duty, and what attitude we should have in our approach.
A janitor’s ten lessons in leadership

By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor.

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties.
Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed.

Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved. After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours.
Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the background. Bill didn’t move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury. His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets. And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny.

Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person’s world. What did he have to offer us on a personal level?
Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford’s personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him. Bill was shy, almost painfully so.
He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn’t happen very often. Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze.

If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell.
So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron.
The Academy, one of our nation’s premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk. And Mr. Crawford...well, he was just a janitor.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976. I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story.
On Sept. 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy.

The words on the page leapt out at me: “in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire ... with no regard for personal safety ... on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions.” It continued, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States ...”

“Holy cow,” I said to my roommate, “you’re not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor recipient.” We all knew Mr. Crawford was a WWII Army vet, but that didn’t keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being. Nonetheless, we couldn’t wait to ask Bill about the story on Monday.

We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces. He stared at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, “Yep, that’s me.”

Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at the book, and quickly back at our janitor. Almost at once we both stuttered, “Why didn’t you ever tell us about it?” He slowly replied after some thought, “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.” I guess we were all at a loss for words after that. We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to.

However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our squadron. Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst-Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal! Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, “Good morning, Mr. Crawford.”

Those who had before left a mess for the “janitor” to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order. Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions.

He’d show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin. Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.

More to follow....