Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Culprit and Interwire 2009

Tonight, I had a few minutes to try replacing the intertube on my bike (see a previous post). My first attempt, on Saturday, did not go great. However, today's attempt almost made it. It appears that I need an additional part to extend the stem when pumping. The pump accept the stem when the intertube is out but the stem does not stick through the rim far enough for the pump to fully accept the stem. Anyway, during this process of trying to get everything put together, my thumb happened to slide along the inside of the tire and then a line of blood appeared. A very tiny, but very sharp piece of metal had penetrated the tire. I was pleased to find the cause of this flat tire and now have a better idea of what to monitor and check. After cutting my thumb, I kind of paused for a minute just looking at it and thinking... about being alert.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

I'm learning more and more that it is important to be alert

And now another topic... Interwire 2009.

On Monday night, Jason and I headed over to Cleveland so that we could go to the wire trade show, Interwire 2009, on Tuesday. Your probably thinking, "Oh, wow, the wire trade show. Now that sounds exciting." Actually, I was able to finalize an upcoming trial and walked away with a few cost reduction ideas and learned about some new technologies. One of the cool parts of the show was a panel discussion held first thing in the morning. The panel included four industry leaders - including our own Executive Vice President. The grouped shared some interesting points. Although, this is an incredibly challenging economic environment, a few positives came to light. In this environment, people are more receptive change, more open to trying new ideas to trim costs or improve productivity. Consequently, the companies that do this stand to be much stronger when the economy starts to rebound. Several of the panelists also stressed the importance of relationships. Of course the customer relationship is a given. However, especially in this environment, developing a strong relationship with suppliers is important. These relationships create opportunities to problem-solve, share resources, and trim fat. In summary, their keys to success included a strong balance sheet, customer and supplier relationships, consolidation, and innovation.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Praising Continued

Tonight, I'm writing from a bedroom inside a hotel room. Yeah, this hotel room is probably nicer than my house. Some of the amenities... a full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, flatscreen TV, sofa, chair, kitchen table, huge bathroom, bedroom with another TV, 2 beds, a desk, end tables, coffee tables. So it is nice to be chilling here for a few minutes this evening before heading for bed. Last night, I finished off by writing, "This week, I'm hoping to spend time remembering to praise God... for everything! " Today, though, seemed in stark contrast to yesterday. I don't know, it really wasn't like it was a particularly bad day or anything specific. Yesterday, it seemed so easy to just praise God for his creation, for friendships, for everything that he has given us. Today, though, honestly, I struggled almost from the moment the alarm clock rang. What changed? It sure would be nice to know the answer to that question. The frustrations, the sense of inadequacy, the overall pissed-off-edness just kind of pervaded the day. However, developing a "praise habit" (ironically, I've read a book with this title written by David Crowder) will not happen over night. So tonight, I'm praising God just for the opportunity to take a moment and type down these thoughts. Maybe kind of lame. Maybe a bit of a cop out. Yet, even in these few moments, a sense of calmness has crept over me.

Tomorrow, Interwire.

Take care,


Sunday, April 26, 2009


Last night Jim walked us through the process of "finding peace." One of the components of this process is praising God for everything. He referred to Psalm 9:1-2:

I will praise you, O Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Today, it is difficult to know even where to begin when it comes to praising God.

The morning started off at 6:30 with a 10.5 mile run. It is pretty amazing to run with these guys on Sunday mornings. Today, was also the most beautiful Sunday morning of the year with warmth, green grasses, the small of flowers and turned soil in the air.

By 8:30, I was off with Jim, Jan, and Clella to the airport. I wish them the best on their road trip!

At around 1:45, Trent and I set off on a bike ride that was a blast - literally. The wind was absolutely brutal coming out of the south-southwest. It literally moved our bikes perpendicular to the road. It is just so amazing to be out riding in conditions like this. I feel closer to creation. Of course, returning to find some of Georgia's fine cooking sure was amazing, too.

The evening included a quick stop at the 'rents house for a delicious enchilada casserole and a walk with Auntie Lois.

So, yeah, definitely a day filled opportunities to praise God.

The challenge is to continue praising even in the bad times.

The other challenge is to continue praising even when their are distractions that make it difficult to remember to praise.

This week, I'm hoping to spend time remembering to praise God... for everything!



Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Rescue

Well, this evening did not go quite as planned, but I learned a lot about asking for help. After getting back from Lafayette, I worked for about 2 hours and then headed home to enjoy the beautiful weather. Upon entering the house and seeing my road bike staring back longingly from the hallway, I grabbed my helmet, put on my bike shoes, escorted the bike out of the house, and went off on a bike ride. As I was leaving, the thought of taking my cell phone past through the mind but left rapidly. After all, I don't have a anywhere to put it yet on my bike. Furthermore, I was experiencing a bit of youthful infallibility. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

So awhile later, I'm out in the middle of know where and approaching a stop sign. The stop sign is at the bottom of a hill and I'm still getting used to getting the left foot of the pedal when stopping. So I decided to stop at the top of the hill, get off the bike, and walk to the stop sign. Pretty smart, huh? Actually, it might have been because when I started pedaling again, there was no air in the back tire. I mean, none. I was riding on the rim as soon as I started biking again. Now, of course, I did not have a pump or an intertube (reference aforementioned youthful infallibility). It was also starting to darken a bit so I made the call to just scrap the ride and call for help. So this required going up to a house and asking to borrow a phone and then calling the only number that I could remember off the top of my head, my brother, Chad (aka Chuff).

Eventually, despite my poor directions, Chad found me on 6B road east of Juniper. Wow, it was sure amazing to see that big truck come down the road to the rescue. Thanks to Chad for helping a brother out. I learned some lessons.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Well, I was on my way to bed, but decided to write for just a few minutes. Tonight was a bit hectic and overbooked. However, at the management team meeting, I started hearing the sounds of a drum set from upstairs. (This was in part due to some miscommunication on my part.) Eventually, some bass guitar joined the drum and this was followed by some electric guitar and even some keyboard. Some guys at church have been trying out some music over the last couple weeks. I have had a chance to try and chime in some on the keyboard. Tonight, though it was pretty amazing to be downstairs listening. For the first few minutes, the sounds just sounded like chaos. As the minutes ticked by, though, the sounds started to come together into a bit of jam session. One of the management team members even said, "Wow, they are making music!" I'm really excited for these guys and their efforts tonight. They were learning, experimenting, and creating! Keep up the awesome work!

By the way, a friend at work reminded me of story from eighth grade that will be coming soon... stay tuned...

Take care,


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Worship on a Tuesday Night

It is so easy to compartmentalize the various components of life. One such component is church and this can be further compartmentalized into additional categories including praise and worship. So, first of all, church often gets compartmentalized to something that can only take place during an hour (okay, maybe an hour and a half) on Sunday morning or Saturday night. Maybe "praise and worship" composes 15-20 minutes of that hour.

Tonight, though, I joined Trent, Abby, and an entire auditorium of other folks in worship with this group Hillsong that hails from London. This place was packed and it was loud. My ears are still ringing. I stole this great phrase from a guy named Finney. You might have heard me say it before, "I'm tinglin'." The phrase takes on different meanings in different contexts, but at certain times in my life, I have literally had this tingling sensation. It kind of feels like goosebumps without the bumps - something deeper inside. At those times, I have felt closest to God. This tingling has been strangely absent for several months now and has been replaced with a spiritual numbness of sorts. Tonight, though, there were shimmers of a reawakening.

One of the things that the lead guy kept bringing up is that we worship a resurrected Lord. Uh. Yeah. Hello?! It seems so obvious when someone points it out and yet it seems so distant in the everyday hustle of life - the whole compartmentalization thing - almost like the light switch gets turned completely off or at least on dim.

One of the songs tonight included a chant, "Take, take, take it all."

It really is that simple.

Yet, it isn't so simple.

It is difficult, even painful. I mean the resurrection didn't occur without death and death didn't occur without serious pain.

Worship on a Tuesday night?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Black Hole

In a world overflowing with excruciating pain,

Many a soul wilts aimlessly, crying out in vain.

Glazed eyes stare longingly from the cavernous black hole

With misguided desires attempting to cajole.

The ghostly whispers only torment the poor soul.

Yet, the gentle breeze offers new life to the inane,

The joy-filled radiance burns away the mundane,

And the heart remembers that to trust is to gain.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Last night, Jenn and I went to an a amazing concert featuring original members of the Broadway Beatlemania and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. The concert was great! One of the things that struck me most about the concert was the cross-section of the population in attendance. People of all ages were attendance and having a great time. Two ladies were sitting 2-3 rows in front of us. Eventually, they could stay seated any longer and stood up (albeit a bit slowly), lifted their arms in the air, and started swaying with the music. That was pretty cool. I had to wonder, though, what was going through their minds as they took a step back a few decades to a different time, a different place. What reminders of the past did the music stir up? How had dreams, goals, and ambitions changed or evolved during those fleeting decades? What made the Beatles special back then? Why does their music still draw crowds today?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Leisure Reading

A week or so ago, it occurred to me that I had not done much leisure reading lately. Sure, I was reading but had not read a good fiction adventure in quite some time. Eager to start reading, I surveyed the bookshelves and came up empty handed. A bit discouraged, I walked around the house a bit. Then, one of the closets beckoned me open the door. Before my eyes rested a box containing some miscellaneous items. Oh yeah! A Clive Cussler book, Arctic Drift, glanced back at me from the box. It has been a genuine pleasure to take a few minutes a day and read. Adventure books, in particular, seem to foster some energy, excitement, and creativity. It definitely has been well worth the time to kick back and just read.

A random observation...

Tonight, I was trying to find a pair of non-white socks to wear tomorrow night. After rummaging through the clothes on the clean clothes futon, I ended up with a laundry basket filled with 18 lone socks.

Yes, 18.

First, the shear quantity was a bit overwhelming and even embarrassing. Yet, I was left asking a question. Where in the heck are the mates to these socks? I mean, most of you know that my organizational skills aren't always the greatest, but come on, 18 unmatched socks. This is just nuts.

Sorry about the sock tirade.

Take care,


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reflection on the Seder

On Thursday night, we participated in a Passover Seder. At one point the meal, everyone put horseradish and haroset on a piece of matzah. This little "sandwich" had pretty intense and diverse flavor. The pungency of the horseradish stung the sinus. Yet, the apples and the cinnamon offset this pungency and provided sweetness. According to our haggadah for the evening, "The haroset represents the mortar used in making the bricks when the Israelites were enslaved. But it sweet, because God was present even in the midst of their suffering." This is such powerful, experiential reminder that God is present, that there is sweetness in the midst of bitterness. Reminders like this are important. Sometimes I find it so easy to just go about the day without contemplating and remembering and recognizing the presence of God.

Tonight, though, I learned a little bit more about the presence of God. After getting home from Easter dinner (after having played trumpet at a service, keyboard at another, and running over 10 miles), all I really wanted to do was got my bed and read. However, there was this nagging voice saying to go for a bike ride and say hi to friend here in town who had texted earlier. The friend proceeded to share about some pretty intense financial stress that he is facing. Yet, even in this stressful and despairing time, he was courageous and filled with hope. This was kind of unexpected and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be there at that time.

Really, we aren't much different then those enslaved Israelites making bricks. Our enslavement though might look more like financial problems, addictions, fears, and on goes the list. And yet, the sweetness of God was and is present even in this slavery.


Check out my cousin's post for some Easter Thoughts.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


A few weeks ago I shared Just Some Thoughts. This post dealt with change.

These were some phrases:

All endings are beginnings
Every exit is an entrance
When one door closes another opens

I intentionally try to avoid writing much about work but just wanted to share some from the trip out east this week.

I spent the first half of this week at a plant in East Long Meadow, Massachusetts. This plant is closing and we spent a few days learning how to make the product that comes from this facility. I had the opportunity to talk with a few of the employees and was truly blown away by their sense of optimism, their sense of hope, and their obvious pride in the work that they were able to do at this facility. In the midst of this challenging and uncertain time, their willingness to help us and share information was so overwhelmingly generous and impressive.

This trip has been on my mind all day, and I still am not totally sure what to make of it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gradual Erosion

I'm still reading The Starbucks Experience and have come across some things that are very interesting. However, I also came across something that is troubling - even scary.

"One lesson I think we can all learn from this is that no brand is unassailable... And it usually not a single, dramatic event that weakens a brand. Most often, it's a gradual erosion that can be explained away as a temporary issue or maybe 'growing pains.' Too often, the 'exception' of lesser quality in time becomes the norm." (page 111)

This statement is in reference to quality and customer service issues at Starbucks. (The writer follows-up with Starbucks' response - embracing resistance. However, that is an entirely different topic.)

The reality, though, that the exception often becomes the norm left me more than a bit disconcerted. I would venture to say that this phenomenon is pretty widespread. Words like complacency and even apathy come to mind. Sometimes I inadvertenly tread down this path and it is pretty frustrating.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Stuff" Happens

Well, last night, I was in the process of typing a post regarding Palm Sunday (on Saturday night). However, the words seemed kind of hollow - not very real. This stands in stark contrast to this morning.

Around 7:00 AM, I met Greg for the Sunday morning run. It was just us today and we had some great conversation. However, around mile 6, I knew that I was in trouble. I'm not sure what was on that Subway sandwich last night but it definitely wasn't happy. When we made it to Fir Road, Greg said that he was going right and was going to finish out ten miles. I said that I needed to make an emergency pit stop at my house. So I went left and made a mad dash back into town. At the track, though, the situation was becoming near crisis and I was down to a painful walk up to my house. Then, in an instant, (literally an instant), it was over, and I was off again for a few more miles. I passed Greg over on Elm and he said that I looked a little lighter on my feet. It was certainly true. Whew, what a relief.

Actually, though, this near mishap led me to a place today - the cross. I don't know about you, but I certainly carry a lot of burdens - fears, frustrations, anger, the list goes on - and unfortunately it is not so easy to off-load these burdens as the burden from this morning. Yet, the cross is waiting right there for those burdens and the blood off Jesus is flowing down - quenching the thirsts. The body of Christ is eager to fill the gaping spiritual holes. And I'm sure Jesus, with a wide smile and glint in his eye, would say, "Dude, you sure look a heck of a lot lighter on your feet." Today, I felt lighter on both my physical and spiritual feet.

Take care,


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thursday Night

Yes, it truly is Thursday night once again. Has anyone figured out what happens to Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays nights (and days for that matter)? Right now, I'm just typing away for a few minutes waiting expectantly for a phone call.

This week I experienced something that felt kind of similar to something that happened in February. Defeat. Well, actually, I'm not sure that defeat is really it and it might more aptly be termed growth.

On Tuesday morning, we have been doing the Wednesday portion of BFS (bigger, faster, stronger) because many people are in the weight room on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (This moves Friday to Thursday, too. Are you confused yet? I am.) Anyway, Wednesday's activities on Tuesdays include power clean and dead lift. Power clean slays me. First, this thing is a pretty complicated lift for a novice like me. Also, I'm not the most coordinated fellow and I'm certainly not the strongest. So with all this being said, power clean has been a pretty rough ride. However, after a couple of weeks, the lift didn't seem so complicated and then I started adding a little weight. On Tuesday, though, I hit a wall. I've been feeling pretty weary in general and when I went to start the lift, the bar just wouldn't go anywhere. In fact, I had to decrease weight from the previous week.

A few weeks ago, during my final exam for financial statement analysis, I came to the last problem on the exam. I think it was worth 15 points. After reading through the problem, it occurred to me that I had no idea how to do the problem. No idea. Period. The strange thing was that I could picture exactly where the topic was presented in the book (page 535, net trade cycle analysis), but could not for the life of me thing of how to the problem. So I picked up the exam, turned it into the professor, and went on my merry way.


In both situations, my instantaneous reaction was embarrassment and a sense of defeat.

But then a moment later, reality checked in and everything was okay.

And besides, growth sounds a lot better than defeat.