Admitting That I’m a Minimalist

I have recently begun to downsize fairly significantly, but I never wanted to consider myself a minimalist.

Awhile back, I read the book by Joshua Becker, “The More of Less”.  I like his approach to minimalism.  He’s very determined without being a radical.

Just this morning, I started reading a 14-day devotional called “The More of Less” on YouVersion, that was written by Joshua Becker, also.

In the devotional, he defines minimalism as “…the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.”  That really hit home with me.  I’ve spent so much of my time throughout my life storing, organizing, and caring for possessions that aren’t very important to me, at the expense of living my life doing things that are important to me.

I like living “smaller”.

Chasing Dominion Cards

I wish I had thought to take a picture – or better yet, a video – but I was too frantic.

We were packing the car to leave for home after several days at a condo in Ocean Shores.  My wife, my son, and my parents were inside the condo taking care of the last minute clean-up duties while I was stuffing all our junk in the trunk of the car.  Our “Dominion Big Box” was on top of an ice chest on the sidewalk waiting for its turn for a spot in the trunk.  The wind was gusting pretty good.

Do you see where this is going?

Yep, the wind blew the box over and scattered its contents everywhere.

I guess this is a good time to describe what a “Dominion Big Box” is, for those who aren’t familiar.

My family likes to play table games.  Dominion is a great strategy game with that consists of cards…lots and lots of cards.  The “Big Box” is a set that includes the Dominion base set plus two expansion sets.  The total number of cards in that box adds up to around 800-900 small pieces of paper blowing around in the wind.  All around the parking lot.  Under cars.  In the bushes.  Between buildings.  Behind the condo.  Along the paths.  Over the berm.  On the beach.

When I saw the box of cards scattering, I quickly ran to the condo and suggested…no, pleaded…for everyone to come out and help me gather up the mess.

We all spent around a half hour gathering and stuffing the cards back into the box.  I was certain that we would be missing so many cards that we would end up throwing the whole set in the trash.

After we got home and reorganized the mess, we found that we had lost only about 16 cards.  Amazing!  Due to the nature of the game and considering the cards we lost, the game is still very playable, and we shouldn’t miss the lost cards, at all.



A Little Obsessive Compulsive Behavior

Let me start by throwing out a couple cliches:

Opposites attract.

God has a sense of humor.

Most people use those phrases to enhance their wit or humor, but there is so much truth to those phrases. Why else would God see fit to pair someone like me, who is a little obsessive compulsive, with a family who are anything but obsessive compulsive? It doesn’t make any sense, otherwise.

I’ve always been willing to admit that I am slightly obsessive compulsive. In other words, if certain things aren’t done a certain way, I get a little freaked out. For me, it truly does matter which direction the toilet paper roll is facing.

Following a Routine

From the time I get up in the morning, I follow routines.

The alarm goes off at 5:00. I push the snooze button then get up at 5:10. Walk to the closet and grab my shorts and a pair of pants, which I carry into the bathroom and set them on the counter. I go to the toilet, wash my hands, shave, shower, dry off, put on my shorts and pants, grab some tissue to blow my nose, grab more tissue to dry out my ears. wash my hands, brush my teeth, comb my hair put on anti-perspirant/deodorant (yes, it must be anti-perspirant/deoderant – not just deoderant)…..and the routine continues, every morning, in the specified order.

Did you notice that I shave before I do most of my other bathroom activities. In most cases, that would make no sense, but it became part of my routine several years ago. We lived in a house that didn’t have a fan in the bathroom. For me, it’s critical that I can see in the mirror while I shave. If I showered first, the mirror would be too fogged to see myself and I would have to take extra time to dry off the mirror so I could shave. I realized at some point that if I shaved before I showered, I could save the time and effort of having to dry off the mirror.

Now, even after we moved to a different home that has a fan in the bathroom, I’ve never returned my process to the original order. It still works.

Do you want to know how to mess with someone like me? Move an object that is part of his routine.

One time, several years ago,my son started using my comb. He couldn’t just use it and put it back in the drawer…NO…he had to take it and leave it somewhere else in the house. I couldn’t just grab a different comb. I needed my comb. I couldn’t just wait until I finished the rest of my bathroom ritual. I needed to comb my hair next. So, I would search the house until I found my comb and could continue.

This happened with regularity. In fact, it was so regular, that I began feeling unfulfilled in the morning if my comb wasn’t moved to an obscure location and I didn’t have to go look for it.

Everything in its Place

Everything has it’s place and should be left in its proper condition.

Because I live in a house with people who aren’t  “like me,” I end up having many “moments.”

If I were to be the last one in my house to go to bed at night, I would go around turning of lights and shutting and locking doors. Instead, I’m the first one up every morning, and the first thing I notice when I get up is that those things weren’t done properly the night before.

When I get home from work, each day, I don my French maid outfit and go around the house picking up wrappers and garbage to put them in the garbage. Then I make a second trip around the house to get all the cups and dishes to put them in the dishwasher.

People “like me” notice all those things that were not put where they belong. When the people I live with who are not “like me,” and I confront them about the mess I had to clean up, the answer is either “I forgot”, or “I didn’t see it.”

“How could they not see it, for pity sake?” I ask. “You had to walk all the way around it to get through the room.”

I’ll never understand.

Inspiration for my Blog Posts

I’ve been asked where I find the time to write my blog posts. Time isn’t really the issue for me. I don’t spend more than about a half hour each day writing my blog. It’s relaxing to me and at the same time gives me a feeling of accomplishment. It’s something that I enjoy and look forward to doing each day.

I get up a little early each morning and spend some time at my computer before I have to go to work. “Work” – now there’s something I dread. There’s a good reason they call it “work”. Blogging is not work. Blogging takes me away from work.

I used to try to convince people that it’s work. Like when my wife, Leslie, is dusting and vacuuming – I wanted her to think that blogging is work – otherwise, I would have to help around the house.

Now, I’m more mature, and understand how things work, so I blog in the morning and I help Leslie around the house when she needs it.

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
– Jack London

Learning How To Install Laminate Flooring

My daughter, Ashley, and her husband, Eric, recently asked me to help them install some laminate flooring in their house. Twice, I put some laminate flooring in the house that we used to live in, so now I’m an expert with that sort of thing…LOL!

That was an interesting story. In fact, I told my daughter that the only way I would help them with that project is if they purchased the snap lock type of flooring, because I had some experience with the tongue and groove type that you have to glue together. I’ll never use that style of material again.

The glue together type of laminate flooring is what we first put in the dining room in the house we were living in at that time. I was so careful and worked so hard to pull them tightly together and I strapped them and waited for the glue to dry before moving on to the next board. No matter how careful I was, it seemed that the gaps between boards got bigger and and bigger. By the time I made it to the other end of the room, there were some easily identifiable flaws in my workmanship.

I don’t remember if it was the next Winter, or if it was a year or two later, but we had a problem with some water leakage from our roof that ran down the wall and under our flooring. The water caused the edges of the laminate to warp and buckle. (Note here – always sop up any water that gets on your laminate flooring and don’t give it time to soak in through the edges of the boards.)

We ended up having to pull up that flooring and re-do it. This time I was wiser and used the snap together type of boards. It was so much easier and looked so much better. Lessons learned!

Anyway, I dug through YouTube to find some good how to videos to get some pointers for putting down the flooring. This is partly for me to remember how to do everything and to do it correctly. It’s also for Ashley and Eric to become a little more knowledgeable of the process before we go to work on their flooring.

This video gives an overview of the process of laying laminate flooring, including a list of the tools necessary for the project.

Another video with some good prep tips.

Learn here how to tap the ends together with a tapping block.

Here are some installation tips and tricks.

That gives a pretty good overview of the process, but the best thing to do before beginning to install laminate flooring is to Read Through the Directions That Come in the Box of Flooring Material. Oh, and be sure to ask question to the service people at the store where you purchased the material.


I collect witty sayings. Whenever I find something I like, I email it to myself and keep it in a file for later use. Then, when a time comes to recite them, I can’t remember them, anyway.

Here’s a few that struck me as particularly witty, and in many cases, funny.

It is bad luck to be superstitious.
– Andrew W. Mathis

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
– John Adams

A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students.
– John Ciardi

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
– John Kenneth Galbraith

A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.
– Gerald Ford

Anonymous Phrases

I wish I could give credit to those whose originality brought these statements, but I don’t have a source. All I can say is that I wish I were so clever as to come up with these thoughts, but I’m far from it.

You should not confuse your career with your life.

Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

Graduation Speech

My cousin, Rick, sent an email a couple days ago in which he shared a copy of a speech that was given by a graduating high school senior. I was so moved by the content that I asked for permission to post it here on my blog.

I want to preface the speech by mentioning that this student was graduating from a school in Tokyo, Japan where my cousin works.

It’s a long read, but well worth the time to read through to the end. I’d have to say that this is the most deep and meaningful graduation speech that I’ve ever known of. Read on……

When posed with the challenge of giving the graduation speech for the Class of 2011, I had trouble formulating exactly what I wanted to say. There was no rubric, no prompt, and an infinitely vast expanse of possibilities I could cover. While the idea of this freedom might sound freshly exhilarating to some, I found it rather troublesome.

This is, essentially, the closing statement we have to make, our final hug before we say goodbye, the punctuation ending our sentence here. But perhaps most daunting, it is the last time we will all be together. If you can’t tell, the pressure was starting to get to me. So, I thought to myself, what is it that needs most to be said? And more importantly, how do I not make this boring?

As cliche as it is, I could nostalgically trace back through our educational history here at CAJ, citing important works of literature we’ve read, global issues we’ve discussed, or the mistakes we’ve made – can anyone say ‘freshman ditch day?’ – but really, none of that matters at this point. Either we’ve learned something from these things or we haven’t, but I do not think that now is the time for me to stand here pretending to wax
poetic about the beauty of the journey we have taken thus far, and the resulting metamorphosis that has turned us into gorgeous butterflies ready to come forth from our cocoon and take flight. Because the truth is, retained academic knowledge and the pursuit of factual intelligence is not what the last twelve years of our lives have been about. When we need it most, though I know of some who undoubtedly question that
we’ll need it at all, we won’t be able to recall Newton’s third law, the graph of the cosine function, or which worldview Hobbes created.
Instead, we’ll remember a mix of the conversations we had with each other in class and waiting in the lunch line, a catchy chorus from that one choir song and the last second shot that determined our temporary fate, and, of course, the friendships we’ve forged with the very special people around us who have left lasting fingerprints on our lives.

But maybe most importantly, we’ll remember where we were at 2:46 pm on March 11th. I say this not to be dramatic, touching, or trite, but instead, to best summarize the feelings we confront tonight. The emotions stirred in our hearts from the earthquake and the weeks after it presented two paradoxes. The first was a feeling of fear in wanting to run to safety, but at the same time, courage in the determination of overcoming the obstacles before us. The second paradox we faced was the desperate desire to help those in need, while we found ourselves in a state of feeling utterly helpless. We faced the realization that, as much as we may have formerly believed, we were not in the driver’s seat.

But in this tangled mess of confusion, one truth ruled over all others: God’s sovereignty. Tonight, we are faced with similar feelings of fear, courage, and the understanding we are not in control. And tonight, we are met with the exact same conclusion: God is sovereign. For us Seniors, the moment we experienced as we stood evacuated on the soccer field, and the monumental earthquake we experienced in Thailand a mere two weeks later, shook each one of us to our cores. The emotionally draining experience of going through two straight life altering events left us with no other option than to run to the outstretched arms of God. Suddenly, the eyes of each student in this class were opened to what life is all about: depending on God. For the Class of 2011, these earthquakes brought cosmos into our lives, as we realized surrendering ourselves to God was the only thing that made sense.

As we move on from high school, we are thrust into a new chapter of our lives that is mysterious and unknown, much like the days after the earthquake. And while some part of all of us wants to stay behind in the comfortable habitat we’ve been in for so long, somewhere inside we also want to bravely jump into the enigmatic future, despite having no idea of what will happen to us when we do. But we do know one thing: that in the face of the coming uncertainty, as well as in the moments of peace, God remains in complete control. Though tonight is a reminiscent event full of farewells and tears, let us not treat it as such. But rather, let us enjoy tonight as the celebration of a leap of faith for these 47 individuals into an all-powerful, all-loving God’s arms, because he has a wonderful, wonderful plan in store for each of our lives.

Thank you.

Video musical de Austin – Vuelve a mi de Reik

Austin was assigned a project in his high school Spanish class. He was to play a Spanish song for his class and speak the words of the song in Spanish. He also had to prepare a powerpoint presentation and talk about the song and the band that performed it.

Austin thought it would be fun to do a video presentation to show to his class in addition to the powerpoint presentation that was required. Here’s the video that he prepared. It turned out much better than I thought it would. Sit back, relax, and get ready to laugh a little.