Financial Training Wheels

Teaching our children about money is a very important responsibility. Nicole Mustard, senior vice president of strategy at Credit Karma, weighs in on teens and credit cards saying:
"Think of prepaid credit cards as training wheels in the world of credit. They are best for teaching teens to control spending and the conveniences of how and where to use a credit card, without the risk of falling into debt".
This makes a lot of sense if you embrace the idea that indebtedness is a fact of life. If you think that way then you feel a need to train your children about how to "borrow responsibly". It is all very logical except that the need to borrow money is not a fact of life. I suggest these two training wheels, left and right, for your kids:
  • Train them to conquer their lust: Many have taught their kids, by their living, that it is okay to pay for their lusts for houses, cars, clothes and other things with credit cards. In doing so they teach their kids to yield to the power of their lusts. And they leave them powerless to defeat the lust that will make them slaves of debt.
  • Train them to be generous: In a sense the flip-side of lust is generosity. Lust is focused on getting things for ourselves while generosity accentuates the need to sacrificially share with others. When we are sacrificially generous we embrace the welfare of others and declare our freedom from our own lusts.
Granted there is much more that can be said about teaching our kids about saving money and avoiding credit. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

Twisted Thinking

Beyond Blue, Therese Borchards' great mental health blog, had a post this week that was titled 10 Forms of Twisted Thinking. In it she lists examples from Abraham Low's teaching about how to analyze negative thoughts. Here are a few from the list with my comments:
  • All-or-nothing thinking: Life is filled with complex grays and it is often destructive to break everything down to simplistic black and white evaluations. I think that it can feed a perverse judgmentalism.
  • Overgeneralization: Hyperbole is a great thing when everyone understands that you are speaking in that kind of language. Sadly many times even we do not understand this and find ourselves covertly embracing some dark stereotypes.
  • Jumping to conclusions: I am not sure why we do it but we rarely jump to positive conclusions. I think that we mostly do this when things agree with our preconceived ideas and understandings.
  • Emotional reasoning: I am an emotional guy and as such have gotten myself in trouble when I let myself be consumed with the emotional side of life. I have to remind myself that my feelings do not always mesh with reality.
  • Blame: The Blame Game is one that is better to not be played. Many things that happen to us are not our fault or the fault of others. Blaming may make you feel good for a season but the bitterness that you develop is a high price for those feelings.
If you are interested in learning more, I suggest you take a look at the whole list here.

Can you relate to ever having these kinds of twisted thinking?

Text Test

I am not a big time phone texter - I rarely use text shorthand. Here's a bit of text shorthand. Can you decipher any of them?


I will post the answer in the comments. Let me know how many you knew.

The Moral Luck Concept

It doesn't take a genius to understand that much of our destiny is somewhat predetermined by the place that we are born. My blog friend Don Hendricks (pictured here) shared these observations on his Not Whistling Dixie blog on Wednesday.
From the moment I cross the border in Mexico I cannot stop thinking about the life I live in America in the middle class. I try to figure out how all the people I see down there are surviving in those put together shacks, those without electricity, the unemployed, elderly.

I think about those raised in Arab countries being tyrannized by decades of corrupt leadership, those whose religion is as oppressive as their opportunities are limited.

So much of the physical and spiritual blessings I enjoy are because I was born in the right place and surrounded by the right messages. This is why we need to see spreading the compassion of God toward the poor and the downtrodden as a privilege and responsibility of those more fortunate, more lucky, than others.
Sometimes I think that we in the West have a tendency to forget that we are living in the prosperity earned by our forefathers. In a sense not one of us is a self-made person - not one of us lives a life independent of the moral luck of life.

Ad Astra Oil

This image again reminds me of our dependence on oil from unstable mideast countries. My son owns Ad Astra Oil, a company that pumps and drills for oil in Kansas - they drilled and hit oil in January. You can get his perspective on the rising price of oil on a video, produced by a local TV station, at his company's website. The future is not stable for gas prices but I am hopeful that small oil companies like his can help keep prices lower in the long run. I guess only time will tell.

We in Kansas City are paying a bit over $3 a gallon. I heard that gas prices may hit $5 a gallon this summer. What are you paying for gas where you live?

Life: Understood Backwards but Lived Forwards

I think that most of us can relate to the squares on the grid shown on the left. Soren Kierkegaard once said:

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

I love how we can learn from past mistakes, disasters, resistance and successes.. both our own and those of others.. to walk forward in life.

Do hospitals want us to use their ER as a clinic?

Saw this billboard yesterday. It reminded me about how many people use emergency rooms for doctor offices. I think that billboards like this one serve to only reinforce that idea. You have to wonder about all of the hospitals that moan about that phenomenon then slap up billboards telling folks that their clinics have no lines and no waiting. I think that this aspect of health care problems probably are more complicated than we think. Do you think hospitals want us to use their ERs as clinics?

The Illusion of Networks.. Social and Otherwise

This funny Shoebox cartoon reminds me that our online personas do not always mesh with reality. It is good to acknowledge that carefully crafted profiles on blogs and facebook profiles often do not match reality. These online venues can be masks presenting pretty pictures and lofty descriptions of people we do not know.

On the flip-side I doubt that many of us really know the people that we regularly interact with. Who has not been surprised by friends? A few years ago one of my religious friends was caught doing drugs, losing lots of money gambling and running around on his wife.

Maybe there is a bit of illusion in all friend networks?

Stock Advice So Bad It Will Make You Cringe

Since retiring from Ma Bell in 1998 I have spent a bit of time managing my retirement accounts and watching the stock market run like a bull and walk/crawl like a bear. So my interest was peaked when I saw a Motley Fool article titled Stock Advice So Bad It Will Make You Cringe. The post is a reaction to a "Rich Dad Stock Success" seminar that staff members attended back in January. Here is a few things they agreed with the speaker on:
  • Investing is risky and could result in losing money.
  • Everyone's goal should not be to get rich quick, but to "get educated."
  • Illiteracy was the foundation of financial struggle.
  • The rich are that way because they "know how to compound."
The seminar then shifted to something they call cringe-worthy. Some of their feedback:
What was appalling was how actions and words so massively diverged. The earlier evangelizing about education was twisted into an unrecognizable form. This wasn't about education -- unless you count "learning how to read a green arrow and a line crossing another line on a chart" for knowing when to buy a stock.
I know a disaster when I see one. If you know someone considering one of these workshops, warn them that they won't learn much. Here's a direct quote I scribbled down: "I couldn't care less about why a stock goes up -- as long as it is." So much for education.
In the end, the most discouraging part of the seminar wasn't what was said or what went unsaid: It was the captive audience hungry for education. Some uniformed military who'd just gotten off work, some parents with their young kids -- they all wanted to learn about investing, but didn't. Those seeking true investing education at the Rich Dad Stock Success seminar instead got the quick-start rundown of how to use a software system.
That last statement so mirrors my experience with financial advisors who depend on software driven models and really cannot explain in simple terms why they prefer one stock or fund over another. If you encounter on of these folks I suggest your run. Following are a few of the Motley Fool's 11 must-do's for anyone wanting to learn about investing:
  • Don't buy stuff you can't afford.
  • Only invest money you don't need for at least the next five years.
  • Challenge others and seek to have your own opinions challenged.
  • Realize that there aren't any shortcuts in investing.
There are several suggested reading articles in the list that you also might find helpful. I suggest that you check them out if you are new to investing.

Do you invest? What one investing principle has helped you the most?

The Social Network | ★★★★★★★★

I have to issue a caveat - I am a nerdly geek and I am a Facebook fan. If you are neither then I suggest you might not like this movie. If the movie did nothing else it gave me a glimpse into the success of FB and it's creator Mark Zuckerberg - wonderfully played by Jesse Eisenberg. I thought that the screenplay moved fast and appropriately focused on FB players like the original CFO, Napster mogul Sean Parker and the Harvard jocks who claim FB to be their invention.

Some may disagree but I came away from the movie impressed by the intellect and prowess of Zuckerberg as he steered FB and made fools of his detractors. On a scale of ten, I give it ★★★★★★★★ and maybe more if you are a geek or like geeky flicks.

The Gospel of Wealth

No, this is not a post advocating for or condemning the prosperity gospel that some preachers preach. The Gospel of Wealth is a book (first titled "Wealth") that was written by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Here is what the wiki says about it:
In Wealth, Carnegie examines the modes of distributing accumulated wealth and capital to the communities it originates from. He preached that ostentatious living and amassing private treasures was wrong. He praised the high British taxes on the estates of dead millionaires, remarking that "By taxing estates heavily at death the State marks its condemnation of the selfish millionaire's unworthy life. It is desirable that nations should go much further in this direction." His "gospel of wealth" earned much praise, but did not win many converts. Carnegie made it clear that the rich were best suited for the recirculation of their money back into society where it could be used to support the greater good, given that they are presumed to have a penchant for management of capital. However, he shunned aristocratic chains of inheritance and argued that dependents should be supported in moderation, with the bulk of excess wealth to be spent on enriching the community. In cases where excess wealth was held until death, he advocated its apprehension by the state on a progressive scale: "Indeed, it is difficult to set bounds to the share of a rich man's estate which should go at his death to the public through the agency of the State, and by all means such taxes should be grated, beginning at nothing upon moderate sums to dependents, and increasing rapidly as the amounts swell, until of the millionaire's hoard, at least the other half comes to the privy coffer of the State. He claimed that, in bettering society and people here on earth, one would be rewarded at the gates of Paradise.
A few key points and my commentary about Carnegie's ideology:
  1. Carnegie's idea did not win many converts: It is a sad reality that the wealthiest amongst us are not philanthropists. Percentage wise more is given to charity by the poor than the rich. Even religious people are not generous tippers.
  2. Apprehension of estates by the state on a progressive scale: I suspect that most of us will balk at this idea because we want to pass on our estates to our families and not strangers. The next question raises the issue of how much should be passed on. 
  3. Dependents should be supported in moderation: Whether before or after death this seems to be a good idea. Inherited wealth rarely does anyone good when it is lavishly bestowed to ungrateful heirs. It is good for people to earn their keep.
  4. Ostentatious living and amassing private treasures is wrong: Reminds me of the rich man that came to Jesus and was instructed to sell all he had. Also remind me of the man who kept building larger barns for his grain and was called a fool when he died.
  5. Bettering society and people here on earth will be rewarded after death: Also reminds me of a passage in the bible where Jesus tells us to lay up treasure in heaven. Salvation comes by grace. Gracious giving should be evident in the life of a believer.
I am interested in what you think about Carnegie's thoughts about wealth and philanthropy. Please let me know what parts of his ideology you agree or disagree with.

Uncomfortable Shoes

This funny Shoebox cartoon reminds me of all the uncomfortable shoes that I have owned: in the 60s it was combat boots; the 70s platform shoes; the 80s winged tips. By the time the 90s got here I mostly wore comfortable casual shoes. Any more I mainly wear athletic shoes with comfortable inserts. Not much to get dressed up for as church is very casual.

Are you wearing uncomfortable shoes today?

Web-Streaming Funerals

Ann and I have much enjoyed attending church services via live web-streaming technology. In November we also attended a streamed NMO patient day that originated from California. So I am a huge advocate of this technology. Even so I was taken aback by a Mercury News post titled Web-streaming of funerals grows in popularity. Here is a clip from it:
Several software companies have created easy-to-use programs to help funeral homes cater to bereaved families. FuneralOne, a one-stop shop for online memorials that is based in St. Clair, Mich., has seen the number of funeral homes offering webcasts increase to 1,053 in 2010, from 126 in 2008 (it also sells digital tribute DVDs). During that same period, Event by Wire, a competitor in Half Moon Bay, watched the number of funeral homes with live-streaming services jump to 300 from 80. And last month, the Service Corporation International in Houston, which owns 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries, said it was conducting a pilot webcasting program at 16 of its funeral homes
I have to admit that this could be a tremendous blessing for out-of-town family but I wonder how much comfort such a service would offer to bereaved family members attending the funeral. There would be no opportunity to embrace and cry with hurting family members and friends. And certainly no time to visit with them or share stories. It seems this kind of technology would turn funerals into spectator events.

So, I do not think that I would want my funeral to be streamed. How about you?

Drugs: Caveats, Generics, Canada and Profits

Does anyone else groan when a drug commercial comes on the TV and begins to list all of the possible side-effects? You have to wonder how profitable such advertising can be. News of new drug patent laws in the US may also be cutting into those profits. Consider this clip from a Wall Street Journal post titled Drug Firms Attack U.S. Patent Plans:
A U.S. government proposal to bring cheaper generic drugs to the market more quickly and help curb health-care costs has triggered criticism from the European pharmaceutical sector. Many drug makers fear that cutting the patent protection for biologic drugs to seven years from 12 years will upend their business models and curtail their ability to develop new drugs and generate profits.
Add on top of this the mounting number of folks buying their drugs through Canada, where generics can be purchased before the US patent expires, and you have to wonder how the global market will impact the profitability of drug companies and their willingness to invest in expensive research. Even so, most of my drugs are generic. How about yours?

Wael Ghonim made a Difference

One of the amazing parts of the revolution in Egypt was the part that 30 year old Wael Ghonim, Google’s Cairo-born head of marketing in the Middle East and North Africa, played in it. Consider this excerpt from an article in The Daily Princetonian:
Ghonim created a Facebook page in late January calling for the first day of protests on Jan. 25. He is by no means the leader of the movement, but without his actions, Mubarak might still be in power. On Feb. 7, he appeared on television after being released by Egyptian authorities, and on Feb. 8, he told the protestors, “We won’t give up.” Three days later, Mubarak did, partly because Ghonim showed up to claim freedom for his country.
This speaks to me about how one person can follow their convictions and change the world. I join Google, echoing their tweet pictured here, and saying well done Wael Ghonim.

Is CPAC Really Relevant?

This weekend conservatives from across the country attended the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) conference in DC to hear conservative political speakers and vote in the CPAC presidential straw poll. Here are the voting results:
  • 30% - Texas Congressman Ron Paul;
  • 23% - Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney;
  • 06% - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie;
    06% - Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson;
  • 05% - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich;
  • 04% - Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty;
    04% - Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann;
  • 04% - Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels;
  • 03% - Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin;
  • 02% - Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
A few observations about the list of conservative candidates:
  • I sadly agree with Donal Trump (a CPAC Speaker) when he says that Ron Paul cannot win the nomination. Paul looks great on paper but does not possess the charisma or the appeal to Independent voters to win.
  • Mitt Romney has not been able to emerge from the Ron Paul shadow. He has been running for president for a long time and got a mere 23% - seems like he would have done better with his base. Yet he would probably do better with Independents.
  • A lot of these folks have the stigma of being "former". I get the impression that some of these are all about speaking engagements, appearing on talk shows and running for the presidency. Not sure that anyone takes the "formers" seriously.
  • No clear electable candidate has really emerged from the pack. Conservatives are splintered and the single digit percentages reflect it.
As a conservative I am not really excited about any of these candidates. I like Governor Chris Christie but have heard him say on many occasions that he will definitely not run in 2012. So, in light of all this, I have to wonder: "Is CPAC Really Relevant?"

What do you think? Will conservatives simply splinter around candidates that cannot win?

Love at Second Sight

Love at Second Sight

What drew me to her I do not know.
Spirit? Soul? Flesh?
A mystery to me still.
On that day I saw her again for the very first time.
Could this be love at second sight?

That day was bright, my heart was dark.
Her skin was fair, my soul was heavy.
A spark ignited and my spirit soared.
Could this be love at second sight?

The summer passed and fall had come.
My mind wandered still to that that day in June,
When my heart was touched by her lovely smile.
Could this be love at second sight?

As grief passed and courage grew,
I saw her again and then I knew.
That my heart longed to know her heart.
Could this be love at second sight?

Mourning exchanged for joy.
Loneliness turned into happiness.
Feelings I can neither explain nor express.
Could this be love at second sight?

Time goes on and passion grows.
Where we'll go who really knows.
My heart and my mind yet question still:
Could this be love at second sight?

I wrote this poem for my Valentine Ann in December 1994 after we had been dating a very short time. I rededicate it to her today. I am so glad that she is in my life.

The Secret Life of Bees | ★★★★★★★★★

This touching movie is about a young girl who is haunted by the death of her mom while she is living with a distant and verbally abusive father. It is set during the civil rights movement in the 60s and beautifully integrates the issues of those times into the story. Lily, the girl nicely played by Dakota Fanning, is taken in by three sisters and begins to find strength and healing as she is loved by these strong African American women. Queen Latifah does a great job playing the eldest sister who teaches Lily about life, courage and bee keeping. The movie brings you back to that turbulent era and really helps you think about what was really going on. The story was great, the acting wonderful and the message inspirational. I highly recommend it and, on a scale of ten, I give it ★★★★★★★★★.

Unity not Uniformity

I love the message of this mock poster. Often those who espouse to believe in "unity" deny that belief by the way that they behave. I think that religious folks can sometimes be the biggest transgressors in this area.. not that I have any first hand knowledge.
Here are a few things that wise people have said on the topic along with my strange and pithy commentary.

"United we stand; divided we fall." -Aesop  [Gotta love the simplicity. I think the heart of unity is all about finding common ground to unite around.]

"The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy
[I am glad that unity is not based on my opinions because they change so much.]

"Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking." -Mahatma Gandhi  [Commitment will always be tested. Anyone who has been married for any length of time understands this.]

"I know that my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by national boundaries and government orders." -Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy  [The things that unify us are greater than the things that divide us. Focusing on other things create division and strife.]

"I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent." -Nelson Mandela  [Solving problems can unify opponents like nothing else when the focus is on solutions and not problems.]

"The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out." -James Baldwin  [The words "break faith" speak to me about why unity is often so hard.]

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers." -Martin Luther King, Jr.  [Unity is an art that can only be learned when we acknowledge another as a brother or sister.]

Man vs Machine

On this day in 1996 Deep Blue, a computer developed by IBM, beat chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov. Kasparov rebounded over the next five games, winning three and drawing two, to soundly beat the machine. Next week, 15 years after the chess match, Jeopardy will host a similar Man vs Machine face off on TV. Here is an excerpt from
a write-up in the Kansas City Star:
Two of “Jeopardy’s” biggest brainiacs — Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — will compete in a three-day event Monday through Feb. 16 for a chance to win $1 million. But it’s the third contestant that makes this showdown different. They’ll be playing Watson, a super computer. That might not sound like a fair fight until you realize “Jeopardy” requires more than just knowledge. Often the answers are provided in the form of puns and other word games. Watson is programmed to understand the word play of human language.
I will be recording these Jeopardy episodes next week. I have always been intrigued by the man vs machine stuff - I loved the Terminator movies and even watched the short lived TV series. One of my favorite Star Trek characters was the android Data. It is probably the geek in me that wonders if man can program a computer to think like a man.

Of course the whole idea of a computer being sentient, or self-aware, is pretty ridiculous. The idea that humans are the sum total of their binary code is hilarious. Many of us admire the intellects of Einstein and Stephen Hawking. That said, I think that few of us would consider them truly human just because of their brain power.

Being human is so much more than our ability to play chess or answer questions, albeit in the form of a question, on a game show. Being human is more about feeling than thinking. It is more about loving and caring for each other. And, for me, being human is all about living from the most non-computerish part of me. How about you?

Winter Weather Woes

Early in January I had to get a jump for my weak battery from my next door neighbor. Fortunately the van was in our warmish heated parking garage.
I replaced the battery that afternoon. Since then I have not had any weather related problems with the van.

Have you needed car help this winter?

You might have OCD if ...

Years ago Ann and I weekly watched Monk, a TV show about a brilliant detective who suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). If you are unfamiliar with OCD I suggest that you read about it at sites like this one.

As I watched Monk on TV I started to identify with some of the things he did. Monk loved even numbers. He was all about symmetry and order. Monk was literally driven by his brain and, in a sense, was very uncomfortable with the issues of the heart. Consider these common OCD symptoms and my commentary:
  • Obsessive need for order or symmetry:
    I think that many computer programmers identify with a bit of an obsession for symmetrical order and see beauty in the programs that they write. I can also identify with once thinking that there was some sort of formulaic order to the Bible.
  • The inability to discard anything because it "may be needed sometime."
    I can relate to this sort of thinking. On the flip-side - I loved downsizing last year.
    Yet I do wonder if there was even a bit of OCD in that exercise.
  • Repeating routine activities for no logical reason.
    I do wonder if some of the things I once considered discipline was more of a compulsion. I am not really sure why I did a few of them.
  • Repeatedly checking to see if a door is locked or an appliance is turned off.
    I can relate to turning around, sometimes after I had driven several blocks, and checking if my garage door was closed - and it always was closed.
Looking at my writing above I have to chuckle about how I chose to make a bulleted list. It is so OCD. I hope that you cannot identify with Monk but don't think it bad if you do.

Anybody still using AOL?

Today AOL disclosed plans to acquire online news website Huffington Post for $315 million. It caused me to ask "Does anyone use AOL anymore?" I remember having an AOL account for 90 days back in the 90s when they offered free trials and sent you a special CD to load it up. Do you know of anyone still using AOL?

Super Trivia Quiz

See if you can identify the one item of Super Bowl trivia below that is false:
  1. 80 percent of all tickets sold go to corporate sponsors of the NFL and of the SB.
  2. The Kansas City Chiefs played in the first SB.
  3. The first four Super Bowls weren't called “Super Bowl.” Instead they went by the title “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.”
  4. Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger was, at 23, the youngest quarterback to win a SB.
  5. When Super Bowl I was played, you could have bought a ticket for only six dollars.
  6. On the Monday after the big game, an average of 6 percent of workers call in sick and antacid sales increase by 20 percent.
  7. The Dallas Cowboys have won the most Super Bowls.
  8. Super Bowl Sunday is second in food consumption in the USA behind Thanksgiving.
  9. Super Bowl I was the only one ever broadcast by 2 different networks (CBS & NBC).
  10. The Buffalo Bills have played in the most consecutive Super Bowls.
Let me know which item of trivia you think false.

What are your favorite Superbowl Munchies?

This dish looks way too fancy for me. My favorite football nosh food consists of a nice hot cheese dip replete with some chips to dip. Add to that some bison summer sausage and a few crackers. Finish it off with a bowl of peanut M&Ms and I am about ready for the game.. and a beer or two.
And I might add a few BBQ wings.
What will you eat with the game?

Small Plates

The United Healthcare Insurance Company is very interested in my well being and often emails me helpful information. Consider this outtake from their website where dietitian Melanie Polk speaks to the differences in how we eat:
A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat or drink — or what you're served. Whether it's from a package, plate or buffet, a portion can be a bite or a feast.

A serving size is a standard unit of measuring food — a cup or ounce, for example. The Nutrition Facts on a food label are based on this. The label tells you how many calories are in a single serving of the food. It also lists how much fat, protein, sodium and other nutrients are in that amount.
Years ago Ann and I recognized that we ate less when we served meals on small plates. At first I think that we went back and refilled our plates but eventually got used to the smaller portions. We often extend this thinking to our eating out experiences. We enjoy places that offer a Tapas (small plate) menu and we will usually share an entrée rather than gorge ourselves on two - and we rarely do buffets.

Are you a fan of small plates or do you enjoy buffets and larger servings?

Learning to Laugh at Trouble

Christina Carter listed her top ten laughter quotes for February on her blog today. I especially enjoyed this Edgar Watson Howe quote:
“If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you grow old.”
I have found this to be very true in my life. Now I am not saying that we should cavalierly brush off the sufferings and trials that affect us deeply. My thinking is that we should learn how to flow with difficulties. Here are a few things that I have learned about flowing with trouble:
  • Trouble is not permanent. There is a cliché that I don't care for but I think speaks to this. It says "This too shall pass". The months following Ellen's (my fist wife) death were horrible. I felt that my insides were being ripped from within me. Time helped put her death in perspective and I eventually was able to look back and celebrate our memories without experiencing pain.
  • Trouble reveals our need. We need others to help us heal. My friend Bob was one of those people. When Ellen died he regularly called me to check in on me. He had lost his wife years before that and really understood what I was going through. I have also helped others who have experienced great loss.
  • Trouble exposes our control issues. The scary truth about life is that we have little control over the most important things like health and adult children. Acknowledging this and discerning how to flow with life when bad things happen hit at the heart of how to laugh at trouble.
  • Trouble is relative. I cringe writing that. Yet the truth is that my troubles are often magnified because I take myself too seriously. Looking back I am amazed at the things that I considered "important". It does bring a smile to my face though. I am so egocentric. Good to know when you encounter trouble.
When I think about how I have learned to laugh at trouble I remember that life is something to be lived from my heart. When I live it from my head I forget that trouble is not permanent. My egocentric head tells me that I can go it alone. My brain deceives me and tells me that I am in control. Brainy pride causes me to take myself too seriously.

But my heart informs me that I can trust One greater than my trouble - One who loves me and walks through troubles with me. In my life learning to laugh at trouble is all about living from the deep place in me that I call my heart.

What have you learned in your life that has helped you to laugh at trouble.

Top Ten Banned Websites at Work

ZDNet has a list of the top ten websites that are banned at workplaces. I thought that it might be fun, since many of you are snowed in today, to ask you to identify which one of these websites did not make their list:
  1. Facebook
  2. Blogger
  3. MySpace
  4. YouTube
  5. DoubleClick
  6. Twitter
  7. Meebo
Does your company restrict websites? Which one of these did not make the top ten?