“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day 2007

The Chinese restaurant in Ft. Scott was busy on Christmas day. It was a good thing that Betty made reservations or we would have been standing in line for an hour or so. In honor of our Chinese buffet lunch we tried to watch the movie A Christmas Story, but couldn't get the DVD player to play nice with the TV.
Avery was excited about getting lots of presents. I hope Bart and Pam have room in their car for all of it.
On the way home there was an accident that closed Hwy 69. We backtracked and took a county road over to K-7. It turned into a long trip home.
Here is a video I made:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Right Tool

"Get the right tool for the job." I don't know if Ben Franklin said it, but he should have. I've preached this statement as well. At least I preached it to Brenda when I was on my way to Home Depot. Part of the fun of doing a project was finding the excuse to buy "the right tool" I needed to complete it. As a perpetual DIY person I always had a wish list of cool toys.

But it seems I sometimes ignore my own advice in little things and it turns out to cause a big problem. I've refused to give up on changing my own oil in my vehicles. I'm picky about the kind of oil and filter I use, and auto service companies don't have what I want. And changing oil doesn't take that long. At least it didn't until yesterday.

Auto makers have for years designed cars no normal-jointed person can work on. This allows tool manufacturers to make a living selling tools to reach into places no human can touch. When I bought our first Expedition I found this to be the case with the oil filter. I had to buy a new filter wrench to get the old oil filter off. It worked, sort of. I had to put the wrench on the filter and thread a hammer up between the frame and the engine and tap the wrench sung on to the filter. I then prayed the wrench wouldn't pop loose as I unscrewed the old filter. It always worked, after the fourth or fifth try. That is, until yesterday.

I always put the new filter on "hand tight". It's what I learned way back in high school shop class. I don't know if it is because of my recent strength training, but "hand tight" was now impossible to get off with my marginal tool. Of course the oil was already drained so I hopped into Brenda's Expedition and was off to the parts store to buy a better tool.

The only one they had was made of plastic. It did fit snuggly on the filter and I reasoned that the plastic industry has made great innovations in creating strong polymers. I bought it and headed home with visions of an easy job now that I had a better tool. I slid back under my car with my new tool in hand. This tool didn't have great innovation or strong polymers. It must have been made from recycled milk jugs. It promptly snapped leaving my old filter still smugly bonded to my engine. Another trip to the parts store and I found they only have plastic filter wrenches. I got a refund and went to Wal Mart.

Wal Mart had an old-style filter wrench with a new twist: a swivel handle. I did some quick mental calculations and decided it might just fit. It was under $4 so I wouldn't be out much if it didn't work. When I got home, I slid under my care and had the old filter off in less than a minute. Of course the whole oil change process had now taken 2 hours.

There is no substitute for the right tool.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fear of Success

Elan's blog: Point of vulnerability

In high school I defended the next to the last position on the tennis team. You had to win to move up, and I would usually play to a deuce and then lose the game.
I've recently seen how this pattern has played out in other areas through my life. I like to start things, but I have difficulty finishing. I used to think this tendency was because I like the process more than the completion of it. But I now realize it is the fear of success.
I've listened to a lot of speakers talk about motivation and goal setting. A few have talked about the power of the sub-conscious. The sub-conscious mind believes whatever it is told, and it is much more powerful than the conscious mind. If the sub-conscious believes that winning isn't a good thing, it will find a way to prevent it.
I'm just beginning to understand that I've been afraid of success and being a winner. I appreciate Elan's comments on pressing through to victory and success. We can all use this kind of encouragement.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Through a Glass Darkly

The "sons of the prophets" in the Old Testament were in touch with what was going on. Elijah was on his farewell tour and they already knew he was being taken away that very day. I would like that kind of connection to what's happening. But usually I stumble along and only find out what God was up to by looking back in wonder.
Our rehab house on 12th St. has been a weight on us for a long time. We recently listed it with a "for sale by owner" service hoping that someone would pick up the magazine from a grocery store and at least make us an offer. But I kept feeling that I needed to do more. I thought I needed to take the flyers and visit realtors in the area who might find me a buyer.
I searched online and printed maps. My first stop was in downtown Kansas City, KS, but the address was the Census Bureau building. I supposed that the real estate office may lease office space in the same building. But the receptionist hadn't heard of them. Someone standing nearby said the real estate company owned the building. She said she would take a flyer just the same. I thought it was probably a waste of time.
But I got a call a few days later from a woman working for the Census Bureau asking about how our lease-option offer would work. She was interested in seeing the house. When we pulled into the driveway she said, "I love it already." She liked everything about the house as she walked through it. And she wants to buy our house! She won't be able to buy it for 6 months or so but will lease with the option to buy.
I thank God for His leading even when, at the time, I don't see what He's doing.