Monday, April 28, 2008

And So Goes The Last Brother

So, maybe I'm stealing some thunder from Jay, but I decided to write about his younger brother, (Jere)miah having taken his last steps as a free man, and into the world of marriage. I'm sure he'll have his own, and more well written take on the events from his point of view, as well.
You see, the Burns boys are practically my brothers as we grew up from the diaper days together, and still maintain contact with each other. Josh, the oldest was the first to marry, then Jay, and then came the day I truly and honestly never thought I'd live to see: (Jere)miah took his vows with his beautiful bride. Did he grow and mature, or merely find someone willing to put up with him for the rest of her life? I suppose it was probably a combination of the two!

We found the kid who would pee anywhere and everywhere, meet the family man he became (who probably will still pee anywhere with little provocation). The ceremony was beautiful, and included a rather humorous pastor. Then we went off to the reception. The entire trip sent us from one end of the metro to the other, then back. Nothing like a free metropolitan geography lesson to go with the celebration!
I saw many people I haven't seen in years, including their parents (my second set of parents), a step brother, and some of their cousins, aunts and uncles, and an odd assortment of old friends. And of course, her side of the family whom I have never known, and doubt I'll ever see again.

A couple highlights from the reception. (Jere)miah getting cake in his eye from his new bride. During his thank-you speech, he acknowledge my birthday the following day (also his birthday...he'd better never forget his anniversary now!). If I had been thinking I would have told him keep me out of it, and pay attention to his wife, but I was caught off-guard and could only wish him a happy birthday back. Made me feel a bit lame that I wasn't quicker on my feet. During the dollar dance, Josh's wife, Bethany, paid (Jere)miah back for his 50 cent contribution to her. It was priceless. Following that, I danced with him myself, sending him into a dip, and having him take a dollar bill out of my mouth with his.....yes, we are still kids at heart, I suppose.
I think the best humorous part was when "Dueling Banjos" was played...Jay and (Jere)miah played the part of dueling dancers, which has been captured on video, and will in the near future, be found on the internet.
My two sons spent most of the reception running about in an attempt to dance that usually turned trying to knock over as many people as possible. This seems to be their best talent at social functions. My youngest got himself in trouble for pouring a perfect cup of beer from the keg, and then trying to tell my wife he got it for her, as well as playing with a fire extinguisher he "found". As for the beer incident, apparently one of the other nephews was caught attempting his own shenanigans.
Later on, some of us met at the hotel for a little after-party fun. I was convinced to actually use the hottub, and then enter the pool. This is something I haven't done in years, and surprised my wife after I told her about it. I've not been much of a water person ever. Eventually, (Jere)miah showed up. A plan was hatched to throw him into the pool fully clothed. The only snag was the expensive and delicate little cell phone attached to his hip. I was sent in to release him from the phone, by borrowing it to "call my wife". He never questioned my motive, and as soon as I had the phone, his brothers and a few other guys grabbed him and moved him toward the edge of the pool. He tried to fight them off, and his mom was in the water right in front of them blocking it all. I handed the phone off to Trevor, moved over to mom, and removed her from the target area, and next thing you know there's (Jere)miah in the pool in completely soaked clothing.
Karma caught up with me at the end of the night. After having changed into dry clothes "against my better judgement" as I told Jay, that sentiment of mine was passed on to Trevor. I, mom, and another were attempting to send cousin Blake into the pool, and as Blake went over the side, I felt a push, and followed him into the water. So my last pants, shirt, shoes, socks and me were newly wet.
So that is more or less how (Jere)miah and I started our birthday. Completely soaked and no dry clothes to change into. We also happened to be the only people there who had to drive home that night.....that was one cold ride! And , um, that's my memories of the evening.
On a personal note, during the reception I saw the all the guys I knew, still having fun with each other,just messing around. On the way from my house to the hotel afterward, I had thoughts of inadequacy. I've spent the past few years doing nothing but work, and hanging out at home. I felt as though I had forgotten how to loosen up and have fun with other people. I really needed that night, as I enjoyed myself as well as enjoyed the company and the fun we had.

Friday, April 25, 2008

People Helping People Idea

Okay, so this is my blogsite for more serious thoughts, I'll pitch my idea here. I've been thinking about, coddling, and developing this idea in my own head going on about a year and a half now. And now, as it becomes more solid in my mind (the concepts, not the practice of) I will share it with you who read my stuff here.
I have contemplated starting up a corporation of my own. Not a tradition business so much as a philanthropic corporation. It all started with my Godmother, Kim, who received financial help for college expenses, under the condition that she pay it forward by helping someone else out with their education related expenses. My sister and I were the beneficiaries of this. I would like to do the same thing. Now helping my kids technically qualifies, which I am slowly doing on my own, but I want to take it all a step further.
I would like to set up a team of people who raise funds, creating a huge superfund, in which we provide low and lower-middle income kids with money for college. With tightening restrictions on school loan eligibility and availability, some people could very well need extra places to look for money. My team of marketing geniuses would be presented with a huge challenge in raising money on literally no budget, at least to start. For their efforts they would be rewarded. Instead of some meager payscale regardless of how much they raise, I tie their salary into the efforts. I would give them a base 10% of their individual efforts, with bonuses tied into the structure for achieving great results. I haven't finalized yet the bonus structure, so don't ask yet. We have time, as I havent filed for incorporation yet anyways (which I would name the company after my godmother)
Now, for the people who we would help. We would provide these potential students with the necessary money to pay for their schooling, be it a 2 yr tech school, community college, or a full 4 year degree. Initially it would be a loan, that as with most loan programs we would ask for repayment back into the system to help provide for other like kids in the future. However, they have a chance to earn the loan into a scholarship, by achieving a degree with a certain GPA (I am thinking 3.75 and above, but that's negotiable at this point). Also, for all loans, instead of charging some interest rate, we eliminate the interest altogether, making repayment limited only to the amount borrowed.
I was also thinking, that with a certain amount of money, I can figure in the costs to cover "x" amount of people per year, with essentially 5 years worth of students receiving payments at any given time, having funding great enough to support it almost, if not entirely, on interest gains alone. If this is confusing, just ask, I'll lay the details out on paper for you. With enough funding, in addition to paying for college costs, community service projects might be able to be included, whether it is for field trips for students, grammar/high school supplies, or something else. I guess, if it gets that big, I'll need some leaders of people to help me decide how extra projects, if they can be supported, would be decided upon.
And.....for those who insist on government funded things like healthcare or whatever, I can stay for-profit, and pay the taxes on it all as well....heck I don't know. We'll decide that later when I decide to file for incorporation. But, until then, I'm looking for motivated people who want a challenge to help me realize this dream of helping others (with voluntary donations) to take steps towards achieving their dreams.
To those of you who made it this far through, thanks for listening to a crackpot idealist drone on for a few minutes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What Would Be Your Perfect Day?

I have often thought about this question. I don't think it is ever the same, as all the things I enjoy could not all be easily fitted into one day. I imagine a day out with friends paintballing each other, or a day exploring nature while on a hike, sometimes by myself, other times with my two sons. Other times I would be satisfied just sitting at home with my wife watching movies. I imagine being able to get together a group of friends to play flag football (I'm getting to old to play tackle with people my size!), or hang out socializing while barbecuing some chicken. I'd love to again be able to take a road trip across the country, hitting all the little known out of the way attractions, with no concern of money or time.
I'm new to this blogging community, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on what a perfect day for you would be, and by all means, send your friends here so they can add their 2 cents in!

Payday Loans

So, I'm looking over my page and I'm seeing the google ads that I've allowed to be posted up. They change from time to time, and supposedly are to be relevant to my blog. Well, obviously, the blog being new, its hard to guage the relevancy as of yet, so I'm getting random ones. I see my top ad about homeschooling, and then at the bottom, the leaderboard is ful of payday loans. Now, if there was ever a tool of the devil, these would be them. I admit I have taken advantage of these services in the past when I was in financial distress, and needed a holdover until my folowing payday. The interest rate on these things is astronomical. Thank God they have a maximum borrowable amount. The people suffering from the housing crunch deal because they got overextended in their credit with no way to pay it back have it easy, interest rate wise....only double digits! If I extended my payday loans out over time, I'd have found mysef paying multiple hundreds of percent in interest. I have known some people who took advantage of the loan services, and then found themselves writing out more checks from other places to cover the initial loans. That is just absolutely crazy. I almost fell into that trap at one point. When your income is only so much, and emergency expenses start piling themselves into your life, it's easy to get caught up in a never ending circle of debt. I wasn't even living the highlife in comparison to anyone but a homeless person. Eventually, I had to sit down and take an honest look at my situation, and figure out how I was going to get out of it. I didn't have the option of asking relatives for money (and even if I did, stubborn pride would prevent me from doing so), and I highly doubt the legal system would let me claim bankruptcy over a few hundred bucks in payday loans. Luckily I have moved past that stage. Yep, graduated into CREDIT CARD DEBT!! YAY!!! Slowly I work to pay that all off too, so I can get myself into havng the available credit when its needed for emergencies, or when going on a long trip and hotels require it as a security deposit. I needed them at one point when I became the only income in the house, but now that my wife makes more money than me, it's just a matter of paying it all off now. One paycheck at a time......And the car gets paid off in October! So i'll be able to throw even more money at my debt, as well as save some of it, so that I might again live in a two car household. I'm getting tired of having to walk everywhere during the day when I absolutely have to go run an errand while my wife is working. Personally, I blame our singel car family lifestyle for the downfall of a certain little hole-in-the-wall restuarant called South Philly's, which served up the greatest Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (other than those that I made while cooking at a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in southern Missouri) in the world. I'm pretty sure I was their most regular customer. Then one day, my wife has the day off, I drive over for a well deserved (not sure what made me deserving, but I'm sure I can find some excuse!) Philly, and BAM...all boarded up. So I am philly cheesesteak sandwichless. I'm willing to take on a mortgage to pay someone to come over and make me good ones.....just let me go over to the payday loan stores and I'll have your money!
On a birthday is coming up in 4 days......if you're interested in getting me something, look at my links to the on Wide of his recent blogs features a book..."Contrarians Guide to Knowing God". I promise I won't turn that gift down!! (Hint hint! LOL)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Personal Responsibility

In The Book of Genesis, we are told the story of Adam and Eve, how they disobeyed God's command, and were punished for their sin with banishment from the Garden of Eden. He told them not to eat from the tree of life. The devil convinced Eve it was okay, and she in turn also fed Adam the fruit from this same tree. When confronted by God, Eve blamed the serpent, and Adam blamed Eve. Did God punish the serpent, the originator of lies which led to them eating the from this tree? No, he punished Adam and Eve because they, knowing God's Commandment, chose to disobey it. He showed them that for their actions there would be consequences.
Today, as we progress further from that time, and seemingly further from God Himself, this lesson is becoming increasingly lost on us, his children. Like the original human beings, when caught having done something we shouldn't do, we tend to blame others for our mistakes. And when we don't get what we want, we tend to look to others to provide it for us instead of taking personal responsibility and attaining it for ourselves. We disguise our wants and our lack of will to get it, by proposing rights that are due us.
Some examples include taxes, laws, healthcare and social welfare programs. Sure, we all like nice roads to drive on, working water/sewer systems, fire/police protection. Taxes for these purposes are great, and are usually found through usage taxes and property taxes. Although it seems when it comes time to foot the bill, we feel others should pay for it instead of us. Oftentimes, especially around elections, we hear about how evil the big corporations are and that THEY should pay for all of this for us who are less fortunate.
A lot of people demand their "right" to healthcare, paid for by the masses. A lot of people who advocate for this, themselves do not pay taxes, or pay very little. Granted there are those who have massive amounts of wealth who agree with the proposed "rights" of these people. And oftentimes, they aren't going to foot the bill, but rather insist that the government pay the levy, in other words, charge us taxpayers to pay for the healthcare of everyone else. It's a nice thought, that everyone had healthcare, but it isn't a right granted by the law of our land from what I've read. Do we blame doctors and hospitals for making health costs and insurance so expensive that a majority of people cannot afford it? Do we blame the lawyers who drive malpractice costs up through lawsuits of any kind against doctors and hospitals? NO! I propose we blame ourselves as a society. Afterall, the doctors and hospitals are charging more because it costs more to do business now. Why? Frivolous lawsuits by people who just don't want to pay for services, or are looking for a fast buck to get rich for nothing. Do we blame the lawyers who enable these people? Well, partially. They do prey upon this mentality, but inevitably they merely reacted to a new market created for them by these people. If you fall on a sidewalk, it's no longer an accident, but the fault of whoever owns the property, and that person WILL pay, if for no other reason than to avoid the costs and hassles of a lawsuit. This approach succeeds just ONE time, and you'll see a million follow!
There is also the right for people to get housing assistance and food stamps, all paid for by taxpayers. I believe in this form of welfare to a point. I have no issue paying into a system that provides this kind of help, if the benefits go to those who use it to get themselves ahead as they work their way out of poverty. For the many that choose to not work, or work just enough to have some cash but not lose these benefits, I would prefer to see this program cut off. It's time to teach these people that if you don't work, you don't eat. If you want to eat, then by God, go to work. We've taken a program that was supposed to be a handup and turned it into a handout for those too lazy to contribute to the welfare of the very society that holds them up. The Democrats, who are often the biggest proponents of social welfare or "entitlement" programs, are essentially nothing more than poverty pimps. They allow these people to continue down a path of poverty with the promises that the U.S. government will support them. Why? Because Democrats care. What they don't tell you, is as long as you get your benefits, and they have more control of our money through the taxpayers' wallets, they own you. They care about their power. But when you get a monthly stipend from them, it sure looks like they care about you. these entitlement programs are nothing more than modernd day slavery. Welfare recipients are the slaves, and bring the democrats more money everytime you DON'T produce. Seems rather backwards for a supposedly capitalistic economy, doesn't it? Who do we blame here? I'd say 80-90 percent of the recipients. Now this may sound like I'm heartless, but trust me, I'm not. Most of the people on welfare can take care of themselves, if only they CHOSE to do so. But why should they, if we're going to pay for their life anyways. Those who are truly physically disabled, I understand, although their families and neighbors should be looking out for them, like they used to do before these welfare programs came about. These family and neighbors should be partially to blame as well, for they justify not helping because the government will take care of it. Anyone remember that saying from the Bible, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but teach him to fish, and he'll eat for the rest of his life." ??? Well, apparently those of us who were taught how to fish, are left being forced to give some of our fish to others who won't learn to fish themselves.

WE see a dangerous trend forming right now. The bailout of major banks who overlent money to people who couldn't afford the loans. The possible bailout by the government of some of these homeowners who bit off more than they can chew, financially speaking. We have this "buy now, pay later" mentality. Unfortunately, we seem to buy way more now, until we can't pay later. And then we complain about everything else, looking to place blame on the government, our cheap bosses, the neighbor down the street who bought the fancy car just to show us up, when in reality the fault lay solely on us. Heck, I'm in debt, and have been for a long time. I could blame my wife for overspending our budget. I could blame high interest rates on credit cards that enticed me into the offer, and took advantage of my need to buy useless stuff. I could blame my parents for not teaching me well enough, or not loving me enough as a child. But in the end, the debt is my fault, because I failed to control my own spending. Plain and simple, I had Free Will, and I chose to use it to my own detriment in the long term, for a little short term pleasure. If I fail, I have no other place to put the blame.
I believe, no matter how detrimental it might be to these banks, the homeowners losing their homes, our economy, and anyone else, we have to be allowed to fail. Otherwise we'll never learn our lesson. We must feel some pain in order to move on. As far as the economy goes, we forgot about the lead up to the depression, and are committing ourselves to the same path. We forgot the lesson. Maybe we need to relearn it.
Just as with our children.....we spare the rod, we spoil the child. Rather than being a warning, it seems to be the rule these days. Dare to discipline your child with anything other than a timeout in the corner, and face charges of child abuse or endangerment. And now we have youths running over the rules of their parents, who stand by helpless wondering how their kids got that way. We have kids who videotape themselves beating up another kid, in hopes of a little fame through a website where they post videos. I mean, c'mon people. As a parent, I struggle everyday, hoping not to screw my kids up. If they learn one thing from me, it is that every action has a consequence. And hopefully when they are grown up, they will take this idea, and place the responsibility for their actions right where it belongs, squarely on their own shoulders. And that they teach my grandchildren the same thing, your decisions determine your path. Sometimes you succeed, other times you fail, but you learn from both, and you make your own way into the world. Don't let others determine your path for you.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Subject Matter On This Blog

I have yet to decide officially what the theme of this blog will be from here on out. I have contemplated using it for my walk with Christ, in which I explore some of the Bible's teachings, and my interpretations of what it means to me. This of course will be followed by corrections in my attitude by my more Christianly educated friends who read this, until I get a better basic grasp of everything, and show that my great ITBS "reading comprehension" scores weren't just a fluke. I have also thought about using this blog to rant a bit on politics, or at least political issues. Afterall, being of evil conservative ilk, it would be my duty to force my opinions on you, dear readers, in my selfish quest to rule the world and further step on the heads of the impoverished. At least thats what the liberal side of my brain would like you to believe. If you have any input on what you would like to hear from the Mind of Mookie, feel free to let me know!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My First Confusion Here

So, my first sign of confusion came as I viewed this very blog for the first time. I had added a picture to the header. Now that in and of itself isn't an issue. What is an issue is that while there is no need to scroll left/right for anything else, in order to see the entire picture up top, you now have to. My good friend, said that it may have something to do with the size of the picture. Now I wouldn't normally question this, except for two things.
1) When uploading the picture, the system said it would reduce the size of it to 600 pixels. Now I'm no genius, so maybe this means something other than overall size?
2) My friend has a beautiful panarama of the mountains....I have a shot of me and my youngest on the couch....... last I checked a single mountain, nevermind the range, was WAY bigger than my couch.
I must be way off in all my photo knowledge. Lacking in the department of photogenics, I have few acceptable pictures I would post as it is, and not having interest in any photo other than something somebody else took of something or someone else (still following me?), I havent bothered to take on the knowledge of this subject. SO, my good friend, in order to preserve a previously established right to laziness that I am entitled to, will have to look into this so that he can tell me these things. Although, being lazy, it probably won't cause a change in this header, and if you really want to see the whole picture, you'll still have to go to the excruciatingly annoying effort to scroll right and then back left. Good luck with that.

Yet another location to blog

And here I am, furthering my blog addiction with a new site. Some readers may know my writings and opinions from my myspace page. Hopefully this one will be a little more intellectual, or at least not nearly as juvenile as the other site. Although I will still take suggestions on what to write about, afterall I intend to have my best friend do all the legwork for me whilst I shall bask in the almost certain glory that comes with the more trivial of pursuits in life. More to come!