Sunday, November 29, 2015

Post-Thanksgiving Depression

Nothing too serious - just feeling down, frustrated, discouraged, maybe a little depressed.

I had one day to myself last (Thanksgiving) week, and I spent the whole day working on a faith-related project, which in and of itself is good.  But based on previous historical evidence I doubt that I'll see any fruits from my effort/labor.  Not only that but I'm still not done with it.

In addition to that one project, I worked on several other home related projects during the last few days of vacation, and I wasn't able to finish any of them.  

I had some fun with the kids here and there, but mostly I really wanted some free time during the vacation.  I didn't get much, not nearly enough.  Is it ever enough though?   I would love not only time to myself but also more time with Amanda.  Time to chill, hang out, exercise, watch movies, whatever.  Truth be told, we get more date nights than most couples, but multiple days with the kids at home gets old, especially when the weather isn't too great for them to go outside and play

I realized my life is blessed, and nothing is really wrong, but nothing is really right either.  I just feel a little lost, frustrated with what feels like a lack of choices (with money and time) and a lack of accomplishments lately.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Thoughts About Europe

From May 30th - June 12th, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe for work. A couple of co-workers and me visited various GE Aviation suppliers in England, France, and Switzerland.

Even though I wanted to go to these places, I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to actually be there.  I've heard about Paris being so great before, but I thought "is it really that much better than all of the other big cities I've been to, such as Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, etc."  Having now visited it, I can now say that it is indeed my favorite city.  Visiting the other European countries and cities was also absolutely amazing.

There were moments, especially when I first entered Paris and Fougere, that I felt so grateful to be there that I was almost literally moved to tears. While I’ve always had the thought that I’d like to visit Europe someday, I’m still so far financially from being able to go on my own that it's never really seem like a reality that I would actually get there.

I was also surprised at how awesome it was to be standing in front of these historic monuments.  To be able to put my hands on them, to have them looming over me so high that I had to lean back to see the top.  I took hundreds of pictures, but no matter how high the resolution, or how big the medium (screen, print, etc.), the 2-dimensional image cannot even come close to capturing the view, let alone the feeling of being there.  I wanted to take close up pictures, so I could capture the detail, but then you can only see a small portion of their immense size.

In school, history was probably my least favorite subject.  Reading about the various wars and events that happened before I was born was always boring to me.  I felt so distant, so separated from it.  But being at these places, and seeing the dates on the moments from the different periods in time puts it in an entirely different perspective.  I had so many questions about it all, the details, the statistics, the surrounding factors and supporting cast.  I know it’s impossible, but if all kids could learn about history while visiting the places that the events actually occurred, I'm sure it would be the most popular and absorbed subject in school.

Here are some observations and notes from my trip:

All Three Countries:

  • The 5-6 hour time zone difference is difficult to adjust to.
  • All the cars are compact, because of small roads and cost of gas.  Puegeut, Renault, Citroen, Mercedes, Audi, Alfa Romeo, BMW, VW.  Many motorcycles and scooters also.  
  • Light switches and electrical sockets are different.


  • More Muslims walking around (women with head scarfs).
  • More people smoking
  • Classic style taxi cabs
  • Grey, cloudy, rainy
  • Bath tubs are ~3” higher (trip getting in, stumble getting out)
  • Language differences:  KitKat = biscuit, truck = lorry, hood = bonnet, mucky pup = name called by jovial guy when cleaning smear on shirt


  • Fougere is very charming, historical
  • Cobblestone roads, stone buildings, cool castle.
  • Public porn channel in Fougere
  • Decimals and commas switched in numbers (10.557,013).
  • No air conditioning (very hot inside when temp rises outside).
  • Massy is not very exciting/interesting.  Well located though (pretty close to Paris).


  • Fribourg similarly historical and charming to Fougere.
  • Fantastic cathedral in Fribourg.
  • Multiple languages spoken/heard, including French, German, Dutch(?).  France probably most prominent due to France being closest border country to the cities visited.
  • Lots of rolling hills.
It was a life-changing, eye-opening, memorable trip.  Now I hope I can someday afford to take my whole family there, or at the very least Amanda.  I'd also like to visit the other major European countries.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Deadly Dream (from Thursday night, 4/31/2015)

I was in our house with my family.  Our house looked different though.  It was a little bigger and grander and had a lot more wood features.  I was on the top floor (it had at least three) and the rest of my family was at the bottom of the house.

I was on a ladder trying to fix something or another (replace a light bulb perhaps?).  When I started to get down, I lost my balance somehow and was falling off the ladder.  I tried to recover and jump down, and I was able to land on my feet with a loud thud.

Hearing the loud noise, Amanda yelled up to see if I was ok "MIKE!?"  I yelled back "I'M OK!" She yelled up again "MIKE, ARE YOU OK?"  I repeated my reassurance "YEP, I'M OK!"  This went on a couple more times, with her voice getting louder as she headed upstairs in my direction.  "Why can't she hear me, dang it!" I thought to myself.

Then I realized that I didn't land on my feet after all.  My soul was still alive and fully aware, but it was no longer in my body.  I didn't feel any pain, and I wasn't bummed about dying.  But as I woke up I felt immensely sad for the trauma that my family would soon encounter.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My First Time Drumming in a Band

This is the story of what it was like for me to drum in a band for the first time, under absolutely worst case conditions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In Appreciation of Amanda

I wanted to take a moment to make a vlog dedicated to my wife - who she is, what she does, and the relationship we have.  I love you Amanda!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Contrast of Memorials

Recalling my dad's memorial (after he passed away), and the contrast between him and another man, whose memorial was at the same church on the same day.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Introductory Vlog

This is my very first attempt at making a video log or vlog.  At first I tried to upload the video to Blogger, but the size was small and the resolution seemed crappy.  So I uploaded it to YouTube and inserted it instead.  Trial and error I guess.  We'll see where it goes from here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Warrior Princess

Tonight my oldest daughter Emily had on a tiara and white gloves that her and Clara received as a parting gift at the daddy/daughter dance.  She said "If I had a dress I would look just like a princess".
I replied "Emily, I think you're as pretty as a princess either way."

Then a few minutes later she asked me "How does someone become a princess?"
I said "To be honest, I don't think princesses are really all that great.  I mean, what do they even do?  They walk around smiling everywhere, with people taking pictures of them all of the time.  Big deal.  You know what I think is way cooler?  Let me show you."

Then I showed her (and my other kids) this video: Countdown to UFC 184
Emily said "But she's not a princess".
Me: "No Emily, she's way cooler than a dumb princess - she's a warrior."

Later, as an afterthought, I reminded my kids that there are only three circumstances when it's acceptable to fight:
  1. To defend yourself.
  2. To defend someone else.
  3. If both parties agree on it (when no one is being forced or bullied, or in a competition).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How Bad do you Want It?

My friend/co-worker/workout partner Chris said this phrase to me once - "It all depends on how badly you want it".  I don't even remember what we were talking about - probably about making time to go to the gym, which him and I typically do several mornings per week.  I can't recall for certain though.

I've been thinking about that phrase a lot lately though.  Amanda and I are planning on taking a cruise some time this summer, and if I'm going to be in a bathing suit a lot, then I would love to feel and look really fit.  Granted, my abs haven't completely disappeared (I'm still in pretty good shape), but they're not cut like they used to be either.

At my age though, how difficult would it be to get rid of that extra few pounds/layers that are hiding my stomach muscles?  I recently read (is it really reading though if you're mainly looking at pictures?) a post on The Chive called "Actors Who Went Overboard".  One of the more dramatic examples is picture #10, of Christian Bale (see below).
The caption below the picture reads:
Christian Bale lived on an apple a day to prepare for his “svelte” role in The Machinist and then put on 100 pounds of muscle to play Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins

I couldn't help but think - how badly must you "want it" to live on an apple a day?  How badly then do I "want it" if I can't forgo the garlic bread that accompanies the pasta-laden soup for dinner?  Or what about that piece of cake?  How badly do I really want those abs - enough to skip dessert?

That's the big question about any other goal too - how badly do I want that degree, that raise, to play that instrument, to learn another language, to grow closer to God, etc.

I know that being goal driven isn't the only thing in life, and sometimes it can be more harmful than beneficial (if you"want it", whatever the goal is, so badly that you're sacrificing the relationships with your loved ones, for example).  But if you find yourself falling short of whatever goals you are hoping to accomplish, then try asking yourself that question the next time you face an obstacle or stumbling block:
"How bad do you want it?"

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Spiritual Goals for 2015

I started this list with 5 goals, then kept adding on additional ones as I was thinking about it more.
  1. Set aside quiet time in morning (at 5am, before going to the gym)
  2. Finish reading the Bible again (this will be the 2nd or 3rd time through it)
  3. Keep a prayer journal (listing prayer requests and any observed answers/results)
  4. Be dedicated and consistent in prayer together with Amanda
  5. Find news stories to pray for (utilize God's power on a global level)
  6. Memorize books of the Bible (titles, order)
  7. Witness to at least one person per month
  8. Participate in at least one mission trip (planning for Detroit)
  9. Participate in one local mission/outreach activity per month (Matthew 25 ministries in January)
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