Friday, October 22, 2010

What To Do?

What to do on a day off....? I have a vacation day today, Friday, and next Monday. Four days of prime time opportunity in North Alabama. What to do??? Frankly I enjoy just relaxing and resting. Usually I don't get to do much of that. But, on the other hand, Tami doesn't want to just sit around and do nothing. So, I should "do" something that she will enjoy but that also is "relaxing and restful".

Here are the ideas on the table:

1) Go to Stem & Stein tonight to hear a friend perform
2) Go to a high school football game
3) Take the dog with us on a hiking trail across Green Mountain
4) Go tailgating with friends at the Auburn / LSU game
5) Prepare for leading the Young Adults on Monday night by studying Luke 13
6) Visit the Nashville zoo with Savannah
7) Catch up on chores around the house that need to be completed
8) Post to my blog about things to do on my vacation days...

I suppose I will do several of the above after it's all said & done. No matter what we choose, I just hope to spend some quality time with my lovely wife and get a chance to recharge the batteries.
It's a beautiful day in North Alabama - I'm sure I will maximize the opportunities...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thanks to you all...

This is post #100...

It's a good time for me to hang up the blog... it's been a bit over one year...

Thanks for reading and checking in.

As of today, Thinking Out Loud has had 10,073 hits.... Wow! Never thought that would ever happen.

It's been great reading some of your comments on my blog. Thank you all...

Many regards..... Jim

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Favorite Verse

My Bible...

Being a logical-thinker is a big part of my make-up. Sometimes I don't realize how much it plays into my day-to-day judgement and discernment - but it does. Tami will even tell you that, at times, I'm obnoxiously logical. Where God gave me a full measure of logic, I often come up short regarding compassion. Whereas Tami is gifted in the compassion-arena & tends to be more free-spirited and risky, I am "Mr. Conservative" for the most part. I wrote about this in August of 2009.

Here's an example.... while reading my Bible last night before going to bed, I asked myself, "What really is my favorite Bible verse?" If you look at my Bible you'll see that I have hundreds of verses underlined and starred. There are so many that are so meaningful and that have instructed and helped me for decades... But which is my favorite...?

Maybe you'll be surprised. Here it is:

John 14

25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
27 "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.

John 14:26 (NIV)

OK... not so inspiring, right? It's this part, though, that means so much to me:

"the Holy Spirit - he will teach you everything and remind you of everything I have told you."

Since becoming a young Christian many years ago, I had always struggled with the question of how did the writers of the Bible get the facts straight? How did they record actual quotes from everyone, including Jesus? They didn't have iPads, Post-it-Notes, Google Blogger, or smart phones to capture the actual comments or events. I've always had this very logical & practical question. (...told you I was too logical...) Then I came across this verse, John 14:26, where Jesus is speaking to his disciples - telling them that he will send the Holy Spirit, once Jesus departs, and the Holy Spirit will remind them of everything! That's it! That made logical sense to me. This one verse really tied it all together for me. Too logical, right! Anyway, it has always been a very important verse for me. The Bible, God's Word, gets it done for me. It's the best way to know and learn more about the character of's the best way to know the best example to follow - Jesus. He's who I want to be more like... that's my journey in life... be more like Christ... I'm trying... be patient with me...

As I post this page to my blog, I realize it is my 99th post - in just over 1 year. I've enjoyed writing and expressing some of my thoughts as I've been "thinking out loud". I hope to print the posts in book-form and keep it for years to come. I might get a kick out of reading some of this thinking in the future. Thanks for reading...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oil-free & Sunny...

A Self Portrait

Last weekend we spent our anniversary at Sandestin, FL. We didn't know at the time what we were heading into.... the weather forecast was 60% chance of rain everyday, and the BP oil situation was even more concerning. On top of that, the day before we left, our car had a puncture in a side wall of one of the front tires. We were waffling between driving our convertible and our Toyota Sequoia. It was the convertible that had the flat... that almost made the decision for us.... after all, we expected rain each day....

View From Our Condo

Well, the flat was fixed by 8 AM departure day, so we decided to take it - solely by faith that the weather would cooperate. Turns out that we were able to "go topless" for the duration of the trip except from Huntsville to Birmingham. I think we actually got more sun while in the car than we did at the beach.... We used a lot of sunscreen while in the front seats of our red IS 250C. It was a great trip down and back as we travelled over back roads for most of the trip.

The beach was beautiful! No sign of any oil... although everyone was talking about it and the crowds were definitely down. We didn't wait anywhere when we went out to eat. We did hear that one hour west of us, small signs of oil were showing up on the beaches. It was just a matter of time...

Oil-free & Sunny

It was a very well deserved relaxing time for both of us. We have each been busy doing a plethora of things for everyone else, so it was great to spend quality time on us. The weather cooperated grandly. Tami got burned.... she always does. And I enjoyed simply spending time with my lovely bride of 28 years. On our way back from Sandestin, Tami had to drop me off at the Birmingham airport so I could fly to CVG for meetings the following morning. I arrived at my hotel about midnight.... back to the real world....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Caitlin - A Girl with Taste...

Check out one of the most impressive web sites I've seen in a while...
You'll love reading it as much as I love tasting it!
Thanks Cait!

28 Years!

Twenty-eight years today! Tami & I have been married for 28 years! Add the five years we were together before that, and you get 33 years of pure bliss... well, almost pure bliss...
This year we decided to escape to the beach for a few days to remember and reflect and relax. We don't get much free time to do any of those very often.

We each remember different details from our past years together. As you get older, I guess that happens. Of course we remember some of the same things too, but between the two of us, we can put a pretty good picture back together. She's the one for me and always has been!

I started this blog one year ago to the day. My first post was the day after our anniversary last year. You can read it here. Tami won't get her 28 roses while we are at the beach, but they might be waiting for her when she arrives home... the tradition continues... I love you Tam.

Monday, May 31, 2010

How Much Have You Paid?

Thank You! You are Appreciated!

So many have given so much... for you & me. Honestly, if you're like most Americans, we take it for granted. It's true that you rarely get anything for free. This goes for the freedoms and independence that we enjoy in our country today - and our enjoyment comes at a cost. Have you paid a price for the freedoms you have? Maybe so... maybe you know someone who has... but the vast majority of us haven't really paid for our freedoms... we haven't!

These freedoms are many! They can be as simple as worshipping where we want, when we want, without any concerns whatsoever. They can be as explicit as military protection from the crazys of the world that hate us with a passion... and there are a boat load of other freedoms in between. My hope is that all of us, starting with me, will appreciate the cost someone else is paying on our behalf.... not just on this Memorial Day, but everyday!

I'm truly sorry that I don't do this. I vow to pray everyday for those that are protecting my freedoms as a American citizen. I always want people to appreciate what I do for them - it's only right that I appreciate what these heroes have done, and are doing, for me. Most of us can't get to the Arlington Cemetery easily, so I encourage you to check out this on-line tour. Clicking on the red circled areas will drill down to more information regarding the highlights.

Thank you! You are appreciated!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ten Things About Bethany

The Future Bride & Groom...

I've been wanting to get this off my chest for quite a while now.... so, here it comes, with all the honesty I can muster....

Ten things I don't like about my future daughter-in-law:

1) She is always smiling.... something must be up
2) She never says anything bad about anyone.... I've tried to bait her, but she never bites

The Graduates

3) She was a great student.... magna cum laude... I'm never playing her in Trivial Pursuit
4) She seems totally authentic... Come on, who's always totally authentic?
5) She didn't find my son soon enough... what took so long?
6) She has a wonderfully tight family... very close... they have loads of fun... maybe explains the smiling
7) She is a choco-holic... she needs to branch out... probably would never eat "white" chocolate
8) She has way too much hair.... curls everywhere... I've got 50 hairs- she has 50 bazillion

Probably Something Chocolate...

9) She's an adventurous cook.... Jordan is going to weigh a ton
10) She doesn't come around enough... it's only 10 1/2 hours from Michigan to Alabama.... Come on!

Other than these items... she's perfect!

An Early Morning 29...

After rising at 5:45 this morning, Jordan & I rode 29 miles on our road bikes. For the most part we had the road to ourselves.... after all, it is a holiday weekend and it was 5:45 AM! Even though is was 97% humidity and 72 degrees, the weather was lovely and the ride was even better. This is the longest that either of us has ridden this year. We have been riding a bit during the week - about 14 miles each time, but this was a great spring board into the summer riding season. For me, at this stage, the 29 miles are impressive, but even more so, is the fact that a recently graduated collegian is getting out of a perfectly comfortable bed at 5:45 AM to ride with his Dad....

The farthest I rode last year was 54 miles. I hope to eclipse that this summer and this 29 is a good start. Jordan even had the gumption to suggest (or challenge) that we ride 100 miles before he departs for his married life. That gives us only about 3 weeks to achieve the three-digit milestone. I don't think I can do it, but we'll see how my progress matures. His challenge kind of gives me the feeling that he's been "holding back" on the Old Man.... I guess it's not surprising since he is almost 30 years younger than me.

So, here's to all you Dads out there trying to stay young, trying to burn more & more calories, trying to keep up with your kids, and trying not to look too terrible spent when your son keeps looking back and asking you, "Are you alright Dad..."? Maybe I'll let some air out of his tires next time....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Congrats to the Graduate!

The youngest Bolte has successfully acquired a BA degree from a prestigious institution of learning. I was there to witness it! It makes a parent proud to hear the name of your child called out to thousands attending the commencement ceremonies after 4 years of hard study and special experiences that can only be obtained from a college adventure. "Jordan Thomas Bolte"! Way to go dude!

Five hundred and sixty students graduated from Taylor University this past Saturday morning. Tami, Caitlin, and I joined my Mom & Dad, plus Bethany's family, as we sat amongst the masses. We had reserved seating - mainly because Jordan was this year's Student Body President. As we were seated and waiting for the proceedings to begin, three people stepped into the row in front of us and proceeded to take their seats. I kid you not - these people had to hail from the "land of the giants"! Midway through the commencement, I mustered up the nerve to ask the young man directly in front of me, "How tall are you?" Get this: 6' 10"!! Six feet, ten inches!! I can't see squat in front of me! His father, 6' 5", sat next to him! I'm guessing that his mom was about six feet! So much for the reserved seating... Luckily there were large screens available that allowed me to see over Goliath & Crew...

Future LA Lakers Star!

I heard a reputable news agency recently report that only 25% of this year's college grads will find jobs. It sounds like an uphill battle for Jordan & Bethany. They are actively looking across the country for appropriate employment - but it's not an easy task in this economy... millions of people can attest to this. Jordan majored in Biblical Literature and Bethany in Media Communications. Pray for jobs people... Pray!

Two Happy Graduates!

I really am proud of Jordan's accomplishments. He has demonstrated wonderful leadership and relational skills. I suspect that they will land jobs soon, and the next chapter in their lives will be off and running. Keep up the good work JB... you have much, much potential. But, next time you invite me to a big event, can you get me some better seats....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Letter to Jordan

You will graduate from Taylor University this Saturday.... I'm so proud of you Jordan!

Not so much because you have persevered through 4 years of studies.... not because you were the Student Body President your senior year.... not because you've demonstrated leadership via multiple roles on campus.... not because you tend to make wise decisions and never hesitate to seek advice.... not because you've called home "almost" every week.... not because you obviously have great judgement in selecting your bride-to-be (you are clearly marrying up).... not because you have a personality that simply won't quit... But, I'm more proud of you Jordan because you are a man of God and you exude what we have tried to model for all of our kids: Love God & Love People. You do this.... and for that, I am so proud of you son!

Dancing through Life!

Without getting too mushy... let me just say that you are a load of fun to be around. You are a magnet, drawing people in with your infectious personality and humor. You're no slouch intellectually either - but still no match for your father... However, I always enjoy toying with you via verbal exchanges that only you & I can muster. Keep practicing...

Tami, Jordan, Bethany

Even as a little boy, you had the energy, charisma, and charm that would keep your parents, teachers, and babysitters on the edge of their chairs. You seemed to be unafraid to say or do anything that demonstrated a fullness of life that few seem to enjoy. You also weren't reluctant to step up and "do the right thing", even if it required taking risks. You would often defend your class mates if someone was bullying or making fun of them. I truly believe that your 22 years of life have touched and positively impacted more people than you may ever know, this side of heaven.

Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid!

Jordan, as I join you this weekend in Upland, IN, to watch you graduate with a Biblical Studies major, and as you prepare to begin the next new chapter of your life with Bethany on July 2, please know how much I love you and appreciate you. Thank you for being a great son... I'm so proud of you Jordan.... Dad.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cycling with the Mayor....

Jim Ryan... Me... Ono-san... Wes Woods

Four of our Toyota management team joined a few hundred other cyclists and the Mayor of Huntsville in his 2nd Annual Ride with the Mayor event in downtown Huntsville. The event is used to highlight bicycle safety and to promote the sharing of the road between vehicles and bicycles.
It was a short, flat, easy course, and we had a great time. The Mayor only had one rule: Don't lap him!

Ono-san Looking Colorful

Jim Ryan... Me... Ono-san

Guess which one is the Mayor?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama!

Last weekend... Mother's Day Weekend... I attended a large church in Kentucky. During the sermon, the minister spoke very meaningfully and quite eloquently. I consider him one of the most gifted communicators in the country.... very talented! But, surprisingly, in the middle of his sermon, he made not one, but two, disparaging comments about the state of Alabama. Without going into detail, let's just say he didn't paint Alabama in a very favorable light. I think he was trying to be funny... using Alabama as the butt of a joke. But, the audience didn't even laugh... they just simply moaned.... kind of like..."I can't believe he just said that..."

He is a very influential speaker with an extremely large audience. Maybe I'm just extra sensitive because I happen to live in Alabama. But, my question is "Why do we have to make fun of others"? Is there a bit of elitism there? Does someone think they are better than others? I don't actually think so, but I have to admit that it was a "turn off" for me. I was disappointed in his comments - actually a bit angry, if I was honest.

Alabama has tried very hard to tear away from the typical stereotype that many people have. I've lived in the Huntsville area for about 7 years. Alabama is not perfect, but unless you've lived here, you can't appreciate the progress and accolades the area has achieved. You can find many of the national and international recognitions here. Once you come and see for yourself what a great place this is to work, live, and play, you may not want to leave.... we hear this a lot.

It's a bit funny to me that someone from KY is making fun of someone from AL. I don't mean to be critical, but have you been to eastern KY lately? Oops... I'm doing the same thing, aren't I? I have business acquaintances on the west coast, and frankly, they don't see much different between KY and AL... or TN, MS, WV, etc. for that matter.

So, why do we do this? Why do we use someone else as the butt of a joke? Just to get a laugh? His comments tear down everything we are trying to do in AL, in regards to improving our image. I just don't see the value in doing this. I hope he will reconsider his approach in the future. Am I just extra sensitive because I was negatively impacted? Would I even be writing this if he had used TN instead of AL? Not sure. But I do know that my eyes were opened a bit wider because of the episode.

By the way.... I am from KY, born & raised there. I always speak positively of the Commonwealth. I hope others in KY will do the same about Alabama....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Letter to Mom

Today is Mother's Day. I got to spend the weekend with you these past few days, Mom. I, absolutely, really enjoyed it. Mother's Day is a time for you to rest and relax while we wait on you. But, as usual, you made us breakfast, lunch, and dinner the entire weekend. Your only reprieve was when we took you out for dinner on Saturday evening. While you always feed us well when we visit, I wish you would let us dote on you more. Thanks Mom!

I always feel comfortable when I come home. Even though I didn't grow up in the house you now live in, you still make me feel at home every time I crash for the weekend. I feel like you roll out the red carpet for us each & every time. It's not necessary, but it's appreciated. Thanks Mom!

When I was a little boy, I remember holding your hand in my small hand just so I could examine it closely. I thought your fingers and hands looked perfect. Soft, smooth, beautiful. It's strange that I remember that detail, but I suppose it's because these were the hands that picked me up, pushed me forward, protected me, fed me, loved me and caressed me. Thanks Mom!

Me at 9 months

You have always impressed me with your insight, perspective, dedication, courage, and intelligence. I believe that I am who I am today because of the key influence you had in my life. You have given me many practical examples to follow. You'll always be special to me in ways you may never know. I'll always look up to you, Mom, and am proud to be called your son. Thanks Mom! Happy Mother's Day.... I love you.... Jim.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wild KY Derby Hats...

The 136th Kentucky Derby is in the books. It was wet, wild, and the most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. $2.1 million were up for grabs.... but it's the claim of being a KY Derby winner that everyone covets.... Super Saver did it by 2.5 lengths.... (I lost $20 on the race... I was pulling for Ice Box.)

Check out these hats at this year's event....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why Do You Ask?

Why do people ask questions to which they already know the answers? When you think about it, it happens all the time. Maybe sometimes they really don't know the answers, but often, they do... Here are some examples:

Tami might ask me....
  • When are you going to take out the garbage? Answer: He needs to do it now.
  • Are you really going to eat that? Answer: Not on your life.
  • Do you know where you're going? Answer: He's lost.
Honestly I do this a lot also. I often ask my kids questions about things that I already know the answer to. I do this to try to get them to think for themselves. I also want to check the depth of their thinking. Have they thought about things from multiple viewpoints? If so, how many points of view? Are they simply skimming the surface, or are they peeling back multiple layers of the onion?

Sometimes I want to see how much they know, but sometimes I want to see how truthful they are. God even does this. In Genesis, chapter 3, God is walking in the garden of Eden and calls out to Adam and says, "Where are you?".... now, don't you think God already knew the answer to that question? After all, he created Adam and Even and they are the only two folks traipsing around in the vegetation. Maybe God is seeing if Adam will be truthful - given that he and Eve have just violated God's only restriction in the garden. Sure enough, Adam comes somewhat clean with his response:

Adam says, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

Ahh... yet two more questions to which God already knows the answers....

Most times, if not always, it's best to just be truthful. At least this is the most important trait in my book.... if you don't know the answer to some one's question, it's best to state that you don't know. But also, think about why they are asking. Think about what you might learn from their question. Think about the "motive" behind the inquiry.

When Tami asks, "When are you going to take out the garbage?", she's really stating that the garbage if full and she's reminding me that it's my predetermined responsibility to do my job. This may not even be the first time that I've shirked my role in performing my task... or it could be that she's just tired of me watching the NBA Playoffs on TV and she wants me to do "anything" constructive....

So the next time someone asks you a question, think about answering their question with a question of your own.... something like: "Why do you ask?"...

Friday, April 30, 2010

New Mobile Security

Snapped a pic of this security officer making his rounds INSIDE the terminal at the Memphis airport. He said they've been riding bikes indoors for over 12 years.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

4 Things to Do Before Marriage!

So you're thinking about getting married? Maybe this doesn't apply to everyone right now, but it might come in handy some day. I've been giving the following simple, yet critical, advice to engaged couples for many years. I suspect someday that many of them will come back to thank me.... maybe...

1) Hang wallpaper together!

Doesn't sound interesting or valuable to you? Well, try it!! You'll be surprised at how telling the results will be. Tami and I have performed this task several times during our marriage. Maybe we should have performed this task BEFORE we got hitched. Usually it's me, balancing on a ladder, arms outstretched holding an 8 foot strip of wet wallpaper, listening to instructions (no, directions) from my loving wife... Comments like "It's not lined up", or "You don't have the patterns matching", or "I think you're holding it upside down", or "Are you sure it's wet enough?" or "Do you want me to hold something?" are a few examples....

Hanging wallpaper will surely test your patience and teamwork. It might unveil personality characteristics that you have never seen before - in both parties. For example, I might reply to my wife's comments with "It looks lined up from where I'm standing!", or "Trust me, I'm NOT holding it upside down!", or "I'm sure it's wet enough - it's dripping all over the floor!", or "Hold your comments please!!". (Maybe I really didn't say that last one...)

Anyway, hang some wallpaper... trust me, you'll get a kick out of it...

2) Play Monopoly together!

This will show you a side of each other that you never knew existed! They'll turn into ruthless, cut-throat, unforgiving, money & property monopolizers.... or, you'll see a no-accountability, poor decision-making, careless, in-debt player that will have no interest in competition, winning, or even playing. Maybe you'll even see someone somewhere between these two extremes. But nevertheless, their true financial and competitive traits and skills will be revealed.

Even picking which token you will each use may be telling... give Monopoly a try!

3) See each other totally wet!

Now, I don't mean naked... I mean, check out how each other looks on their "worst" day - not their "best" day. Be sure that you are not duped into actually believing that he/she always looks that good. It's not true! In fact, you had better fall in love with the "inside stuff", because the "outside stuff" is surely going to change (i.e., droop, drop, wrinkle, drag, fall out, hang over, etc. - you get the idea...). Seeing each other in their "authentic & natural" state is something you must discover BEFORE marriage.

4) Have a fight!

You must learn to fight fair! What?! You haven't had a fight yet? This is a red flag! If you are hanging wallpaper, playing Monopoly, and seeing each other on their worst hair days, you should be fighting... at least once! Each person fights differently and you need to understand and talk about those differences. Are you a turtle - hard shell, slow to respond, retreats easily.... or are you roadrunner - fast talker, drop a bomb and retreat fast.... or are you a porcupine - needles out all the time, ready to defend your position at the first attack? It really doesn't matter, you just need to know how to communicate with each other, given your fighting techniques.

It sounds goofy, but you must learn to fight fairly..... practice it.

There you have it.... words worth gold! By the way, I hate to hang wallpaper, I never win at Monopoly, I never have a bad hair day (no hair), and I've learned to master the art of fighting with Tami... finally, at the end of the fight, I end up saying the three words Tami always loves to hear.... "Let's eat out!" Try it, it works....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Do You Eat?

Tami says I need to eat a healthier diet... let me translate that for you: "time to lose some weight fat boy!" Of course, she's the one bringing home Lay's wavy chips and hummus dip. So, tonight before dinner, I thought I'd have a small appetizer of Lay's and hummus. She scolded me... She was in the process of preparing a wonderful dinner of grilled chicken breasts, grilled zucchini and squash, grilled pineapple slices topped with cinnamon, brown rice, and diet green tea. I just thought I'd prime my appetite with a small healthy early-course before the main event began. After all, hummus is made from chick peas, right? Healthy, right?

It's unfair that as you get older, your metabolism slows. I used to be able to eat absolutely anything and not gain an ounce. This is notwithstanding the fact that I was a long distance runner at the time. I actually completed five full marathons and several half-marathons when I was in my 20's & 30's. Long time ago... Since then, my knees have revolted. Now, it's only cycling for me. But, it takes so much more effort now to get motivated to burn the calories and keep the heart rate up.

So if you exercise less, there's no other choice but to cut the food intake and eat a smarter diet. I'm willing to do it, but Tami's not helping when she keeps bringing home chips and dip. I'm a sucker for desserts and salty snacks. In fact, if I was stranded on a deserted island with only two junk foods, it'd be chips and ice cream for me! That's what I'm talking about!!

Nevertheless, I must do two things: exercise more and eat better. Now that the weather has improved, I'm committed to getting on my bicycle more.... no, really! I also know that if I don't stop eating chips and dip, I'll be looking for pants that are size "FB" - Fat Boy....

If you see Tami or talk with her via Facebook, tell her to give me a sporting chance. Pass by the chips and dip aisles at Kroger.... maybe fat-free ice cream could work though.... yeah, just maybe I'll cycle over to Kroger....

Don't tell Tami.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Run for the Roses...

Next Saturday is the 1st Saturday in May.... it's Kentucky Derby time. In KY it's obviously a huge event.... sort of like the AL Iron Bowl (Alabama vs Auburn football). When either of these events take place, everything comes to a standstill... everything!

We've been fortunate to attend the Derby twice. I was born in Louisville, so it's even more special to return to Churchill Downs. We always enjoy going to big, highly acclaimed events, but the Derby is "over-the-top outlandish"! Big hats... cigars... mint juleps.... roses.... racing forms... "fast horses and beautiful women... or fast women and beautiful horses" - as the saying goes...

This is the weekend before the Derby. I recall hot air balloon races, Thunder Over Louisville fireworks, paddle boat river races, the Governor's breakfast, KY Derby mini-marathons, hot browns, Woodford Reserve bourbon balls, country ham & biscuits, Derby celebrity parties, and more....

Tami's lived in Huntsville almost 4 years now (over six years for me). Each year she's coordinated some sort of Derby excitement for us in AL. Some years it's been just our family - wearing jockey hats, and drawing numbers from a jar that match all the colors of the silks in the field. We'd always sing My Old KY Home just before the Call to the Post. Some years she'd throw a bigger party with all the women wearing big hats... and the guys wearing derbys.

The first time we invited Alabamians to our Derby party, they seemed a bit disappointed. I think they expected something more in line with NASCAR.... they expected the horses to go around the track multiple times - not just once. They weren't grasping the idea that the Derby is called "The most exciting two minutes in sports"!

Churchill Downs

Even while living in North Alabama, we'll always be UK basketball fans and always watch the KY Derby on TV... even if it is only two minutes... Tami can build a wonderful party around just two minutes.... piece of cake!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

To Find a Problem - or Not?

Is it better for Toyota to find a problem or not? Jerry Flint writes for Forbes and addresses this question quite well in his article. Here is the question:

What's worse for Toyota? Discovering that some electronic mishap is making its cars run wildly out of control? Or finding no electronic mishap or anything else wrong?

Answer: the latter is worse--much worse. If it finds an actual problem, Toyota can fix it once and for all. But if they can't find a problem, if no one can find a problem, if it seems to be driver error--stepping on the accelerator instead of the brake--then the questions go on and on. People in accidents will continue to believe they did nothing wrong, lawyers will continue to file suits, the press will continue to regurgitate the same stories day after day and Toyota will stay in the hole.

Interesting! It appears that really, it's a no win situation... Even though Toyota has literally spent many years studying, researching, and testing the electronics, they have found no problem... no smoking gun. But, according to Mr. Flint, unless Toyota DOES find a problem, things will be "worse - much worse".

Toyota is one of the best problem solvers in the world. They pride themselves on finding the actual problem, identifying the root cause to the specific problem, and implementing countermeasures for the root cause so that the specific problem will never reoccur. Other problems may happen, but if they do, the same problem-solving procedure is applied. The idea is to never have the same problem occur again... never!

Toyota has even asked a third-party company of electronics experts to test the electronic throttle control system to see if they can identify any potential problems. Their report is due soon. You can click here to go to a site that will give you all the latest news about Toyota from respected news sources.

So, I not sure if we should wish for Toyota to find a problem or not. The one thing I do know is that Toyota is getting better, stronger, communicating faster, and listening more intently. After all, it's the customer that matters the most, regardless of the media, the politics, the competition, and the frustration. Toyota will continue to take the high road. It's a long road - but it's the right road. It's the road that puts the customer first!

On the Road Again...

Finally. Finally I've been able to get out for my first bicycle ride on the road this morning. Of course, a REAL cyclist would have already been riding for quite a while - regardless of the weather, darkness, or traffic. But this morning, it all came together for me. I was on the road by 6:15 AM, plenty of warm morning sunshine, and minimal Saturday morning traffic. The only problem was that I am extremely out of shape!

I rode for about 65 minutes and covered 15.5 miles. Pretty slow actually, but not bad for the first outing of the year. I've been riding my indoor trainer a few times, but never more than 30 minutes at a time. Other than a sore right knee and weak legs, the main big issue tomorrow, most likely, will be the butt. (no jokes about the "big issue being the butt"...)

Ahh... Here's the Bike for Me!

All ailments aside, it was quite enjoyable to be back in the saddle, feeling the spring air blow through my hair.... OK, maybe not.... but it was good to exercise and begin the journey of getting back in shape. I hope to ride more during the week, but school traffic on the 2-lane roads is still a concern for me. But, once school finishes, there are no excuses!

Often I need some kind of goal to motivate me. The target this summer is my son's wedding on July 2 in Detroit. Gotta look good for the pics! Well, maybe "good" is carrying it a bit far.... maybe just look "better". So... the cycling has begun.

Look for me on the back roads of Madison County, Alabama. If you see someone riding slow, with no hair blowing in the wind, favoring a right knee as he climbs a hill, with a big butt squirming on his seat, it'll surely be me...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just Trying to Keep Up...

Just returned from a weekend retreat with about 25 Summit Crossing Young Adults (YAs) at Doublehead Resort ... about 1 hour west of Huntsville. It was the first such retreat since we've been involved with this group beginning back in January 2009. Most of the planning was spearheaded by the YAs themselves... and they did a very good job!

Friday night there were a variety of games to play once everyone was checked in and the beds were claimed. I'm not sure when everyone else went to bed, but this old man crashed around 11 PM.

Saturday morning brought a bit of deviation for me. Before the retreat dates were set, I had already committed to attending and speaking at the Japanese Supplementary School of Huntsville on Saturday morning. So after waking at 6 AM, I stepped into a full suit and tie, and drove an hour back to Huntsville to join the students, parents, teachers, and board members. The whole event was spoken in Japanese, except my speech... I chose the language of English to deliver my thoughts.... after a bizillion pictures were successfully taken, I returned to the retreat.

Saturday morning the guys made breakfast for the ladies. I didn't get to experience the fine cuisine, but I heard it was wonderfully prepared. During the day, everyone played all sorts of games: ultimate Frisbee, volley ball, corn hole, tennis. We tossed footballs, Frisbees, boomerangs, etc. I quickly realized that I was not up to the level of energy that these folks possessed.

The Start of our Bonfire...

The ladies made lasagna, salad, brownies, and angel food cake for everyone for dinner. Nice job ladies! Then we moved to the highlight of the weekend. Sitting around a huge bonfire, Brittney led us in praise & worship. It was followed by a remarkable testimony by Eric. His life-changing story is genuine evidence of what God can do in a person's life. Michael then read scripture and challenged each of us to write something on an index card that we wanted to give to God... then throw it into the fire. We prayed, ate s'mores, and played card games.... Jim Bolte was horizontal by 11 PM once again...

Sunday morning came early again for me as I prepared to lead a lesson from Luke 22 regarding things that get in our way and separate us from God. We talked about ego, service, and the last supper. We finished by taking communion and remembering what Jesus had done for us, is doing for us, and will do for us in the future. He said to "do this in remembrance of Me." Loving God and loving people, through service, is the example Jesus gave us.... it's the example to follow if we want to be more like Christ.... and we do!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Do you have a Super Power?

If you could have one super power, which one would you want it to be? Now... maybe you might think you already have one, but most of us don't. Popular super powers are flying, X-ray vision, super hearing, world peace, weather control, etc. But let's think outside the box. Anything! No limits! What would it be?

Here are some of my favorites: (in no particular order)

1) To be able to understand what my wife wants!

Now there's a super power! To be able to decipher what she says, and what she means when she says it, would be excellent. My wife speaks to me a lot, but I often, for some strange reason, don't seem to understand her "real intention". An example might be when she asks, "How do I look in this dress versus the previous one?" Without my super power, I wouldn't know that she is really saying, "I like the first dress better - don't you agree?".... Oh... what a gift this super power would be!

2) To be able to have verbal re-do's!

This would be like having the ability to push tooth paste back into the tube. As you know, once it's out, it's out! But with this super power, I'd be able to say something really stupid, call upon my power, and immediately get another chance to eliminate my verbal blunder and re-say my words. For example, when Tami says that she's had a busy day, she's tired, and she wants me to simply say those three magical words that every woman wants to hear from her husband: "Let's eat out", and instead I say, "Yeah, my day was tough too... let's eat peanut butter & jelly".... THIS would be a great time to call upon my super power and instead say, "Ahh, I love you dear... how about I take you to Ruth's Chris Steak House, and Let's Eat Out!?" Score one for verbal re-do's!!

3) To be able to eat unlimited dessert without shame and weight gain!

Oh to have this super power! Honestly, the appetizer-salad-soup-entree event is just something you have to "get through" in order to "get to" dessert. It's a strong weakness of mine.... dessert. I'm more of a pie-pudding-ice cream kind of guy versus the cake-cookie kind of guy... but in a tight spot, I'm flexible.... Of course, eating desserts comes with guilt and calories. So this super power would be used to free me of the psychological baggage and the weight-scale trauma that accompanies this weakness today.

I have other super powers in mind, but these are three that are near the top for me. It's hard to choose which one would be best.... maybe a hybrid version of all three would work. It might work like this: Tami says, "You're not going to actually eat that cherry cobbler are you?" and Jim says, "Watch me, Dude!" Calling on my hybrid super power, it would change to: "Jim, why don't you eat some more cherry cobbler...." and Jim says, "Thank you, Tam! Tomorrow night let's eat out!"... and after my third helping of one of my favorite desserts, I step on the scales to learn that my guiltless actions have resulted in me actually losing one pound. If only....

An Evening Out.

Last night Tami and I attended a Junior Achievement Gala fund raising event. It's a good chance for us to dress up, join friends, and have an evening out. We actually dined under a Saturn V rocket that is suspended in air at the Davidson Center. Quite impressive!

I don't wear a tux very often, but when I do the most dreaded part is tying the bow tie. It's takes me about five minutes to get dressed.... and another 20 minutes to tie the bow tie. Unbelievable!

Nevertheless, I had a wonderful evening with a wonderful lady!

After much effort, it Looks Great!

Don't worry... it's not Real Chocolate!

Lauren & Savvy

Bring on the Candy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

What's Your Goal in Life?

This is Easter weekend. Bunnies. Chocolate. Peeps. Jelly beans. A big family meal and get-together. Sure, these are all part of the holiday tradition, and things that I remember growing up. Actually, "white" chocolate bunnies were my favorite.... and Reese's eggs.... But is this the main point of Easter? Is this what we really want our kids to understand about the most important events in Christian history?

I was very fortunate to grow up in a Christian home, raised by faithful parents that ensured we were exposed to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. I've since come to understand that the most important aspect of being a Christian is not about religion, traditions, or appearances, but instead about relationships.... relationships with God and with people.

I've often said that my goal in life was to go to heaven and take as many people with me as possible. But, I think that's wrong. Don't misunderstand.... going to heaven is a good thing! But, my eternal life doesn't start when I enter heaven.... it has already begun. I need to begin living now in the kingdom of God. I don't need to just sit around, waiting to enter heaven someday. I need to build relationships and demonstrate God's love everyday... now. My newly stated goal in life is to be more like Christ - loving God, and loving people... everyday! In other words: Be intentionally relational. It has eternal benefits...

This is the weekend when we remember and celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This sole weekend is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. These other religions all have great teachers, preachers, philosophers, and wise books to live by. But only Jesus Christ died (for three days) and came back to life to be witnessed by literally hundreds of people. Only He kicked death in the teeth and created and dedicated a secure path to God. This truth is what I hold as the #1 most important principle in my life - bar none! I base everything I think, say, and do on this overriding fundamental key point.

I hope the Easter bunny will remember me once again this year with a small white chocolate delight. But even more so, I hope I will once again pause and treasure the great miracle of this weekend and the relationship I have with my Creator and Father. That beats out Easter bunnies any day of the week....