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....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Someone's Not Eating....

Tonight we had dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant: Mikawa. The brave souls joining me were Jordan, Bethany (Jordan's fiancee), Caitlin, Lauren, Savannah, and Tami. Everyone really enjoyed the cuisine except you-know-who. Tami ate white rice and a couple of bar-b-cued chicken pieces on a stick... it's called yakatori. Everyone else enjoyed sushi rolls, scallops, sea weed salad, spicy crab salad, shashimi, gyoza, edamame, tempura, green tea ice cream, and tempura ice cream.... and Tami had white rice and a couple of pieces of chicken.

Now, I know that Tami is willing and able to eat Japanese food. She joined me a couple of years ago when I visited Japan. She willingly tried almost everything that was put in front of her.... even sea urchin!! I won't even eat sea urchin!! But she chucked it down like a seasoned pro. Although I do recall her frantically reaching for the closest drink of anything to quickly wash it down.... what a woman!

The dinner choice tonight was Jordan & Bethany's idea. They simply LOVE Japanese food. Bethany's parents actually lived and met each other in Japan. They have since introduced the fine art of making Japanese dishes in their own home. They have grown up loving the culture. Jordan fits right in! He also has learned to love the cuisine.

Even though it's not Tami's favorite food selection, she braves the meal with a smile. Maybe it's the complication of the chop sticks? Maybe it's the fact that we are sitting on the floor in a tatami room while we eat? Maybe it's because she can't read the menu? I dunno.... but I'm betting the next time we eat out, it's Chik-Fil-A all the way....