Monday, February 23, 2009


I just re-read a book in preparation for my presentation at the TJEd Forum (see my post from last week.) It is entitled Comrades - Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals - the author is Stephen E. Ambrose. I listened to this one on audio CD a pair of years ago and loved it. This time I read it in print.

When men share sincere friendship, it takes on a different look and feel than the romantic relationship between a woman and a man. This book is about Ambrose's personal experiences with his father, brothers, and friends, and then his historical perspectives on the subject as it applies to several famous people from history - Lewis & Clark, Eisenhower and his brother, Patton and Eisenhower, Crazy Horse and He Dog, Custer and his brothers. Nixon and...Nixon had no close friends.

It's an easy read, and it reinforces things you've probably always felt.

You think about it, though. Men generally have a small circle of friends. They are more independent, more stand-offish, and generally have approached life from a "figure it out myself" approach. Not all men, but most generally land in that description.

I've got much more to share on that idea, and what to do about it, in my class at the forum.

Minimum Egress Requirements

Logan Thomas is going to love this blog entry.

What do you do when you are trying to sell an older home, but the windows in the bedrooms don't meet minimum egress requirements? You see, the buyer wants to get an FHA-backed loan, but FHA has a list of "stuff" that you have to do before they will insure the loan.

On a newer (post-1978) home, the requirement is a minimum of 5.7 sq. ft. of egress area - that would be the size of the opening when the window is fully open. They cut a little bit of slack on the older homes - the one I am selling was built in 1940 - so you only have to have 5.0 sq. ft.

An inspector came by the house and noted that the opening (the ENTIRE opening, not just the sliding part of the window) was big enough, but only just barely, so I had three options:

1 - install a new full-opening window that fit the hole
2 - make a bigger hole and install a bigger window
3 - remove the existing window and re-install it on a hinge so that it it full-opening

Guess which option I chose? Isn't regulation great?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'll be teaching a workshop at this year's Thomas Jefferson Education Forum - if you're interested in attending or just curious about the event, I would encourage you to check it out. My workshop is entitled "The Heart of a Man." Scroll down through the presenters and you'll find my workshop. I'm excited about many of the other workshops, too.

I taught a similar workshop two years ago at the forum, and the topic was well received. I feel mission-driven to share this idea. Men need to accept their manhood. They need to live up to God's expectations of them, which basically means they need to submit their hearts to Him.

The workshop description is as follows:

Men have a critical role to play in the education of their children. In order to function properly in our role, we must first become convicted in our hearts that there is nobody else better suited to pass on the principles of true manhood than we are. Come join us as we discuss what constitutes the heart of a man, and how we are especially well-suited to engage in our children’s educational process. Learn how we can overcome our “wounds” and break free from incorrect societal expectations of men as we immerse ourselves in the classics and model important manly traits for our children, family, and others. Join us in the Renaissance of true manhood!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Proper Setting for Reading

A pair of years ago on one of my expeditions to Rainier, one of my climbing buddies snapped this photo of me in a shelter at 10,000 ft. The book in my hands is Edith Hamilton's "Mythology."

To place the photo in proper context, let me give you a bit more of the story:

I arrived at the mountain a day prior to my comrades. Feeling adventurous, I decided that an extra night at high elevation by myself sounded great. I donned all of my gear and climbed to 9,000 ft., where I made camp in the open under a sky of amazingly brilliant stars. It was windy and cold, but I read myself to sleep with "Mythology."

What better place to read about the legendary Olympians and Norse Gods than high on a mountain? These stories that pass down from generation to generation and remain inseparably a part of our own culture - it is easy to see where they come from when you are in the setting that I found myself that night. It was awesome.

The next morning I awoke early and pushed on to 10,000 ft, where I left my heavy pack at a quonset style shelter owned by the Park Service. I descended to meet my companions and help them push on to the shelter. After they arrived, we retired early, and due to extreme winds, we sought refuge in the shelter. So, with the wind howling in the background, I made them listen to more of "Mythology."

We awoke the next morning early and made an unsuccessful attempt at the summit - it turns out early October is a bad time because the glaciers have melted a great deal and the crevasses are difficult to navigate. We stared into the open jaws of several huge crevasses and were reminded of our insignificance.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A good day

It appeared from the outset that it would be a challenging day, one of those that seem difficult to manage. The Queen wanted to take Prince #1 out for the day so that he could be an extra in a movie and thereby learn more about the art of movie-making. They left at 6:00 AM.

That left me with the other four boys, with a food drive to participate in and a wedding to attend - and my job was to be the English to Spanish interpreter at the wedding.

It turned out alright. The boys came along and helped out with the food drive. Some older boys in the neighborhood took #2 and #3 under their wings and I drove along behind them so they could unload the bags of food somewhere. We collected a bunch - and then it got delivered to the foodbank.

The wedding was good, too. The guy performing the wedding spoke no Spanish, but he gave me the rough text of what he was going to say so that I could prepare myself. I just left my #2 in charge of the younger boys for an hour. The wedding was for my cousin - he married a girl from Peru who speaks no English. Weddings are cheesy - but I certainly wouldn't be where I am without one...

After the ceremony, I came back home and grabbed the four princes and took them back for food at the reception.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What would happen to you?

OK - I just read a fascinating book by James Wesley Rawles called Patriots - Surviving the Coming Collapse. It's a novel, with a great storyline that just pulls you along, but the whole point of Mr. Rawles' story is to make you aware of what you might do to prepare for a scenario where the fabric of society comes unraveled.

In a nutshell, economic markets collapse, followed by meltdown of law and order and a period of brigandry and chaos. The main characters were prepared for such an event, and are holed up in a retreat with enough supplies to weather the storm.

Relative order begins to return, and people begin to pull together, at least on a regional scale. But then big daddy government steps in with their own idea of how to restore order. Folks band together on a regional scale and sort of declare independence - then have to defend it with their blood when the federal troops come in.

For most of the people I know, this is a must-read. There are a few of you who will think I'm a nut for even cracking the cover, but you'll come around eventually :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Paternal Leadership - Not Always Easy

We just returned from a week-long family vacation to Maui. Let me start by saying that I have five amazing, wonderful princes entrusted to my care (the youngest isn't in this picture because my queen was hanging on to him - she was freaked because there is a huge waterfall right behind us that drops off into oblivion.)

Anyway, I'd like to say that I've got it all figured out on how to teach these guys and raise them up to be great men, real kings and valiant warriors in the battle for men's souls.

But I don't. It's really hard and quite overwhelming at times. I'm figuring it out as I go.

Take tonight for example. All the boys were in bed - the three youngest asleep. The two oldest (ten and eight) sleep in a downstairs bedroom, and they often get to sleep later than their siblings. They also are often at each other's was the case tonight. And my ventilation ducts act as a nice intercom. So I knelt down at my vent and tried to speak words of peace to them, but I could hear it escalating down there. It turned to sobs and moans, so I went on down and tried to calm things in person.

But one son was ignoring my words while the other was continuing to sob and so I finally yelled something like "ENOUGH!" Of course, this had the desired effect, but I always feel bad for losing my cool. I gave a lecture about getting along and trying to find ways to serve each other rather than constantly competing with each other, and I asked their forgiveness for losing my temper.

Now the sobbing son was calm and the other son was starting to look like he was going to cry. So I asked him why, and he told me that I had used a swear-word while we were in Hawaii - the "H" word, he said. Apparently my request for forgiveness had caused him to remember my past transgression. So I asked him to forgive me for using a bad word, and I told him that I'm not perfect and I'm always trying, and asked him to be patient with me.

I think the night ended well - it's quiet down there now. But I don't always think deeply enough about what I say and do, and don't always remember that I'm their number one example, for better or worse. I might not think something is a big deal, but their young minds and hearts might take offense. And since the idea of a millstone hanged around my neck while I sink into the sea sounds un-appealing, I think I'm going to try a bit harder.

Lest I give the wrong impression, the vacation was fabulous. There was occasional friction between siblings (which occasionally rubbed off on parents) but that was overshadowed by good memories. We had a blast and went all over the island. I find it amazing to sit back and watch my boys discover things about the world or about themselves. Sometimes I get to coach them along in that process, but there is no doubt in my mind that most of it is driven by their natural curiosity and their great souls.