Cleaning Out Parents House after Death

Old WatchA valuable lesson I learned after the passing of my father was, don’t throw anything away without first doing a few seconds of research on the internet.

For example, after my dad passed away, my wife and I were helping my mom clean out her house so that she could move into a retirement community. My mom gave me a wooden box that my dad had owned. It was filled with watches, all of which were old, scratched and faded. Half of them didn’t work and many of them didn’t even have a wrist band.

My first thought was to just dump the watches into the garbage and keep the fancy wood box, but inwardly I felt guilty about throwing them away. I thought perhaps instead I would donate them to a local charity thrift store. But again, some sort of inner voice nagged at me, so I decided to take a moment to look up each watch on the internet.

I picked up the first one and read the name on the face. I then typed it into the internet. I was finding that these old watches did in fact have some value. $10 dollars for this one and $20 for that one. “OK” I decided, “I definitely won’t throw them away.”

But then I picked up one that was big, heavy and awkward looking. I typed in its make and model into an internet search and what popped up shocked me. $3,000.00! “Holy Cow!”

According to the internet there are two wrist watches considered by many to be the best watches ever made and I was holding one of them.

I later listed the watch on EBay and within five minutes had an opening bid of $900. Over the length of the auction bidding went up from there.

So the lesson learned was that when a parent(s) passes away, don’t throw away or donate ANYTHING without taking a few seconds to research it on the internet. Even those things that you feel confident are junk. You never now what other people might deem as being very valuable.

Posted in Motivation & Success.

How To Survive Ebola

Creating an Ebola Survival Plan

How To Survive EbolaEbola is currently the world’s deadliest outbreak. From the first symptoms until death can be as little as three weeks. So it goes without saying that we should go to great lengths to avoid the possibility of contracting Ebola.

The following is a common sense plan for doing just that. Before Ebola appears in your town or city, have a plan in place for what you will do to survive the Ebola outbreak.

Ebola is a virus, much like Influenza (the common flu) is also a virus. So for the purpose of this survival plan, we’re going to combat Ebola using the same knowledge we already have with regards to the flu.

First of all, there is only one possible way to catch Ebola. And that one way is by being around someone who has Ebola. Therefore, any effective Ebola survival plan must include a strategy for avoiding people. In West Africa it has been surprising that so few elderly people are among the Ebola dead. One might think that they are frailer and more likely to die of an illness. But the most likely explanation for the lack of older people dying from Ebola is that elderly people don’t get out much and therefore are not being exposed to people carrying the Ebola virus.

As long as Ebola has not yet appeared within your city or town you can probably go about life as normal. However, upon hearing news of the first confirmed case within the city, town or county in which you live, I would strongly recommend implementing the following actions.

These steps are written in order of vigilance. The first confirmed case in your area would probably warrant the first few steps to be taken. As the virus begins to spread in your area, however, you’ll want to consider the more aggressive steps on this list.

Step 1) Upon hearing of the first confirmed case of Ebola within your city, town or county, you should immediately stop going out to eat at restaurants. Avoiding restaurants during a localized Ebola outbreak is especially important because of the fact that other people are preparing your food. If they have been exposed to Ebola, they could potentially pass it along to you in your food.

Step 2) Cease all non-essential activities that would put you in large groups of the general public. This would include sporting events, concerts, shopping malls, movie theaters, etc… In other words, just don’t go.

Step 3) Don’t use public bathrooms. Ebola is carried in bodily fluids. Well….guess what’s in public bathrooms? People who are prone to contracting illnesses are also likely to be the same people who seldom wash their hands. In a public bathroom there is a potential for those people to come in contact with their own bodily fluids and then, without washing their hands, grab hold of the door knob to exit the restroom. Then when you grab the same door knob…you may have just picked up Ebola.

Step 4) Stop going to church. No, I didn’t say stop praying….you’ll need lots of that, but it’s common practice during a church service to stand up and shake hands with the people around you. If any of them are carrying Ebola, it may just spread to you via a cough and a hand shake.

Step 5) As the Ebola outbreak in your community spreads, you will next want to strongly consider avoiding grocery stores. The one place that nearly everyone in your community has to go on a weekly basis is the grocery store. If someone with Ebola goes there, coughs on their hand and then puts that hand onto the shopping cart, there could be Ebola viruses present on the handle of the shopping cart for several hours. But in order to avoid grocery stores during an Ebola outbreak, you will need to stock up on non-perishable foods before a local outbreak occurs.

Step 6) Because Ebola can reside inside a person for three weeks before the first symptoms appears, once an outbreak begins to spread in your area it will be safe to assume that you’ll need to avoid the grocery stores for at least three weeks or more. That’s a long time. One way to help stave off starvation is to get a fishing license. In a worst case scenario, you can at least go to a pond, lake, river, stream or the sea shore and catch fish. It should go without saying, however, that you need to purchase the license prior to the local outbreak beginning.

Step 7) Don’t use the bathrooms at work (refer to step 3).

Step 8) Stop going to work. This of course is the most difficult step on this list. But everyone hates it when a co-worker comes to work sick. Next thing you know, it’s being spread around the office and everyone is getting sick. Well this time it’s Ebola, the world’s most deadly virus. It might be worth it to skip work and avoid catching Ebola.

When a local outbreak of Ebola occurs where you live, the best thing you can do is to stay at home as much as possible and avoid people.

Photo credit: flickr Creativ Commons, Ebola Virus by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Posted in Personal Safety.

How to Stop Procrastinating

How to Stop ProcrastinatingProverbs 6:6-11
Look at the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

Exodus 20:8-11
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Again I am reminded of the phrase which states that to have what others can’t you must be willing to do what other’s won’t. Humans are inherently lazy. I spent many years of my life wondering how to stop procrastinating, when I arrived at a moment which I knew was an opportunity to go do some worthwhile work, I would find that at that moment I didn’t “feel” like doing it. This feeling is merely a subconscious resistance to hard work. I know it to be true because Monday through Friday while I’m at my place of employment I often say to myself, “Oh if only I were at home, I could get so much done around the house.” But on Saturday when I am at home, I find that I get hardly anything done because I dont feel like doing hard work but instead feel like watching television.
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Posted in Christianity, Motivation & Success.

Why Raising Minimum Wage is Bad

BroomsRaising the minimum wage is bad because it hurts the poor, makes everything more expensive for everyone and makes it more difficult for everyone to get jobs, including people who earn incomes far above minimum wage.
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Posted in Introduction.

Real Estate Buying Tips

House on Cape CodFrom my perspective, $100,000 is a lot of money.  It’s enough to buy a Lamborghini.  That being the case, it’s amazing to me how rushed and hurried the home buying process seems to be.  In contrast, for example, I recently decided I wanted to buy my wife a bicycle.  The style of bike she wants costs $300 to $400.  To us that’s a lot of money, so we’ve been taking our time shopping around and still have yet to buy one.

But when we decided to buy a home, we got together with our real estate agent on three separate occasions to look at houses.  We made an offer on the seventh house we visited and that after having been in it for only 30 minutes.  As the home buying process went forward, we paid $450 for the inspection and then afterwards realized we no longer liked the house and had to back out of our offer.

Here’s the lesson we learned:

The first time we walk into a home we tend to see the house in a broad sense.  We see the shape of the house as a whole.  Inside, we see where the walls are and the home’s layout, we see the color of the carpet and the paint, we see the kitchen counters, the fridge, the sliding glass door that leads to the patio…etc.

But it’s during a second visit that we began to see the smaller details.  We suddenly noticed that there was a crack in the tiles running all the way across the kitchen floor.  The sink had a broken faucet.  There was paint splatter on all the base boards.  There was a hole in the garage wall.  A rain gutter was missing from the front of the house and the exterior wall was damaged where the down spout of the gutter had been.  There were many more problems as well which had all gone unnoticed during our first visit, but became obvious once our mind’s eye moved beyond seeing the house as a whole.

Go and see a home twice before making an offer.

Make an appointment with your real estate agent to go and see a home.  When you get there, wander around inside and out and allow yourself to take it all in.  Then start over again with camera in hand.  Start from the street and take a picture of the whole house and property, then walk inside and take multiple pictures of every room and from different angles.  If you happen to spot a problem, take a picture of it.

Afterwards, go home and put the pictures onto a large screen such as your television.  Sit down on the couch with your wife and discuss them. What you liked and didn’t like about the house.  Spend a day or two thinking about it.  Then schedule a second appointment with your real estate agent to go and see the house again.

During your second visit, take your time wandering through the house.  Again, look at it as a whole.  Then start over, but this time look at the small details.  Take the time to flip switches, open and close windows, turn door knobs, flush toilets, turn on and off the shower and tub, open and close the garage door, open the fuse box and look inside, ring the doorbell, look at the water heater and the AC unit, etc.

Before making an offer on a home, make sure that you’ve given yourself time to really see the house.

House on Cape Cod, MA by Rene Schwietzke

Posted in Home & Garden.

Stop Procrastinating

Stop ProcrastinatingHere’s an interesting tidbit of knowledge I’ve discovered that may help you to stop procrastinating. The famous Sir Isaac Newton formulated the laws of motion in which he said, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.”

While he was referring, of course, to inanimate objects, I believe there’s a strong correlation to people as well. And to the person who’s trying to stop procrastinating, this is good news.

Here’s what I’ve discovered in my own life: If I consider myself to be the “object” in Isaac Newton’s law of motion, I can say it’s true that while sitting on the couch watching Star Trek, I find I really don’t feel like getting up to go do that task I know I should do. However, once that “object” (me) gets in motion, I stay in motion.

In other words, the feeling of procrastination lasts only as long as I continue to remain at rest on the couch. Once I begin working on the task or project I know needs to be done, I quickly discover that I then “feel like” working on it.

While this knowledge leaves one still needing to overcome procrastination, you can take comfort in knowing that once you actually get up and get to work, the feeling of procrastination will disappear and you’ll then be engaged in your work and will be willing to continue working.

However, I want to point out that there’s a difference between procrastination and being tired. If it’s 11:00pm at night and I should have been in bed an hour ago, I’m not able to suddenly feel motivated after starting a new project. But if it’s an hour of the day that I’m normally awake and I’ve had enough sleep the previous two nights, then I find that Isaac Newton’s law of motion applies to me and my procrastination.

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. Just get started, and then you’ll feel like continuing.

photo credit: flickr Creative Commons, Its Not Really A “Couch” Persay by Chris H Connelly

Posted in Motivation & Success.

Style At Home

Style at HomeToday I caught a glimpse of what a home can be, beautiful, functional, comfortable, inviting, and impressive.  Prior to today I never thought about style at home. I’ve only ever seen furniture as being functional.  I’ve always gotten my furniture either free or nearly free from friends, garage sales, thrift stores, or on people’s curbs with their garbage.  As a matter of fact, I would frequently get excited when garbage day came around because I would hop in the car and drive slowly through the neighborhood in the early evening looking for furniture items that people may have put out for garbage pick up. I had always been proud of myself for being so thrifty.

However, the net result is that we’ve now got a house full of furniture that doesn’t match.  Some is light colored and some is dark.  We have chairs that are wood and chairs that are metal.  We have a lamp that’s short and blue and one that’s tall and yellow.

For the last few years my wife has mentioned every so often that she would like to have some style inside our home.  I’ve always nodded but never truly understood until today.

Today is Labor Day.  All the furniture stores are having sales.  My wife said she wanted to go to some to see what they had.  I went with her.  It was there, in the furniture stores, that I finally understood what she’d been talking about.  Style!

Home StylingI had been holding onto a mentality I had developed in my twenty’s of being overly thrifty.  When someone is first entering the working world they typically earn very little and end up collecting this hodgepodge of mismatched furniture bought for nearly nothing. But I’m almost 42 years old and my wife and I, though not wealthy, are certainly able to pay all our bills on time.  I realized it was time for me to let go of that 20 something mentality and instead create a home that’s beautiful and reflects a sense of style.

But then suddenly, two worlds collided in what I believed was a stroke of genius.  While at the furniture store it didn’t take me long to see that brand new furniture is very expensive and is more than I can afford. That’s when it hit me.

“All I have to do is find people who already own nice furniture and are selling it.”

Previously I would have scoffed at any piece of used furniture that was priced at more than $30 or $40.  But it stands to reason that if quality furniture costs thousands of dollars when it’s brand new, then buying the same piece of furniture used for 100 or 200 dollars is practically a steal.  I could perhaps redecorate our entire home with elegant furniture for around $1,000.

To pull this off, I realized that we would first need to become familiar with quality furniture and be able to differentiate it from cheap furniture.  I also realized that we could spread the spending out.  My wife loves the British Colonial style and so I thought, all we have to do is watch Craigslist and estate sales and go to garage sales in rich neighborhoods to find and purchase one piece here and one piece there.

Give it about a year and we could replace all the random furniture we now have.

I knew it was also important to not merely buy quality used furniture for the sake of buying it, otherwise we would end up with the same miscellaneous mismatch we now have.

With a British Colonial style in mind, the objective is to find items that specifically match that style.

Was there a time in your life that you made the conscious decision to get rid of all the furniture you acquired free or really cheap and replace it with quality items?

If so, how did you select your home’s style?

Posted in Home & Garden.

Someone’s Knocking on Your Door in the Middle of the Night – What Do You Do?

Door at nightSo there I was, sound asleep when all of a sudden, BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM. It was 4:00AM and someone was pounding on my door. My wife and I woke up trying to wrap our minds around what was happening.

Because our bedroom window looks out over the drive way, we peaked out to see if we could see any one. BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM. The guy pounded on the front door for about a minute while we peaked out the window. Then we saw him go across the street and start pounding on that guy’s door.

It turned out the guy doing all the pounding was a neighbor who needed someone to call 911. Three cops and an ambulance showed up and then latter left but we still have yet to find out what the emergency was about.

But it left me wondering what’s the best thing to do when someone is knocking on your door in the middle of the night?

First off – If you’re the person having an emergency and you’re pounding on doors in the middle of the night trying to get someone to call 911 for you, it would help a lot if you announced your intention.

I had no idea who was pounding on my door at 4:00am and I was not about to open the door to find out. But if while pounding on the door he had yelled “Help, please call 911” I would have done so.

While further reflecting on the whole event, the foolishness of my own actions became apparent. Somewhere, outside my home, there was an emergency taking place. I had no idea what was happening and just stood there in my underwear peaking out the window.

Because the scale and scope of the emergency was unknown, let alone knowing that there even was an emergency at all made me later realize that the first thing I should have done was to immediately get dressed and put my shoes on just in cast we needed to flee.

For example, what if he had been pounding on the door to tell us that a forest fire was coming toward us? What if he had been an intruder trying to break in the front door? In either case, if we’re dressed and have our shoes on we could escape out the back door and run. But no….We just stood there peaking out the window.

The next thing to do should have been to quickly acquire a weapon. If it had been an intruder trying to break in, it would have been good to have a baseball bat or something in hand.

I could have also turned on the outside light and yelled through the door, “who’s there”.

But regardless of the circumstances I don’t think it’s a good idea to open the door before ascertaining what’s happening. After all, a guy could yell that there’s a fire only to get you to open the door so that he can barge in and rob you.

So in conclusion, if someone if knocking on your door in the middle of the night, get up, get dressed, grab something to defend yourself with, turn on the outside light, and yell, “Who’s there”. Don’t open the door.

(Photo Credit: flickr Creative Commons, r.nial.bradshaw)

Posted in Personal Safety.

Easter Outreach

Easter Sunday ChicksDid you know that most of the people in the U.S. who call themselves Christians don’t actually worship Christ? It’s really a great misfortune because they are bound for hell and don’t even know it.

Polls and studies have discovered that 40% of self labeled Christians spend time reading from the Bible less than five times per year.

Most self labeled Christians attend church only twice per year on Christmas and Easter.

We know that salvation is through faith and that faith comes from hearing the word of God. How can one learn the word of God if they touch a bible less than five times per year and attend church two times per year? The answer is they can not.

As Christ followers, our purpose and mission is to share the gospel with lost people. Given the fact that most of them attend church on Easter anyway, a tremendous opportunity presents itself each year when Easter rolls around. During any other time of year it may feel awkward and uncomfortable to invite people to church but at Easter it suddenly becomes an easy task because so many people are already willing to go.

This is a great opportunity for you to invite your coworkers to Easter service. Pray to the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts and to create in them a willingness to not only consider what you’re asking but perhaps to receive your invitation favorably. Ask also that the Holy Spirit would lead you to offer an invitation to the person(s) that He is calling toward Himself.

I find in my experience that you should start inviting people the week of Easter. If you begin extending invitations two or more weeks prior to Easter they’ll have forgotten about your invitation once Easter arrives.

Starting the Monday before Easter and continuing throughout the work week, go to your coworkers (or wait until they have reason to come to you, whichever makes you feel comfortable), and say simply “I want to invite you to Easter Sunday service at my church.”

It’s important to use the phrase “I want to invite you” as opposed to phrases like “would you like to come to Easter service?” or “How would you feel about coming to Easter Service?” The reason is that these other phrases are inviting a negative response. They are asking the invitee to weigh the option in his or her mind and it leaves a wide room for them to respond by saying “No thanks”. By offering a personal invitation, you are communicating to the invitee that you want to share the experience of Easter service with them as a friend. You’re much more likely to receive a positive response this way.

However, having said all that, don’t bind up the Holy Spirit. There are many times in which the Holy Spirit will give you words to say that are exactly catered to the needs of the person being invited. Always remember to pray and invite God to not only be a part of your evangelistic efforts but to be your guide, light and leader.

And if someone does reject your invitation, don’t fret. God knew what they’re response was going to be even before the Earth was formed. Shrug your shoulders, say “Maybe next time” and continue on in your work for the Holy Spirit.

(Photo credit Flickr Creative Commons Spring Chicks by Ian’s Shutter Habit)

Posted in Christianity.

Hello World!

This post marks the launch of this website.

Title: Life Experienced.

Tag line: Because learning from someone else’s experience is safer than learning from your own.

A website of all the little quirky things I notice about life, people and my own experiences.

Posted in Introduction.