“Willie Weaver”

I was driving to work this morning, listening to a podcast from Alistair Begg, when a flash of white blew by me two lanes to my right, cut in front of the car just ahead of me in the center lane, and came to an abrupt stop at the red light just ahead. I pulled up just to his left and off his left rear fender. The car was a very nice Mercedes E-class sedan. The driver, a male appearing to be in his early to mid-40’s stared straight ahead with a firm grip on the steering wheel. When the light turned green, he was the first to clear the intersection. As we proceeded down the street, he swerved right, then left, allowing minimal clearance between his rear and the front end of the cars he was passing. Then, at the next red light, I pulled up alongside him again. For several miles we repeated the pattern, with the driver I dubbed “Willie Weaver” cutting in and out of traffic until the great equalizers in their bright red hue lined us up to start all over again. Finally, Willie Weaver turned right and we continued on our separate ways.

Willie got me to thinking about how we approach life these days. How much stress do we pile onto ourselves with no good reason for doing so? How often do we live at breakneck speed, only to have life slow us down while the rest of the world catches up? Are we running on adrenaline, or are we living life at a comfortable pace while still accomplishing our daily tasks and goals? I’m not knocking Willie, for at one point in my life I was a lot like him. I’m thankful that I’ve learned over the years to relax, take life a bit easier and enjoy the scenery along the way.

Friends, as another long holiday weekend is upon us, slow down. If you’re driving, don’t be Willie Weaver. Enjoy the time off work (if you get it), enjoy your family, enjoy your friends. Celebrate the anniversary of our great country’s independence and take time to be thankful that you are an American. I hope my friend Willie is able to do so as well.

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

Hello, lamppost, what’cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t’cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in doo-doo, feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy

~ Paul Simon, The 59th Street Bridge Song

On My Mind: A Car, A Meeting, and A Conversation

Here is what’s on my mind this evening. I hope it adds some value to your day, but even if it doesn’t I’m happy to get this off my chest.

A Car: Ode to a Prius

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

If you had told me three weeks ago that I would trade my nice, luxurious 2007 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer SUV for a Toyota Prius I would have told you that you don’t know me very well. I purchased my Expedition in December, 2013 and was instantly taken by it’s massive size, comfortable ride, and luxurious appointments. Even the meager average 15.4 miles per gallon fuel consumption did not mitigate my affection for that vehicle. It also didn’t hurt that the Expedition won me instant credibility among the Fort Worth elite as I parked it in the Justin lot at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo alongside the vehicles of other rodeo volunteers.

As I write this today, I am the proud owner of a 2015 Toyota Prius V and, yes, Texas Toyota of Grapevine gladly accepted my Expedition in trade. I drive a lot in my job, and in just over a week’s time I put almost 700 miles on my new Prius, averaging just over 40 miles per gallon. My Prius is stylish – and that’s not just my opinion. Every colleague and prospect I have driven thus far has offered that feedback. The car is smooth, quiet, and equipped with cool gadgetry that I am still learning to operate. Based on my simple math, I have saved 29 gallons of gas – about $75. The gas savings alone will cover over half of my monthly payment and I am pumping significantly fewer toxins into the air. I’d say that’s a win all around.

A Meeting: The Value of Face-to-Face

"These dogs are barkin'!" ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

“These dogs are barkin’!” ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. June, 2014

I have been blessed to enjoy a wonderful career in corporate risk management. Topics that many would find dull, such as safety protocols, claims management, and insurance terms & conditions are quite interesting to me. In Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Neal Page said something along these lines in his rant against Del Griffith’s boring stories, “I could sit in an insurance seminar for days and listen to them drone on and on with a big smile on my face. People would ask me, ‘how do you do it?’ and I’d tell them, ‘because I’ve been with Del Griffith.’” On that point I disagree with Neal Page; I thoroughly enjoy those seminars!

I enjoyed some great meetings today; meetings in which we discussed strategies for safety and claims management and how sound practices in those areas can enhance the work experience of employees and the customer experience of guests. During a break this afternoon I was struck by the fact that we humans were created to be relational; to interact with one another, to shake hands, smile, agree and even disagree. Technology has led us to a fast-paced business tempo in which we often communicate via email, online chat, or conference call. Even our social relationships are moving more online as we interact with friends and family via the plethora of social media outlets available at the click of a mouse. Those things have their place, but after a day like today, I’m reminded of just how important it is that we engage our world without the barriers of pretense or technology. Nothing replaces sitting down and talking.

A Conversation: Why Don’t We Talk Anymore?

Speaking of sitting down and talking, I was once a Facebook Ninja. At least, that’s the best term I can come up with to describe a person who pages through his news feed and pounces on others’ comments on topics upon which I disagree. Often, those posts would launch a rather ugly exchange that served no purpose but to tick one another off. I’ve made a conscious effort to change my ways over the past year or so, and while I am still tempted to drop a vitriolic comment every now and then, I’m happy with my progress to this point.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn's.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn’s.

We are living in very historic times, and we are quickly losing the ability to talk to one another about things of extremely great importance. The media no longer reports news; it spins statements and circumstances in an effort to drive ratings. In my opinion, the so-called news channels and the national and local network news outlets offer very little of substance or value to the American people. We the People are no better, for we readily consume the kool-aid offered up by our favorite TV spin doctors, regurgitate bits and pieces of it on social media, and commence to attacking one another for being stupid and uninformed. As all of this plays out, I fear we are squandering the greatest nation that ever existed.

I have good friends from all political persuasions. We sometimes trade barbs on social media, but I haven’t talked personally with many of them for years. I’ve often toyed with the idea of hosting a “Friend Summit”. It would be a weekend to gather friends from various walks of life and political ideals and discuss the issues of the day – everything from taxation to immigration to gay marriage – not necessarily to try and change each other’s minds but to arrive at least at an understanding of where our perspectives are coming from. But most importantly, my aim would be to reinforce for each of us that we are all children of our Creator, we all want to live a good life, and we all need each other. I’m still kicking this idea around in my head; I wonder if anybody would come.

2015 Photo-Some-Days 6.21.2015

A former boss once told me, “Seek first to understand, second to be understood.” In reading my Bible this morning, I came across the Proverb below. I try to live this in all aspects of my life, sometimes more successfully than others. It’s a process.

Slide1

God’s Soda Pop

I’ve seen two memes on Facebook recently that gave me pause to think about a few of the food items I used to consume regularly. But it didn’t start there. I’ve thought a lot over the past few years about the chemicals and additives frequently found in food products that, although deemed fit for consumption by the United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA), just don’t seem logically “OK” for me anymore.

Margarine vs. Butter

This meme, credited to preventdisease.com, describes the process for manufacturing margarine – a longstanding staple in many weight loss diets. People tout its lower fat, lower calories, and spreadability – but look at what’s in this stuff! I read similar information about a year ago, and based on that, I eliminated margarine from my diet. When I first returned to real butter, I about had to strap my taste buds down. The sweet, creamy flavor was amazing, and so far superior to the artificial processed flavor offered by its imitators. In our home, we cook with butter, we bake with butter, we spread it on our toast, we garnish our veggies with it – yum! Butter, consumed in moderation just like anything else should be, is now a staple in my diet and I couldn’t be happier.

Diet Soda vs. “Regular” Soda

My wife and I used to consume Diet Coke by the case. Looking back, it took me quite a while to adapt to the taste, but I was convinced that the lack of calories and sugar would be much better for me than the “regular” soda sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS55). To be honest, neither Aspartame, Saccharine, HFCS55 nor any other non-sugar sweetener is all that appealing to me these days; so I avoid all of them. This meme, although featuring a can of Diet Coke, addresses the dangers of any diet soda. Information on the dangers associated with other artificial sweeteners, including HFCS55 is succinctly provided at http://www.examiner.com/article/10-dangerous-sweeteners-coca-cola.

God’s Soda Pop

I visit this dispenser throughout my work day. Delicious H2O!

I visit this dispenser throughout my work day. Delicious H2O!

Have you seen “The Waterboy” movie starring Adam Sandler? One of my favorite quotes, and I use it often today, is Bobby Boucher’s acclamation, “now that’s some high quality H2O.” Water is my favorite beverage. I have a glass of water on my desk at work all day and refill it several times. This machine in our office break room puts out some of the finest tasting H2O I’ve ever tasted. My refrigerator at home, with its built in water filtration system, also yields a fine glass of cold refreshment. I call water “God’s Soda Pop.” It is an essential component of life. And I find it absolutely wonderful. This slideshow from webMD offers 7 benefits to our bodies of water consumption http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-water-9/slideshow-water-health.

One Small Caveat

Please, take all of this with a grain of salt. It is a conglomeration of information I’ve read and absorbed over the years. I’m not a nutritionist; each of us should consult with our personal physicians about our diets and the foods or additives that he or she feels are best for us.

Hmmm, salt. Perhaps I’ll research that next.

 Happy eating!

2015 Photo-Some-Days 5.18.2015

I love weddings. They are one of the happiest occasions we as humans celebrate. My niece was married in Georgetown, TX this past weekend. During the photo session after the ceremony, I handed my iPhone to one of the groomsmen and asked him to take a photo of our family with the bride & groom. As we were being positioned by the photographer, he snapped this candid with a very nice “Hook ’em Horns” in the foreground. I really like this shot, as it takes me back 20 or so years to the time in my life when I served as a groomsmen in several weddings. This is something I would have done had the uncle of the bride asked me to snap a pic on his cell phone. It brought a smile to my face when I first discovered it in my camera roll late last night. To the anonymous groomsman I say, “well played, sir!”

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. ~ Genesis 2:22-24

Wedding "Hook 'em"

Wedding “Hook ’em”

2015 Photo-Some-Days 5.7.2015

My daughter took this pic of our Golden Retriever, Lucy, and called it “Business Dog”. Whether working or just having fun, Lucy craves human contact and she loves being around us. And she always has this happy look on her face. This is our first Golden, and I’m a fan of this breed. Maybe I should bring her to work and let her charm my prospects!

“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.” ~ Warren Bennis via brainyquote.com

"Business Lucy"

“Business Lucy”

2015 Photo-Some-Days 5.6.2015

“Leave it to the pros.” It wasn’t too long ago that I scoffed at that notion. Why call a pro when I can save a few bucks and repair or install it myself? Case in point: our kitchen faucet bit the dust last weekend. It had been showing the signs – hard to rotate, slow to shut off, and when I nearly pulled the handle off the other day I knew it was time for a replacement. My wife bought a lovely Delta faucet at Lowe’s Sunday afternoon. As I perused the directions and prepared to undertake my project, that voice inside me said, “call a plumber.” I tried to ignore it, but it was quite persistent and even resorted to calling me names. “Dummy, call a plumber.” I finally gave in, and am I glad I did! After just over two hours’ work, including having to grind away a lip of our sink that was partially blocking the hole in the granite countertop, I happily wrote the $247 check to the man that did such a good job. “Leave it to the pros,” indeed!

“Leave it to the pros.” ~ We all say it from time to time, but since I could not find an original source, let’s call it Anonymous.

Kudos to Jim England Plumbing of Keller, TX for a great installation! 5.5.2015

Kudos to Jim England Plumbing of Keller, TX for a great installation! 5.5.2015

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