Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Last Hunt Of 2010 Season

After only a few hunts the entire year, I finished strong. Two good friends (Ken Priebe and Ed Perkins, my bro-in-law), one super-nice rancher and a climactic final bird (to limit) capped the ending of a practically non-existent season for me.
My broker told me there were worse things than being too busy to hunt and while I agree, the final day of hunting this year set well with my psyche.
We hunted a 450-acre parcel owned by one of the nicest ranchers (John Lux) and people I’ve met. Get this, John had three 4-wheelers lined up for us ready to ride upon our arrival.  Then during the hunt he came around and directed us to the birds. There wasn’t much need however because they were plentiful.
John wisely monitors his property and has a no-shoot area that he calls his reserve. Based upon the abundance of quail, I’ll bet it’s more of a hatchery.
Ken, Ed and I continually monitor each others’ progress for first-bird, most birds and first to limit.  I was last to limit but did shoot two birds out from under my brother-in-law that he’d missed – sweeeeet.  You’d have to know my brother-in-law to appreciate it.  He’s an amazing shot and the roles are usually reversed. He did however limit first, as usual.  Then (hunting animal) Ken limited. On two  occasions this season they limited on quail in both Idaho and Oregon. It is worth noting however for this blog that both Ken and Ed missed two easy shots on quail over a pond depriving my dog of a needed water retrieve.
Whilst walking back to the truck my final bird eluded me several times; they kept flushing at Ken’s feet rather than mine.  The rancher who practically guided our hunt was more keen than I was to see that I got my last bird directing me to hunt below our four-wheelers. I was so tired that I passed on his suggestion but as we were loading up Eddie’s dog locked up on a point about six-inches from one of the four wheelers, right where John had said they’d be. I pulled my gun back out of its case, almost forgot to chamber a shell but then flushed the bird, hammering it on a fairly difficult shot. John was delighted reminding me that he’d told me where to hunt and telling us that we were the first group where everyone limited. I found that hard to believe with the abundance of birds we saw.
My poor dog was so out of shape that he wouldn’t drink and during the last half hour, just waltzed behind me.  Still I handled him to the last bird of the season and he had just enough chutzpa to accomplish that task.
A little back and leg sore but it’s memories like this that bring you back.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How To Lose A Customer For A Penny

I frequent small towns like Kuna and Marsing.  Recently I partook of breakfast at the Farmhouse, Kuna’s only real breakfast place.
The rather bland omelet I ordered came standard-fare with hash-browns and toast.  It wasn’t horrible (nor good) but here’s the thing – everywhere I go, I ask for a pancake substitute instead of toast. It's never a problem. In this economy you’d think the answer to almost any request would be a resounding “yes certainly we can substitute a pancake.”  My answer at the Farmhouse – a rude, “no, he won’t do that”.  The “he” is the waitress’ husband. I almost just got up and left. In retrospect I wish I had.
My dad while there recently came up one penny short at the register and asked if that was close enough. He’d left a tip at the table already.  The answer was another rude, “I have to pay my taxes too.” Can you believe it. My father had to break a dollar to give the guy a penny.
Not only did he lose us as customers, he’s certainly treating the (hopefully dwindling) remainder of his customer-base exactly the same.  In this econonmy?  To lose a customer for a penny? Really?
In contrast I found a delightful little restaurant today in of all places, Marsing. It’s called The Orchard House. It’s actually right on Highway 55 about 4 miles North of Marsing – a 12 minute drive from the Karcher exit off I-84.
If you drive through Marsing you'll find 80 year old dilapidated buildings and a quick look-see into their coffee shop might indicate that maybe rural folk accept something less than Starbucks ambiance.
The Orchard House is a delightful exception however. The ambiance here is warm and inviting.  There's rich pine paneling, a tin ceiling, lot's of little nick-nacks. It’s nearing Christmas and they’ve done it up right, inside and out and it looks like they sell some of their confections under glass in the lobby.
The few up-front parking spaces are reserved for seniors so you’ll want to park about 50 feet away and traverse a short trail to the door. Wait though until you see the way they’ve lit the pathway.  It looks like the mini-version of the Botanical Gardens Christmas show - splendid just like everything else at The Orchard House.
The breakfast menu is yummy with thick bacon strips, great omelets and wonderful pancakes.  The breakfast potatoes are superb. Breakfast prices are like weekend Sheri’s prices but the food is far  better. Espresso coffee too!
The dinner menu is more upscale with prime rib, various steaks, salmon, praws, halibut and chicken-fried steak. Menu items are $14-23 but you can do a split of their prime rib, add $5 and get all the sides for your spouse. That’s really cool.
Their weekend dinner menu adds some really nice menu enhancements. Same prices, more variety and more saucy items like Chicken Piccata, Flat-Iron Prawns and finger-steaks.
The Orchard House is a sole proprietorship and no doubt there are family members in attendance. Often the ma-and-pa places lose their vision along the way, burn out and don’t impliment systems and processes for long-term success. That doesn’t seem to be the case at The Orchard House however.  The service is great; the food is great; the atmosphere is great. Every "t" is crossed; every "i" is dotted.
It seems that Orchards are better than Farms (Orchard House vs Farmhouse) It’s worth the drive toward Marsing just to check it out. Come and enjoy a place that delivers delight – on purpose.

Oh by the way, my bill this morning for a wonderful breakfast was $10.02. As I was shuffling through my bills, the waitress saw I had a ten dollar bill and ironically she said, "Don't worry about the two cents."

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Christian Response To The Recent Suicide of Tyler Clementi

The recent suicide of Tyler Clementi and the media’s response to it cries for a Christian examination.
The media is decrying the “outing” of Tyler by his roommate as the sole cause for his decision to take his life but there’s more to it - something deeper and more fundamental.
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, …  Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. … the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” Rom 1: 25-27
The homosexual lifestyle creates a deep-seated shame within their psyche and often it’s life-crushing. Sin separates us from God. It dehumanizes; it destroys and nothing exemplifies this more than homosexuality.
A quick examination of the studies of suicide by homosexual youth reveals they’re more than three times likely to take their lives than straights. Here’s just one study:
It’s logical for the media to point to the outing as the cause of Tyler’s decision to commit suicide and I have no doubt it contributed but ultimately the root cause was simply shame.
What of the “outing”? That too was a shameful act but let’s be realistic, our culture is almost completely secular. A secular culture is brutal and mean spirited. Can we expect otherwise?
During a recently high-school reunion I stood accused of calling a classmate "fat" 30-years ago. Though I didn’t remember this vile act I’m certain I’m guilty. People are cruel and hurtful in the absence of the Holy Spirit’s influence in their lives and 30-years ago I was no exception. Even worse are those who proclaim Christ’s Name yet act no different but that takes me off-topic.
I’ve spoken to several Christians who’ve embraced Katie Couric’s conclusions on the matter. They either wholly reject the idea that homosexuality is sin or in the very least embrace the idea that we need more civil government to fix the problem. More State-worship and faith in their ability to fix every problem however isn’t the proper Biblical response.
I’m not excusing Tyler’s roommate and haven’t taken the time to consider whether a civil response to his actions is called for, but I do know the Christian mindset is that creation groans for the return of Christ (Rom 8).  My reformed leanings tell me that as we perfect and complete His Kingdom by conforming ourselves to His image, ultimately His beauty and majesty will prevail and dominate society. Such things as the unfortunate events at Rutgers University will be an aberration and the Glory of Christ will prevail until His eventual return.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Digital Lifestyle Broadcasting

The best way to put it is that my iPhone confects my life. You might even say it’s become a way of life.

Early in the morning it wakes me vie the clock app. As I lay there in a pre-awake state pondering the day before me, I quietly open the Olive Tree app and read my bible without waking my wife.

Before heading off to the tennis club I let the dogs out to do their “beenus” in the back field. My iPhone doubles as a flashlight.

Whilst driving to the club I listen to the latest Lew Rockwell podcast. Driving is now something I look forward to. I eat my morning apple and record it’s 70 calories into Shapeup, a great app that tracks my diet. It tracks my calorie expenditure as well.

When I tire of the political debate with my liberal friend and the news blaring on the TV, I sometimes slip on my Bluetooth headset and listen to music during my workout in the weight room after tennis.

Now it’s off to my Realtor’s Brokers Council of Idaho meeting. I arrive way-early so I check my email, respond to those needing attention and make a couple of outgoing calls. Still I have some time before the meeting so I decide to read my book – you guessed it on my iPhone using a nice app called Stanza. With a few minutes before the meeting I get online and see what’s going on in the national news and hey, I don’t have to watch Katie Couric’s biased trash. I get news online that fits with my ultra-conservative, anarchist viewpoint. Now it’s time for the meeting and during the presentation by a local builder I tweet about him to others who are no doubt tracking this builder and will see my comments. During the meeting, I receive an offer via an email fax on one of my listings. I review it right there and forward it to my seller to review prior to calling him.

This particular morning I write up a listing and snap all the photos on my iPhone since the digital photo quality is top notch. Though it may not be quite as good as a top rated digital camera, it’s plenty good for my purposes. I put together the listing documents on the web via my iPhone and email them to my client’s computer. He signs them digitally on his computer right then. There’s not much need for paper these days. I also shoot some video that I’ll drop on Youtube and then post to facebook later.

Next I must pickup a buyer to show him homes. I’ve entered the addresses for all three showings into Motion X Drive, a really powerful GPS app that’s far better than my previous stand-alone dash-mounted unit. This gives me the flexibility to focus on my client’s concerns and conversation with him rather than diverting mindshare to the mundane of finding the next home on the list. My buyer’s wife couldn’t come with us and he’s very excited to show her some of the features of one particular home. Viola – I create a quick video tour via the built-in Camera and send it to her via text messaging. She gets to view it before her husband arrives home. I use the Zillow mobile app to find other homes for sale in the neighborhood and view their photos with my buyer. Of course to open doors, I use the lockbox device that attaches to my iPhone. I also use the HP 12C Financial Calculator app to determine my clients’ monthly payments on the homes he’s most interested in.

After dropping off my client I have a nice dinner with my wife at a local restaurant that I find using the Yelp app – oh an hey a nice e-coupon to save some bucks that I found with the Groupon app. This particular restaurant has good reviews but I didn’t like it all that well so I write my own review for others after snapping a few photos of the cuisine. Of course I drop all of this over to Facebook for my friends to see along with other conservative if not controversial thoughts certain to get some response. Several folks who share my perspective and values contacted me last year because of my Facebook presence.

After dinner I go for a run and track the course, my time, and calories expended with Runkeeper, a nice app for us runners. Oh and yes, I also post it to Facebook. I shower up (no app for that) and then head off to the theatre with my wife. On our way there, she looks at the available movies using Flixter, a nice app for watching trailers and reading review. I’m tired of spending $10 to see trashy movies. Afterward I review the movie with Flixter and of course the review drops onto my Facebook account.

After getting home I realize I’ve missed my favorite show, Parks and Rec. No worry, I just download it to my iPhone using the iTunes app. I’ll watch it on the airplane later in the week whilst traveling.

It’s time for bed now, so I set the alarm so I can do it all over tomorrow.
So lets see, I’ve eliminated the following accoutrements that most folks normally must schlep along: Wrist watch, digitial still camera, digitial video camera, real estate lock box opener, GPS, laser printer, fax machine and television, newspaper, financial calculator. In the process, without having to divert focus, I found a nice place to have dinner, saved money with the e-coupon, previewed movies to watch and in the process communicated electronically with all of my friends. Oh and I made a few calls as well.

There’s more, much more that I do with my iPhone in a typical day but hey this blog must end eventually. The point – technology is getting so integrated into our lives with these wonderful devices and they’re really making our lives better, easier and more enjoyable – plus we get to broadcast our lifestyle, see others’ lives in living color and stay in-touch with so many more people. With this technology each of us is our own news-station of ideas and lifestyle choices.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mmm… Summer in the Sawtooth Mountains

Last weekend my wife and I decided to go to the Sawtooths to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary.

We usually partake of the Sawtooths at least once each Summer and every time I’m there I’m amazed there aren’t thousands of people everywhere. It’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet yet it seems mostly undiscovered.

We watched a massive thunderstorm invade Redfish Lake while eating dinner at the Lodge and people-watching. If you’ve never watched the families at play on the lawn, and their comings and goings on the dock, that by itself is a treat. Again, very few folks were to be found.

In contrast, my daughter told us of her recent hike in Virginia with 100-degree heat and just as much humidity. They couldn’t find the James River for the massive vegetation.

But Idaho - it’s hard to beat nice hike to the meadows above Stanley Lake where we found wildflowers blooming in abundance. At 7000 feet elevation, the temperature required light jackets. Nothing against the East coast but hey, tell me where you’re going to find a view anything close to Mount Heyburn back there.

Driving back from Stanley is one long three-hour downhill run. The longest hill I could find in Virginia – maybe 20 minutes. To be fair, I did find some beautiful places there as well; they just not my preference, nor can I see why they’d be someone else’s but then that’s why this blog is entitled “Lifestyle Nazi.”

Before heading back to the Boise Valley, we stopped at Pettit Lake and sat on the beach for four hours. With virtually no one to be found I imagined that I owned the place. Maybe this is the mansion God has promised me. There we threw bumpers for my friendly labs and enjoyed their exuberant splashing about. The breeze and mild temperatures hid the onset of sunburn but the peaceful sound of lapping waves and views of the massive granite walls across the lake made this penalty seem light.

Truly the purpose of life is to enjoy ourselves. At least that’s part of it. Westminster’s Shorter Catechism actually states it this way, “The purpose of life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Part of enjoying God is unquestionably enjoying life for what of life is not wholly and completely of God and hanging out in Stanley with no particular agenda – now that’s enjoyment in its purest form.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Covenant Community – It's Beauty Cannot Be Denied

We recently returned from a trip to visit my daughter and son in Virginia.  They’re members of an OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) there in Lynchburg.
Like the church I attend here in Idaho, I’m always struck by the beauty of a true Covenant Community.  Beauty is something that cannot be denied.  It’s not subjective - like encountering a striking outdoor scene, it’s beauty cannot be denied and it’s the same with a Covenant Community. Here are some of the specifics.
My daughter’s car had serious mechanical issues; more than could be handled easily by a member of the church but still several members had given it the once-over and then my son, Taylor, spent four days ripping it apart.  My daughter rents from a family who attend her church and the next-door neighbors are also members of her church as well as others who rent from them. They have a place in the back where they help each other with auto repair tasks.  We hung-out there during Taylor’s arduous repair-job; we drank a few beers and smoked pipes, all while we encouraged him.  Lot’s of kibitzing went on until Katie’s car was finally running like a dream.
We bowled a couple of times with their friends who took us in like we were one of their own.  I played tennis a couple of times with one of the members. We sat on the front porch several times and discussed politics, religion, guns and other assorted stories with the men of the church. We were invited to another member’s home for dinner and we invited a couple of families to my daughter’s (Katie) place for dinner.  We attended their church a couple of times. We attended an all-day picnic where we played basketball, volleyball and wiffle-ball.  They barbequed huge pork roasts for everyone and there was wonderful potluck food in abundance. We played cards on the porch in the evenings. The men I saw treated their wives with tenderness and the wives treated their husbands with respect. The children were well behaved and disciplined when necessary by both parents. There seemed to be no end to the fellowship. The beauty of their Covenant Community is beyond question. 
Truly the purpose of life is to fellowship with God and enjoy Him forever and a Covenant Community is the obvious extension of that purpose.
Now I’m back in my beautiful Idaho where my wife and I enjoy the same Covenant Community – just different people. Life is good.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Liberty University's Commencement - A Sad Commentary On The State Of The Evangelical Church

Glenn Beck, the nationally syndicated talk-show host recently spoke at my daughters’ commencement ceremony at Liberty University (LU). A glaring incongruity immediately beset the entire event but the largely evangelical audience seemed unaware. LU is arguably the nations preeminent undergraduate Christian university. Glenn Beck is a Mormon.

That LU would give any Mormon access to one of their school-sponsored venues, let alone invite him to be the keynote speaker at their commencement was mystifying. I learned however that inviting unbelievers to speak is nothing new at Liberty. Ben Stein spoke last year and Chuck Norris the year prior. Obviously LU cares more about a speaker’s public prominence or at least their politics than their standing before the Lord.

As far as I can tell the reasoning behind inviting Mr. Beck to speak (according to Jerry Falwell, Jr.) was that “he is one of the few members of the media who stands for the principles upon which this nation was founded.” I presume Mr. Falwell missed the Sermon-Sunday when the pastor taught on Psalms 2 admonishing us not to sit in the council of the ungodly nor walk in the path of sinners.

There is not nor can there be an equality of faith between Mormon’s and Christians. We can’t let them think they’re one of us, nor can we let fellow Christians think of them as one of us. Like any other cult, adherence to Mormonism leads to eternal damnation, so ya; it’s a big deal. How could LU miss this glaring incongruity?

Many other issues come to mind as well. For instance, LU’s mission statement is: To develop Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential to impact tomorrow’s world. So where’s the disconnect? Very simple –LU’s actions betray the university actual mission statement: building the size and worldly stature of the university. In other words they’re not a lot different than any other secular university. However revealing it may be, the fact that LU would facilitate a Mormon giving spiritual advice to its student body is disturbing.

Secondly, Mr. Beck’s speech was little more than a rah-rah session about how bad things are. I agree but I can hear this daily on his radio program. Mr. Beck didn’t talk about any of the Biblical solutions to the world’s problems because he doesn’t have any understanding in this area. His only admonition to the graduates was that we had better do something about this or “the blood will be on our hands.” Mr. Beck’s talk was the essence of shallowness itself.

Over-the-top however was Mr. Beck’s cry-talking; Here’s the thing – I don’t think he was faking it. Well at least he probably wasn’t. Either way, sincerity is not the measure by which we decide the soundness of one’s philosophy for indeed Mr. Beck was sincerely wrong in so many ways. His words seemed designed to evoke an emotional response and to cause the audience to embrace him as one of our own. Sadly it seemed to work.

He read a long letter that he’d written previously to his daughter as she headed off to college. Again, nothing of substance that might anchor a young person in their faith as they strikeout to conquer the world for Christ. Funny? Yes in a sort of a gratuitous way; superficial – definitely.

Lastly, and here’s the main point – the largely evangelical crowd in attendance, gave Mr. Beck a standing ovation. They seemed to have no problem with his Mormonism or of the shallow content of his speech. In fact, they loved it. One can only surmise that they loved it because they too are shallow which pretty much sums up the condition of the Evangelical Church these days.

Though we Evangelicals have access to God’s plan (His Word) for fixing this mess (the world) we’ve not examined the blueprints. Our answers to the world’s problems are not Biblical – they’re Beckish and thus the evangelical community is by-in-large relegated to a status of uselessness. We have little if any effect anymore in the culture and the commencement at Liberty University clearly demonstrated as much.