4280 Cottonwood

4280 Cottonwood

Comment: Up the street from me. Very nice house. Not sure how they valued this at $ 520K. Still waiting to find out how much the house next to me sold.


Live like a Pilgrim

Pilgrim houses
When the houses were finished, they were not very large. Because the Pilgrims hoped to own their own land and build better houses in the future, the houses in Plymouth Colony in the 1620s were not as comfortable as the ones the Pilgrims left behind in England and Holland. Most of their houses only had one room. The colonists did their cooking, eating, and sleeping, as well as other work, in this room. The women cooked around a hearth, where small fires were lit. The fire from the hearth provided heat during the winter months and light at night. Candles and oil lamps were sometimes lit too. If there was a chimney, it was built of timber and clay and clapboards just like the rest of the house.
Comment: I confess I have not lived like a pilgrim. And I don't mean the 1620 Pilgrims. I was humbled by my experience at the Plimoth Plantation ... and to think that my own relatives (William White and his wife Susanna and their son Resolved) were there!

On Pilgim living:
  • King David on eve of his own death challenged Israel to give and build: "Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord?" ... "For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope" (1 Chronicles 29:5,15)
  • Psalm 84:5, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage"
  • Hebrews 11:13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth"
  • 1 Peter 2:11, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul"
My own commitment to Pilgrim living:
  • I need to be more cognizant of the temporariness of life: James :14, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."
  • I remind myself that all material things are temporary: 2 Peter 3:10-12, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up"
  • And with regard to material things I have a stewardship: 1 Corinthians 4:2, " Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful"


An unlimited open wallet for college?

In Applying to College, Is Cost a Factor?


My husband, John, and I, however, are trying to decide whether to include a criterion that's a bit more concrete: "What will it cost?"

... And yet, John is adamant about whether cost should play a part in the college-selection process: We should not veto any of Jamie's choices, he says. Certainly not at this stage and probably not ever.

"She should not limit herself," he says. "Her primary focus needs to be on what she's interested in studying."

John's stance is all the more surprising because he intends to have us foot the entire bill for all four girls' education—including graduate school. He wants to make sure they get through college debt-free, and he's willing to tap into our retirement account if needed.
Comment: Glad all of this is behind us. 2 kids paid way through college. One of those going to MIT for MBA starting in August. 3rd kid (who is the 1st kid) is about to graduate finally with Bachelor's this Summer. The reality is (Econ 101) is that cost is a factor in any decision that involves finances!

  • 1st graduate was 3rd child. Paid way through college as barista. Off to MIT in August
  • 2nd graduate was 2nd child. Paid way through college working and GI Bill. Graduated last May from U of Minnesota


I used to think shredding was fun - cleaning out the desk

Today is a big clean out day at our house:
  • In prep for a new carpet installation on our lower level (in two weeks) we are doing major clean out
  • This week upcoming the pool table will be disassembled and moved into the back (unfinished) room The new carpeting is to be done on May 9th and 10th
  • Pool table to be reassembled and reinstalled on May 17th
  • Meanwhile: Closets to be cleaned out ... books to be taken off shelves ... et cetera
  • Today Nathan picked up 2 couches from the lower level.
  • Roger and Kathee are cleaning out closets
  • And I have been cleaning out the desk in the den.
  • I've shredded so much stuff that the shredder jammed multiple times ... the shredder bin filled up ... and finally the shredder overheated and gave up the ghost. Later after a cool-down period it was able to run again
  • But my new shredder strategy is to put documents into plastic bags and take them to an office supply store where they shred by the pound
  • Found stuff
    • Statements ... statements ... statements ... (I wish I had chosen the paperless (PDF stored at Wells Fargo) option earlier) (credit card statements, stock statements, checking account statements, mortgage statements ... etc)
    • Mortgage documents galore (multiple refinances). Saved only the last one)
    • Old credit reports
    • Funniest: in the file with stock purchase statements ... a medical statement ... "your pap smear came back normal" (guess that was misfiled!)
    • Letters from Roger from when he was in Iraq - I saved all
    • Taxes ... taxes ... taxes ... I saved last 7 years. All others going to shredder
    • Purchase receipts galore ... to the shredder
    • Work stuff ... all to the shredder
    • Windows XP install disk! ... trash
  • Trips
    • Pickup truck (Nathan). 2 couches to his house .. two of his old couches to Goodwill)
    • Kathee to Goodwill
    • Me to UPS store (for shredding)
    • Roger to military surplus store ... donation of old USMC uniforms (he is former USMC ... now with MN Army National Guard)

Japan and their mastery of Whisky

Japanese Whisky - The finest single malt in the world is no longer from Scotland.


At the 2012 World Whiskies Awards, for example, Suntory's Yamazaki 25-year-old was voted World's Best Single Malt, while Nikka won the top spot in the Blended Malt category. Suntory now exports well over 10,000 cases a year to the United States alone, with France and the UK not far behind. With their exceptional equilibrium, smoothness and delicacy, these whiskies are redefining an ancient art. When I ask Mike Miyamoto, a former master distiller at Suntory, why their whiskies are becoming so popular across the world, his reply is terse: "Quality. We are trying to make our whisky better every year."
Comment: Video click from Lost in Translation.

Lincoln (2012 film)

Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’


The acting, as you’ve heard, is powerful. Daniel Day-Lewis is pretty wonderful. What is most remarkable is the look—the thick, rough hair, the hollow cheeks and kindly, abstracted air. It’s clear Day-Lewis studied the Mathew Brady sittings from Lincoln’s last months, when he no longer cared to look stern and dignified and instead allowed himself to look like what he was, a person operating at a certain benign remove.

Much has been said of Lincoln’s voice in the film. It struck me as good, in line with historical descriptions and right for a man of Lincoln’s height and build. Actually the voice is not that different from Henry Fonda’s in John Ford’s 1939 classic, “Young Mr. Lincoln.” Day-Lewis uses a fuller, more mature version of that voice. Most movingly, Day-Lewis seems to have mastered Lincoln’s physical presence, how he held himself and moved. He was a strong man but not a straight-backed, formal one. In her memoir, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker, describes Mr. Lincoln throwing himself on the couch, picking up books and reading aloud. He often slouched and slumped, like someone who even physically didn’t have to prove his power.

But Day-Lewis really got Lincoln’s walk, or at least the way it’s been reported and described in the histories. Lincoln didn’t walk with the usual spring, but with the whole foot coming down at once. He had an odd, awkward gait, part shuffle, part soft stomp. I’ve never seen a theory for why he moved like that, so here’s mine: Lincoln didn’t learn to walk on streets, roads or lanes, he learned to walk in the wilderness on paths cut through woods. He learned to walk over rough roots jutting out of the ground, over rocks, through greasy mud. Truly, nobody paved the way for him. He got in the habit of placing his foot down flat so he wouldn’t be tripped up or lose his balance, and the habit followed him through life. In the film, as he clomps out of the White House for the last time, on his way to Ford’s Theatre, an usher watches him leave, with his funny walk. The way he watches him, as if he’s seeing for the first time the true size of Lincoln’s singularity, is moving.

If everyone goes see this film with a young person (about 12 or over), the young will get a history lesson that will help them understand America better and appreciate it more, and the old will have been entertained and encouraged Hollywood on more helpful paths. That would be good.
Comment: We watched Lincoln on Xfinity pay per view last night. My post is not a movie review.  But it was very well acted and interesting.


In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas

The Crucial Distinction Between Essential and Peripheral Doctrines

Full article:

We've been talking about the distinction between (on the one hand) truth that is so essential to the gospel—so vitally important—that you must affirm it or be condemned; and (on the other hand) lesser truths, where there may be more room for misunderstanding or disagreement. How does one tell which category any given doctrine fits into?

Some have suggested (and I quite agree) that Scripture may be deliberately vague on these issues for good but hidden reasons, so that some of the questions we have raised are answered in the Bible with stark black-and-white clarity; while most of the answers we're looking for are sketched out in indistinct lines and with varying shades of gray.

On the other hand, some who have commented have wondered aloud whether any distinction between essential and peripheral truths is really even necessary.

It seems to me that even a few moments of cursory thought would quickly drive us to the conclusion that we cannot simply erase every distinction between primary and secondary doctrines...Scripture commands us to contend earnestly against error when the faith once delivered to the saints is at stake; and yet, when the unity of true saints is at stake, we are commanded to receive people who are weak in the faith without indulging in doubtful disputations.

We're expected to make sound judgments about which is which. Remember, Jesus sternly rebuked the Pharisees for failing to distinguish between vital and secondary legal principles—even though no distinction between "gnats" and "camels" was ever spelled out explicitly in the Old Testament law. They were held responsible to apply rational, sensible judgment to the biblical data—and there was plainly enough data so they should have understood that justice, mercy, and the love of God are bigger spiritual principles than counting out little seeds for a tithe (Luke 11:42).

Notice what Jesus said: "These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23). Recognizing a proper taxonomy of spiritual principles doesn't give us permission to abandon whatever principles are deemed secondary. I think that's a misunderstanding that causes some to shy away from speaking of "secondary" truths. But "secondary" doesn't mean "optional." It does, however, mean that all truths aren't of equal import. Not every point of truth is an occasion for all-out battle, especially between brethren who agree on the major points.

That's one of the huge practical realities of real-world ministry that sensible people who want to be faithful to the commands of Romans 14 simply must understand. We may not always agree on which issues are worth fighting for, but it's an evil mind that rejects the distinction completely and fights with equal vigor over every issue, gnats and camels alike.
Comments: The image above is from the ESV Study Bible (I improved upon it with some color and a little different labeling (but the same labels). I previously used this image in the post "Essential vs. Peripheral Doctrine". The Latin phrase In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas is ancient and well-know: English = "unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things". The wise man will head the admonition of "We're expected to make sound judgments about which is which". This would be a starting point.


Mini Babybel®

Laughing Cow Cheese

Comment: If you pack your lunch ... this makes a great addition to it. (And if you don't pack your lunch ... you are wasting a lot of $$). We had these as a snack on our return flight from Boston (I thought it was lunch  ... but that was later!). Kathee bought these at Lunds in Plymouth.

My lunch today: Diet Pepsi, Turkey and swiss on marble rye, banana, and a Babybel

Duwayne Lafley - The last punch card tech left

Conroe company still using computers museums want to put on display


And you think your folks are archaic for using flip phones ... Sparkler Filters up north in Conroe still uses an IBM 402 in conjunction with a Model 129 key punch – with the punch cards and all – to do company accounting work and inventory. The company makes industrial filters for chemical plants and grease traps. Lutricia Wood is the head accountant at Sparkler and the data processing manager. She went to business school over 40 years ago in Houston, and started at Sparkler in 1973. Back then punch cards were still somewhat state of the art. A PCWorld profile in early 2012 looked at Sparkler's virtually antique equipment, and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., even sent a team out to try and coax the company into abandoning the 402, mainly so they could buy it and put it on display in the museum. Wood says the cards are slowly being phased out in favor of PCs, but she wasn't sure when. "We get new cards from the repairman, and when those run out I don't know what we will do," says Wood. That repairman is Duwayne Lafley of Santa Fe, who was an operator on IBMs in the U.S. Navy, before going into the private sector. "I may be the only punch card tech left," Lafley says. He used to work on NASA's machines, since he was cheaper than the official IBM techs, starting in 1977. His work helped get the Space Shuttle in orbit. NASA left the punch cards in the dust in 2001. Companies used to fly him out to work on their IBMs. One of Lafley's clients was even the New York Times. "Ross Perot has a private museum devoted to IBM machines and they've asked about extra parts," says Lafley, who keeps his extra IBM guts at his 1,500 square foot shop.
Comment: Company homepage. (I was going to say they host their website on the 402 ... but not believable!). PC World article. Image capture at top is from this article.

Mom at Dad's Gravesite

Comment: Taken by my Brother, Roger. That's his wife Kathy by Mom. Location. Map. The photo was taken on April 18th, 2013


The False AP Tweet Blip

Twitter Hoax Sparks Swift Stock Swoon

A Fake AP Tweet Sinks the Dow for an Instant

6 signs that you are ready to retire early

6 signs that you are ready to retire early

The list:

  1. You are emotionally ready to quit working
  2. You followed a retirement budget for 6 months
  3. You have reliable health insurance coverage
  4. Your children are financially independent
  5. Your debts are paid off or nearly paid off
  6. Your portfolio is big enough to withstand losses
Comment: My take on the list an my own preparedness

  1. You are emotionally ready to quit working - Answer: Not sure
  2. You followed a retirement budget for 6 months - Answer: Not specifically but we live significantly below our income level. 
  3. You have reliable health insurance coverage - Answer: If I retired at 64, I would be covered by Kathee's health insurance until I reached 65
  4. Your children are financially independent - Answer: Yes
  5. Your debts are paid off or nearly paid off - Answer: Yes
  6. Your portfolio is big enough to withstand losses - Answer: Probably


Cape Cod trip

We returned yesterday from our long-planned trip to Cape Cod. Trip details:

  • Friday - April 12th
    • We flew Sun Country to Boston's Logan airport. I splurged and we flew 1st class. 
    • My sister flew in from Dallas and met Kathee and me at the Hertz rental location
    • We had a brand new (only had 32 mlles on it!) GMC Acadia rented. We would put 800 miles on it that week
    • We arrived to a cold heavy rain and it rained all of Friday
    • We drove to Brewster, Massachusetts and checked into ...
    • The Brewster Green resort. We stayed in a 2 bedroom condo for the week.
    • We had a late lunch at the Brewster Fish House 
    • Nancy and Kathee shopped at Shaw's in Orleans and picked up food for the week.
  • Saturday - April 13th
  • Sunday - April 14th
    • We visited Chatham. The girls shopped and I took a nap in the car.
    • Later we visited my sister-in-law's family in Eastham
  • Monday - April 15th
  • Tuesday - April 16th
  • Wednesday - April 17th
  • Thursday - April 18th
    • We drove back to Woods Hole and took the Ferry to Martha's Vineyard. This is a 45 min boat ride
    • We took the Island Home outbound and Gay Head inbound
    • We explored every corner of the island. The picture below is near the Western-most point - known as Gay Head
    • We had lunch at the Offshore Ale Company
  • Friday - April 19th
    • Friday was our travel day home. The day was surreal in that Boston was shut down associated with the bombing manhunt.
    • We awoke at 5:50 and left Brewster by 6:20 a.m.
    • Route 6 was lightly traveled and I drove at nearly 70 mph. Half a dozen or more times police cars whizzed by me at perhaps more than 100 mph.
    • Similarly Hwy 3 to Boston was lightly traveled. More police cars.
    • We listened to CNN on SiriusXM and heard that this town and the next were on lockdown. Businesses were closed and mass transit was shutdown. We did not know if Logan would be open or not
    • We arrived at the Hertz drop off site at about 8:30. A Hertz representative drove us, in our rented vehicle, directly to the American Airline terminal (Nancy) and to Sun Country.
    • The large terminal with approximately 100 stations for various airlines was nearly empty. I don't think there were more than a dozen people. There were three DHS armed guards patrolling. 
    • Kathee found a breakfast spot - the Dine Boston Bar & Grille and we each had a bagel, egg and ham sandwich and coffee
    • Our Sun Country return flight was a bit late arriving because of winter weather in Minneapolis.
    • We were glad to board and had a good flight back
    • Plymouth had received 6 or 7 inches of snow but a service had plowed our driveway for us
Other on the trip:
  • Most mornings Nancy and Kathee walked a bit before breakfast
  • We ate breakfast every morning in the condo
  • Everyday we had a main meal out
  • Evenings we had cold-cuts and snacks back at the condo
  • We celebrated Kathee's 62nd birthday on Thursday
  • I bought half a dozen Dunken Donuts for us to enjoy
  • Most nights we read a chapter from Luke
  • And 5 nights we played three-player hearts. Winner: Jim (3 games). 2nd Nancy (2 games). 3rd Kathee with 1 game


Celebrating Kathee's Birthday


A special day for Kathee ... and I gave her some shares of Berkshire Hathaway. By the way .... I love their retro style website! A shares or B shares? Well the A shares are trading at nearly $ 157,000. So you can probably guess! (A shares, B shares). Interesting Wiki on List of assets owned by Berkshire Hathaway


4 wet inches of snow

Snowiest April Since 2002 for Minneapolis
Comment: It wasn't as bad as the weather forecaster predicted in the 10 pm news last night. I think it is done. Now waiting for city plow to come through and then I will clear the ridge.


Feds to divest Tennessee Valley Authority?

Obama Administration to Consider Sale of TVA


The administration's budget proposal on Wednesday disclosed a planned "strategic review" of the authority known as TVA, which provides electricity to parts of seven states, including most of Tennessee. The review will include "options for addressing TVA's financial situation, including the possible divestiture of TVA, in part or as a whole," it said. "Reducing or eliminating the Federal Government's role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives and no longer require Federal participation, can help put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal path," the budget said. TVA was created during the Great Depression as a New Deal public works program. It built dams and, later, nuclear power plants. The government still fully owns the authority, but it now funds its own operations.
Comment: Wiki Tennessee Valley Authority. A very good idea!

Windows 8 behind PC slowdown?

IDC: Global PC Shipments Drop 13.9% in First Quarter


IDC said that Windows 8 hasn't only failed to spur more PC demand but has actually exacerbated the slowdown—confusing consumers with features that don't excel in a tablet mode and compromise the traditional PC experience.

"The reaction to Windows 8 is real," said Jay Chou, an IDC analyst.

Business customers are also keeping their distance from Windows 8, Mr. Chou noted, saying that companies that used to buy new PCs every three years before the recession have pushed out their PC purchases to every four or five years.
Comment: Our company is skipping Windows 8 except for a limited number of high profile Execs who want "The Surface". My sister and I just purchased an HP Windows 8 laptop for Mom and I did the setup for her. I was impressed with Windows 8. Plus there is a tile that takes one to the Windows 7 style desktop.

When stocks are at "Highest Level Ever" ....

S&P 500 hits new record high; financials lead

Comment: When stocks are at "Highest Level Ever" ....

This image comes to mind ...

A Bullet Bubble?

The Bullet Bubble: Is Ammo The Next Bitcoin, Or Gold In The 1970s? Excerpt:

Try going to your neighborhood Wal-Mart to buy some .22 bullets for target shooting, or a couple of boxes of shotgun shells, and you’ll discover what hunters and gun enthusiasts have been muttering about for months now: The shelves are bare. Manufacturers are operating flat-out but can’t keep up with demand, as consumers snap up every box of ammo as soon as it comes on the market. Wal-Mart limits buyers to three boxes when they’re available, and Cabela‘s is limiting online orders to one box per day of the popular .22 long shells increasingly used as cheap ammo for target rifles and pistols.

... It’s difficult to get precise numbers on how many bullets are sold in the consumer market in the U.S. each year. The Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (split off from the ATF a decade ago, not that anyone noticed) collects an 11% tax on ammo sales by manufacturers. That tax serves as a rough proxy for demand, and government statistics show receipts soared from $68 million in 2000 to $129 million in 2008 and $172 million in calendar 2009, President Obama’s first full year in office. That would imply wholesale bullet sales of about $1.6 billion, or possibly retail sales of $3 billion. Consumer retail purchases of clothing and footwear last year, by comparison, were about $327 billion according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

... I called a few ammo manufacturers to get their views on future supply and demand, but they’re press-shy in the wake of the Newtown shooting tragedy. Olin Corp. is one of the biggest U.S. manufacturers of civilian ammunition, generating about a third of its revenue from bullets. Olin’s Winchester division is in the midst of a $110 million upgrade of its ammunition business, in which it is centralizing its operations in Oxford, Miss. Once the upgrade is done, Olin says in its most recent 10-K, it will reduce Winchester’s annual operating costs by $30 million. “Winchester expects to have the most modern centerfire ammunition production facility in North America,” the company says. Ammunition has been a good business for Olin lately, with total sales rising 8% to $618 million and profits climbing 46% to $55 million. The company’s commercial backlog, most of it for civilian ammunition, has also soared from $38 million at the beginning of 2012 to $311 million as of Jan. 31. The company’s shares are up 25% this year. Federal Premium answers its own question, “why can’t you just make more ammunition?” by saying it is already running its plants 24 hours a day. The company also says “there is some indication now that the shortages may be easing, aided in part by retailers’ decisions to limit sales to each customer.” Parent ATK, which has a large defense business, is up 17% this year.
Comment: Perhaps one should invest in ATK?


From “56 for ’56“ in "36" to .... "97"

Introducing the 97-Month Car Loan


In the final quarter of 2012, the average term of a new car note stretched out to 65 months, the longest ever, according to Experian Information Solutions Inc. Experian said that 17% of all new car loans in the past quarter were between 73 and 84 months and there were even a few as long as 97 months. Four years ago, only 11% of loans fell into this category. Such long term loans can present consumers and lenders with heightened risk. With a six- or seven-year loan, it takes car-buyers longer to reach the point where they owe less on the car than it is worth. Having "negative equity" or being "upside down" in a car makes it harder to trade or sell the vehicle if the owner can't make payments.

The length of loans has come a long way since Lee Iacocca, then a Ford regional manager, helped pioneer auto loans in the 1950s. He became a management star by developing a '56 for $56 sales pitch. The idea: consumers could buy a 1956 Ford for 20% down and $56 a month. The loans were paid off in just 36 months.
Comment: Image source with details on “56 for ’56“.
In 1956, Iacocca came up with an inventive new way to sell cars when he developed the “56 for ’56“. The policy meant that any customer that bought a new 1956 Ford should be able to do it with a 20 percent down payment, followed by monthly payments of $56 for three years. After the idea was applied across Ford, Iacocca was thought to be responsible for the sale of an additional 75,000 extra cars. Iacocca’s initiative meant that his profile was enlarged resulting in a big promotion to Dearborn, Michigan i.e. headoffice as the head of car marketing.
Comment: We were in the car loan trap for decades. This was largely my fault as I was always buying new cars. When that car was paid off I would buy another new one. We broke that cycle with our last car by saving and paying cash. Negotiating for a new car is much easier when no loan is involved. Our go forward plan is to save $ 100 per week towards  a new car. We currently have 58,000 miles our our Buick. I hope to keep it 150,000 miles and have plenty of cash to buy a like model. We average about 15,000 miles per year. So in about 6 years we will will be at 150,000 and have plenty saved. We also save $ 45 per week towards auto repairs.

About the '56 Ford. I visited a Ford plant with my parents when I was 7. I fell in love with the '56 Ford. I could imagine cruising with Annette Funicello