"righty tighty, lefty loosy" and the Proverbs

In mechanics almost always, clockwise to tighten, counter clockwise to loosen. Every once in a while you will come across a left hand thread one, but rarely.

How rarely?

Consider this: The Mystery of Left-Hand Lug Nuts


Some vehicle manufacturers utilize the safe practice of using right-hand threads on studs and nuts to fasten wheels on the right-side of vehicles (passenger-side) and left hand threads on studs and nuts to fasten the wheels on the left side of vehicles (driver-side)
Comment: What does this have to do with the Proverbs? Quote from the ESV study Bible:

Proverbs of necessity focus on consequences, and this raises the question of whether they are “promises.” Proverbs by nature deal with general truths, and are not meant to cover every conceivable situation. Consider the English proverb, “Short cuts make long delays”; the very form of the proverb forbids adding qualifiers, whether of frequency (often, usually, four times out of five) or of conditions (except in cases where …); these would lessen the memorability of the sentence. The competent reader knows that the force of the proverb is not statistical, but behavioral—in the case of the English proverb cited, to urge due caution. In biblical proverbs, the consequences generally make God’s basic attitude clear, and thus commend or discourage behavior.

Proverbs often seem to be mere observations about life, but their deeper meanings will reveal themselves if the following grid is applied: (1) What virtue does this proverb commend? (2) What vice does it hold up for disapproval? (3) What value does it affirm?
Consider Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."

Is it a promise? Or a general observation? Consider the pastor who has the black sheep adult child. The child verbally rejects Christ and affirms atheism. Did the pastor fail?


Year in Review

  1. Health: I rejoice that 2013 was a year of good health! After health issues in 2011 and 2012, this was a welcome improvement, for which I praise the Lord! (3rd John vs 2, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers".) I did have a minor health issue of a persistent cough. As it turned out that was even for my benefit as my doctor ordered up a heart stress test that I passed with flying colors. The heart (at last my physical heart!) is good! I also had a good year where I did not fall all year! Additionally while my legs get very tired and my knees and ankles experience some minor pain, the pain evaporates with a night's rest!
  2. Spiritual life: I might not be the best one to evaluate my own spiritual life! I'm still a sinner and I sin every day. But I have endeavored to live for Christ daily. Kathee and I read the Scriptures daily and pray and the Lord has been gracious to us all year (no surprise there!)
  3. Church: We continue to joyfully worship and serve at Fourth Baptist Church.
  4. Work: I will celebrate my 20th anniversary with my company in two months. The Lord has used this work to enable us to provide for ourselves. I'm often asked about retirement. The answer is "not yet" and "probably 2 more years". I still have not put together a credible after work plan.
  5. Travel: We had three trips this year: February to Florida to visit Kathee's brother; March to Texas to help my Mother move out of her house and into an independent senior center.; April to Cape Cod with my wife and sister. Additionally I had a business trip to Charlotte. 
  6. Family: Our daughter is in her first year of graduate school at M.I.T.; Our oldest son graduated from college with a degree in accounting and is now working as an accountant for CBRE; and our middle son is currently in Afghanistan with the Army. He is expected home this Summer and is to go back to civilian life with Seagate.
  7. Pets: We sadly had to put one of our cats down. 
  8. Home: We had a big blow down and experienced tree damage back in June. Four willows had to be cleaned up / trimmed up. One large spruce had to be removed and a replacement tree planted.
  9. Investing: I dabble in investing. My top investment of 2013 was PBI which doubled in value. Too bad I have few shares. My stinker investment was in BCE which declined in value by 9%. At the time I made the PBI investment ... I considered it a risky choice. Who knew!
  10. Toastmasters: I joined this year and have had a lot of fun with this. 
  11. Mayflower Society: Finally joined.
  12. Writing: I wrote a series on articles on personal finance. All were published on Sharper Iron.


Stuck in a Snowbank

At about 4:00 pm, I drove my Chevy S-10 out to O"Reilly auto parts in Plymouth to see my brother. On the way back I drove through Clifford French Park to see the sights. Unfortunately I slid my S-10 into a snow bank. This was just before 5:00 p.m.

I waited and waited and prayed. Two vehicles drove by without stopping despite my having my 4-way flashers on.

Finally at about 5 p.m. a man Tony stopped. I borrowed his cell phone and called my wife who called our motoring plan.

Then I waited and waited. I would run the truck for 5 minutes to heat the cab up and then turn it off for 20.

At 6:20, Kathee came to get me. The towing companies are backed up for hours. We are home ... but the truck is still there. I have contacted Frankie's Towing and they are going to call us when they can meet us there to extricate the truck.

----- Updated at 8:40 pm --------
Truck home ... snow still packed in wheels


Christian Views on Alcohol Consumption

Mayo Clinic: Alcohol use: If you drink, keep it moderate

Moderate alcohol use may be of most benefit only if you're an older adult or if you have existing risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol.


Yahoo: EZ download of stock data

Downloading Yahoo data

Comment: Much cool stuff but for a simple download of stock symbol and last closing price put this string in URL browser window: 



"Thou Shalt not Steal" - Everyday ethics for the business professional

  • “You shall not steal" Exodus 20:15
  • "Let him who stole steal no longer" Ephesians 4:28

I was a bit surprised that that technology group of which I am a member has a new time and attendance policy taking effect on January 1st. Basically there are workers who have time-based performance (this may loosely relate to being non-exempt) or performance based (loosely related to being exempt). The net of the communications was this - be on time ... and don't leave early ... and let your manager know if you will be away from your work for such and such time (like a Dr's appointment).

Christians are called upon to have the highest level of ethics with regard to employment. In thinking about my own work environment, I see these areas where the Christian needs to be carefully observant:

  • Don't steal time. A full time employee should work full time. 
  • Don't steal office supplies: Occasionally and inadvertently I will bring a pen home from work. Seems like a minor thing! But it is best to return it. If one needs personal office supplies, buy them for oneself!
  • Don't cheat on expenses: I have a company credit card. I only carry it in my wallet when I travel - otherwise it is locked up. While we are not required to keep receipts for meals of less than a certain amount, I keep all receipts and am careful to only expense what was really spent. If I have breakfast for $ 4.00 at McDonald's ... I don't expense as if I spent $ 10 at Perkins.
  • Don't take technology: I have 4 or 5 keyboards stowed away in my office. If I need a keyboard for home, I buy it. When I need a mouse, I buy it myself.
  • Don't take services: We have an internal mail system where I can mail any package to any company employee anywhere where an employee is located. I used to have relatives who worked for the company and lived miles away. It would have been wrong to send Christmas presents via the internal mail system to a relative-employee.
Who is watching? The Lord says: "Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?”. Jeremiah 23:24. We are called to high ethics because God is just and holy. We live and move in God and cannot escape His presence or observance.


On Oversaving for Retirement

Could You Be Oversaving for Retirement?


The 80% replacement rule — which means workers should aim to replace that much of their pre-retirement income — is hardly a one-size fit-all model. Blanchett argues that the figure may be much lower for some workers, considering that some expenses, like taxes for Social Security and Medicare, work-associated costs like commuting, and pre- and post-tax retirement savings contributions all but disappear once you retire. On the flipside, it could wind up being higher for other workers, especially if they live in a state with a high income tax or expect to put their grandchildren through college. When Blanchett looked at four households earning between $37,500 and $225,000 a year, and factored in what they would need to have once they were no longer paying for these expenses in retirement, he found their ideal replacement rates varied widely — as low as 54% and as high as 87%. “Although a rule of thumb replacement rate of 70% to 80% is clearly reasonable, it isn’t ideal, and moreover, it is clear that the replacement rate is sensitive to the proportion of pre-tax expenses and post-tax expenses,” he says.
Comment: My own take is that we have under-saved and that we started about 10 years too late. Most recent projections for us see us retiring a bit later: Kathee at 65 ... me at 67 (3 more years)

Toastmasters speech at Wells Fargo today: "Why I don't believe in Santa Claus but I believe in Christmas"

By the time this posts, I will have given my 7 minute speech (I have a hard time fitting all into 7 minutes - but that is my allotted time). Outline is as follows:

  • Introduction:
    • For a longer title: Why I don’t believe in Sasquatch, Big Foot, the Tooth Fairy, the Locke Ness Monster, or Santa Claus … but I believe in Christmas.
    • Why? Essentially I am an empiricist – I look for evidence
    • At Christmastime, Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth -Even though unlikely he was born on December 25th
  • Four questions about Jesus Christ:
    1. Just a legend?
    2. A liar?
    3. A lunatic?
    4. Or Lord?
  • A legend? Mythical? Or Historical? Verifiable?
    • The analogy of Abraham Lincoln from 200-150 years ago
    • Our summer of Lincoln: Books, Places
  • Historical references (Biblical and extra-Biblical):
  • A liar?
    • He made claims:
      • “Before Abraham as I am” (Abraham the Father of three religions: Islam, Judaism, Christianity)
      • “he that has seen me, has seen the Father”
    • He forgave men their sins (and who can forgive sins but God?!)
    • He accepted worship
  • A lunatic?
    • A teacher
    • A healer / miracle worker
    • A prophet – the destruction of Jerusalem
  • Or Lord? Early Christians and Christians today believe the grave could not contain Him - He is risen Lord!


Excel VLOOKUP example

A real life example:

  • I have multiple spreadsheets that deal with stocks: Stocks I am analyzing, stocks I may purchase or sell, et cetera
  • I had been using named cells for updating prices. For each spreadsheet I had a extra table called "price table" that I used to maintain these prices. This works but: If I sorted the table on stock symbol the named cell with the price data did not carry with the sort. AND because I have multiple spreadsheets that deal with stocks, I had to maintain an extra table for prices on each workbook. What a pain!
  • I had the day off yesterday and began to research using VLOOKUP. I read some tutorials in the afternoon and then last night as we were watching TV, I worked with for about an hour. 
  • Summary: Very easy!
  • I created a new worksheet called "Stock_prices.xlxs"
  • And then used the VLOOKUP function in my stock spreadsheets to populate the price, dividend, and PE data. 
  • An image of the VLOOKUP example is above (with results). And the stock prices table below.

Cell B2 (price for ED) Explained

VLOOKUP has 4 arguments. The first three are essential:

  • A2: Use the value in A2 as the search argument. The Value of A2 is "ED" (Con Ed)
  • [Stock_Prices.xlsx]Sheet1!$2:$1001:
    • [Stock_Prices.xlsx]: Use external table Stock_Prices.xlsx (comment: has to be sorted (in this case on stock symbol)
    • Sheet1!$2:$1001: From named worksheet "Sheet1" .... rows 2 to 1001
  • 2: Data in the 2nd column. In this case the price of the stock