Sunday, November 10, 2013

America's Veterans 2013

I've always posted something to my blog relevant to Veterans during this time (November) of year. As a former Army [non-commissioned] officer, my honorable service lends itself to a membership into the elite Band of Brothers/Sisters.

This year is certainly no different. Thus, just allow me to say to all Honorably discharged Veterans, Thank You for Your Service!


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Train Wreck that is Not Obamacare (audio)

Last week, I published my commentary about Obamacare. Rather than publishing a rather long read, the idea came to record an audio version of the posting to assist with digesting the content. Follow this link or copy and paste into your browser to hear the full audio version [http://encouraging-people.podbean.com/2013/10/31/obamacare-is-not-a-train-wreck/]

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Train Wreck that is NOT Obamacare

(Photo: www.healthcare.gov)
(Photo: www.healthcare.gov)
Much has been said about Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act of 2010. One prominent U.S. senator has referred to the law as a train-wreckReferencing thefreedictionary.com, a train wreck is defined as:
A train wreck or train crash is a type of disaster involving one or more trains. Train wrecks often occur as a result of miscommunication, as when a moving train meets another train on the same track; or an accident, such as when a train wheel jumps off a track in a derailment; or when a boiler explosion occurs. 
The answers beg the question: Is Obamacare a Train Wreck?

As a point of contention, the Republican-led House of Representative (2013) took a political position of challenging the funding of President Obama’s signature health care initiative as a preamble to the legislative roll call vote to pass a federal government funding and/or debt ceiling limit bill. As widely reported, the president responded with a “no negotiation” response.

The Socialization of Medical Managed Care


For starters, the beginning of federal government involvement into socialized medical care entitlement (as we know it) found its way into the American way of life with the FDR Presidency. President Roosevelt issued in a New Deal …one of an economic social safety net with the advancing of the Social Security Administration and social benefits for retirees and disabled citizens. As time went on, President LBJ introduced a law to provide economic help with medical expenses for U.S. citizenry. That entitlement, known as Medicare, was signed into law in 1965.

President G.W. Bush expanded Medicare in 2003 with the signing of the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) which is commonly known as the Part D prescription drug plan. Once thought to be an entitlement of enormous public disdain and a potential economic burden, the Medicare Part D entitlement is now seen as a benefit that is a managed care success…popular with both Democrats and Republicans alike.

MMA was believed to have been a potential disaster during its conception and infancy – a train wreck waiting to happen – yet this was not the case. The roll out began in earnest in 2006; the benefit is a resounding success in 2013…roughly 10 years post-legislation.

Managed Care 101

Physicians and hospital operate under partnerships with private insurance companies, state government, and the federal government. Other than indigent persons (not verified ability to pay for service), the medical community depends on reimbursement for service. The infinitesimal percentage of wealthy persons that engage in private fee for service cannot sustain the medical profession’s need for a billable fee schedule. Insurance companies along with [State] Medicaid and [Federal] Medicare reimbursements are the ways that managed care operates in this country.

According to Medicare.gov, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the federal agency that runs the Medicare Program and monitors Medicaid programs offered by each state. In 2011, Medicare covered 48.7 million people. Total expenditures in 2011 were $549.1 billion. This money comes from the Medicare Trust Funds.

Medicare is a very popular entitlement for eligible individuals. Medicare is a political sacred cow. Even staunch conservative fiscal hawks view Medicare entitlement as a property right. Yet how odd is it that these same said persons see 
Obamacare as a Train-Wreck. Can Obamacare one day become the golden child entitlement of both left and right wing politics?

As a licensed Life and Health Insurance agent with a health care (AHIP) certification, I hear fear and misplaced outrage from Medicare-entitled member enrollees voicing unsupported opinions regarding 
Obamacare and Medicare. Top 5 things to know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if you have Medicare are that (1) your Medicare coverage is protected,  (2) you get more preventive services, for less, (3) you can save money on brand-name drugs, (4) your doctor gets more support, and (5) the ACA ensures the protection of Medicare for years to come. [Source: Medicare.gov; http://medicare.gov/about-us/affordable-care-act/affordable-care-act.html] 



The Repealing of Obamacare

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives along with a Dem-Senate rammed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the chambers up to the White House in year 2010. Republicans were not supportive for numerous reasons. Moreover, whatever the case, Republicans were perhaps naturally resentful of the politics of the Law’s passage. Regaining the House shortly thereafter, Republicans have introduced, voted, and challenged ACA (aka Obamacare) 40 times over a three year period. The negative economic ramifications of the Law are mired in fact, fiction, opinion, and bias.

ACA arguments pros and con include:
  1. Obamacare is a job killer.
  2. Obamacare is the enemy of small business (50 employees or less).
  3. Obamacare is unfair to those that are self-employed, retiree/pensioners, and the middle class.
  4. Obamacare is grossly unpopular with the majority of constituents, both Republicans as well as Democrats.
  5. Obamacare is a Bad Law!
  6. Obamacare is a Train Wreck.
  7. Obamacare is disliked because Barack Obama is disliked.
Rather than debate the facts and/or perceptions, it is widely known that the Public hears what they believe…they believe what they hear. Researching the economics and the meritocracy of ACA would not sway those opinions to a noticeable degree. The one component of the argument is that the nation does have concerns about ACA’s affect upon job growth. Will Obamacare indeed become the Train Wreck of job creation and stability?

The truth of the matter is that small businesses are exempt from ACA. Large businesses (over 50 employees) will need to implement ACA by year 2015. The Obama administration granted a one year extension to the mandate for large business due to the concerted consensus of the business community. For many, employer-sponsored health insurance is the only path to accessing the health care system. The factors of employment status, selective risk, and/or affordability are the key roadblocks to citizens being insured or insurable.

The ACA (aka Obamacare)  has several moving parts. Many of us are most familiar with the disappointing rollout of the Healthcare.gov website. Politicians, the media, as well as the president have expressed disapproval and concern with the inability of the site to handle the traffic demands of persons wanting to access the information. 

In an October 2013 CNN blog post it was reported that the president was not going to sugarcoat his dissatisfaction with the site itself.
"Nobody's madder than me about the website not working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed," Obama said during an appearance at the White House Rose Garden. But he didn't specify exactly what went wrong or who was to blame for the problems, which include long waits to log onto the federally administered website and maddeningly long wait times once online. There's "no excuse for the problems," Obama said.
Accessing the site tonight (10-25-13), I had no problems gaining access. Since I currently have insurance, I wanted to know about how Obamacare would affect my coverage. The answers on the site were positively surprising. As with many Americans, I too am concerned with privacy and protection. In my mind, having the government’s hand in my medical care is already a past occurrence. Managed care, being what it is, is already run by insurance companies along with state and federal agencies. The cool thing is that eligible persons with preexisting conditions and protections for women are inclusive components of ACA.

Conclusion

Republicans hate Obamacare, yet haven’t presented an alternative solution to remedy the plight of America’s uninsured. Representative (Rep-CA) Darrell Issa floated the idea that health care access for the masses be covered under the Federal Employee Health Care system as an alternative to Obamacare. Hmm…pensions plan that is an employer-sponsored program for +1 million persons become a national health care default program for 40 million persons? Uh, no…don’t think so.

ACA is the law of the land. For now, eligible persons must enroll into the ACA program via telephone call center operators. Eventually, the website will be fixed (see Examiner.com article 10-25-13). Millions of persons will get in and enroll. States such as California, Kentucky, and Iowa are already seeing early success on their state-sponsored health exchange websites and programs. The shame is that many state opted to stand aside and have the federal government set up the health exchange. Were they hoping that the effort would fail?

States can do a better job with providing services for its’ citizenry. Managed care is health insurance; insurance regulation and policy is under the jurisdiction of the states rather than the federal government. The health care law would be best served by having federal funding with state-by-state execution and administration. No--Obamacare is Not a Train Wreck. The apathy and intentional sabotage by opposing political factions that are more concerned with their self-serving agenda rather than providing for the wellbeing of its’ citizenry is the Real Train Wreck!


Apply now to get health insurance that works for you and your employees


Obtenga cobertura médica que funcione para usted - y sus empleados. SOLICITE AHORA

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Job search aint no walk in the park








Some of you all out there are or were (recently) searching for job. [You know who you are] And so if you are one of those that have recently completed a job search or/are still in the process of job searching, this article is for you. You see -- no one really understands what this is all about, unless they’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

My job search has been with laced ups and downs plus lots of twists and curves. Although I’ve been unemployed a few times in the past, nothing prepared me for the unemployment that I would experience in years 2011, 2012, and a portion of year 2013.

For one, the United States economic recession has been deeper than many of us realized.

Oh sure, there are those that had jobs. You ‘employed’ had to do extra task in the workplace due to delayed hiring. You all had to pick up the slack (i.e. more with less). Yet for those of us that were members of the long-term unemployed, it just seemed like the party was over and that the door would be locked forever.


What could we do?

Oh sure, we all though this hiring slump was just a seasonal thing. How long is the season if we look at the four seasons of the weather? They typically rotate in and out once every three months. Four seasons times three months equals to 12 months…this is one year. But this season of unemployment just went on and on and on and on.

Many of us were lucky enough to draw unemployment and that was truly a godsend. Yet we workers were used to work -- having a purpose. And not being a part of the workforce; well, we just felt like we had some type of disease. We all wanted to return to the former shadow that we left behind. Whether we were professionals in the business world, the banking world, or the education world. Whatever profession or vocation we were in, we thought that if we were just able to hold on then surely the good times would roll again.

Things didn't pan out – 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013 came and went. We all had to come face-to-face with the fact that maybe the former would not return. That painful realization that we had to search and find a career anew. Perhaps we would never have another professional career again? Many of us were led to become entrepreneurs and/or become self-employed; although that was not part of our quote/unquote PASSION. But we do what we have to do in order to survive… Don’t we? 


Starting all over again ain’t gonna be fun… 

So how do how do we start all over? How do we regain our sense of purpose? For me, the answer was neither to reinvent nor to go back in time. But to look at where I was…right now and in this very moment. I had to find a way to take everything together and cover the basics.

I went back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Dr. Maslow, a famous psychologist, is known for his Pyramid of Needs. The basics, or the bottom of the pyramid, is what we call security needs. At the tippy-top of the pyramid is the elusive and Utopia's place of self-actualization.

Maslow theorized that none of us could aspire to or achieve self-actualization without the benefit of the pyramid needs fulfillment. We cannot move forward unless our security needs are met at its most basic and primal level. Those basics are simply food, clothing and shelter. The secret is that much of our work simply satisfies the basis for the covering of those basics…food, clothing and shelter. And that’s okay!

When we look at Maslow’s pyramid, we begin to understand that we must cover the basics. This covering of basics means doing whatever we need to do – as long as it is moral, ethical and legal. In my case, that meant taking on odd jobs that were either part-time or contractual, or even seasonal. I had to face the fact that I had to do what I had to do in order to survive. It is through this surviving that I learned about what it takes to really understand what life is all about. Understanding myself as a human being. I found my voice. And when I found my voice, I actually found myself.


Money is important like oxygen 


Once upon a time, I believed that I needed to make certain amount of money and/or achieve certain goals. Of course, I still believe that money as well as goals is awfully important. But they’re not the all-in-all of importance. Persons living within Western societies don’t need as much money as we think that we do. We don’t need everything that we have and we don’t need to spend every dollar that we earn in order to survive. I learned that I can make less and enjoy life even more.

Make no mistake, I don’t wish this learning experience upon anyone. Nor is this lesson without pain. However, I did learn that I can make it no matter what. And although currently, I am underemployed, it has been my intention to not waste a crisis without learning something in the process. Of all of the short-term jobs that I had over the last 18 months, I have learned something from and something with as a result of these jobs.

The most important thing in all of this is to never-ever-ever lose hope or give up. Once we give up, the show is over. The fat (opera) lady sings, the curtains come down, and that’s all folks (as Bugs Bunny would say). I learned that it’s necessary to believe; and it’s that belief that I want to speak more about. 

Believe in the possible 
After spending many, many days and hours at the Texas state unemployment office, I noticed that there were signs and slogans posted on the walls. One of the signs simply said, ‘Believe in the Possible’!

Not really understanding what that meant, it seemed to me to be a dream killer. After all, I have hopes and dreams and wants and wishes just like everyone else. I want to believe that everything is possible and that there is nothing impossible. In many cases I want to say, yes we can.

But the truth of the matter is that we can have and be and think and want anything that we want…anything that we can dream up. Yet the simple fact is that our beliefs need to be tempered… Tempered with possibilities.
Our possibilities work best when based in reality and steeped in optimism.

For instance, if I want to become an attorney, I need to have a law degree. If I can believe that I can promote myself and gain an interview – receiving a job offer to work as a corporate attorney (without a law degree), then that’s a belief in the Improbable. Yet with a law degree it is possible -- I could run for public office or even become a general counsel to a large corporation.

The same can be said for a plumber wanting to become a carpenter -- there’s going to be a disconnect. Although plumbing and carpentry are both part of the construction industry. So the belief in the possible is based upon fact, plus reality, plus optimism. Once we combine those three forces together, nothing will be impossible for us.

The main thing to think about here is that if we ever find ourselves in a position that we need to look for job or to make a major career change, note that the road or the path won't be a walk in the park. It'll take a lot of inner work, a lot of outer work, a lot of luck, a lot of faith, and a lot of sweat and tears. Yet all in all, we can make it…because we will learn to survive or die trying. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Food for Thought

Once upon a time, I worked in a grocery store. More than just simply having a job, I was a Produce Department Manager for a Texas-based private grocery chain called H.E. Butt Grocery Company. The red apples, the sweet [and sour] grapes, and the salad green lettuces spread along the department perimeter. I learned about and promoted the benefits of organics. Shoppers were amazed with the taste-sampling derived from biting into a succulent ear of shuckless cob corn.

110302_OC_LSC_0120


Five ways to feed America

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is one of those federal government agencies that works -- well, we know who and what they do -- kind of. It's has something to do with agriculture (aka food)...right? The USDA states that the agencies' mission is, we provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. In a nutshell, the USDA is all about the regulatory business of Food (I think we said that earlier...didn't we?).

Via a national program of regulations, laws, and cooperative partnerships, the USDA goes about its business (keyword: food). Some of the regulatory programs that are exercised and overseen by the USDA include:
No one individual or consumer, to include farmers/ranchers as well as agricultural law attorneys, can possibly keep up with all of the federal regulations pertinent to America's food and agriculture production. Yet many of us have our own pet topics of interests. The Federal Seed Act and/or the PACA are near and dear to the hearts of many. Perhaps at the bottom of the topic list for many is my top-of-mind USDA regulatory program interest. The Cool Program.

My fascination with Cool goes back to my produce department management days. For the life of me, I never understood (beforehand) how grocery stores could sell fresh apples year-round...when my backyard apple tree only produced fruit in late summer. The answer: importing the apples from other countries (coin the phrase, global economy).

Country of origin labeling (aka, COOL) helps me to know where my fruit is grown. Perhaps my peaches are from Georgia (state) -- from Mexico or Peru -- maybe from a major peach exporter such as China. Is that a concern for you or me? Certainly...the water supply that irrigates peaches from China, Georgia, or wherever is a major piece of the consumer food safety of peach exports. Labeling is a BIG DEAL!

Governing Food

During this (2013) time of budgetary sequestration, federal agency downsizing, and fiscal conservatorship, the question of how much versus how little begs to be heard. Yearning for the days of long ago when America was abundant with family farms and ranches, the brand names on the produce and meats mirrored that of the family names of the producers.

Today, we have agricultural conglomerates, consortiums, and international food syndicates. The regulation of food and agriculture, while perhaps not as important to the production and supply thereof, is as important to the post-production food distribution chain as is environmental protection is to oil drilling.

Food needs protection, regulation, and civil involvement. With the stakeholder partnerships of Food producers, ranchers, distributors, consumers and advocates, as well as the USDA, we can all enjoy a healthy and wholesome abundance of food consumables for generations to come. The main question is a simple one: how important (to you) is the food that you eat?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Properly responding to the George Zimmerman Trial verdict

Remembering Trayvon Martin
The verdict is in:

 Not Guilty!

Some believe that justice has prevailed...others do not. two truths are evident:

  • George Zimmerman is a Free Man.
  • Trayvon Martin is Dead!
Where do we go from here? First the answer is not anarchy. No rioting, looting, civil unrest. No-No-No!

The answer is Love...


What's Love gotta do wit it?

If the Trayvon Martin death is to have any significance, it must be one of a cause-to-action. Martin's death demands that we pay increased attention to the plight and potentially dangerous landscape that is faced by America's Black Male Youth. It is DANGEROUS to be a Black Teen in America.

The reality is that RACE is/was the (one of many) factor in the Zimmerman case. Beyond that of race, we also have an issue of economic disparity within our Justice system. Trayvon is a cause celebre -- propelling us to action.

The family and friends of Trayvon have set a foundation to set his legacy into infamy. The Trayvon Martin Foundation is my engine for remembrance, action, and political change. State and Federal laws, Gun Control, and a conversation about Youth in America is desperately needed.

Please join me in remembering Trayvon Martin by supporting the Trayvon Martin Foundation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Will Justice be served soon for Trayvon Martin

Justice for Trayvon Martin
Justice for Trayvon Martin
The George Zimmerman murder/manslaughter trial is almost over. After a month of No Charges, a 6 month delay with indicting Zimmerman for the Trayvon Martin shooting (after a public media campaign spearheaded by Rev Al Sharpton et als), and a very public attention to the court trial, we will/may soon have a verdict.

The question begs: "Why do we even care about a young Black teen's shooting?" My answer: 'It didn't have to happen.

Why was it necessary for a human being to be shot with a firearm simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?


What's the Big Deal?


I've reported and written commentary about the Martin/Zimmerman issue twice (this is my third blogpost). Although Black Youth are gunned down everyday within these United States, it shouldn't make any of us any less aware nor desensitized. A human being was killed..needlessly.

Trayvon Martin represents a dark mark on our North American culture. That is that race relations and equality has a LLLLOOOOOOONNNNNNG Way2Go! It will be a travesty of justice to send a message that another human being can be lawfully gunned down in the absence of a crime being committed. So Very Sad -- so very sad.

 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence Day Blues

Gen. D.A. McArthur
In a former life, I was a Military Bandsman (aka trombone player in uniform). Within my military communities and cities around the United States, the Fourth of July is a BIG DEAL! Fireworks, apple pie, and military band concerts.

In particular, the 1812 Overture is the piece-de-resistance for concluding a July 4th event. The last note is held over by the conductor -- cue fireworks and happily-screaming patriotic fans.

Yet there is one other military music favorite that moves me beyond measure...



Duty Honor Country

McArthur's speech to West Point Cadet, Class of '62, was punctuated with the General's oratory on the meaning of military service and sacrifice. Within his 20 minute -- voice-crackling speech -- McArthur returned again and again to the theme..Duty, Honor, Country.

Read more about McArthur's speech, Military Bands, a YouTube video performance, and why this former military musician has the Independence Day Blues... [Click here to read more...]

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Juneteenth Ain't jus a Texas Thang



I'm celebrating Juneteenth on Wednesday. Why? because Texans understand that this is part of our heritage. Blacks were freed on Juneteenth, June 19, 1865, although President Lincoln issued the edict on January 1, 1863.

I first tripped upon Juneteenth back in the summer of '80. Being a Virginia Boy assigned to the Army's 1st Cavalry Division Band, I played a 'Gig' about some kinda texas event called Juneteenth. I was amazed of how folks were dancing, eating, and drinking Texas cool-aid --talking this Juneteenth history.



I never heard of Juneteenth

A colonel, Carl Settles, sat me down in the hot Texas shade for a history lesson about the freeing on slaves in Texas. Big deal, I thought. didn't Texas slaves get freed the same time as that of Virginia slaves? Noooo!

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued in Washington, D.C. during the height of the American Civil War. Confederates needed slaves to work their agriculture -- the fields. Southerners were adverse to the concept of a Freed Negro. The message had miles to travel.

Fast forward to June 1865 when Union Soldiers issued General Order No. 3 @Galveston, TX.
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. [Source: Austin American-Statesman, June 16, 2013)
You've heard of MLK day because of it's a national holiday. And Kwanzaa isn't mainstream, but it gets a nice media bump around the Christmas holidays. But as for Juneteenth, it doesn't get much press. That's OK because we Citizens of Texas -- especially those within the minority -- get it. What is free is special..because the freedom is sweetest when it tarries and arrives later on. An 18 month relayed message; totally unfathomable in this Internet Age...true?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Time waits for No Wo-Man

Do you ever wish you had more time in a day? Ever wonder how you can stretch the 24 hours of a day into 28 hours? Truth is, we can accomplish this herculean feat by following a really simple formula…


Chew Your Sandwich


"You can't get blood outta a rock," my mother used to say. Thus, we can't squeeze extra time from the allotted 24 hour day. Further, it is only when begin to see time as an abstract non-real product of our mind, we will never grasp the reality of time itself.

My excuses for wasting time


Facing up to my own shortcoming -- mainly excuses for not getting things done, I had to have a heart-to-heart talk with myself about my use of time. As my guest(s), you [all] are invited to snoop in and listen to my conversation with self about me and time. [Click here] to hear more of the conversation or copy/paste http://encouraging-people.podbean.com/2013/05/30/my-excuse-for-having-no-time/ into your browser.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Three Forks and a Greasy Spoon

I celebrated my 32nd Wedding anniversary, last week, with my Wife and (youngest) Adult Son. We stretched it out over two successive April weekends.

Since we live very close to the Texas Capitol (Austin), the family took in a MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas. The topping to a perfect day was an elegant dining out experience at the downtown's III Forks Restaurant
(Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iiiforksaustin).

The following weekend, we tried to recreate the magic by trying out a local (European) eatery with One Star pricing (ala cheapskating). Of course, we expected to lose the white cloth napkins, a prim and proper waiter, and delectable edible delights. Instead, I (as well as the Misses) received gastrointestinal discomfort beyond Pepto Bismo...


What You See is what you Get!

The die has been cast; the painted scenery is completed. [although the paint isn't quite dry] Our One-Star-priced meal actually cost 5 Stars. Adding up the greasy [spoon] pan fried, oily saturated fish/pork/fries; plus SLOW service delivered by an unenthusiastic owner/operator/proprietor, the tally equals 5 stars...but not in a good way.

What did I/we expect? A ramshackle building, rainbow trout that hadn't seen the pond in what tasted like several months, and a 45 minute wait for french fries caused me to realize that what-ya-see-is-what-ya-get!

Contrast the greasy spoon eatery with III Forks. The restaurant was housed in one of downtown Austin's magnificent cowboy-rustic themed 1st floor office buildings. White table clothes and white-aproned wait staff(s) punctuated only by mahogany wooded chairs and banisters; fine porcelain china, Frank Sinatra vocals with the Count Basie Orchestra, and an Italian-suited general manager visiting tables and spreading patron-appreciating contagion.

III Forks menued selections were mouth-watering; the final check was eye-popping. [hey, what did I expect for a 4.5 star dining experience along with complimentary cocktails hand delivered by the general manager with a celebratory 'happy anniversary' well-wishing] 

Landing far off the mark was my Greasy Spoon restaurant dining experience. Futile as it may be to mercilessly critique the local European [family] eatery, the commonality was that the final check wasn't too far off from that of III Forks. [well, maybe not that far, but an outrageous billing for an indigestible and ill-served meal] 

Is Ignorance Bliss?

As we departed from the [European] greasy spoon, the parking lot began to fill with automobiles. The restaurant is rated as Best Restaurant Voted by XXXXXXX, Texas. Yeah, you heard right! Best in... The word on the street is that the patrons are repeat customers -- going back again and again. {let the record show that this 'local' greasy spoon European eatery is 18 miles from my residence}

I ask myself: Why do folks return -- again and again -- to a less than stellar eatery? Answer: Ignorance is Bliss. Are the locals less cultured and sophisticated than am I? NO! Am I better able to accurately access a dining establishment worthy of a hard-earned dollar or two? No!

Truth is -- what we don't know, we don't know. If one's palate hasn't been exposed to delectable cuisine, the resulting determination will be one of a desensitized nature. Culture, tasting, and experiential viewpoints demand an exposure within a recurring pattern of time.

We (and my family) were poisoned...we were prejudiced. One week (Sunday) we're dining @III Forks...Austin's premiere dining establishment. Next week following (Saturday) receiving over-priced, oily-saturated, 3rd level Inception dream time-warped plate-to-table service, and a cook/waitress/server with a Correctional Officer demeanor.

Plainly and clearly, III Forks is the wrong dining choice should one desire to eat thereafter at an eatery that trudges downward by 3 or 4 stars. Conversely, a one/half star [greasy spoon] eatery -- akin to the aforementioned -- an undesirable choice for patrons having enjoyed a 5 Star meal @III Forks beforehand.

My choices are simple. In order to 'see what I get', I need to adopt a mindset of 'ignorance is bliss.' OR, how about I discourage myself and refrain from patronizing one and two star eateries. Hmm...a 3rd Option: Save up by avoiding sub par eateries and dedicate my savings in order to enjoy return eating experiences at Austin's Finest... III Forks.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Commitment

U.S. Marines (Commitment)

Just because you work or stick with something for a long time doesn't (necessarily) mean that you are committed. I have begun consulting within an area that I happened to be good at. Yet, I know that my commitment is not there. How do I know or recognize this self-revelation? Because my head is engaged; my heart is not.


What exactly is Commitment?


Being committed usually symbolizes that an individual has given one  ALL toward a noteworthy cause. Case in point, the U.S. Marines. Although the Marines are the toughest, roughest, and most hardcore of all the major services, Marines exhibit an indistinguishable display of esprit de corps [aka Commitment].


Following along this example, the argument can be made that one can perform well and for a long stint of time without the key ingredient of commitment. True..,oh so true indeed.


I've learned this truth within my own vocation. My work is praised and commended, yet all the while...I ain't committed. My battle-tested realization is that commitment must exude from the heart rather than the head (spiritual versus mental).


However, my self-realized thoughts on the question of commitment and success is that commitment, once fully embraced, leads one to long term achievement. In a sense, you could say that real commitment  is desire + perseverance =/equaling Passion!


Thus, the Letter 'C' stands for commitment. Do you have commitment? 

[For more of my personal insight into this topic, check out this week's ---> EncouragementGuy! Radio show by accessing this hyperlink to hear about...]










Thursday, March 21, 2013

Taking Myself Too Seriously

If you're anything like me, you sometimes take yourself TOO SERIOUSLY! 

I got to thinking about this topic because I happened to glance at myself in the mirror. And what did I see?


A worrisome and over-exaggerated version of a Mini Me.

That got me to thinking...'Am I takin myself too seriously?' My alter ego chimed in a definitive: Yes!

Many years ago, one of my [former] clients retorted to my business proposal, with a resounding --"Ya know, it just ain't all that serious." Translation: she wasn't really interested in my proposal.

Seeing the Obvious

Ever heard this old saying, "Ya can't see the Forest -- for the Trees?" The same is true with self-identification of the obvious. We are unable to see or realize that we are not ourselves. 

If I am over sensitive -- over serious -- or over emotional, then this is not my real authentic self. This is simply a version of myself. Hence, the true is that we are never who or whom we think we are within any given moment. It may take a trusted friend or significant other to show me that I am being Overly Serious. Thereafter, I have the free will (and the good sense) to make a thought and/or a behavioral adjustment.

To hear more about this theme, head over to EncouragementGuy! Radio and listen to a musical parody on this subject>>>

Monday, March 11, 2013

Liking the Veterans [VA] Administration

Department of Veterans Affairs

So much of the time, we read, see, hear, or meet Veterans that are unhappy about their Veterans Administration experiences and interactions. With regard to issues such as Veterans Health care, Disability benefits, G.I. Bill education reimbursements, or other important areas of benefits and compensation, the record is chuck full of complaints…and legitimately so.

Many Veterans are newly separated; new to the V.A. – having served the Nation during periods of combat operations. The impact of combat upon the newly-separated Veteran is devastating and quite lonely.
 

Given all of the aforementioned, I believe that there is room for the expression of gratitude and accolades for the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs. My position extends itself towards the sub agencies of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) as well as the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

To read more about my thoughts about the VA >>>follow this link to...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why Trevon Martin's Murder is Personal_Update_03-05-13


Earlier in [May] of 2012, I wrote about the shooting of Trevon Martin -   Simply Encouragement: Why Trevon Martin's Murder is Personal

As reported today on the Huffington Post, George Zimmerman's trial (almost a year later) has taken another twist and/or turn. Is justice blind? We shall see...
"In the year since it landed on the international news radar, the Trayvon Martin case has raised a global discussion about Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. But in a stunning twist of events Tuesday morning, George Zimmerman's attorneys waived their client's right to a scheduled April 22 hearing that was to be held under the law that has sparked so much debate, ABC news reports."

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Believe in the Power of Recycling

http://energyprosandcons.org/tag/recycling/
Do you recycle? I do...religiously! Although it may seem like a messy chore, recycling is one of the most generous and conscientious things that humans can do to preserve the planet. [hear why I am a recycling freak]
Making the planet a better place to live is the job of everyone, including children and the elderly. In the last ten years we’ve learned more about how to live green than ever before. The concerns of the environment have been shared by numerous groups, including the government, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Boy and Girl Scouts, and others. [source: energyprosandcons.org]
For me, recycling is a way of life. My trash is almost at Net Zero. BestBuy has a great program to collecting unwanted CDs and DVDs; computers can be recycled by contacting the manufacturer.

One of the Federal Government Community recycling leaders is Fort Hood, Texas. Their 2020 NetZero (no waste) program serves as a model for all communities -- government as well as civilian -- looking to reduce their landfills and carbon emissions.



Why won't you join the recycling movement? It's Time... hear why I am a recycling freak

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Grieving a Job Loss

I lost my job...almost a year ago. Slowly, I've regained my footing. But WOW! it was dang tough.

One of the thing that I did was to record my thoughts the next day after my termination [click here to listen to my job loss podcast episode].


My emotions felt like a kick in the gut!$#@&

Losing a Job is like experiencing Death...

Grief is a powerful emotion! Ever lost a pet, a family member or friend, or perhaps been through a divorce? Well, let me tell ya...Job Loss brings a set of emotions to the table that is as debilitating as grief emotions experience via a death in the family.

Why is this? One: Jobs are important to our livelihood. Second: We spend most of our lives at work...more so than any other place or scenario. Third: Self-esteem is largely determined by our stature or occupation position.

How to Survive Job Loss

The way to survive job loss is to simply experience it for what it is. LOSS! I had to go through the full range of emotions -- the loss, the sense of shame, and the grief.

After losing my job almost a year ago (yeah, I was fired...), I'm just getting back on my feet. Thank God I was able to maintain my credit, home, vehicles, and self-respect. In my case, it was the financial and emotional support from my spouse that helped me the most. Translation, I had a strong support system. Otherwise, who knows where I'd end up...

To hear the full emotional impact of my plight, listen to this radiocast -- posted today, yet recorded back in May 2012. If you have been unemployed for any length of time, or have recently lost your job (fired, quit, downsized, laid-off, etc.), then please leave a comment(s).

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Unfruitful Rewards of Anxiety


Anxiousness...

(go to EncouragementGuy! Radio to listen to more...)

I have been anxious. I have worried. I have felt powerless as a result. Have You? Of course you have. Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and/or behavioral components. It is the displeasing feeling of fear and concern. 

A further [clinical] definition of anxiety centers around three points:
  1. feeling of worry: nervousness or agitation, often about something that is going to happen.
  2. something that worries somebody: a subject or concern that causes worry.
  3. strong wish to do something: the strong wish to do something unnecessarily strong. 

[Synonyms: nervousness, worryconcernuneaseapprehensiondisquiet, fretfulness, angstfear] 


The Holy Bible Provides a Remedy 

People have mixed views and beliefs about THE BIBLE. On one hand, there are those that believe that the biblical words are the directly spoken from a Divine and Eternal Being(s). Others reject this viewpoint entirely.

Fully realizing and respecting these viewpoints, I decided to reference the Bible…nevertheless. The words contained therein, whether divinely-inspired or not, provide a healing balm of comfort for the anxiety sufferer. With references to the [Old and New Testament] Biblical books of Joel, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Matthew, Philippians, and Hebrews.

Let the week say, ‘ I am strong!’ Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, of what you shall eat, or what you should drink; or about your body, what you shall put all on. Is not life greater than food, and the body more important than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth more than they? To what can worrying and being anxious add one unit of measurement to your stature or to the span of your life?

And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you even [King] Solomon in all of his life essence, excellence, dignity, and grace was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will he not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying: what are we going to have to eat? Or, what are we going to have to drink? Or, what are we going to have to wear? But seek first all of his kingdom and his righteousness and then all these things taken together will be given to you. So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

Hebrews chapter 13 verse six:
So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, the Lord is my helper; I will not be seized with alarm. I will not fear, dread, or be terrified. What can mankind do to me? At all times and for everything, giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God. 
Philippians chapter 4 verse six:
Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and everything, by prayer and definite request, with thanksgiving, intend to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace, which transcends all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through the knowledge of Christ Jesus. 

Definitive Bible Verses for Stress [Anxiety] Management

Cast all your burdens and cares upon the Lord, for he cares for you, and he will sustain you. Yes, call upon the Lord in your day of distress. He will hear you, answer you, redeem your soul, set you’re the large place and bring you out of all your distresses. The Peace of God is ruling your heart and you shall dwell safely, free from fear of evil. Don’t allow your heart be troubled or afraid and be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Remember that God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus and he will keep you in perfect peace. If your mind is fixed on him. Don’t give up, for God gives power to the faint and to them that have no might, he increases strength.
Wait upon the Lord to renew your strength, and you will mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint. God is our strength, a very present help in trouble. Call upon him in the day of trouble and he will come to your defense, be your refuge, hide you in his pavilion, set you up on a rock, calm the storm and bring you to his desired haven. During troubled times, he will be with you and on you, for his thoughts for you are precious, and great is the sum of them.
 Remember that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them that are called according to his purpose, and he will perfect that which concerns you. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Jesus. [Compilation by Bible Incorporated, Michael Pink]

Anxiety disorders
·        300.02 Generalized anxiety disorder
·        Panic disorder
·        300.21 With agoraphobia
·        300.01 Without agoraphobia
·        300.29 Specific phobia
·        300.23 Social phobia
·        300.3 Obsessive-compulsive disorder
·        309.81 Posttraumatic stress disorder
·        308.3 Acute stress disorder
·        293.84 Anxiety disorder due to a general medical condition
·        293.89 Anxiety disorder due to... [indicate the general medical condition]
·        300.00 Anxiety disorder NOS