December 31, 2007

Book Review -

The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life by Charles Stanley

I finished reading this book over the weekend. I have watched Dr. Stanley on television a few times, but I have never read any of his books. I was searching for a book on Spirit filled living and his came up in bookmooch. The book reads much the way he speaks.

The book gives a brief overview of what it means to live a Spirit filled life. It also provides some examples from Dr. Stanley’s life. Finally, it gives some details as to how to open yourself up to living the Spirit filled life.

This book was easy to read and understand. The book explains many of the scriptures that speak about Spirit filled living. It also uses stories and events from Dr. Stanley’s life to demonstrate the scripture meaning. There is also a chapter about Spiritual gifts.

The key is simply to recognize that all believers have the Holy Spirit living within them. Once you realize and understand and accept this, you will know what to look for and to listen for to be in obedience to the will of God.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to initiate or to further their study of a Spirit filled life.

Up next:
Can God Bless America - by John MacArthur

December 21, 2007

New York, New York!

Our trip to New York was successful. We had a real nice time, it was a little cold and crowded, but it is after all New York at Christmas!

The street crossings are always fun. It is like when the quarterback says “hike” and each team plows into each other. If the Steelers can’t win this season, maybe they should practice crossing streets in New York for next season!

Cons – everywhere. Every street seems to have “vendors” wanting to sell you something. There was a lady on our bus who was looking at purses from one of these vendors. She asked the price and he said $250. She was quite shocked and then he changed the price to $125. She said she was thinking more like $25 and the deal was made. There was another street vendor selling movies. It was amazing, because she was selling movies on DVD that were not released on DVD yet, “Beowulf” for example.

There were also many “charities” setup on the streets collecting money for various things. Most of the charities I never heard of and simply looked like people with coffee cans collecting money!

Even the Salvation Army was in the New York spirit. They had several kettles set up in the touristy areas. They would announce they were having a “special” money marathon, saying they needed to collect $50 in 5 minutes. People would head over and start putting money in to meet the goal. Then when you walk down the street and around the corner you see another kettle person doing the same thing. This went on all day.

The people are fun too. There was always a long line for the women’s restroom. While at Rockefeller Plaza there was even a line for the men’s room. When we went to Bryant Park later that evening, one lady decided she wasn’t going to wait in line for the lady’s room and went into the men’s room where there was no line. The attendant wasn’t too happy about that and promptly removed her.

Finally, you can’t forget about the food vendors. Anything you want to eat can be purchased. If I didn’t have a 6-hour bus ride home, I would have probably tried something, but I didn’t want to chance it.

Overall, New York is an interesting city and is easy to get around (when there are no crowds). It also seemed relatively safe. Partly, I guess, because there were so many people around.

December 20, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

As many of my readers know, the month of December has been a busy month for me and I haven’t had much time to think here at Doe Valley, let alone actually post something to my blog.

Our accountant at work retired on December 3rd, so I have been filling in and keeping the “books” up to date. The new accountant is to start on December 27th, so that should take some of the workload off of me.

Stop back tomorrow for some thoughts on my recent trip to New York.

December 14, 2007

Trouble at the North Pole

I received a troubling phone call from Santa Clause last night. He was very distressed over the things happening up there.

The government wants him to lose some weight. People want him to dye his hair so he doesn’t look so old. He isn't allowed to say "Ho, Ho, Ho" any more. And, of course, the lead paint toys from China aren’t helping matters.

But the biggest problem is with his elf’s. He couldn’t even describe it to me so he sent me this link of the video. Check it out for yourselves.

Bad Elf's

This is a large file and may take some time to load. (Adobe Flash Player is required to view the animation).


December 13, 2007

Will the next President be an average American?

Which of these Presidential candidates lives most like you (the average American)?

  • Hillary Clinton – 5,152 sq ft house
  • Mitt Romney – 6,430 sq ft
  • Rudolph Giuliani – 7,272 sq ft house
  • Fred Thompson – 6,952 sq ft house

Which of these Presidential candidates have a net worth similar to yours?

  • John Edwards – $54.7 million
  • John McCain - $40.4 million
  • Mitt Romney - $202 million or maybe $250 million (he isn’t sure)
  • Hillary Clinton - $34.9 million

Which of these Presidential candidates earned around the same amount as you in 2006?

  • Hillary Clinton - $12.1 million
  • Rudolph Giuliani - $17.0 million
  • Mitt Romney - $37.6 million
  • Fred Thompson - $9.4 million

One person not listed here (from the major contenders) is Barack Obama. His net worth is around $1.3 million and his 2006 income was $991,000. He purchased a home in 2006 for $1.65 million. Not exactly an average American, but closer to the average than the other choices.

*Source: Money Magazine January 2008.

December 10, 2007

Book Review

Follow Me by John MacArthur

This is a nice quick reading book (about 100 pages). This is a book for the “new” Christian or the “potential” Christian. The book is divided into 6 sections:
  • Who can be a disciple?
  • Types of disciples
  • Those who failed to follow
  • The cost of following
  • Promises to followers
  • Reflections on following Christ.

The bulk of the book examines the types of disciples. Each type of disciple is described by a biblical character. The book briefly describes the personalities of people like, Peter, James, John, Mary, Simon and others to demonstrate how God uses different people to advance His kingdom.

One of the things that jumped out at me was the brief section on how to confront false teachers. Most people have had members of a cult knock on their door and want to tell you about their religion. MacArthur recommends to simply tell them you are not interested in hearing what they have to say and to let them know what Jesus said about people who teach false doctrines. You also should let them know that you would be happy to share the truth with them, but are not interested in their lies. (page 63).

Overall, I would recommend this book for the “new” or “potential” Christian.

December 03, 2007

The View

While I was away from the office over Thanksgiving, I had the “opportunity” to watch some TV shows around lunch time. One of which was “The View”.

What kind of view do you get on this show? Let’s take a look at the hosts:

Joy Behar – political leftist and other liberal opinions, bashes Catholics and men, and routinely calls people names, but when someone else calls her a name she is extremely offended.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck – she was not on the show due to maternity leave, she is the most conservative member of the group, she believes life has value and starts at conception. Several liberal people will not be a guest on the show if she is going to be there.

Barbara Walters – she has been around long enough that no comment is needed here.

Whoopi Goldberg – another liberal viewed host who doesn’t mind getting into arguments, especially with Hasselbeck.

Sherri Shepherd – she does not believe in evolution, but she isn’t sure if the world is flat. She seems loud and obnoxious; anytime there was food or alcohol on the show she acted like an animal.

Again the question is: what kind of view will you get? Mostly a liberal, leftist, pro-women position. Not the kind of view I am interested in and not the kind of view America needs.

What happened to the show’s theme of being a diverse group of women with a range of perspectives? I guess you only get the view the media wants to portray.

November 30, 2007

100th Post! - Commuter Tax in Johnstown

As I celebrate my 100th post here at Doe Valley, I thought I would get back to the local roots of the area. So here goes.

How does a city try to encourage business growth and attract more workers to the area?

Answer (according to Johnstown City Council):
Add a commuter tax to fund the deficiencies with the city government.

The city of Johnstown, PA passed a commuter tax that will tack effect January 1st. The tax will be 0.2% for those employees that work in the city, but live outside the city.

When I worked in Johnstown in 2001, they had a similar commuter tax. At the end of the year when I filed my taxes, I included a nice little note making suggestions about how NOT to spend my tax money. I never did get a response back from them.

I question the legality of any commuter type tax. Why? Remember the Boston Tea party? It is taxation without representation. Since the people who are taxed (the commuters) do not live in the city, they have no authority to vote for those elected officials. Therefore, they are being taxed, but have no say in the governing process.

Not surprisingly, the vote was 9-0 in favor of the commuter tax. Why? Because it doesn’t effect them! Note: the council did vote to raise the income tax of the residents as well.

When will the government learn, you cannot tax, borrow, and spend your way to grow. Growth comes by reducing/removing the barriers for employers and homeowners.

November 29, 2007

Strike, Strike, Strike.

No, not baseball season. It’s the unions. The Broadway stagehands union is fighting over work rules and staffing requirements. The TV writers union wants more money from the sales of DVD and Internet viewing. (Of course, Jay Leno and David Letterman make over $500,000 per week! Yes, that is correct, over half a million dollars per week! Can you imagine that? My lifetime earnings are not even close to $500,000!)

You know what? Baseball used to be real popular too. Then the players went on strike (1994) and in my opinion baseball has never recovered from that. They lost a lot of fans. Now, the teams simply charge more and most stadiums are half empty or worse for each game.

What’s the point? I think the unions have lost sight of the reason for strikes. A strike should be used to protest the conditions of work, not just to get something you want or you feel you deserve. We live in America, the land of the free. If you don’t like your job or you feel you are being mistreated, then find a new one.

To the Stagehand union and Broadway Producers: There is no “magic” formula for determining how many people are needed to setup, tear down, or maintain a show. Everyone needs to work hard and be paid a fair wage for the services performed. (It sounds like they may have reached a deal though.)

To the Writers union and TV Producers/Actors: Believe it or not, American’s will survive without their TV shows. Don’t shoot yourselves in the foot like the baseball league did.

Remember, by striking the union people are not the only ones losing money. It turns fans away. Other businesses rely on those jobs and industries functioning normally. There are other non-union workers who want to work right now, but cannot because the unions are on strike.

November 28, 2007

Heading to New York City!

We are planning a trip to New York City. I decided to take a break from my busy schedule and do a little trip planning. I went to the website to assist with the preparation. Here are a few of the things that will be happening while we are up there during the Christmas season.

  • The 75th Radio City Christmas Spectacular – fireworks, snow, Santa Claus, and the Rockettes.
  • Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo – animal themed lights
  • Rockefeller Center – 30,000 lights on the landmark tree
  • World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah – 32 feet high, gold colored steel
  • Red Hot Stomp – New Orleans infused Holiday performance includes seasonal story telling
  • The Christmas Revels – celebrate the winter solstice
  • A Christmas Carol – displaying Dickens original manuscript and other items
  • Hanukkah Festival – menorah making, storytelling, music, and food
  • Kwanzaa - celebrate with African dance, music and crafts.

Hmmm… Not much about Christmas! But I guess that should be expected from a website that has its own Gay and Lesbian section.

There is plenty to do in the Big Apple, so I am sure we will have a great time. We had no plans to see any Broadway shows even before the stagehands decided to strike, maybe there won’t be as many crowds for us.

November 27, 2007

Another Book Review

Having 5 consecutive days off over Thanksgiving enabled me to catch up on my reading, so everyone is getting another book review today!

The book I finished was more of a study than a reading book. The book is “A Minister Everyone Would Respect: A Study of 2 Corinthians 8-13” by Charles Swindoll.

The book is a modified version of Swindoll’s sermons on 2 Corinthians. The editor simply took Swindoll’s transcripts and made it into a study guide with some questions at the end of each chapter.

This is one study book you can probably skip over. The questions were mostly personal reflection questions and would probably not be real good for group study.

November 21, 2007

Book Review

God in the Manger, by John MacArthur, is part of the “Bible for Life” series of study books. This book is about 200 pages, but is an easy, fast read.

I finished this book a couple of days ago. It is a good read for anyone interested in studying the birth of Christ. It provides details about the significance and meaning of the events surrounding the birth. From the announcement straight through to the actual birth and those that were there and those that missed the birth. Drawing from Hebrews chapter 1, the book finishes with a view of the birth from God’s perspective.

Each chapter has its own set of questions at the end of the book to reinforce the material presented. This would be a great book for someone interested in a Christmas study.

November 14, 2007

Global warming a fraud?

As my regular readers know my thoughts about Global Warming, I wanted to share a link to someone else's opinion.

John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel, has called Global Warming, "the greatest scam in history" on his blog.

What he says makes sense. If you look at the daily temperature records for your area, you will see that there are wide swings. For example, yesterday in Johnstown, the record high temperature was 71 degrees. The record low temperature was 11 degrees. The actual high and low temperatures yesterday were 61 and 39 degrees respectivly. I used the accuweather website for this information.

The US is going to look pretty foolish, wasting a bunch of money on something that doesn't exist. Furthermore, we can't control the weather. This is plain and simple a political matter, just another way for Congressmen to scare people into getting money for their pet projects to get them reelected. That being said, we do need to have the proper stewardship of our environment, but Global Warming (as we know it) won't be the end of the world. There is another plan for that!

November 13, 2007

Election Results

The 2007 Pennsylvania Municipal elections are complete and the results are in.

(Unfortunately) All of the judges were retained. Usually these judges are retained with 80%-90% of the votes. This time they were retained with only around 66%. About 1/3 of the voters wanted to get rid of these judges for some bad decision that were made over the previous months and years.

The two underdog Supreme Court Justices were (narrowly) defeated.

It looks like two of the three recommended Judges for the Superior court won (Allen and Shogan). This was another close race.

Ruddock also won a seat as County Commissioner.

The elections are over for another year. The races were close and it proves that every vote does indeed count! Taxpayers need to remember that we vote for these people. So if you didn’t vote, then no crying and complaining about the status of our county, state, or country!

November 08, 2007

Walk with the King Today!

I finished the book “Walk with the King Today” by Robert A. Cook. This is an older book (1978), but still provided some excellent insight into living a Christian life.

The book is divided into three sections: The Spiritual Walk, the Personal Walk, and the Family Walk. Each section provides practical biblical ways of living. True to Dr. Cook’s form, he adds many stories and examples from his own life. For more information about the late Dr. Cook, visit his web site.

The final section (The Family Walk) provides several simple, yet effective ways for a Christian family to live. The titles of the chapters are a great summary of what you find further explained in the chapter (tell the truth, fall in love all over again, learn to pray, make your home definitively Christian, and specializing in service).

Dr. Cook also has a Chapter on the United States of America titled USA: Rejoice, Repent, Resolve! In it, he discusses the disappearance of patriotism, the rise of materialism, and the weakening of our national values. Here is a quote from page 203, “The problem with America today is not so much that she is against God; she has simply forgotten Him, ruled Him out of her national life.” That sure sounds a lot like what is happening today and this book was wrote almost 30 years ago.

I would recommend reading this book even though it is a bit dated, the material and insight it provides is still applicable to today’s society. If only we all would “Walk with the King” everyday, America would be a great nation again.

November 07, 2007

Look who's famous (again)!

I received the December 2007 issue of Kiplinger's magazine yesterday. Upon turning to the "Letters" page, you will see a letter from yours truly!

I sent them a letter regarding their "Green Issue" a few months ago. In fact, last month the editor mentioned my letter to him in his opening statement, but did not mention my name. I called their Green Issue the worst issue ever and he responded otherwise.

This month they printed another part of my letter expressing my disappointment with the entire Green Issue.

Strongstown is on the map.

November 06, 2007

Crystal Meth for our Kids?

The recent news (rumor) around the Internet as well as other media sources is regarding Crystal Meth that is being given to children. This form of Crystal Meth looks like pop rocks candy. You may have received this type of e-mail. Here is a brief review of one that was sent to me.
A very scary thing is going on in the schools right now. There is a type of crystal meth going around that looks like strawberry pop rocks. It smells like strawberry also and it is being handed out to kids in school yards in AR.
I'm sure it will make its way around the country. Kids are ingesting this thinking it is candy and being rushed off to the ER in dire condition. It also comes in chocolate, peanut butter, cola, cherry, grape and orange. It looks just like pop rocks. Please instruct children to not accept candy that looks like this even from a friend and to take any that they may have to a teacher, principal, etc.


Included was a photo that looked like a nice sized sandwich bag of this “Crystal Meth”.

Is it true? I guess it is possible. However, you need to keep in mind that an once of Crystal Meth may cost $1000 or more!

Are drug dealers just giving $1000 worth of drugs away to kids? Maybe… Crystal Meth is cheap to make. A cheapskate could purchase the items for about $150 and turn that into about $10,000 worth of drugs. Unfortunately, if kids eat this much Crystal Meth, they will probably not get addicted to it, they will probably be dead. So there is no “market” advantage to giving away the drugs to children to get them hooked on it and coming back to buy more.

I think the thing to remember is to teach your children about the dangers of drugs and about dealing with strangers.

November 05, 2007

Johnstown really is John’s Town!

There was a lengthy article about John Murtha in the October 30, 2007, page A1 Wall Street Journal. I highly recommend all people and organizations from the Johnstown area read this article. What the article states is indeed true.

Murtha agrees, he went to Washington to bring Federal dollars to Johnstown. Here’s an idea: why not just cut taxes and leave the dollars in Johnstown!

Whatever your personal opinion of Murtha is, the majority of this money will be gone when he is no longer in office. He is 75 years old, so we know his time in Washington will be limited by nature, if not by the voters.

Therefore, I urge the people and the organizations of Johnstown to act more responsibly and to operate as if they were not receiving federal money, because one day that money will be gone.

It remains to be seen whether or not the mentality of Johnstown can change and accept the responsibility of working and being profitable on their own rather than simply relying on funding from the rest of the country.

For those who missed the Wall Street Journal article the other day here is a link to it.

November 02, 2007

Municipal Elections

Next Tuesday, November 6, 2007 will be the Municipal Elections for Pennsylvania.

There are 6 judges up for retention (3 for the Supreme Court and 3 for the Commonwealth Court), 5 of those judges will not be able to serve their entire 10-year term due to required retirement at age 70.

Right off the top, I recommend voting NO for the 3 Supreme Court judges. Why? Various reasons, but one is because they voted to keep their pay raises rather than return them in 2004. Get rid of them and let’s get the right people in the judicial system. So, vote NO for Saylor, Musmanno, and Stevens.

As for the Commonwealth Court retentions, an activist brought a suit against the pay raises for the legislators and judges. The Commonwealth Court dismissed that case. So, vote NO to retain those 3 as well. So, vote NO for Leadbetter, McGinley, Smith-Ribner.

For the Supreme Court – vote for the underdogs, which appear to be the two republicans.

For the Superior Court – Jackie Shogan and Cheryl Allen for sure, Bruce Bratton for the final choice.

Indiana County Commissioners – Ruddock

For the rest of the choices, pick the challenger. Look for an update next week to see how the election turned out.

November 01, 2007

Letter to Rep. Dave Reed

Below is a message that was sent to my local state representative, Dave Reed. The message was sent to make him aware of a piece of property tax legislation that is looking for sponsors and will be introduced into the House soon.

I am writing to encourage you to support and even co-sponsor Rep. Sam Rohrer’s School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007. This Act sounds like a promising way to eliminate the property tax system which is hurting Pennsylvanian’s.

Furthermore, I do not support HB1600, which sounds like Act 1 and simply shifts money around without providing any real relief to homeowners. Act 1 was rejected by the voters in May. We want something different to eliminate Property Taxes, while still maintaining adequate funding for our School Districts.

It is a challenge, but I think Rep. Rohrer’s bill is on the right track. Please monitor this closely for the taxpayers of your district.

Thank you

October 12, 2007

Great News!

I am so glad the inventor of the Internet has finally been awarded a Nobel Prize, even if it is for his work on Global Warming. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we take the opportunity to have this guy as our President? Shame on us.

"I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize," Gore said. "We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

What? A spiritual issue? That is just like our wonderful Governor of Pennsylvania telling us Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed would support his healthcare plan. (by the way, Gov. Rendell did make this statement earlier this year!) It just so happens that when I was reading the article on YahooNews, the advertisement that popped up on the right was from……The United Methodist Church. “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors”

October 11, 2007

A Republican Survey! You mean they care what we think?

A Republican Party Census Document was given to me yesterday for my review and recommendation.

The survey is composed of 26 questions. Two questions ask about your past voting. The entire “survey” appears to be simply a fundraising activity for the G.O.P.

Here are some of the questions:

“Should we stop the Democrats from cutting funding for our intelligence agencies or bringing back Clinton-era restrictions on inter-agency communications?”
Yes – No – Undecided.

“Should President Bush’s successful income and capital gains tax cuts be made permanent?”
Yes – No – Undecided.

“Should we make sure President Bush’s judicial nominees receive fair hearings and up or down votes in the Senate even when Democrats threaten a filibuster?”
Yes – No – Undecided.

The “survey” mentions Democrats or the Democratic party in seven questions. “Clinton-era” is mentioned in two questions. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are mentioned in one question. The “survey” basically portrays the Democratic party as evildoers and the Republican party as the answer to all the worlds problems!

My favorite question though is the last one:

“Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?”
Yes - $500 $250 $100 $50 $35 $25 $Other
Yes - $11 to cover the cost of tabulating the survey
No – “I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.”

The accompanying letter asks for money three times on a four page letter. The letter also makes it sound like the end of the world will occur if Hillary or Barrack are elected President. But we can prevent that, simply by sending money to the Republicans! I guess they don't really care what we think, they just want our money.

Do people really fall for this? Are people that blind?

October 10, 2007

“The Ethanol Craze”

There is a column titled “Briefing” in each issue of The Week magazine. The column looks at a topic and tries to explain the main points of the issue by asking and answering simple questions.

In the October 5, 2007 issue, the topic title is “The ethanol craze.” The following are quotes from the article on page 14.

“Congress wants the U.S. to produce 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022. Is the plant-based fuel really the answer to our energy problems?

Is ethanol something new? Not at all.
But is corn the best ethanol source? Not by a long shot.
Why is corn-based ethanol dominant? In a word, politics.
Is ethanol environmentally friendly? Not especially.
Does ethanol have other downsides? Yes-it raises food prices here and abroad.
But what about replacing foreign oil? Even that is something of an illusion.”

There you have it, just the facts. Why ethanol and why corn? Politics. Wake up America. Vote the politicians out in November and vote for new people that are actually concerned about America, not just their wallets.

October 04, 2007

Eliminate Property Taxes?

Senator James Rhoades lays it on the line with the Property Tax Elimination Bill. He is requesting a referendum on the November 2008 ballot that would eliminate property taxes and increase the sales tax and personal income tax to offset about 96% of the $9 billion property taxes bring in.

You can read his press release at his web site.

His legislation will increase the sales tax from 6% to 9.19% and the personal income tax from 3.07% to 4.36%.

He says the funding to school districts would require the local school boards to REDUCE or eliminate school property taxes dollar for dollar.

Rhoades has some good ideas, but if property taxes are not eliminated, there is no reason for this legislation to go any further and waste the time of the legislatures. This is no different than the tax shifting schemes of the past.

October 03, 2007

New Healthcare Plan for PA Schools?

A few weeks ago, our Governor encouraged the General Assembly to create legislation for a statewide healthcare plan for school employees. The plan is to include all school districts, intermediate units, career and technical centers, and charter schools. Oh, except for the Philadelphia school district. That don’t need to participate because they claim they are already doing what the state is requesting and they are doing it better.

Hmm. Sounds fishy, doesn’t it? I am not opposed to the idea of a healthcare plan for all school employees, but that is what it should be for ALL school employees. Not all except Philadelphia. If it is true that Philly has a great plan, then let all the school employees into the program and the problem is solved, right?

The big question will be cost and benefits. There are many unanswered questions as of yet, but this is something that all tax payers will need to pay attention too. Why? A plan like this could help some districts, but possibly hurt others, which would cost local taxpayers more. Most governmental programs tend to be inefficient and ineffective, again this costs taxpayers money.

Another key initiative behind this legislation is to take healthcare off the bargaining table, which has been a big sticking point for the unions and has led to several strikes over the past few years.

I have a better idea, rather than mess around with a massive healthcare system for some 260,000 people, just pass a law that limits teacher strikes to only non-school hours/days!

October 02, 2007

Hannah Montana Sold Out!

Many of you have probably heard on the news about the Hannah Montana concert that is scheduled for Pittsburgh. In short, the concert sold out almost immediately. The people who purchased the tickets were scalpers, so little or no tickets were available to the general public when they went on sale.

For a complete story check out the WTAE web site.

Want to teach these scalpers a lesson? Don’t pay their ridicules prices, then they will be stuck with those tickets and lose money. Sure, this one concert won’t put them out of business, but if no one buys from a scalper, then they WILL go out of business eventually.

It is simple economics, supply and demand. Stop demanding the tickets and the price will drop. Of course, the spoiled little brats will still get to go, the greed starts at a young age here in the USA.

For the record, I do not agree with what the scalpers are doing and it is probably illegal and should be dealt with accordingly by the authorities.

Just my thoughts, how about yours?

September 28, 2007

I’m not kidding.

As many of you are aware Pennsylvania is a struggling state. We have one of the largest and highest paid legislatures, but yet, they cannot seem to fix the problems.

For example, we are faced with higher and higher taxes, yet that money doesn’t really help fix any problems for the state. It seems to simply create more problems.

We have a failing transportation system. There are terrible roads throughout the state. Many bridges received failing grades during their last inspection. We have failure of the mass transit systems, mostly due to outrageous costs require to run them. Let’s not forget that Turnpike Commission too.

We also have a governor that has been a part of several scandals and associates with criminals. Then there is PHEAA, the student loan organization, and the corruption and abuses and misuse of money that has recently became public.

Why am I mentioning this?

Because yesterday, the topic of discussion for the Children and Youth Committee in the Pennsylvania House was……whether or not metal bats should be banned in little league games.

Why worry about trying to fix other problems, like unemployment or child predators or improving schools, when we have these little kids swinging metal bats!

I’m not kidding. This is real!

September 25, 2007

Quiz Today!


What should you do as an employee of a company that is losing not only market share to foreign companies, but is also losing money?

A) Ignore it, because it is management’s problem, not yours.

B) Work harder and smarter to help reduce costs so your job is not eliminated by plant closings and layoffs.

C) Demand more money and benefits and then go on strike when management does not give you those benefits.

The answer seems obvious, doesn’t it? Well, at least obvious to people with a little common sense.

American workers, both “blue” and “white” collar workers, need to get rid of the “greed” mentality in order to be competitive in a global marketplace. Greed hurts yourself as much as it hurts others. Greed is good for no one!

Be content with what you have. Ignore what the people next door have. Enjoy what you have been given.

September 19, 2007

Worst Issue Ever!

I received the October Issue of Kiplinger Magazine in the mail the other day. This issue was titled "The Green Issue." I wasn't real thrilled and after I stated looking through the issue, pretty much every article was somehow related to being environmentally "green." It was horrible. Below is a letter I sent to the editor.

I was very disappointed with the “Green” Issue of Kiplinger’s magazine (October 2007). There were no articles of interest to me at all. Even the columns I usually enjoy, such as Jeremy Siegel and Knight Kiplinger, provided nothing useful. Oh and the 29 ways to save big around the house: use CFL bulbs, lower the thermostat, original.

You could have really made a “Green” issue by not even wasting the resources to print the “Green” issue!

Hopefully things return to normal next month. I really do enjoy your magazine.

September 13, 2007

Flag Ban at School

A school in North Carolina banned the wearing of “items with flags from any country, including the United States.” See NBC17 for the full story.

The article drew quite a few comments, most outraged at the fact that the students could not wear “flag” clothing. The comments call the administrators at the school “gutless” and should be fired. One person was ashamed of his state because of the school rule. A former serviceman said he would not have removed the colors off him or his kids without a fight. Mostly though it was the liberals and political correctness being blamed for the ban.

Here is my take.

BRAVO to the school district. Wearing the flag on your clothing is not a sign of pride. It shows DISRESPECT toward the flag and toward the country.

Any good Boy Scout will tell you the flag is NEVER to be worn as clothing, unless it is part of a uniform. Don’t believe me? Check out section 8d of the flag code. (It is at the bottom of the web page).

Respect for the flag shows respect for America.

September 12, 2007

They Don’t Call Him Fast Eddie for Nothing!

Norman Hsu, a major Democratic party fundraiserer, also gave some money to our great governor, Ed Rendell. At first Gov. Rendell was not going to return the money (even Hillary Clinton was going to return the money she got from Hsu – that tells you how low Governor Rendell really is). However, after Mr. Hsu skipped out on bail and was caught (again) the great governor decided to donate the almost $40,000 to charity. What a great guy! I guess that is why they call him Fast Eddie; he can change his tune real quick.

Hsu is a criminal. Rendell is one of his buddies. What does that tell you? I wonder how many other criminals Rendell regularly associates with (besides the other legislators of course)?

You can read more about this "latest" scandel at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

September 06, 2007

CNN News - Interesting:

Currently, there is a big picture of Luciano Pavarotti on the opening page of CNN and there is no mention of Dr. James Kennedy.

They both died today, but apparently the work of Dr. Kennedy was not news worthy to CNN. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising to us though. I would expect most mainstream media organizations to skip over this news story.

For those who are not familiar with Dr. Kennedy, you can visit Coral Ridge Ministry for more information.

August 31, 2007

Back to School, Happy Halloween, and Merry Christmas!

I know I haven’t updated the blog too regularly over the summer and I am not wishing everyone a Happy Halloween or Merry Christmas just yet.

Last night at Wal*Mart all three things could be found on their shelves.

There were many “Back to School” items and sales last night which are expected of course.
They also have Halloween decorations and such in full sales mode. Two months before the Holiday is a little much, but whatever.
Plus, unbelievable I know, they had many, many Christmas items on their shelves! Now that is really early! There were the Christmas villiage, decorations, lights, and other stuff.

Talk about getting a jump on the Holiday’s!

August 20, 2007

4 Less Flowers for Us!

The summer is going fast and school will be in session soon. I thought I should have at least one post for August. So here goes.

Earlier this spring, I purchased four “boxed” flowers (two clematis and two hydrangea). None of the plants grew, only one showed any signs of life and then died. I wasn’t too concerned because I had a money back guarantee from the company.

At the beginning of July, I sent the proof of purchase to the company as required for their warranty (K. Van Bourgondien) with a note explaining why I was entitled to a refund of my money or replacement plants.

A month and a half later and I have heard nothing from them. I do not recommend buying plants from this company.

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me!

It won't happen again with that company.

July 26, 2007

Update to the Wal*mart E-mail

On Tuesday, I received a voice-mail message on my home phone from Wal*Mart, thanking me for bringing the lighting problem to their attention. (see July 20, 2007 for the story)

The message went on about how they really appreciated me taking the time to inform them of the lighting problem. The lady finally said, she would call back because she wanted to talk to me in person.

She called back about an hour later and went on and on again about how they were about to get the problem fixed and that I brought it to their attention. She seemed genuinely happy about it, although she didn’t offer me any type of reward! In fact, she or the manager will probably get a bonus for lowering their store's costs!

It is amazing though, a $200 billion company was able to respond to me in Doe Valley in a matter of a few days!

July 23, 2007

Giving away the secrets

I am sure everyone is aware of the latest release of the Harry Potter book. The author, J.K. Rowling, was disappointed with the media. She claimed the media gave away too much information about the book.

Big deal. Should this surprise us? This is what the media does. In fact, two days before I received my Money magazine in the mail, I heard on the news about the main story in the current issue. On Friday, I heard about the main story in my SmartMoney magazine, I have yet to receive that issue. The media “giving” away too much information regarding Harry Potter is nothing new. It is simply par for the course. It's what they do.

Besides, the Potter series was wrote for kids. How many kids (that read Harry Potter) are actually watching the news?

July 20, 2007

Wal*Mart – Lights on for Safety?

Below is an e-mail I sent to the local Wal*Mart.

I shop at the Ebensburg (Pennsylvania) store every (day inserted here) evening usually from about (times inserted here). I notice that the outside parking lot lights are on at this time. Obviously, during the summer it is still light outside and those lights do not need to be on.

If Wal*mart is trying to be "green" then shutting off the outside lights during the day or early evening would help conserve resources right?


I wonder if I’ll get a response? Better yet, I wonder if they will turn off the lights! I figure if turning off the lights will lower Wal*Mart’s costs, then maybe they will pass that savings on to me.

Always thinking of something here at Doe Valley.

July 19, 2007

How about this! Who wants $1 million?

On Tuesday, Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona questioned Representative Peter Visclosky of Indiana about a $1 million earmark in his bill. The million dollars was earmarked for the “Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure.”

Flake and his staff could not find any information about the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure. He asked Visclosky if it even existed. Visclosky was unsure whether it existed or not!

Upon further review, the earmark was inserted into the legislation by our friend Representative John Murtha. Apparently, the center is part of Concurrent Technologies Corporation in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

After the discussion, Rep. Flake made a motion to have the $1 million earmark removed from the legislation since they were unable to determine anything about this center. He was defeated 98-326 (H-AMDT.503).

Don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. The resolution is HR-2641. The transcript is H7875, search for “Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure”. (THOMAS)

So to be clear. The government just approved $1 million for a center they are not sure even exits! I don’t make this stuff up! Just for the record, CTC does contribute to John Murtha’s reelection campaign. And we wonder why are taxes are high.

July 18, 2007

How much does it cost to administer a shot?

As you know from reading yesterdays post, my wife and I recently got tetanus shots.

My wife’s code was 90715, whereas, my initial code was 90721.
90715 is the Tdap vaccine
90721 is the Dtap/hib vaccine

The Doctor’s office changed my billing code to 90715 after the insurance company rejected it. Apparently the 90721 shot is for children and is not covered for adults. The 90721 shot was $65 whereas, the 90715 was only $40. I wonder which shot I actually got? I’ll probably never know. Or was this simply a billing “error” to attempt to get more money from the insurance company?

The Doctor’s office also charges you to have someone actually give you the shot. This is code 90471. They charged my insurance company $8 to jab me. My wife’s Doctor charged around $20 to jab her!

What’s my point? I don’t really have one, other than you need to pay attention to your medical bills. When you don’t understand what it means, find out.

July 17, 2007

Secrets of Medical Billing

Did you ever wonder what those codes mean on your medical bill? How do you know you were billed for the right procedure?

Last month I went to the Doctor’s office to finally get my test results from April (turns out I am in perfect health). While at the Doctor’s office I decided to get a tetanus shot, since I hadn’t had one since probably 1995. The nurse gave me the tetanus shot with some other “stuff” in it. I figured it was the diphtheria and pertussis shots, but she didn’t clarify it.

A few weeks later, I get the insurance statement saying the shot I got was not covered under my policy. A few weeks before my wife got a tetanus shot and it was covered. After spending quite a while on the phone with the spokesperson at the insurance company, she said the billed code is not covered, however, if the Doctor’s office rebilled the shot under another code, then maybe it would be covered. What? I called the Doctor’s office and they said they would rebill the shot under a different code.

A few more weeks later, I get the rebilled insurance statement stating that everything was covered with the different code.

What do these codes mean? I decided to find out. A couple of web sites were helpful in determining what the codes mean. The first site is from Perdue University.
The second site comes from the AMA.

Check back tomorrow for further analysis of the billing codes.

The codes are usually listed right below the description on your bill. Grab your most recent statement and find what you have been charged for.
Here are some sample codes:

July 05, 2007

Book Review

The Truth War: Fighting For Certainty in an Age of Deception
By John MacArthur

It seems like after reading any book I am fired up about the topic. This book is no different. The topic is the war on the Truth. The Church is being terrorized and infiltrated by people claiming to be believers, yet don’t believe in many of the Truth’s of the Bible.

Much of the book stems from the book of Jude. In fact, Jude 1:3-4 really sums up the book better than anything. In fact, instead of reading this book, just read and study the book of Jude!

The Bible is absolutely clear in its Truth. There is no question about its main Truth, which is God’s plan for salvation through Jesus Christ.

Many churches today present an “easy to believe” gospel or try to entertain the crowd on Sunday mornings. The pastors speak of a prosperity gospel, the “you name it and claim it” type. Many of the denominations want to include everyone and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, therefore, they do not confront the sins of their members.

This is an outright assault on the Truth! Want some straight-forward, plain English speaking Truth? Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

The Gospel is not all-inclusive. Everyone isn’t and won’t be saved. Read some of those “I-Am” statements found in Gospel According to John. (Check out the Circuit Riders Range for a further study of the exclusive way to salvation.)

This is the type of teaching and preaching that needs to be in our churches and our seminaries. This is what I attempt to do when speaking. I know everyone doesn’t like it, but this is what needs to be done. The best part is the fact that it is the unveiled TRUTH! If you do not worship the God of the Bible (Old and New Testaments – the same triune God from the beginning), then you are worshipping Satan, plain and simple.

I think my book review turned into a mini-lecture, but sometimes that happens. Overall, the book was a good read, probably not MacArthur’s best work, but good none-the-less. He does name some names of people who preach and teach a gospel that people WANT to hear. The discerning Christian won’t be surprised by the names though.

July 03, 2007


A couple of days after I sent my letter to the editor of SmartMoney Magazine regarding their article about Solar Power (see “Here Comes the Sun” to read it), I received a phone call from SmartMoney asking for permission to print my letter.

They told me my comments would appear in the August 2007 issue. Yesterday, the August 2007 issue came and sure enough there is my letter to the editor. The only thing is that it wasn’t the letter I was expecting! They printed a letter I sent to them in May regarding the “Common Sense” column (You can read that letter here)

The letter I wrote was not the greatest, but did get published. Strongstown made a nationwide magazine!

If you are interested in purchasing the magazine it is the August 2007 issue of SmartMoney. Warren Buffet and four other people are on the front cover with the lead story “World’s Greatest Investors.” I am famous! I recommend purchasing several copies, since it will be a collectors item some day.

July 02, 2007

How much is enough?

There is still no contract between the union that represents the faculty of Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities and the administrators (PASSHE).

The union is seeking a wage increase of 20% over four years. The PASSHE is offering a more reasonable increase of 2% or 3% a year. This is about 11% over the four year contract period. The union claims with PASSHE’s proposal they will actually loose about 7% of purchasing power over the life of the contract.

Oh my! What an outrage, our poor professors will be living in cardboard boxes and lining up at the food kitchens. We can’t have that now can we. We better come up with some more money for them. Where does the money come from? The rest of the hard working Pennsylvanian’s that work 12 months a year and work 8+ hours per day.

For the 2006-2007 the average full-time faculty member earned (or a better term to use is made) about $70,000 (source: Indiana Gazette). This is a nine month salary and they aren’t usually 8 hour days either!

I understand and accept the fact that education at all levels is extremely important. However, you shouldn’t want to be a professor, teacher, or instructor for the money. You do it for the good of society and because you enjoy it. The best motivator is the work it self, not the money.

I also question if the members of the union really support the union leaders or do they just go with the flow and do what the union leaders (bosses) tell them because that is what they are supposed to do or else there will be retribution against them.

Just for the record. I am an Adjunct Instructor so I do know what it is like to teach. Yes, I do get paid for my services and the money is indeed nice supplement to my regular job, but I do it because I enjoy teaching. The more I teach, the more I learn!

June 28, 2007

Quick Thought Today

It seems like the workers of yesteryear worked at their jobs for many years, maybe their entire career. They did this mainly because of loyalty. They were loyal to the company and the company was loyal to them.

Today, however, it seems like workers are stuck in their jobs with no escape. They want to leave but cannot. They are not loyal to the company and they know the company is not loyal to them.

I guess that is why many people only work in one place for around five years before moving on. People have jobs, not careers. Companies have workers, not dedicated employees.

Just my thoughts. What about yours?

June 25, 2007

Marry for Money?

Below is a letter sent to the editors of Money Magazine.

Dear Editors:

I was appalled by the mere title of Marlys Harris “article” titled “How to Marry a Billionaire” in the July 2007 issue of Money magazine. I thought it could have been some type of joke or something just to catch the reader. As I started to read the article I think the author(s) actually believed what they were writing and they were giving good advice as if they were doing a service to their readers!

That is crazy. This type of nonsensical article is not what I expect from a respected financial publication. Marriage is about a public lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. A marriage should be rewarding, fulfilling, and meaningful not just about how much money I can get my hands on.

The institution of marriage and family is the backbone of society. Without it our society will no longer grow. In fact, it will actually have a self-destructive effect as the generations experience less and less family ties.

Trying to be someone else just so you can marry them for their money and then divorcing them and taking up to half of their money is not good advice! The correct term for that is greed. That for sure sounds like the downfall of any society!

I hope Money magazine does not continue publishing and wasting several valuable pages with garbage like this!

June 21, 2007

Personal Responsibility

Did you hear about this?

Indiana Weather Radio Bill

National Weather Radio Bill?

A child was killed when a tornado went though a mobile home park in 2005. The mother of the child believes if she were warned her son could be alive today. (Alerts were sent out, this lady just didn’t hear them.) She wrote to the political leaders of her state (Indiana) urging them to pass a law requiring Mobile Homes to be equipped with a NOAA Weather Alert radio.

Does anyone really need a law requiring this? Why should the government dictate personal responsibility? In fact, in the legislation, the mobile home installers will simply purchase a NOAA radio and plug it into an outlet! The $30 cost will be passed on to the consumer. You can purchase a weather radio at Wal*Mart for about $15.

I drive by Yellow Creek at least 5 days a week on route 422. It is possible to skid off the road right into the creek (highly unlikely, but possible). Therefore, I think I will write a letter to our governor to pass legislation that all cars that are sold and will be used on route 422 require a life vest to be installed under the seats. Sounds ridicules doesn’t it?

Personal responsibility lies with the person, not the government. People need to accept responsibility for their actions or their inactions.

Don’t get me wrong, anyone being killed by nature is a tragic event. But, if I lived in a tornado prone area I would be prepared. The same goes if I lived in a Hurricane prone area. In fact, in winter, we do prepare for winter storms! Again it is called taking responsibility and being prepared.

June 08, 2007

Here Comes the Sun Article

Below is a letter to the editor of SmartMoney Magazine regarding a recent article about solar energy.

I was eager to read Daren Fonda’s article “Here Comes the Sun” in the July 2007 issue of SmartMoney magazine. In particular I was interested in reading the “Crunching the Numbers” section.

To my surprise the numbers never were crunched! So I’ll do it for you.

According to your article, the cost of a solar system is about $30,000 and the system might last 25 years. So $30,000 divided by 25 equals a cost of $1,200 per year or $100 a month for electric. (This assumes the system will produce all of the electric you need, which it probably would not for me since I live in Southwest Central Pennsylvania.)

My average electric bill is about $80 a month from the electric company and it would be at least $100 a month for solar!

Therefore, when you crunch the numbers, solar is not a viable option for me or probably most people for that matter once you factor maintenance costs into the equation!

I even ran the numbers through the website you recommended ( and my breakeven point is 40 years (assuming no property value increase, 33 with property value increase) but the life expectancy of the system is only 25 years!

It doesn’t take an MBA to figure out those numbers. No thanks. Maybe the article should have been titled, “Here Comes the Sun (if you have the Green)!”

June 07, 2007

Teacher Strikes

Here is a letter I sent to Rep. Dave Reed regarding legislation introduced in the PA House to implement penalties for teacher strikes. I will let you know his response.

In other news, Rep. Reed recently introduced legislation to implement a fingerprinting system for all Pennsylvanians on welfare. This is to help reduce fraud.


I am writing today to inform you of recent legislation introduced by Rep. Todd Rock regarding teacher strikes titled “The Strike-Free Education Act” (House Bill 1369).

Teacher strikes do nothing but hurt the children, hurt the community, and it makes teachers look like greedy thieves to the public.

Don’t get me wrong, teachers play an important part in a child’s education and they should be compensated appropriately. As I am sure you are aware, when teachers do go on strike they are required to “make-up” those days due to the required number of days students must attend school each year.

When a union in the private sector strikes, the union members are not paid (or else they are minimally paid from union funds). Therefore, they have an incentive not to strike, but if conditions are real bad and they do strike, they have an incentive to get the labor disputes resolved as quickly as possible because they are not being paid. No such incentive exists for teachers. They currently make the same amount of money (on a yearly basis) when they strike.

I strongly urge you to review this legislation, even though the Pennsylvania State Education Association has probably contributed money to you, with the best interests of the community in mind.

Thank You.

June 06, 2007

Warning: Product Promotion

I don’t usually promote or recommend too many products, however the product I am mentioning today has really worked for me!

The product is called Phos-Flur and is manufactured by the Colgate-Palmolive company.

This is an anti-cavity rinse that you use once a day. It is to help prevent cavity and spots on your teeth. It is also good for general mouth health.

The Dentist recommended I use it for my teeth and gums. It was a little pricey (about $12 a bottle at Wal*Mart), but I thought I would give it a try. One bottle lasts about 45 days or so. I am now on my second bottle and I have notice a big difference. I had some receding gums on a few on my teeth. I could really notice it when eating sweets. The gums look as though they have stopped receding and actually healed (if that is possible). I have even noticed my gums and teeth look and feel healthier.

Your can read more about the product on their web site: Colgate

June 05, 2007

10 things I learned in Canada:

Ten things I learned on our recent trip to Canada:

  1. You don’t always need to answer your cell phone.
  2. Sony cameras from Asia are not the same as Sony cameras in America.
  3. It is difficult, but possible to communicate with someone without knowing their language.
  4. Watch out for obese people eyeing your ice cream.
  5. It takes more than an MBA to figure out the change you get back when spending American dollars.
  6. Strangers will take your picture for you and you should take their picture too!
  7. Cuban cigars are very expensive.
  8. Family style dinners are not fun, long lines are even worse.
  9. Canadians love American money!
  10. Security guards are bored and like to cause trouble for random people.

June 04, 2007

IT Workers need to know more than IT

Here is a brief letter to the editor of Computerworld Magazine. They haven’t published any of my negative letters, so I thought I would write a positive one and see what happens.

Frank Hayes got IT right in his Frankly Speaking column titled Reality IT (May 21, 2007). IT needs people who understand IT and the business world. I am an adjunct instructor at the local college and I encourage all of my students to not only learn IT, but to learn basic business skills and processes. I also tell them they will need to know something about the business they are working in. I often say the best IT workers can fill in for the regular workers when they are on vacation!

May 25, 2007

John Edwards Main Issues

Edwards’ issues are: (these are from his campaign website)

  • Restore America’s moral leadership in the world
  • Guarantee affordable health care for all American’s
  • Eliminate poverty
  • Strengthen the middle class
  • Fight global warming and America’s addition to foreign oil

Restore America’s moral leadership in the world – excellent idea, except for the fact that he is not the person to do it. How can he charge a University $55,000 to speak about poverty!?! See yesterday’s post for more information.

Guarantee affordable health care for all Americans – another good idea, except there is a lot of government control in his plan. We all know how the government works! I don’t want them running my healthcare program.

Eliminate poverty – again, excellent idea, it will be a challenging task. The starting place is to get the American people to realize their greed. This of course would include the greed of politicians as well.

Strengthen the middle class – I am not sure what he means here. If by strengthening the middle class he means expanding it, then I guess he wants to have only two classes: the rich people and everyone else or the rich and the poor. I wonder which class he and the other politicians will belong to?

Fight global warming and America’s addition to foreign oil – there still is little evidence of human caused global warming. As for America’s addition to foreign oil, we do have our own oil, the liberal earth lovers just won’t allow us to get it! Although, I do agree and have stated before that American’s could make slight lifestyle changes that would reduce the demand for oil and other resources.

That’s all for today! I will be letting my brain rest next week, so surf back in June!

May 24, 2007

Poverty Stricken Presidential Candidates

What a travesty it is when we see people like Presidential candidate John Edwards campaigning to eliminate poverty. Yet in return, he gets paid $55,000 to give that speech!

That is exactly what happened in January of 2006 at the University of California at Davis. At the time Edwards was not an official Presidential candidate. He was, however, the head of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina. He was paid $55,000 to speak to a crowd of about 1,800 people. The topic of the speech was poverty in America. (John Edwards is also, the person who got $400 haircuts.)

Of course, we know that some taxpayer money does go to colleges and university. We also know that many colleges and universities across the country raise their tuition rate. The increased tuition rate for the California schools this year is 7%.

We continuously see this with the political environment. These rich guys (Republicans and Democrats alike) often say they are there to represent the little guys, the poor people, and the middle class, when in reality they are only looking out for themselves. Tomorrow we will look at John Edwards main campaign issues.

May 23, 2007

Hodge Podge of Politics

The rest of the week will be devoted to politics, sorry.

A recent AP/IPSOS Poll showed Congress’s approval rating is as low as President Bush’s. Only 35% of the people polled approve of how Congress is doing.

A few people at work were having a “Bush-bashing” conversation yesterday. They were blaming him for the high gas prices. One of the participants was a teacher who drives a big Ford 4x4 truck to work, which gets about 15 mpg.

No doubt, President Bush has a tremendous effect on things that occur in the United States and around the world for that matter, but everyone has their own part in the local, national, and global “community”. There are few reasons why a teacher needs to drive a big truck to work. It can be challenging to work with liberal, union minded people all the time!

Another guy at work was talking to his neighbor who is a large farmer around our area. This farmer said he is not planting potatoes this year, just corn. And yes, the corn was already sold, but not for consumer food.

People really need to wake up and look at their life. Everyone needs to be more responsible for their actions. Eric Clapton has a song, that goes, “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.” How true that is!

May 22, 2007

The Simpson’s

Last Sunday, “The Simpson’s” 400th episode aired on Fox. It also aired its 399th Episode right before. The 400th episode was a take on Fox’s other show “24.” The 399th episode was about things said and done on television. It wasn’t that great, but it did raise an interesting question. Fox News has been considered conservative and pro-republican, so why are there so many shows on fox that “push” the envelope. For example, “The War at Home” is one of the most distastefully done “comedy’s” that has ever been on TV.

Homer and Lisa (Simpson) conclude that Fox airs these raunchy shows so the FCC will fine them. The FCC, which is controlled by the Republican Party, gives the money to support the Republican Party! Homer and Lisa go on to explain what Fox’s and the Republican Party’s agenda really is, but there is a voice over, so you can’t hear what they are saying.

Yes, I know Homer and Lisa are fictionalized characters in a show that has been on for 20 years now. But the question is interesting. If Fox is so conservative, why do they air so many shows that don’t align with the “Right-Winged” conservatives and certainly not the religious right?

The answer is simple. The ratings. Fox has been ranked #1 in the 18-49 year old demographic market for 7 of the past 8 years and number #1 among teens for 12 of the last 15 years. Of course, with #1 ratings comes MONEY!.

NewCorp (which owns Fox) generated revenue of over $25 billion! Over $5 billion comes from Television shows (not cable/satellite programs). Therefore, Fox (as well as other networks) will air whatever draws a crowd and will generate the most money for them. Want to see people eat bugs? Turn to CBS. Want to see rich “lonely” housewives? Turn to ABC. Want rude/crude humor? Turn to Fox.

I guess that is why I watch PBS when I feel like having the TV on. Even if I barely get the channel with my antenna, the sound and picture are usually fuzzy and snowy, but it is still better than watching the rest of the garbage on TV.

The crazy part is many people pay $20 to over $100 a month to watch the garbage!
Just my thoughts.

May 18, 2007

The Spin is On!

Ok, no “fluffy” blog today, this one is down to business. As usual, Governor Rendell is spinning the latest defeat of Act 1 by the citizens of the great state of Pennsylvania.

Here is his quote on Wednesday (5/16/07):
“I am not surprised by the resounding defeat of the Act 1 tax shifting proposals. Unfortunately, in many cases, the full value of the property tax relief that the shift would have provided was not clear to the voters. I believe this contributed to the lackluster voter support.”

In other words, he blames the local school districts for not clearly explaining the meaning of Act 1 to their taxpayers. In reality, Act 1 provides only temporary relief (which was clearly explained to the voters), then everyone will be paying more in taxes. Most people would have been foolish to vote for this believing it will solve their high property taxes.

In fact, Governor Rendell didn’t even want the people to be able to vote on it (you can read his address to the Special Session in 2005). Apparently, he thinks the people of Pennsylvania are too dumb to understand anything and we should just do whatever he wants us to do!

Another quote, “Nevertheless, the local tax shifting proposal was an idea I accepted from the Republican leadership. They had hoped that this approach improved on Act 50 which they enacted under Governor Ridge. I expressed concerns throughout the process that voters would not embrace this sort of local tax shift.”

In other words, “It isn’t my fault, I didn’t come up with this. Those nasty Republicans did and they were simply trying to fix up something they screwed up under a previous (Republican) governor.” In reality, Governor Rendell called a special session of the legislature for property tax relief in September of the prior year (2005). According to many reports, much of Act 1 was wrote with “arm-twisting” and other political “activities” by the Governor’s supporters.

You can read the press release at the Governor’s Website.

Here is a quote from the 2006 ceremony when Gov. Rendell signed the bill into law.

“Today is a great day for Pennsylvania homeowners, especially seniors who have been driven from their homes as they attempt to escape the burden of skyrocketing property taxes for far too long.”

And another:

“This day is a major victory for Pennsylvanians who have fought for decades to have their property taxes cut. Every homeowner in Pennsylvania will not only get significant reduction, but they will finally get a say in future tax increases. This bill represents a victory of the possible over politics-as-usual.”

So to sum up:
In June 2006, it was a great day for Pennsylvania because of Gov. Rendell’s signature on Act 1.
In May 2007, it wasn’t surprising that Act 1 was defeated, because it isn’t as good as Gov. Rendell’s plan of gambling, raising taxes, and all of the other fees and borrowings in the Governor’s budget proposal.

I hope the voters of Pennsylvania really pay attention the next time they vote for a Governor.

May 17, 2007

Treating the Customers Right

It seems like all of my magazine subscriptions come at once. So here is another letter I sent to the editor of ComputerWorld magazine.

I enjoyed reading Paul Glen’s column “Tripping on the Red Carpet Treatment” in the May 7th issue. Paul really hit the nail on the head so to speak. Often times, we treat our “red carpet” customers better, but at the expense of our other customers.

Each customer should be “special” to your organization and treated as such. While not all customers will get the elaborate “red carpet” treatment, none should be treated as being unworthy of walking on the carpet!

Of course, Paul is right, whatever “special” treatment is given to one customer, it should not alienate another customer.

May 16, 2007

The Voters Came Through!

Act 1 was rejected yesterday in EVERY school district in Indiana County! Most by a wide margin of 60% or more.

The people need to continue to push for a government that is in the best interest of all. Gov. Rendell and others need to know they work for us! We don’t want “smoke and mirrors”, we want real reform. Just because we are from rural Pennsylvania, doesn’t mean we are stupid and can be talked into anything.

It will be interesting to see how the Governor spins the widespread public rejection of Act 1.

Visit the Indiana County website for statistics on your township.

May 15, 2007

Letter to the Editor of SmartMoney Magazine

Below is a quick letter to the editor of SmartMoney Magazine, another addition to my quest for publication.

I always enjoy James Stewart’s column each month, he always writes about, well, common sense!

Living within our means is a responsibility of every citizen. It should also be the priority of the government to live within its means as well! Congressional bailouts do not help anyone. It only promotes inefficiency and ineffective operation. Of course, the taxpayers end up paying the bill.

American’s need to stop trying to “keep up with the Jones.” Of course, that is easy for me to say, I live around the Amish, and well, I have running water and electric in my house!

May 11, 2007

Protesting Graduation!

Graduation is a great time in a person’s life, whether it is from High School, the Military, College, or whatever. It is a very special and memorable event in that person and their family’s life.

Today is the graduation at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where almost 300 students will receive their diplomas. The commencement speaker will be President Bush. So not only, will the students get their diploma’s they will get to see and hear and possibly meet the President of the United States in person.

The local news stations have been reporting that protestors are showing up with their signs and banners against the President. While I do not always agree with everything the President says or does, he is still the President and deservers the respect due his position. But more importantly, the setting today is to honor the graduates, not a place for protestors.

Hopefully, today’s graduates will remember their graduation for what it is, not for what the protestors want it to be!

May 10, 2007

Why are people the way they are?

I was trying figure out the answer to this question last night. I could not come up with an answer. It is difficult for me to comprehend. Why do people do stupid things? Why do they create problems for themselves and then do nothing to try and solve the problems, only complain and make the problems worse?

I came across this thought for the day and it seemed to answer my questions:

“Covetous people never get enough money, proud people never get enough praise, and self-centered people never get enough attention.”

I am sure everyone knows someone like this, the goal is not to be that person!

May 09, 2007

Corn: Good for you and your car?

The largest Ethanol plant in the United States is being built here in Western Pennsylvania. They have not released any information as to what will be used to manufacture the Ethanol, but many farmers around the area are hoping for corn.

I recently chatted with one farmer who is no longer focusing on growing consumer crops. This year the main focus of their farm will be on corn, which will be used for manufacturing ethanol.

That’s good business for them, their crops aren’t even grown yet and they have someone who will buy them all! However, what about the consumer? Who is going to grow the lettuce, peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, and other crops they normally grow? Last year a dozen ears of corn cost around $3.00 at the roadside stand. I won’t be surprised to see prices closer to $5.00 this year.

What about the cattle, pig, and poultry farmers who purchase much of their corn to be used as feed? They will be paying higher prices for feed, so you will be paying higher prices for your burgers, bacon and eggs, at the local butcher shops.

It takes just as much energy to manufacture ethanol as it does gasoline. Furthermore, the “corn syrup” which is a sugary substance can also damage the fuel system in your car.

As more farmers switch to growing corn for ethanol, where will our food come from? We will import it from other countries. Does everyone remember the e-coli outbreak with spinach not too long ago? No thanks! I’d rather import oil that doesn’t make me sick!

Just my thoughts.

May 01, 2007

Knowledge or Confidence? Which is better?

A survey asked 8th grade students in the United States and Singapore if they agreed with the following statement, “I usually do well in mathematics.” About 40% of students in the United States “agreed a lot” with the statement compared to less than 20% of students in Singapore. This demonstrates that American students are confident with their abilities in mathematics.

However, the actual data show different results. In fact, according to the “Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study” the most confident United States students scored an averaged 541 while the students in Singapore scored 642 on a standarized math exam. Even the least confident Singapore students averaged higher scores than the most confident student in the United States!

The focus on American education has been on confidence and experience rather than actually learning the facts. In my opinion, it is a great idea to teach children to be confident in their abilities, however, at some point in time, they actually need to use those abilities and have the knowledge to use them!

To modify an old expression: “You can tell a kid he’s a good fisherman, but that ain’t gonna feed him!”

April 30, 2007

Three New Bills for Taxpayers of Pennsylvania

Three bills were recently introduced in the Pennsylvania House. If passed, these bills will actually help the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

HB 1092 will reduce the state income tax back to the rate before Gov. Rendell raised it.
HB 188 will require voter approval for any increase in local school or municipal taxes.
HB 1100 will limit the spending increases of the PA government to the rate of inflation plus the population growth rate for PA.

These bills are a great start for taxpayer reform, however, more progress needs to be made. The size of Pennsylvania’s government is too big and should be reduced to make Pennsylvania more attractive to businesses and families.

I recently received my spring local per capita tax bill. I wasn’t surprised to see a change in the bill, I was surprised at the magnitude of the change! They dropped the millage portion of the tax and converted to a flat rate. This tax almost doubled without me even knowing about it and I pay attention to these things.

Pennsylvania needs real tax reform, not just tax shifts. Act 1 needs repealed, as it is a complete failure before it is even implemented. The 2007 Primary election will be held on May 15. There will be a question on the ballot regarding the implementation of an Earned Income Tax or a Personal Income Tax to reduce property taxes. I highly recommend voting “NO” for this tax shift. This is part of the Act 1 legislation. To read more about Act 1 click on the link labeled Act 1 on the right side of the screen.

April 27, 2007

Tax Freedom Day

Today is Tax Freedom day for Pennsylvanians. We have worked this entire year so far, just to pay our tax burden (Federal, State, and Local). 117 calendar days (85 working days) almost 1/3 of the year!

The average Tax Freedom day in the nation is April 30. While Pennsylvania is slightly “better” than the national average, Governor Rendell wants to create new taxes, which will push Pennsylvania’s Tax Freedom day further into the year and expand the size of the government.

I have stated it many times before, over taxing the people is not the way to a prosperous nation. We need a smaller, more efficient government to minimize the burden to the people and to stimulate the economy.

For more information on Tax Freedom Day or to find out when Tax Freedom Day is for your state check out The Tax Foundation’s website.

April 26, 2007

Letter to Governor Rendell

Here is the letter I sent to Governor Rendell regarding my wife's recent experience at the Doctor's office and the Governor's plan to establish health insurance for all Pennsylvanians. I have never received a response from Governor Rendell and I don't expect a response to this letter either, however, if my some chance I do receive a response I will post it here.

Governor Rendell:

I support the attempt to fix the issue of healthcare in Pennsylvania. However, your plan of health insurance for everyone does not attack the problem. The problem is higher healthcare costs not health insurance!

My wife and I have excellent heath insurance through my employer. However, we rarely use it. Why? Because we are both healthy young adults! We exercise, eat right, and avoid those harmful activities such as drinking excessive alcohol and smoking.

Last week, my wife went to the Doctor and wanted complete blood work done to check for various health problems (cholesterol, thyroid, diabetes, etc). The Doctor would not order the complete blood work and would only write a prescription for the cholesterol portion of the test. The Doctor was not sure if our insurance would cover the test and a complete blood test is apparently expensive.

The Doctor gave her an advertisement for a multiphasic blood test sponsored by a local hospital. The test only costs $25 and covers everything my wife wanted tested for in the first place! How is it possible that this complete test only costs $25 when not going through insurance, but costs several hundred dollars when using insurance!

Therefore, my point of this letter is to tell you we don’t need health insurance for everyone as much as we need lower healthcare costs!
We used to receive great, affordable healthcare at a local clinic. However, a few years ago that placed closed because the doctor’s claimed that their patients were going to the clinic rather than the doctor. We need more of these low cost, high quality clinics that can take care of simple ailments for healthy people.

April 25, 2007

Banning Guns or Saving Lives?

What is the purpose of the anti-gun lobbyists? Is it to ban guns or save lives?

Before we put a ban on guns, there are a few other steps we should take to save even more lives!

Here are a few brief statistics on deaths in the United States. The data can be found at the CDC and Vital Statistics website for verification. (Note: these statistics do not include abortion, if they did the numbers would be much, much higher, in fact about 11 million deaths higher!)

Cause of death for 2004 (most recent data available):

Total Deaths 2004 2,398,365
#1 = Heart Disease 654,092
#2 = Cancer 550,270
#3 = Stroke 150,147
#4 = Lower Resp. 123,884
#5 = Accidents 108,694

What are the leading causes of heart disease?
Mostly poor lifestyle (bad diet, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol, and illegal drug usage.)

What are the leading causes of cancer?
Tobacco (mostly lung cancer associated with smoking)

What are the leading causes of strokes?
High cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, and illegal drug use.

What are the leading causes of accidents?
Vehicles, in particular speed associated with the crash (speed kills).
Part of the 108,694 includes 29,569 deaths by guns.

So if we really want to save lives, then the first step would be to promote a healthy lifestyle, eat right, exercise, stop smoking/drinking/drugging.

That would take care of the top 3 or 4 reasons for death.

Simple lifestyle changes can save the most lives! Not banning guns! Gun deaths only account for around 1% of all deaths.

If these anti-gun groups are really about saving lives, then don’t go after the 1% cause, go after the top causes that constitute over 60% of all deaths in the United States!

April 24, 2007

Health Care Fun

I will be 30 this year and my wife will be 29 in a few weeks. My health insurance may or may not be changing in July, so we decided to go get the recommended annual check-up for 30 year olds.

She made her appointment and explained to the Doctor the recommended blood tests to be performed. The Doctor refused, saying she was healthy and didn’t need those tests done. But then decides to approve the cholesterol test, but she would need to contact the insurance company to make sure it is covered since she didn’t have a diagnosis for coronary artery disease. Then the Doctor gives her a hospital sponsored advertisement for a multi-phasic blood test that screens everything she wanted tested in the first place! The multi-phasic test of course is not covered by insurance and you need to pay for that on your own. It is only $25, but the point is I have insurance to pay for this type of thing.

The insurance company was contacted regarding the cholesterol test the Doctor approved, they were not sure if it was covered or not and said she should contact the Doctor!

Can you believe it? My new daily pray now includes, “Lord, don’t let me get sick!”

I decided I don’t need to go to the doctor. I am planning to pay for the multi-phasic test and then if something looks abnormal, then I will take the results to the Doctor and tell them what I want done.

Oh and the health insurance I have is actually pretty good. It costs the school district about $1200 a month!

April 23, 2007

Book Review

I was so excited; I purchased “The MacArthur New Testament Commentary” a few weeks ago. It finally arrived. I tear open the package to check out my new purchase and what do I find?

The most disappointing book ever with John MacArthur’s name on it! It is little more than the notes from his study bibles.

Normally, I recommend most of his writings; this one however can be skipped over if you already own his study Bible. I do highly recommend his study Bible.

April 20, 2007

Privatization of Liquor Sales

There is a push for privatization of liquor stores here in Pennsylvania. Currently, you must purchase wine and liquor from a state run store. The push is on to enable licensed businesses to sell beer and wine in their stores (gas stations, super markets, etc).

Normally, I support privatization and limiting the government’s involvement with business activities. However, this is one area where the government should maintain control.

The advocates claim the privatization of liquor sales poses no threat to society and in fact benefit the people through lower prices.

Poses no threat to society? I find that hard to believe and even harder to quantify! While it is true, prices will probably decline, I don’t necessarily view that as being a benefit to society. To me, that just means people can get “drunker” for the same amount of money!

Yes, sales volume would probably increase, which would generate more revenue for the government. However, do we really want or need to make it easier to provide alcohol to the people of Pennsylvania? I vote no! Pennsylvania has enough problems; do we really need one more?

Besides, the places I shop at are already jammed full of groceries and other items. If beer, wine, or other liquor is added to the shelf that means those other items will be reduced or eliminated thereby limiting my choices of the normal items I purchase!

April 19, 2007

My Quest Continues

One of my "goals" is to get a comment published in one of the many magazines I get each month. I have posted a few of the comments on this blog in the past and here is another one that sent to Money magazine this morning.

In the May 2007 issue there are two articles about saving for retirement. One states that some people may be saving too much based upon the online calculators. The other article says that saving the traditional 10% of your income may not be enough.


Now we are all confused!

I agree with Laurence Kotlikoff in “The Nest-Egg Philosopher” interview by Josh Hyatt in the May 2007 issue of Money magazine. Those online retirement calculators are a good way to get an estimate of what you will need to save, but there are many more factors that need to be taken into consideration when planning for retirement.

Of course, about 25 pages later, Walter Updegrave gives his view on how only saving 10% is not enough, which again may or may not be right depending on the individual’s situation. So what are we to do?

The best advice is to figure things out for yourself. If you do not have the ability, then find a trusted professional retirement planner that can review your situation and create a customized plan for you. It may cost a little bit of money for the advice now, but it is much better than being in a lot of trouble later in life!

Not my best thoughts, so I doubt that this one will get published. At least I tried though!

April 12, 2007

The Covenant People

I finished reading the three book series entitled “The Covenant People” by Mordecai Soloff. This series is geared toward the younger Jewish student and I was really hoping they would provide a good foundation of Jewish history.

I must say, they were very disappointing. They read more like propaganda than a history book. The copyright on these books seems more restrictive than others, therefore, I will not quote any material from the books. In fact, in my opinion, the books are not even worthy of debate or discussion.

That being said, I found several inaccuracies in the books that made me question the validity and accuracy of the series. The inaccuracies ranged from the view of Abraham and Moses to events happening around World War II. There is an obvious bias to these books.

This is one series of books that you can safely skip over. I have one more book to read on Jewish history titled “A History of the Jews” by Solomon Grayzel.

April 10, 2007

1.4 Million Outstanding Warrants in PA

Pennsylvania implemented a new statewide computer system to keep track of arrest warrants issued. The total number of outstanding warrants is over 1.4 million!

According to the census bureau, Pennsylvania’s population was about 12.4 million people for 2006. That means about 11% of Pennsylvania’s population consists of criminals on the loose!

Actually, most of the warrants (1.2 million) are for minor offenses (failure to appear, traffic violations, drug offenses, etc). But, that still leaves 200,000 violent offenders out there.

This morning I decided to help out. I went to PA Crime Stoppers and searched through the listings. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize any names.

April 05, 2007

Diversification in Investing

Today’s topic is about investing and how simple it can be for you. I strongly recommend people under the age of 40 invest money on their own. At the very least, they need to take advantage of any retirement savings through their company.

The easiest way to invest is through Mutual Funds. I recommend no-load mutual funds and low expense funds as well (no commissions, no sales fees, and less than 1% management fee (even lower for straight index funds).

I recommend for the average person to keep the following allocation:

  • 50% Large Cap
  • 20% Small Cap
  • 20% International
  • 10% Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

This will create a well-diversified portfolio, which should compete rather nicely with the market while minimize the risk to any one segment of the market. I started using this strategy in 2002 and have matched or beat the market as measured by the DOW and S&P 500 each year.

You can easily open an account with a mutual fund company and have your money invested into funds according to the allocation above.

Several good companies to invest with are:
T. Rowe Price
ING Direct

A simple way to start would be to take $1,000 and invest $250 in each type of fund mentioned above. Then add a set amount each month (say $100) according to your allocation. Each company has its own minimum investment requirements so you will need to observe those restrictions.

Once a year adjust your holdings so they are close to the desired allocations. You can do this all at once, by selling those holdings which have risen above your desired allocation and purchasing those holdings which are below your desired allocation. What I do, however, is simply adjust my future allocations by putting more money toward those holdings which are below my desired allocation level.

The complaint I hear most often is, “I don’t have $100 a month to invest!” Most people do, they just don’t realize it. Get rid of the $50 a month cell phone bill that you don’t really need and replace it with a tracfone. Then get rid of the $50 a month cable bill and get a subscription to an interesting magazine and join a library. Two slight changes to your lifestyle will get you that $100 a month.

Finally, you need to remember that this plan will probably not make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. It is a simple way to provide a retirement income for yourself.

April 03, 2007


I just finished reading an article about some schools in the United Kingdom that are removing the Holocaust from their history lessons so as not to offend Muslims and other Holocaust deniers. I have never thoroughly studied WWII. I really only know the basic facts that everyone knows or at least I thought everyone knows. From my very limited knowledge, I don’t understand how anyone can deny the Holocaust! As for teachers and schools not wanting to teach a part of history just because it might upset a group of people is outrageous.

This past weekend I also finished watching the Band of Brothers mini-series. I do not know how accurately the movie portrayed the book nor do I know how accurately the book portrayed what really happened, but even if it was only half true it is really incredible what those men had to go through to fight for the freedoms of not only Americans but the rest of the world as well! I still have the bonus material DVD to watch, so that may provide some more insight into the movie, book, or actual events.

April 02, 2007

Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave

I finished reading the book “Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave” by Dave Breese. The book is about seven people who changed the way the world thinks about life and how their ideas still resonate today.

You may not have heard of these people before, but I’ll bet you are familiar with their ideas!

The seven men and their ideas are:

  • Charles Darwin – Theory of evolution
  • Karl Marx – Communism
  • Julius Wellhausen – Biblical “scholar” who created a “new” way of looking at the Bible (Religious Liberalism)
  • Sigmund Freud – Psychoanalysis of people and how sexual instinct controls all beings
  • John Dewey – Educational reform by encouraging a child to “grow” as apposed to learning
  • John Maynard Keynes – Economics and governmental influence on society
  • Soren Kierkegaard – Existentialism (each person is responsible to themselves)

If you have any interest in the characters mentioned above, I would highly recommend reading the book or at least the chapter on the person you are interested in. Essentially, the conclusion is the same, each of these people moved the thinking away from God and towards man, government, and other worldly things.

March 30, 2007

Gun Control

The Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering stricter gun laws (House Bill 760)

In Summary the Firearm Registration Act states:

  • all firearms in PA will be registered
  • you will not be issued a registration certificate if you have been convicted of a violent crime or in the past 5 years of narcotic or other dangerous drug use or possession
  • each person registering a firearm will be photographed and fingerprinted
  • the registration will be renewed annually
  • require the owner to report the gun missing within 48 hours
  • require the owner to report any changes in their address or other information within 48 hours
  • require the owner to return the certificate for a firearm that is missing or sold within 48 hours
  • the fee is set at $10 for each registration and renewal

While to many people this Act may sound like a great idea, it is actually just another way for the government to intrude on the lives of private citizens. Oh and a way for them to collect more money too! If this Act is passed into law it will probably be contested and found to be unconstitutional.

I know many people that own guns, none of those people have ever murdered anyone or used their firearm to commit a crime. Most of the people hunt, others simply like to target shoot, while others just like guns! These are normal, ordinary, everyday citizens like me.

This should be a wake-up call to all Pennsylvanians. Pay attention to what the government is doing and tell them exactly what you think. Then use your power at the voting booth to get rid of the career politicians and put the government back into the hands of the citizens.

What’s next? Being forced to have some type of permanent id tattooed on our body in order to participate in the activities of society (check out Revelation 13:16-17 for more information on this).

Just for the record, I do not currently nor have I ever owned a gun. I don’t have anything against guns. I am just a sissy and have never found a gun (besides a .22) that doesn’t knock me over when firing! See Turkey Day 2006 for my gun story.