March 26, 2008

It’s the Law!

One of Pennsylvania’s motor vehicle laws is to turn on your headlights when your wipers are in use. It increases your visibility and it just makes sense. Each time it rains or snows though I see many, many drivers with their wipers on but no headlights. Unbelievable. So my new game is to flash my headlights at them. I wonder if the Police pull people over for this?

The other thing that bugs me are the people that get into the left turn only lane and then instead of turning they pass me. I have seen the Police pull people over for this and it does bring a smile to my face.

Laws are laws. Whether we agree with them or not, they are to be obeyed. If you don’t agree use legal methods to protest or change the laws. Turning on your headlights does not decrease the performance of your vehicle. Waiting another 3 seconds to pass will not make you late for work!

March 25, 2008

Heating Season is Over!

Each week the price of oil and propane are released by the US Government Energy Information Administration Department.

I routinely monitor these prices to gauge what the price of heating oil will cost me for a fill up. I have about a ¼ of a tank left, so I will be ordering some fuel oil soon. I went to the website and to my surprise I see the following message:

"The Heating Season is Over"

What? It was 20 degrees yesterday morning and 18 degrees outside this morning. The heating season is over? I guess the government forgot to tell Pennsylvania this important information.

What can you expect from the government though. They get a little mixed up sometimes. Just like Hilliary’s recollection of her trip to Bosnia 12 years ago. They ran for cover according to her, but the video shows them chatting with people and shaking hands!

Oh well. Hopefully, next year we will have a pellet stove installed and keep our house a little warmer at a lower cost.

March 24, 2008

No TV - Here we come!

I tried out a analog to digital signal converter to see what will happen next February when all the stations go digital. I only got one channel! So I decided to send the nice folks at the FCC an e-mail. I'll post any response I may get from them.


I live in rural Pennsylvania and am concerned about the mandatory “upgrade” to the digital broadcasting system in February of 2009.

Currently I receive the follow channels with my outdoor antenna:
KDKA – CBS (channel 2)
WTAE – ABC (channel 4)
WJAC – NBC (channel 6)
WWCP – FOX (channel 8)
WTAJ – CBS (channel 10)

When I installed the analog to digital converter I was only able to get channel 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 (WJAC – NBC). This is the station that is located closest to me as well.

I believe all of the stations are currently broadcasting in digital format as well as the analog standard.

Does this mean next February I will no longer have access to these other stations or will they be able to boost their power so us rural people will not be forced into purchasing satellite TV (which I will not do)?

It seems strange, that if this is an “update” that I would actually LOOSE my ability to watch TV even after making the necessary updates to my TV with the converter box!
Thanks for any help you can provide.

March 22, 2008

Johnstown makes the NY Times again!

The Johnstown area made the NY Times news paper once again.

The article talks about the voters of this town and how they aren't sure who they will vote for or why beause the steel mills are closed and the coal mines are closing too. You can read the article at the above link if interested. Below is my response to the author:

In the Heart of Pennsylvania!

The people of Johnstown always seem to amaze me. Not sure who they are going to vote for, because the steel mills and coal mines are closed and the economy is down. Too bad. I can't seem to find many blacksmiths around the area either!

It is also amazing how none of the people in your article mentioned the Pork King Murtha and how he has brought millions and millions of dollars into the area ($162 million last year!). Sure the downtown area is rather depressed, but the surrounding area has grown, thanks to Murtha and the taxpayers around the nation.

The people of Johnstown need to wake up and stop looking for a handout and start working on their own. Johnstown was "something" at one point in time and can be something again if the people are willing to work for it! Once Murtha is no longer in office, I suspect Johnstown and the surrounding area will be in worse shape when that "pork" money is suddenly gone.

Thanks for the article. It is nice to see smaller towns get in the big papers!

March 18, 2008

What is your money in Suze?

I finished reading an interview with Suze Orman, you know her, she is the famous lady giving out all of the common sense financial advice to people. She is like the Oprah of finance. Her advice pretty much sounds like everyone else’s. Limit spending, cut debt, save, and invest in the stock market.

It sounds simple to do but how do you actually do it? On her PBS shows and her books she uses examples but they are usually rather extreme. Of course, if I move from Silicon Valley to Doe Valley I will save a ton of money in living expenses and taxes. However, I already live in Doe Valley! How do I save money?

Here are some questions and answers from the article: (Note: I changed the wording to read between the lines.)

Interviewer: So Suze, how did you make all of your money?
Suze: Giving the same simple advice to the same stupid people. It doesn’t matter if it is through my over-priced lectures, annoying PBS fundraising shows, my books that all say the same thing, or my "repeat myself over and over again" TV shows. It is the same advice. People just don’t get it, so I do!

Interviewer: Do you still recommend people to invest in the stock market?
Suze: Absolutely, the stock market is the best place to keep your money for the long-term.

Interviewer: So you have all of your money in the stock market right?
Suze: No, 99% of my money is in zero-coupon municipal bonds! I want to maintain my lifestyle of flying on a private jet to my many houses around the world.

Interviewer: How much do you need to be considered wealthy?
Suze: $100 million. That will give you about $2.5 million a year after taxes at today’s yields.

What a gal! She brags about the millions and millions of dollars she has to her name. I just can’t understand why people follow her. I have read or at least skimmed through a couple of her books and her advice does make sense. I have watched her on PBS and have not always agreed with what she says to do.

Each person’s situation is a little different, but in general spending less, cutting debt, saving and investing makes sense! Of course, you can't forget where the money and other possessions came from in the first place!

March 17, 2008

Lay Speaking Message #3

Here is the third and final Lay Speaking message.

Hebrews 11:29-11:32a

The author of Hebrews gives us some examples of faith.

In Exodus chapter 14 and 15 the Israelites reached the shores of the Red Sea and the people feared for their life. But after Moses spoke to them and told them God’s blessing was upon them, they went forward in faith.

Moving ahead to Joshua 6, the people didn’t do anything physically clever or militarily sneaky to knock down the walls of Jericho, they simply followed God’s instructions in faith.

Rahab was not killed with everyone else. She acted in faith. These are just some examples of faith that we see in this chapter and throughout the Bible.

But what is faith? How do you define it? How do you describe it?

Thankfully, God gives us the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

So, faith is the substance of things hoped for. That is simply the current assurance of the future reality. This is making Christ Lord and Savior of your life, thereby giving you eternal life in heaven.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen. True faith is not based on empirical evidence, but on divine assurance. It is a gift of God. It is difficult to describe faith and as the author of Hebrews realizes it is much better and easier to show it.

Faith is a common attribute of God’s servants since the beginning of the world. God will do what He says He will do. The Bible gives us the true account of creation. Everything in it is true and we are to believe it. We aren’t to change or adjust what the Bible says to meet our needs or today’s standards. The Bible says what it says and God means what it says. So believe it, trust it, and obey it. It is the Word of God. We accept it and believe it through faith.

Great. How do I get faith? Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” In order to have faith you must hear the Word of God. This doesn’t involve simply having someone read it to you, but encompasses your reading, studying, meditating, and praying through the entire Bible. This is something that needs to be done regularly, preferably daily. You also need to realize that the Word of God is Christ. John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

How about you? It takes only a few minutes a day to read some scripture and then think about it throughout the day. Try it for a week or month, and you will indeed notice a difference in your life. Take time to be with Christ and hear the Word.

Prayer: Lord, we thank you for your Word and that it has been so well preserved over these many years. We ask that you continue to enable us to serve you and proclaim your Word to your people. AMEN.

March 14, 2008

Lady Bugs

Something fun for Friday.

It seems like when the weather warms a little bit we get hundreds of Lady Bugs all throughout the house. I am sure many of you have similar problems.

Today, I am looking for solutions to the problem. I am not a fan of pesticides or other toxic chemicals so those are not options.

I figure they should be attracted to something like a yellow jacket trap or sticky tape or something.

If I can’t find a way to kill them, then I will probably look for recipes to enjoy them for a light snack. I think they would make an interesting addition to a vanilla ice cream cone! Or may a party with those chocolate fountains.

A quick search of the internet finds things like, LadyBug Salad, LadyBug CupCakes, and LadyBug Drinks. Of course, none of the ingredients actually includes Lady Bugs.

Any thoughts, suggestions or solutions to the Lady Bug infestation?

March 13, 2008

Election 2008

Who will you be voting for?

Are you voting for Obama because he is black?

Are you voting for Clinton because she is female?

Are you voting for McCain because he is the elder of the group?

Many people are I am sure, but these are not reasons to vote for someone. You need to look at what they stand for. The best way to figure that out is to see what they have voted for in the past, not what they say now to get your vote. Look at what they have done.

To start with, for about the past year Obama and Clinton (as well as McCain, but to a lesser extent) have not even shown up for their daily jobs! How is this acceptable? If I didn’t show up for my job I would be fired!

Second, look at their voting record. What do they stand for by the votes they have cast? I am going to let you in on a little secret. Usually, politicians say one thing, but do something different when it is time for action.

Finally, look at what they are saying before the election. If what they say is consistent with what they have done in the past and you support those actions, then vote for them. Then as their term comes to an end, review their promises versus what they actually did. If the two don’t match, then vote for someone else the next time.

No one should be president just because they are black, female, old, rich, Republican, Democratic or whatever. The United States needs a president that believes in America and wants to better the nation by taking us back to the roots which this country was founded on.

March 12, 2008

Lay Speaking Message #2

Here is the second short message prepared for my Lay Speaking class.

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

Before we read the scripture, I want to provide some background. Saul is King during this time and is sent by Samuel to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites. But Saul spared the life of Agag and kept the best goods (sheep, ox, lambs).

God tells Samuel the things Saul did in direct disobedience to God. When Saul sees Samuel, he greets him by telling him that he obeying God’s command. In the background Samuel could hear the bleating of the sheep. Samuel has Agag brought to him and Samuel “hacked Agag in pieces before the Lord.” (1 Samuel 15:33)

God then tells Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint a new king.

(Read verse 16:4-7)

So we see Samuel going to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem and anointing David. This is the first of three anointings for David, with his family here, later before his tribe of Judah (2 Samuel 2:7) and finally before the nation Israel (2 Samuel 5:3).

Looking at the process though, Samuel thought the first son he saw, Eliab, was the one. He must have appeared strong and “kingly” looking. But God reminds his prophet Samuel that He knows the heart of a person. The heart embodies your will, your desires, emotions, and intelligence.

A good heart does good things and an evil heart does evil things. Now that doesn’t mean a person with a good heart is perfect. Look at David’s life while he was King. Sure, he had some great victories, but he also sinned. He had an innocent man (Uriah) killed so he could take his wife (Bathsheba). David confessed his sin, he did not make excuses like Saul. God forgave him, but he had to suffer the consequences of his actions.

Forgiveness does not always remove the earthly consequences of your sin, only the eternal consequences.

But what about Saul? He confessed his sin too right? Well yes, but he blamed the people and his confession sounds more like regret or sorry that he got caught, not necessarily sorry for what he did by disobeying the Lord. See the difference?

What does your heart say? When you get caught sinning by others or have wronged others are you sorry because you got caught or does your heart truly and genuinely ache for forgiveness from your sin?

Prayer:Lord, we ask that you cleanse our minds, bodies and souls, so that we may have a pure heart. Enable us to forgive others as you have forgiven us. AMEN

March 07, 2008

Today’s Thoughts

Last night we were at Wal*Mart doing our shopping, when I noticed a couple of birds flying around. This is not an unusual sight. Typically a few birds get inside the store and seem to live there for a while.

I started to wonder what happens to the birds? I determined there were a few possibilities.

  1. The birds fly back out on their own.
  2. The birds are chased out by employees, but this is probably not the case since Wal*Mart prides itself on efficiency and having employees run around the store chasing birds does not seem very efficient.
  3. At night, the employees test out the pellet guns and shoot the birds, this would not be the PETA approved method.
  4. Maybe they simply wait for the birds to die from starvation, dehydration, or exhaustion and then remove them.

Anybody have any other thoughts as to how they remove the birds? The next time I am at Wal*Mart I’ll have to ask them.

March 06, 2008

Al Gore

Once again, I was thinking about this global warming stuff. Is it real or simply hype, I don’t know. I know we should not abuse the environment, but we can’t worship it either.

Anyways, I was thinking, in particular, about our friend Al Gore. He has gone from barely being a millionaire in 2001 to being worth possibly over $100 million today.

Is he an idiot or a marketing/business genius? He has created fear over the environment. To alleviate that fear, he has also created companies that he personally benefits from. Plus, he lectures for a fee and is also a member of numerous board’s which he gets a fee from many of them.

I ask again, is he an idiot? Maybe, but I’ll bet he is laughing all the way to the bank at the other idiots that give him all this money! Of course, the mentality of people like this tend to start to believe in the lies they tell. Think of the Clinton’s, I believe they think they tell the truth! Al Gore isn’t much different.

No wonder he didn’t want to run for President, the President only makes $400,000 a year. Al Gore only needs to give 4 lectures to make $400,000! What a deal.

March 05, 2008

Something Different

For the past 6 Sunday's, I have attended Lay-Ministries school as part of the United Methodist Church. The purpose of the program is to train and education lay-people for service in the Church. The course I took was the basic layspeaking course. Below are my “notes” from my first message/meditation.

Lay-Speaking Message #1

Mark 1:1-8

Verse by verse explanation:
(1) Mark begins the Gospel abruptly and authoritatively. This is “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” BOOM! He skips over the birth and starts with the beginning of Christ’s public ministry.

(2-3)To further explain what he is writing about, he mentions two portions of scripture, Malachi 3:1-6 and Isaiah 40:1-11. Malachi refers to John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ and Isaiah is referring to Christ as the shepherd.

(4)Now we see John in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance. John’s baptism signified cleansing and purifying, repentance from sin, but also forgiveness from that sin. Whenever we witness to others, we need tell people to repent or turn away from their sin, but also explain and give them hope in the fact that when they do turn from their sin, they will be forgiven.

(5) We then see the initial response and impact of John’s preaching. Many people were coming to John, listening to him and repenting of their sins. There was a lot of religious enthusiasm, but John had to warn the Pharisees to change their actions to go along with their words of repentance. (Matthew 3:7 – Brood of Vipers)

(6) Verse 6 describes John’s appearance, there is some symbolism here. John is wearing a coat made from Camel’s hair, according to the Levitical law, a camel was an unclean animal. This showed the Israelites were in rebellion against God and needed cleansed. John ate wild honey. Usually, honey is associated with salvation, however, in this case it is wild honey and shows that the Israelites were feeding on things other than God. Of course, locusts always signify God’s wrath or judgment.

(7) We see that John is a humble man and knows who is about to come.

(8) Mark finally tells us about the baptism that will occur. As we know, the word baptism means to wash, cleanse, or purify. It indicates that our sins have been washed away. Baptism with water and the Holy Spirit, are there two baptisms? No. Our sins are cleansed when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Water baptism is an outward sign of the internal, spiritual washing that has been completed by Christ (1 Peter 3:21-22).

Going Further:
Another aspect of baptism, one that many people overlook, is the fact that you are part of God’s family and it is now your duty to proclaim His word. You are now “qualified” to declare His message of salvation to the world. Every believer has the responsibility of building up and motivating and comforting mankind (1 Cor 14:3).

In the Old Testament, there were only a few prophets, so there were few faithful believers. When Jesus came he trained the twelve and sent them out. They had limited success. Then there were 70 and then 500 after Christ’s resurrection, so there still weren’t many believers.

Then we read in Acts 1:4-5 about some final information Jesus gave His disciples. “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, he said, you have heard from me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Even though, they were believers, they still lacked something. The Holy Spirit was not poured out on them yet. When they did receive the Holy Spirit remember what happened? Peter preached one sermon and 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:41). This shows the dramatic difference between their past and future ministries.

When you were saved, the moment you accepted Christ into your life, the Holy Spirit came to live with you. You were filled with the Holy Spirit. All Christians have the Spirit of God dwelling in them (compare Romans 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:19). The goal is to let that spirit, the power of God, to work in your life.

Everyday we make decisions in our life. The Spirit-filled life yields those decisions to the control of the Spirit dwelling in them. The only way to activate the power of the Holy Spirit is to ask. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” This simply means to pray about everything that is happening in your life as well as the life of others. As you ask God for guidance and direction, He activates the Holy Spirit inside of you and empowers you. The Spirit-filled life is like living every moment as if Christ were standing next to you. Because He is!

All believers are qualified and commanded to share God’s word. Have you?


We thank you Lord, for sending us your Son, who is that Good News. Enable us to use the Spirit that you have placed in each of us to proclaim your Word to your people. We ask this knowing that this is what Jesus wants for our lives. AMEN.

March 04, 2008

Another Good Deal!

As many of you know, I am the ultimate cheapskate. However, there is a point where being cheap can also be hazardous to your health! My 1997 Tracker was a good vehicle, but the problems were mounting and I was going to have a nice sized repair bill before the inspection in May. Plus the vehicle didn’t seem to handle the road well when those coal trucks would go flying by me at 90MPH! I was blow off the road into a ditch more than once.

A couple of Saturday’s ago, I decided I wanted to test drive a new Suzuki SX4 Crossover. My requirements for a new vehicle were simple: cheap, 4wd/awd, reasonably fuel efficient, automatic, and cheap. Oh and did I mention cheap.

We head to the local dealership and test one out. The sales lady was ready to sell us a car that day. I just wanted to test drive one. We play the game and give the sales lady our time and attention. They try to sell me the vehicle for $15,200 with my trade-in. I just smile and say no. Then she lowers the price and keeps lowering it until she gets to $13,500. I told her to check with her managers to see if she can sell it for that low.

An hour later she comes back with $14,500. I said no and am ready to leave, but can’t because she has my car keys! That was a sneaky little tactic that I learned. She goes back and talks to the managers again. This time, he comes out and says “Can you give me $500 and go $14,000.”

Nope, $13,500 was the max I was paying for that car if they were going to sell it to me. 30 minutes later the manager comes back and says “You got it.” It took about another hour to complete the deal, but I think it was well worth it.

We got the base model, Azure Gray, automatic, A/C, abs, power everything, and awd. Not bad for $13,500, financed at 4.74% for 3 years.

I did some Internet searching and have not found anyone getting this vehicle for less than $14,200, so I think I did indeed get a deal. I guess it is true, go car shopping when you don’t need one and make sure it is the last Saturday of the month!

March 03, 2008

Another Month - some more good deals

Wow, only two posts for me in February, that is pretty bad. It was an especially busy month and there wasn't much time to get my work done, let along sit around and think about what to write here.

Anyways, after getting the good deal on AAA I thought I would pass along some other "games" I play with companies. I currently get quite a few magazines each month (Kiplingers, Popular Mechanics, Money, WorkBench, SmartMoney, and so on). I refuse to pay more than $10.00 a year for a subscription.

So I let the subscription run out and then a few months go by and they give me a deal for $10 to renew for another year. Then after I renew they send me another deal, extend your subscription now another year for only $10. So I do.

I know, this isn't the most creative blog I've had, but I wanted to pass along the information to others, this way everyone can benefit.