Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Be a Henson, Not a Peary

People usually seem to break down into one of two types as we get to know them: nice people and jerks. While it seems that the majority of the glory goes to jerks because they get things done, once in a while a nice guy gets the top spot.

I don't know anything about Arctic exploration so I'm getting my information from the article I link to below. It tells about Robert Peary and Matthew Henson. While Peary is usually noted to be a great Arctic explorer, he couldn't have done it without Matthew Henson -- a black man that Peary considered inferior.

Peary was your typical jackass -- he had to be on top and right all the time. He couldn't be bothered with other people, unless they were pulling him out of frigid waters. All that mattered was what he wanted and that he got the credit for it.

Henson, on the other hand, was the de facto leader of the crew over their several expeditions. He connected with the Eskimos and learned their language. He was respected by them and the men on the expedition. He was a hard worker and always worked on expanding his skills.

I think about this because it's report card time at school. While I push my kids to do well in school, I try to temper it. I want them to succeed like Henson, not Peary. Because if you're a jerk, success doesn't really matter. People do, and the kids need to learn that.

You can find the original article here. It's a very good article and I would recommend taking the time to read all of it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Build a Killer Pinewood Derby Car

Brett and Kaye McCay at The Art of Manliness have an excellent article about building a great Pinewood derby car.

Their suggestions:

  1. Remember, he’s supposed to do most of the work.

  2. Check the rules. Different packs have different rules.

  3. Trace the template on the block of wood.

  4. Cut the block.

  5. Prepare the axle slots.

  6. Drill holes for the weight.

  7. Sand.

  8. Paint and finish.

  9. Check the wheels.

  10. Polish the axles.

  11. Mount the wheels.

  12. Lubricate the axles.

  13. Add the weight and seal the holes.

Building Pinewood derby cars isn't just for boys. The parachurch Awana group, which reaches out to kids, also hosts a similar contest and uses the same cars. You can find the site for their Awana Grand Prix here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Different Types of Manliness

Over at the blog "The Art of Manliness", Brett and Kate McCay write about the 6 different types of manliness. They break down the pros and cons of each type and list some examples of each type.

  • The Warrior

  • The Lone Wolf

  • The Adventurer

  • The Gentleman

  • The Statesman

  • The Family Man

They say it's not possible to combine all of the types in equal parts into one person, but I'm not sure that's right. Some of the traits are diametrically opposed to others -- such as the ferocity of the warrior and the diplomacy of the statesman. But that doesn't mean that they both can't exist in the same person. There is a time to talk and a time to act, for example.

I think Jesus did the best job of embodying all of these values. He exhibited the traits of each type. Some examples:

  • He could be fierce and angry, as in when he upset the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13)

  • He was an individualist and would stand up against the authorities (Matthew 23). He called them hypocrites and a brood of vipers. Do you think that's going to win him friends with the authorities?

  • He was an adventurer in that he intended to go out to new places. He sent his disciples to spread the word, not stay at home to preach (Matthew 10).

  • He could show mercy and diplomacy (John 4:4-26).

So what does this have to do with being a dad? I think it's a great thing to model. My son needs to see that kind of model so he can grow up to be a strong man, who will stand up for what's right. My daughter needs to see that kind of model so that she can grow up to stand firm and to find a man who will cherish her like she deserves.

I am often times a poor imitation of it, but if I keep it up my kids may just turn out to be better at it than I am.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sexualizing 5-year-olds

The U.N. has decided to recommend sex education for kids as young as 5. They break ages down into several groups: 5-8, 9-12, 12-15 and 15-18. For 5-year-olds, they want to teach things like the definition of masturbation; that there are certain areas that boys and girls have that feel good when touched; and much more.

It gives you a whole new picture for kindergarten show and tell, doesn't it?

The original article on the report can be found here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Staying Organized

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

It seems like staying organized is a constant challenge for parents -- at least it seems that way to me. With kids around, work schedules, school activities, house work, and more, there is always something to keep me too busy to really plan.

Crawl Before You Can Walk

I remember the Daytimer craze when I was younger. In movies and in the real world, executives and others were carrying around black notebooks that organized their time, contacts and more. Of course, that was before the advent of the Internet. The Daytimer didn't really appeal to me but then I didn't have a lot to organize.

I started a few years ago by trying to write things down. I kept the events on the calendar at home and the contacts in an address book next to the calendar. It didn't work real well because I didn't have the information available when I went out. If something came up while I was out I had to write it down on a scrap of paper and remember to transfer it when I got home. Not foolproof by any means.

Learning to Walk

Then I moved to a Palm Pilot to store things. I kept all of my events in Google Calendar and bought a program called GooSync to sync the Palm Pilot and the Google Calendar. That worked okay. Anyone who has used a Palm Pilot knows it can be frustrating to put in anything lengthy. I still hadn't found a good way to sync my contacts by the time I accidentally crushed the screen. Palm wanted $150 to repair the screen. Time to move on and find something different.

I kept the Google Calendar and started using Gmail to work with my home email account. If I needed to add an event or something, I sent a text to my email account and it was there the next time I logged on. It saved me lots of scrap paper and I had a copy on my phone for a while. I didn't have a way to access my calendar or email so it wasn't a perfect system but it was workable.

Running with the Big Dogs

Then my contract with Verizon came due and I was eligible for a new phone. I looked longingly at the iPhones and considered switching. Then I compared it with the Blackberry Storm and found what I was looking for -- and found it for less than an iPhone. Ahhhh, heaven for a frugal geek like me. I downloaded Google Sync and it syncs my calendar, contacts and email in the background. It has a massive storage card so it has now taken the place of my MP3 player. I put the Facebook application on it and I am in contact in every way possible -- email, phone, text message and Facebook. I still use my computer at work and home to access things when possible but the phone works well for when I am away.

This system works for me because I'm comfortable with having a single device with me that takes care of everything. If you aren't comfortable with cell phones this won't work for you.

Your Turn

Does anyone else have suggestions on how you stay organized? What are your challenges with staying organized?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Good Education

Lynnae at has a question about fixing education. She has just started home schooling her kids. She has been hearing a lot in the news, as we all have, about the state of education for kids in the U.S.

I have been lucky because the kids are in a fantastic school. Most of the students are motivated and the school is very involved in the community. Businesses hand out prizes for reading goals and support different activities at the school.

Schools are beset by all kinds of problems that impact learning. We have thrown more and more money at the school systems but the state of our kids' education isn't changing much. Money is obviously not the issue (in my humble opinion).

Lynnae takes the approach that parents have a lot of influence in kids' education. I can certainly vouch for that. Kids are going to have a hard time committing things to memory if they only review things in school. I spend a lot of time with my kids going over math flash cards, spelling words, you name it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Health Care Letter

There has been a lot of discussion lately about overhauling health care. Here is my take on the whole mess. I sent it to the Indianapolis Star, the New York Times, the Omaha World-Herald, the LA Times, CBS and my representatives in Congress, Ben Nelson, Mike Johanns and Lee Terry. So far I have not heard a thing from the newspapers or my elected representatives.

My name is Dave Campbell. I am a private citizen that is sick and tired of this debacle of health care reform. No true debate is going on. We have Democrats looking to take over more of the economy, weak Republicans with no solid ideas of their own, a partisan press and an apathetic electorate. Health care has been an issue for years. We have huge costs for coverage and care providers. Some people are shut out by the private insurers because of pre-existing conditions. Jackpot justice in the courts drives up costs incredibly. Seriously, the door handles on court rooms should be changed to slot machine handles. It would be more appropriate. Politicians have blathered on about reform but only recently have they gotten serious.

The plans put forth by our so-called leaders, however, don’t address these issues. They only create new problems and shift the burden of paying to all of us, even those of us that have private insurance.

President Obama wants health care reform at all costs. He and the Democrats are pushing with everything they have to nationalize approximately 17% of the U.S. gross domestic product (1). This is a huge issue but they want to rush it. Obama says the reforms would bring greater "inefficiencies" (2) to the health care system. Assuming that was a Freudian slip and he didn't really mean that, let's look at the federal government's track record.

Let's keep in mind here that most of these politicians, including Obama, have NO EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE running private industry. Profit and watching costs are not something these people are used to. "Budget" is just a buzz word because they will spend what they want, no matter what the original plan. Name one government program that not grown over the years. Name one government program that has closed down because it accomplished its goal.

The government intended Amtrak to be a for-profit enterprise but it has yet to achieve that goal. In 2007, the government decided to quit hoping Amtrak could ever turn a profit (3). The post office has had many rate hikes over the years and yet still cannot operate efficiently. It has been looking at closing offices and ending Saturday delivery (4).

How well has the government done at health care for our veterans? How many people remember the terrible conditions found at VA hospitals? Broken wheelchairs, mice, torn robes and mold at Walter Reed. Fruit flies, overflowing trash and syringes in the open at Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Peeling paint, mold, non-working windows and no nurses at Fort Knox (5).

The costs involved in these reform proposals is staggering. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the legislation would cost $1.3 trillion during its first decade: $438 billion for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, $53 billion in tax credits for small businesses that offer health insurance to their employees, and $773 billion in subsidies for a government-administered "insurance exchange" in which people could choose among various health plans, including a newly created "public option." Also keep in mind that government spending, especially on health care programs, tends to be much higher than anticipated. "When Medicare was launched in 1965," note Cato Institute policy analysts Michael Tanner and Chris Edwards, "Part A was projected to cost $9 billion by 1990, but ended up costing $67 billion. When Medicaid's special hospitals subsidy was added in 1987, it was supposed to cost $100 million annually, but it already cost $11 billion by 1992." (6)

Supporters point to countries like Canada and Great Britain to show that socialized medicine works. Canada, however, is moving back to a single-payer system because their experience has been so awful. Long waits extending to YEARS, bureaucrats deciding treatment and more. Private insurance is outlawed. Great Britain and Europe have their own problems, where state-of-the-art drugs are not available to patients. In 2003, 15,000 elderly people died in France during a heat wave because many doctors were on vacation and hospitals were overflowing. (7)

The American Medical Association is not on board with all of this. “The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.” (8) And yet Nancy Pelosi is adamant about a public plan. “A bill will not come out of the House without a public option,” she said (9). The Mayo Clinic, long a darling of liberals and progressives, is also against it (10).

Some people, myself included, say this public option will run private insurers out of business (11). Health insurance is a major expense for businesses so when a public option at half the price comes along, how many businesses will remain loyal to their providers? (12)

While the Democrats are happily plotting to make government even bigger, the Republicans have not put forth any real reforms. Anything they put forth sounds an awful lot like the Democratic plans. Instead of addressing the fundamental problems they propose more government interference. Really, I can't tell which party is more pro-government.

Just as bad as the politicians in this are the media. When it comes to covering Obama, you act like giddy cheerleaders ogling the star quarterback. Change into some dry shorts and ask yourselves if he wants you for you or for what you can do for him. Is it any wonder newspapers are going bankrupt and trust for newscasters is so low? I can put together an article with all kinds of sources but you can't seriously dig and investigate. You're supposed to be watchdogs, not lapdogs. Do us a favor and go back to journalism school to learn the basics, you worthless partisan hacks.

The only real chance for reform that isn't going to negatively affect us is going to have to come from the American public. Let's face it, the politicians only care about the next election. Doing the right thing is only an option if it will get them elected. If you want them to do the right thing, you need to get in touch with your representatives and let them know. Get the facts on your own; the press isn't going to do it for you.

Buy your KY now and pray Obama Care covers proctologists, because we’re all going to need it if this legislation passes.

1. The National Coalition on Health Care (2009). Facts About Health Care

Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

2. Obama, Barack (2009, July 20)
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

3. Policy Archive (June 2002). "Amtrak Profitability: An Analysis of Congressional Expectations at Amtrak's Creation"
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

4. Big Money, The (2009, June 26). "Could Your Post Office Be Closing?"
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

5. Priest, Dana and Hull, Anne (2007, March 5). "It's Not Just Walter Reed". The Washington PostRetrieved July 24, 2009, from

6. Sullum, Jacob (2009, July 22). "Paying a Premium for Insurance". Reason Online.
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

7. Gratzer, David (2007). "The Ugly Truth About Canadian Health Care"
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

8. Pear, Robert (2009, June 10). "Doctors' Group Opposes Public Insurance Plan", The New York Times
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

9. Pear, Robert (2009, June 10). "Doctors' Group Opposes Public Insurance Plan", The New York Times
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

10. "Mayo Clinic's Reaction to House Tri-Committee Bill", The Mayo Clinic. (2009, July 16)
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

11. "Critics Question Obama's Assertion No One Would Be Forced to Change Health Plans", Fox News (2009, July 23).
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

12. "It's Not an Option". The Investor's Business Daily (2009, July 15)
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from