Blog

Fear and Opportunity

These two seemingly opposing concepts are at the heart of a lot of decissions that people make. In reality, the strongest concept is that of fear. Fear is a paralyzing force that prevents many people from even recognizing and acting on an opportunity, yet is the same reason for acting on the same. I’ll explain.

I trade stocks in the morning. Yes, when the market opens, I spend about a half hour in that harrowing experience known as intraday trading also known as Day Trading. If you just watch the stock market you can see that it moves up and down all day long. For me, I just need to know which direction and catch the move much like a surfer catches a good wave. The move is usually short lived and can turn on a dime. Why does it turn? Fear. Why does it move fast in one direction? Fear…of missing out. FOMO.

In the market…you live to trade another day. That means you protect your account. You must have some confidence in what you are doing before you take a position on a stock. Then you protect against serious losses. You also must remember to take your profits along the way. Those who think that there may be a shortcut to winning will lose big and reinforce the fear.

The key to conquering the fear is to have a good mentor and a disciplined approach. If you have that, fear can be your friend and protector. If you don’t it will paralyze you and keep you from your ultimate potential.

I write this, not to be preachy…but to be teachy. I need to be reminded of this everyday. BTW I know that teachy is not a word…it just fit the context. No FEAR.

Schools Need to Vaccinate Everyone

You can do all of this and create the safest “system and physical plan,” but you cannot instill the self discipline in younger children that will make those plans and protocols work.

For years, the people writing the regulations for schools have been so disconnected from the reality of education that they have created the dismal failure that exists in our schools. This only really hurts the students…and what do they know? They have to do what they are told…right? Right? Right!!!! Every teacher knows the answer to this question and now so do some parents who have been observant. The answer to that question is NO.

The pandemic and distance learning have shown clearly that we have a large number of students being left out because of lack of technology but also the lack of supervision. Sending your child to school means that you can put the teacher in charge of “keeping your child in line” in addition to teaching the child the academics mandated by the State. If you have observed a ZOOM class online you can see that many students are misbehaving during their classes in front of their computers or checking out completely. There is no intervention by the adult physically in the room.

You can quote the CDC all you want. You can have the President say it is so. You can have the doctors agree on protocols. You can do all of this and create the safest “system and physical plan,” but you cannot instill the self discipline in younger children that will make those plans and protocols work. Every teacher knows this and now many parents do as well. Those parents are demanding to remain online until there is a vaccine . Which parents do you think will demand to have their children in school? Yes, the ones with very little self discipline or any discipline at home.

Teachers are in the high risk group. The age of a teacher could be 22 or 62 or somewhere in between and comorbidities increase with age. How do you know? The truth is…you don’t. There are immunization requirements before a person starts school for diseases that have all but been eradicated. We have a killer disease in our midst and vaccines that are becoming available more and more. Why the rush? Yes, it has been tough. Yes, you are tired but the idea that one year of this type of education will “do irreparable damage” to kids is ludicrous.

If you wanted to go to school to teach or to learn you would have to get a TB test. In 2019, 1.4 million people died of TB. In 2020, over 2.4 million people died of COVID 19. Both diseases are respiratory in that they are transmitted through the air on water droplets. TB is bacterial, has an ineffective vaccine, and is monitored by employment testing all over. COVID is a virus that has many promising vaccines but is behind the intervention curve in both diagnosis and immunizations. Why the rush? Putting people back into school even part time will not do anything to improve academics and will slow the real progress of getting a normal opening for the next academic year.

The rhetoric coming from Washington even in this new administration is very Trumpesque. It is not unusual for any administration to legislate schools into institutional obsolescence whether Republican or Democrat. It is unconscionable to politicize the profession to risk the very people we need to overcome the administrative stupidity that emanates from government at all levels for the sake of votes or feeling good. Lawmakers…it’s time for you to put on your Big Boy Pants and defend common sense.

Engagement on Social Media is Free Advertising

I have seen several people who have objected to my comment that if you support the events that took place today that I wish you to unfriend me. Normally, I don’t hold a person’s political views against them. I believe myself to be more conservative than liberal. I would be happy to continue to engage you with your opinions off of social media but I firmly believe that we got into this situation because of the algorithms built into social media that amplify this disagreement and contribute to divisiveness. Today, in lieu of trying to be “diplomatic”, I have purposely tried to draw out the people by giving my unbridled opinion. This way, my feed will not contribute to the ongoing virus that plagues America and I am not talking about Corona. Social Media started this mess and my social behavior will no longer tolerate it.

I have been following Donald Trump on Twitter only to know what and when he is tweeting. I believe his tweets are akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater which is illegal. I’ve seen him create the crisis and take a simmering dislike and bring it to a boiling hate. I am not participating in it. I have seen him use Christianity to achieve his own political goals and weaken Christianity as a faith. This is disgusting particularly when Christians are lining up right behind him and champion him forward.

If you want to debate this for real…do it here. If it appears on my social media, you can count on me deleting your comment and blocking your access to my life. This is for the greater good.

What Can I Do For You Today?

Harvey McKay relates a story about Lou Holtz where he said that the legendary coach of Notre Dame never ended a conversation without asking the question “what can I do for y0u today?”. People always appreciate help and encouragement and yet we seem to neglect just offering the help. I don’t know why but we do…at least I do…or I did.

Among all of my new years “resolutions”, I think that if I keep this idea in mind it will keep me focused and energized for today and make my tomorrows more compelling. Isn’t that just what we all need is a compelling tomorrow? I think so.

I won’t deny the virus or what it has done to our way of life. I also won’t let it paralyze me and cause me to have fear for the future. I will stay safe, smart and vigilant but I will also use my creativity and energies to improve the lives of others and therefore improve my own.

I hope you all have a great new year. Now…how can I help you today?

Do Unto Others

When I returned to California and I tried to resume my normal bicycling routine, I found that it was difficult to do the long rides up the mountain. It was colder and I was getting up later and later and there was a little more daylight. I started seeing more things of interest. One day, I rode past an iPhone just sitting in the bicycle lane. It was undamaged. Later that week, along the same area, I found a phone directory complete with websites and passwords. Finally, a month later, I was on a morning bike ride and I found a wallet complete with cash and an id.

I found a way to return all of these items to their rightful owners. I did it, knowing the panic that I would have been experiencing if I had lost these same items. I felt pretty good about what I did, but since one of the items were tossed from a stolen car, it reminded me that there are still evil opportunists out there and we must be careful.

I took a long bike ride the other day. I wanted to pick up donuts at the local Krispey Kreme. That is a short ride of 11 miles and I also wanted to go to a sporting goods store. When I go with shopping in mind, I clip on my trusty panier bags to the rear rack of my bicycle. After my last purchase, I turned for home. A 45 minute ride. When I arrived at home, I realized that one of my trusty paniers was missing. It was then that I felt that panic that I referenced.

Inside that bag was my wallet, my iPhone, my Bose Wireless Headphones and my action camera and charger. Actually, my whole life was now missing. I grabbed my Android phone and my wife and my car keys and headed out the door. Fortunately, I had a a tracker in my wallet and it was linked to my Android phone. I knew where my bag had fallen off of my bike and it was 8 miles away. I also know the bump that I hit. It was a stressful ride but that bag sat on the corner of the sidewalk untouched for over an hour.

When I settled down, I started thinking. No cash was taken from my wallet. My biggest concern is that there are a lot of homeless people who scavenge for whatever they can on the sides of the road. Nothing was touched. The phone, the earbuds, the charging case all had value and could be sold. I still have them. I feel relieved. I also feel that maybe I was being rewarded for my selfless actions from the previous weeks. Maybe…but maybe it was a wakeup call.

I recommend the trackers for your wallets. I also had my location available on my iPhone and if we thought of that, my wife could have tracked my iPhone as well, but at that time, I wasn’t aware that my iPhone was also in that bag. Furthermore, I will keep my wallet and small valuables in a string bag attached to my back instead of paniers which do have a tendency to detach when the road gets really rough. After some thought and reflection…I will keep my eye out for opportunities.

Missed Opportunity

One day before this happened, I was biking in Indio to another donut shop. (I have a problem with donuts). Well, when I left, I rode past a Starbucks where a girl sat tearing through a newspaper. She was clearly messed up and the newspaper littered the entire stoop. Concerned employees came out and chased her off. When I rode past she was hiding her face behind the paper and peaked over the top and said hello. I just rode on. I can’t help feeling that I missed an opportunity to improve someone’s life or outlook with just a cup of coffee or breakfast or anything. My near loss and my concern that a person in need might take something of mine has really gotten me to rethink that situation. Next time, when the opportunity presents itself, I will make the effort.

Who is to blame?

Faced with another lockdown due to out of control virus spreading…and all I can hear is blame. Blame of the government over reaching with their power. Blame the congress for not bailing us out. Blame the president for letting this go on. Blame blame blame.

Blame has a tendency to weaken us. It is the opposite of credit. Credit the government for trying to control the virus. Credit the congress for forcing us to step up as citizens. Credit the president for…well…that may be a tough sell but he credits himself enough for all of us.

Once you get past the blame and realize that you have to be creative…a lot more possibilities area available to you. Our problem seems to be our lack of creativity. I think that it has been schooled out of us. As a career educator, curricula and the mindset of pushing everyone to college has created a group of people who are stuck in the credential pit. They have their credential that they will be paying on for a long time…but now, their livelihood has gone.

Times like these call for far more creativity than we’ve been trained to execute. Perhaps this is why we blame. It is far easier to blame someone else than to step out and try something new.

Dad

Gerald Francis McCausland was born on March 4, 1932.  He took his last breath on October 6, 2020.  During those 88 years of life, he had many roles.  He was a son to James and Florence McCausland.  He was a brother to Kay, Sally, and Jimmy.  He was the husband to Joan and the father to Jerry, Michael, Kevin, Mark and Mary Kate.  He was also an uncle to countless nieces and nephews as well as a grandfather to Ryan and Kelsi.  

When I was growing up, his primary role was that of the provider.  He worked many jobs associated with computers.  When he finally retired, he shunned anything to do with computers.  The modern day computer and what it has done for society is foreign to him and an annoyance.  When I asked him why he didn’t like it he said that he wasted enough of his life with computers.

You see, my dad was a farmer.  He believed in life.  Every year he would plant the seeds in the indoor nursery, grow them to a healthy germination, prepare the soil outdoors, and plant them where the sun was plentiful.  He would nurture them at the conclusion of his “workday” and pull the weeds and defend them with ever increasing and elaborate fences.  When the harvest came, sometimes there was so much fruit that he needed to tie up the plant to keep it from breaking.  

I had the privilege of knowing my father for 58 years.  He took me to baseball games, watched me play baseball, and was even my coach for a day. No matter how bad I did…and I was pretty bad…he was there encouraging me all the way.  He even forced himself to sit through school plays and musicals when I knew that he didn’t really love to do those things.  I took my love of music with his support to college.  I made my career teaching music.  At my first concert, he was there.  

He did the same for my brothers and sister.  My dad shared the skiing experience with Jerry and Kevin.  He became the defacto owner of dogs that were originally his children’s and both Tempo and Melody became his best friends.  His two youngest children have remained close in both proximity and importance.  They both spend countless hours in what has been the family home for over fifty years.

Probably one of his greatest joys was being grandpop to Ryan and Kelsi.  He encouraged every aspect of growth in both of my children.  He was the first to hand Ryan a pair of drumsticks.  He was host to my daughter in her time as a sales person in Princeton after her graduation.  Dad and Kelsi also shared their love of dogs and now she works with dogs all the time and Ryan is a professional drummer.  Dad planted the seeds and was there to nourish the dream and the harvest has been good.  

Since my parents’ retirement, I have seen what a true love story is all about.  Dad and mom would switch roles as caretaker when the other needed them.  Still, we needed them just as much.  Recently, it has been my father who needed more care and my brothers and sister  have had the opportunity to give back.

Regarding my father’s spiritual journey, it is difficult to say.  He was a private man in those regards and although at one time he was on a path to priesthood, he is now far removed from his time at church.  I am likewise being challenged in this regard particularly in these uneasy times but I am going to make an argument for where I believe his spirit is in the context of Christianity and I am going to mix a little politics in for good measure.  Don’t worry…it’s Biblical politics.  

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is being questioned by legal scholars.  Their goal was to discredit him.  They asked Him one question…and he gave three answers.  

What is the greatest commandment?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength and the second is like it.  Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.  

My father clearly loved his neighbor.  This is clear evidence of the first commandment which is very personal.  The law and doctrine and prejudice and judgement must be viewed in the light of this statement by Jesus.  I believe he has evaluated his spiritual life accordingly.  

Finally, at times like these, we take measure of what we have lost.  A great man who has connected with so many people has finished his time on Earth and we are sad.  I choose to take measure on what we have gained by having this man in our lives.  

I love you dad.  I hope I continue to make you proud.

Christians for Trump

Jesus was asked by an expert on the law, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. The second is like it: ‘Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The sign planted at the exit of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi

Advance thousands of years from this declaration of Christ himself and we find ourselves hopelessly confused. As a free nation we test our own laws based on a constitution…or so we did. In this one response, Jesus gave us a test. All the Law and the Prophets hang or come under these two.

This is the account from the book of Matthew and I wonder if Christians actually give this a second thought. In Luke, there is further clarification when the expert in the law wanted “clarification” as to “who is my neighbor.” I won’t insult your intelligence any further by rewriting the parable of The Good Samaritan here, but given it’s specific references to a “hated foreign enemy” the context for my concern lies here.

Our country may have been established by Christians but we are not a Christian nation. We are a free nation. We have our rights outlined in our constitution but we are not a theocracy and this comes not just from our constitution but from Christ. When he was once again being tested by the Pharisees tried to trap him again with the question of is it right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus said, “…give Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.

We, as Christians are separate from the world, in the world but not of the world and we should not seek to rule the world. When we align politically as a group, we call into question our own spiritual health. Politicians are imperfect. Leaders will fail. We may be disappointed.

But when we are faced with a leader or a potential leader who claims to love God but preaches hate, violence and bigotry, lies to the point of recklessly killing hundreds of thousands of people, announces that he is God’s chosen one, all while stealing from the poor and lining the pockets of the rich and mocking every decent acceptable behavioral norm in modern day society, and “Christians” plant signs at the entrance of their church emblazoned “Christians for Trump”…they have identified with the very antithesis of Christ.

Christians who are offended by my stance would do well to prayerfully read Matthew 23 and reflect upon their own beliefs and actions and how it may affect believers yet to find salvation. As for me, I am deeply saddened by the fact that people I believed were true believers in Christ have traded truth for lies, love for hate, and integrity for arrogance.

Respectfully,

Michael
A sinner saved by grace

Viral Cocoon

After more than a year of the virus, it looks like the safest place is still in the cocoon.  My house is my cocoon.  Let’s talk about how we can truly thrive in this environment.  

Cocoon MeetingsEastCentralMountainWest
Saturdays
Passcode: 025734
10am9:00am8:00am7am
Early Prime (Weeknights)
Password: 021178
7pm6pm5pm4pm
Late Prime (Weeknights)
Password: 004178
10pm9pm8pm7pm
Meetings using ZOOM. Latest software client upgrade is being used. Security measures in place.

Sign up to get an email reminder for this meeting.

* indicates required


Ride On

Once upon a time, I had surgery on my knee that caused me to have to give up walking as an exercise. I put my bicycle on the porch and planned to start riding it. It got stolen the next day. It was October of 2006. In April when my knee healed and the weather turned nice I went out an bought a nice little comfort bicycle, my red Trek Navigator 2.0.

My Original Trek Navigator

I rode this bicycle for over 4 years and when I hit 5485 miles…it broke.

Bike Computer 1
The Bike Computer from my Trek Navigator.
Fram Break.
Broken frame on my Trek Navigator 2.0.

I went to my local bicycle shop and I was able to get a new frame…it just wasn’t red. They used many parts from my red Trek, but the frame and the crank were new. It came into my life in July 2011.

New Grey Trek 2.0
New Grey Trek 2.0

This is my Trek Navigator today. I have gone an additional 3200 miles. Many parts have been replaced, but it has been awesome for the last 9 years.

Grey Trek today
Grey Trek today

I also believed that if I had a bigger bicycle that I could or would ride it more. I spent $499 for my Trek 7300. The lock on this bike is the same one that I had from my original navigator.

Trek 7300 New
Trek 7300 New

Now I live in California and all of my bicycles have come out here. My Trek 7300 is also still running. The lock is still original from 2007. This bike still has the original bell and bike rack.

Trek 7300 today
Trek 7300 today
odo17999
odo17999
odo18000
odo18000

My Navigators so far include 5475 miles plus 3200 miles and now 18,000 miles on my Trek 7300. That’s 26,675 miles. That is since 2007. My daily schedule includes 24 miles a day. My car has 5,500 miles on it. I have done the equivalent of 4 round trips across the United States. I expected to get a new bike when I got to 10,000 miles. At my current schedule, by the end of October, I will have biked 20,000 miles on my Trek 7300.

I am always careful about my expenses. I did most of my bicycling as commuting and shopping and I still do. At an average of 30 miles to the gallon with an average price of $3 a gallon over the years, I have saved over 880 gallons of gas and saved myself 2,667.50 in gas money. The total cost of my bicycles was less than $1,000 for the two of them. I guess I justified the purchase. What do you think?