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.

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?

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.

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?

Above it All

It took a lot of time and effort, but when I got to the top I realized that there is a noise that you just can’t drown out when you are so close to the ground. I also learned about what you need to get to the top. No one is going to carry you to the top. You have to be determined. You have to understand support and resistance. Your support is the ground, twisted and angled as it is against the resistance of gravity.

I received trekking poles for Christmas this year. I like cycling but it does leave your upper body out of the picture. Also, I am a little intimidated about cycling on these trails that are actually labeled cycling trails. Rather than purchasing a mountain bike (and having to explain to my wife that I purchased another bike), I chose to get the poles. I consulted YouTube to get the proper techniques for using the poles, and I was off on my first trek.

The top of the Boo Hoff Trail in La Quinta California. The Salton Sea in the distance.

One thing that I learned is that the route is not marked well. I wanted a much shorter distance with a little higher altitude. At the bottom, you start with a crowded field. As you ascend, the crowd thins out until you are all alone and you have to make your own decisions. When the choice is yours, it’s scary. There were times that I wanted to turn around…but when I got my bearings I decided to get there to the top.

When you’re at the top you want to share it with someone. It is as this moment that the metaphors come flying out of the blue. It’s lonely at the top. While I feel I can learn a lot from the experience, one thing I really know is that it really hurts. Using the poles makes it a full body workout. My arms and my shoulders hurt as much as my legs. Furthermore, my core is nice and tight and I didn’t get the chance to overeat.

It is very possible that I have found my new passion…you know, to go with cycling, day trading, and the other activities that consume my retirement. You need a challenge to get the reward. I am up to the challenge.

Just a house (Not)

Like all houses, they need people to become a home. Now there are people in the house and it is a home once more.

My Home
2038 North Bluebell Road

On May 4, 1990, I went to a Title Company office in Woodbury, NJ and signed a zillion papers and became the owner of this little house. Not much has changed from the outside. It started out as a small house and on September 20, 2019, I went to a Title Company office in Bridgeton, NJ and someone else signed a zillion papers and became the owner of this little house. In the 29 years that it was mine, this house was home. My home.

Today that home is represented by a bunch of numbers in a bank account. Over the past few years, the wear and tear on the home has been dealt with so that it may become attractive to another person who could see it as their home. For much of the time over the past few years, no one really enjoyed the new amenities that were added to this home. Like all houses, they need people to become a home. Now there are people in the house and it is a home once more. I drove past the house on the way to dinner after the settlement. There were many cars in the driveway. The lights were on and there was much movement. It was once again a home.

In this house, I raised my kids. I worked at my chosen career and made plans for the future. We endured challenges and came out stronger on the other side. It was simple. We had a roof over our heads. We were warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We left our house to enjoy our days and in the end always came home. Bittersweet is a word that comes to mind. The plans that were hatched in that safe and comfortable home have now come to fruition. Now a new family can enjoy their time in their home. I wish them the very best. Make great memories!!

Dad

The first memory I have of dad was coming through the door from work. We were living in Philadelphia on Walnut Lane in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. The carpet was an area rug, green in color. We had been out shopping that day. We had seen other men. Mr. Fishman who fitted us for shoes. Mr. Fergalle who cut my hair. Random people who walked past us during the day. They were always weird looking or funny looking to me. Yes this was my first memory of my dad…but not the first time I’d seen him. He came through the door with his briefcase and a smile and there was absolutely no one that was as good looking and wonderful as my dad.

My dad is one half of the most important people in my life. Mom and Dad. Mom is part of my dad’s story. Together they raised me and my brothers and sister. Their job as parents was to sacrifice themselves so that their children could benefit. I watched this every day…first through my selfish eyes where I couldn’t really see anything but my own needs or desires…and then later in life…when they made time for me for things like my little league baseball games, even though I wasn’t very good and then eventually through all of those school plays and concerts. They helped me through my adolescent years and they helped me become the person I am today.

There’s no course you can teach on parenting. There’s no book. There’s no map. Just nothing but commitment and love. There was a lot of love. There’s was a lot of pride. There was a lot of devotion. Love is when you always have a parent there to watch you, to cheer for you, to correct you and to love you in spite of your faults. Mom and dad did that for me and my siblings for years. Later when I had children, my dad would just absolutely dote on his grandchildren. He would buy old drum sticks and flip over old paint buckets to give my son his love for drumming. He was the first step in what is now his career and livelihood. He would provide a place for my daughter to stay when she had to work in the far off remote locations of Princeton and beyond.

Later, after my dad retired, he had to transition in life. Mom worked for a few more years, but, eventually she retired and they became, husband and wife again. They were there…for each other. Getting older is both beautiful and challenging. They went through this stage together. They cared for each other…each one having a bout with age a little earlier in life…spending time getting to hate hospitals. I also know this too. Now, it seems like the pains of everyday living are making it difficult to see who the caregiver is and who needs the care.

My mom and dad have watched couples disappear from their lives one by one and yet they are still together as a couple. This is all that they know. This should be the model for living. If there ever is a book on how to do “family”, it should be modeled after them. Now we are getting closer to the end of them. Soon it will only be one. There will be a hole…a big hole. I don’t know if I am ready for it as a son…let alone a spouse. I know that it will be hard. I know that everyone goes through this. It is seemingly unbearable…and I know it will take family to get through it…the whole family.

My sister has done so much to be there for my mother and father. She is a blessing beyond words. Th future is going to be rough…but as I reflect on my time with mom and dad…I catch myself smiling. I was the lucky one. I got the best two parents in the world. They got to be grandparents to my kids. They helped form another generation and that kind of spirit doesn’t die. It just gets bigger and more present…and those little annoyances, they just fade away.

Today, I will hug my mom and dad and I will cherish the closeness. Everyday, I will carry mom and dad with me. I can’t shake it. They are a part of me…all the good…and some of the bad. It is a perfect recipe. I have to remember that they don’t have to be here physically to be the parents that they have been all my life…and God will welcome two of the greatest souls to ever be placed in imperfect bodies to His Kingdom.

Thanks Dad!

Home away from home

My posting has been limited over the past several months by my work on my NJ house. This was my home for the past 29 years. Now, it is just a house that I need to sell. It is now represented by price, offer and perceived value. Now that there is no Internet, it is far from a home…for me at least.

In late March, I spent time working on the inside of the house. The crazy thing is that if I were still living there, it would not have been a priority. I thought that new carpet, paint, water conditioner and a complete cleanup was going to make my house desirable. I knew that the outside couldn’t be dealt with until I had more money and time.

In June, I went back for another 3 weeks and worked on the outside of the house and installed air conditioners so that the “showings” would go off in comfort. I also cleaned up and washed the outside and scoured the roof and deck that had been subject to the weather. During the time that I was there, realtors had been through the house with potential buyers. Their comments seem to indicate that the house “needs a lot of work”. Whew!!! I have been working tirelessly for months on this house…and it needs a lot of work?

I guess that I shouldn’t take their comments personally. I have heard comments about many things that don’t make sense in my life. I need to divorce myself from the comments on my house as a commentary on my home and my life. It’s high time that I begin work on my new home in California. Meanwhile, in spite of the comments, there is a house in NJ that is just waiting to become a home for a new family. I hope they find each other soon.