Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Ordinary Hero

I've always believed that every man wishes that he could be a hero. Even if only once, even if for just a minute, every man wishes the he could stand and be counted as the hero for a day.

Some men get the chance, some go looking for it, sometimes it finds the man it's looking for, and every now and again ordinary men become heroes, unintentionally, and without cause or fanfare. Ordinary men come together to do ordinary things, and in doing them, and doing them well, become heroes.

I'm sure if my grandfather was alive today and you asked him he would say he was no hero. I'm sure if you sat him down and reminded him of the plane crash, in December of 1968 he would have stories of men who, in his eyes, were far more deserving of praise then he. If you got him to say anything at all.

My grandfather's been gone for many years and it was only recently I learned of both the crash, and his involvement. He did nothing special, at least nothing he would have considered special. He merely left his home when called, and did what he knew how to do, and what he knew how to do was run phone line. He, and other Bell Telephone employees did what they knew how to do, they ran telephone line out to the crash site so that the rescuers could make phone calls when needed. Nothing dangerous, at least no more dangerous then riding through the woods on a snowmobile in 10 degree weather. Nothing he and his co-workers had not done a hundred times before. Yet in that simple, everyday, act he, and his co-workers, and every other man who answered the call for help became simple, ordinary, every day, heroes.

I doubt any of them left their homes that night hoping for praise, recognition, or adventure. I'm sure to a man they would have rather had that plane land safely, I'm sure to a man they would have rather been home with family, warm, and safe. Yet it is not what a man wishes that makes him a hero, it's what he does when he would rather not. It's going out in the cold, in the dark, simply because a friend, a neighbor, a policeman, or firefighter asked for help.

To a man, the very act of stepping out their front door made them all heroes.

To my grandfather, Kenneth Finlan. Even though I'm sure you would disagree with me, at least for a night, you were a hero.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Envelope Budgeting

I've been doing this for months and never realized it was an actual method of budgeting. My cousin mentioned it to me this past weekend and I was shocked. I thought I was being terribly clever.

I can't manage money to save my immortal soul. If I have money in the bank I'll spend it, no question. However if I have the money physically in hand it's much harder to spend it. If I have the physical money stashed somewhere it becomes painful to spend it.

So, I end up with a large number of envelopes, each holding some amount of money. My paycheck is direct deposited and I pull out the vast majority of it and stash it in envelopes. When the time comes to pay a given bill I pull out the envelope containing the money that has been set aside for this purpose.

As an extension of this behavior I have a large number of accounts and multiple banks, money goes into accounts and automatic bill payments take the money out and I simply don't have to worry. I find this method advantageous as it's a pain to drive to a bunch of different banks to pull money out, so the money doesn't get spent.

Saving via obfuscation. It works for me, I've managed to put away $1,100 in savings, I've paid off thousands of my debt consolidation loan and my bills are all current. I know what I have to spend for the week and once everything is covered what ever is left over turns directly into play money.

I hope to have five thousand saved by years end, let's see how close I come!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What do I believe?

It's a question that most Unitarians ask themselves at least a few times a year. Sometimes the questioning is a formal process, as in Coming of Age when you sit down and write a credo, a statement of beliefs. It can also be an informal process where in the course of your daily lives you come to the realization that what you believe has shifted, maybe for the present, maybe for good.

It's been a long time since I've self identified as a Unitarian, and even longer since I've sat down and really thought about what it is I believe. I find it hard to articulate what I believe, just as I've found it hard to find a political label, or a religious home.

I know I believe in self-reliance, I know I believe in taking care of your family, your wife, your home. I believe that if all else fails you should go down fighting, that if things truly fall apart around you that you should be able to say with a straight face, and no reservations that you tried everything, that you left no avenue unexplored and no fight un-fought.

I know I believe in fighting, in the simple uncomplicated honesty of exercise, and the value of discipline. I know I believe that you should not have children unless you plan to raise them, not the TV, not the schools, not a nanny, you as their parent should be charged first and foremost with the task of raising your children. I believe if you are unwilling to do this then you should not have children.

I believe that everyone should have access to medical care, especially contraception, and that everyone should have to work. I believe that there should be no such thing as a hand-out, only a hand-up and that the government exists only for it's own betterment.

I believe that religion is a sham, and that prayer never solved anything. I believe that work, no matter how humble, should be the ideal. I believe that every child should be raised with the belief that they should work to support themselves, and to help those who due to disability or age are no longer able to help themselves.

I believe that an armed society is a polite society, and that disciplining your kids is not only correct, but should be viewed as the good and proper action as a parent. I believe that boys should be told from a young age that there is nothing wrong with their anger, that they don't have to be in touch with their feminine side and that at the end of the day if someone is in their face they have every reason to fight. I also believe that with that right to fight should come the belief that loosing is not bad, that winning is not the ideal, and that not everybody gets a trophy.

I believe that there's nothing wrong with sex, that there's nothing taboo about a womans period, and that the only effective sex education is the one that leaves no mystery. I believe that every child should know how to put on a condom, and that every school nurse should be able and willing to dispense them.

I believe that every doctor has the right to refuse to perform an abortion, and I believe that no pharmacist should be able to refuse to fill a prescription, no matter their religious beliefs. I believe that no politician should be able to tel any professional how to do their job.

I believe that you should spend no more money then you make, that college should be affordable, but not required, and that anyone who wishes to learn, to better themselves, should be afforded that chance.

I believe that no man deserves a million dollar paycheck.

I believe that these may all change.

I believe.