Thursday, December 24, 2015


My wife, Ann, and I often cite how often others consider us to be on easy street, well off and have it good because we run a business, or have real estate or our kids are smart.

It just isn't so.   Its a struggle to have anything in this world, really, and it is perplexing enough for me to want to mosh around the topic a bit in this blog.

Why is it so?   Why is it that life serves lemons?   Why am I constantly finding myself 'making lemonade', or picking up the pieces, or downhearted and seeking God's assistance to mend my broken dreams, my broken heart or my physical maladies?

Is it, as the below Internet post from some unknown author suggests, simply a matter of resisting temptations?   I think not.   A life full of resisting temptations is a life not lived, I would guesstimate.   Jake Johannsen a very funy comedian, in his skit describing men, says "Just look at a 2 year old boy, running around" ... " ... and you get an idea of what its like in our head, as men.   'Don't do that', 'Don't touch that', 'That doesn't belong to you' ... we're suppressing that shit all the time".
Clearly, we're not.  We don't suppress all of our drives, compulsions, interests and deviant behaviors because, well, we're human.  Prone to sin, prone to failure.   Perhaps, there is some truth to supressing temptations to relieve struggle, but in a way ...  some of these outlets actually help with the struggle, if for but a brief respite, they still may actually make the struggle a bit less unpleasant.
Disclaimer: everything in moderation, of course.

So if I am to break down the next idea, be bigger than the bad guy, well this one has some real merit.  I recently ran up against a bad guy (gal), and it was seriously debilitating to my conscience and conscious awareness and my soul, completely unearthed my idea of how capitalism, money, greed and getting ahead can clash and destroy sensibilities and make ugly, a beautiful thing.   I was the direct recipient of the collateral damage fallout, and sure lost a lot of cash, but in the process learned a lot about people, myself and how being bigger than the bad guy is about ... well you, and the struggle.   Apparently, the struggle for the most part, and with regards to character, is between my own ears.   Luckily this isn't the constant norm, nor will I paint this attribute of 'bad guy (gal)' onto every human I interact with, but I've met a few now ... relatively late in life at 45 and now 52 years old, and it was shocking to me that direct assaults (or what I considered to be) on my own life and dreams and existence, could take place with such brazen uncaring.   Mother Theresa said it best, from the Children Center wall in Calcutta:
             People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway. 

It is hard to imagine Mother Theresa using "anyway" so definitively ... in essence prompting you to enter into the struggle headlong, without reservation.   But then that brings me to the final concept, at the end of her message:  "In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway"

So how big does God factor into this struggle?   Completely!    He has given us through the Bible the word on the deception even of Adam's wife, not to cast all women as evil manipulators, but that the Garden, the effortless and beauty of nakedness, and wonderful life free of all guilt and sin is there, except for the forbidden fruit (remember: be stronger than your temptations, above?)

The struggle of life on Earth was clandestine, and it was written, that this life shall be now effortless garden of wonder, but we will toil and struggle, and we will not always win, and we may never win (Bills fans chime in here) that we will play anyway.

I find my character builds with each struggle, my mind sometimes not understanding, my heart in shambles but my God forever strong and there for me, showing me that despair isn't required, won't solve anything, nor will falling back into temptations.   God shows that we are not powerless, when we believe, we have not only all of the power to get through the struggles, but a promise of a Garden ever after, when this world passes away and our brief existence and all the spoils of earth, that none of us will leave much to remember behind except the family and generations we pass down, and how we raise them, will be forgotten.  Life will go on without us, the struggles no longer ours to care about or deal with.

That will be nice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hedge your bets

Just google’d “hedge one’s bets” and found 1. Avoid committing oneself when faced with a difficult choice.

Now this may seem like the coward’s way out of tough decisions, but I’m here to tell you it’s the only way to be assured you’re going to survive the leveraging game.   You have a built in barometer of your own tolerance for risk.  All of us do.
When you are facing tough decisions, and these when not life and death (and even sometimes when they are life and death) are in some way boiling back to money, fear and the fear is of losing the money.   I like to think of the abundance mentality, myself, and ascribe to the pie is big enough theory that everyone can have a slice, but alas, the world doesn’t operate that way.
Prudence, then mandates that you face facts.   If one out every four households in the great state of Oregon are on food stamps, then you get the idea that abundance thinking leaves a quarter of the pie completely decimated by poverty, and I would estimate that clearly half of the pie is also missing some filling.
So in the top ¼ of the pie there is some good opportunity and for the 1% of the pie eating public, there is too much pie.
I’m wanting you to at least be in the top quarter, so “hedging” is one way to get there.
Examples of hedges I’ve made in the past that have paid off, are while committed to starting a computer training business, I also spent weekends and some nights finding real estate investments to purchase (after we had secured, and purchase our first house in Portland, Oregon).   The median price of a home at the time was $99,000 (1992) and today it’s around $246,000 today (2015) now granted that is 23 years later, but the increase is a whopping 148% increase, and the house we actually bought increased to around $499,000 after purchasing for $126,000 ( a 300% increase ! ).
So beyond my house, which I leveraged several times (to take out 2nd mortgages to buy more investments), my wife and I, invested first in a duplex, then later a fixer, then a 10-plex and we kept going.
The business lease was up, after 5 years, and someone close to my landlord mentioned that “Bill, knows you aren’t going anywhere” , translated: he was ready to up the rent and give me the shaft, so I took that and the 60 days before my lease was over, to find a building for sale up the street.  It was bigger than I wanted, but it was a deal at $500,000 and I could leverage an SBA finance loan with only 10% down because I was going to occupy the building !
The building sold for $765,000 3 years later.  But the “Hedge” in taking the risk, on buying more building than I could use, the relocating my business and “paying myself rent” in a closed economy of my own doing ( I was the landlord, tenant and janitor!) payed off handsomely.
If we looked at the $50,000 down on the building, and we leveraged the business to pay the rent, and we looked at the $250,000 profit after 3 years we can see that there was a 400% return on the $50,000 in just 3 years!
Hedging your bets means making sure you are when faced with a difficult decision you also act in ways that are COMPLETELY IN YOUR BEST INTEREST.   That is the hedge.  If you are paying someone else a LARGE SUM OF MONEY, you need to figure out a way to hedge that bet.
You are right to bet on yourself.    Paying big bucks for education, for additional career training these are all GREAT HEDGES.  Why?   Because you stand to earn 1 million, 2 million or more in your lifetime … of course the ROI of getting more knowledge is worth the investment.  I always condone expenditures, even loans for these two things:

  1. Appreciable assets (things that are going to go up in value)
  2. Your education
Loans for anything else are what I would call “REVERSE HEDGES”.  That is to say if you are getting loans for a car, for furniture, for vacations you are doing the opposite of avoiding the commitment on a difficult decision about spending money … you are thowing caution to the wind, and just going for it.
Well, you will have to pay for that reverse hedge at some point, later in time.
In fact it will cause pain, later.   So I won’t say “Enjoy it now”, I will say DON”T DO IT.
Pay cash for your cars, your trips, your furniture … or buy used, buy discount and don’t ever put any of these items on credit.  If you can’t afford it, then the decision is made for you.  Suzie Orman should ring in your ears “Denied! Girlfriend (or Boyfriend)”   you can’t afford it right now.
Get it when you can, and you are hedging your bets correctly … towards a time when things will not be such a difficult choice.
Often our ego will play into it, or impulse (which is our ego’s way of saying “we’re going to miss this deal”).   As you get on in years, you will realize there is “no such thing as a free lunch”, and “deals, or markdowns are reducing already high margin/profit prices to a more realistic range, but they are always going to be deals” … and buying used (cars, even furniture-gently used) can be a real bargain and a great hedge when a decision to replace something in your life comes around.

Monday, June 22, 2015

No Judgment, No Pain

Riding around on my bike this morning,
I realize the mind needs exercise

I mean, not just the body, and blood flow that accompanies the workout
but the mind

And not just doing exercise, which helps,
but exorcise

Exorcism, driving away of evil thoughts

So I started with a gentle chant, while peddling
to myself
"No Judgement, No Pain"

How much judgement keeps replaying over-and-over
about transgressions, either those we did or those that were done to us

And the judgment, the vicious, brutal, non-forgiveness
of ourselves, and others that accompanies this judgment

Last night I watched "The Judge" with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall,
really a pretty good flick,
and it occurred to me that the manslaughter charge, the blackout
the indictment and conviction of Robert Duvall's character is really the
manslaughter indictment, and conviction that awaits us

We all do the crime, all the time, in our minds

At times we castigate and reprimand,  and do unspeakable things to kill the evil "we perceive",
in "the world", or ourselves or others.

We want to kill evil through judgement,  "once and for all".
Then we can get on with our pain free existence.
Yet it persists, in our minds and we face it daily, or hourly or more frequently.

We can't kill it.
Legally we're bound, we're bound by laws of nature and age, and physical anatomy from killing ourselves or others, with pills or booze or any other devices, gadgets or weapons.
I take that back, we probably can succeed in killing something or someone, or
we can die little deaths, each time we let ourselves go there.

But is there a better way?

What if we tried to refuse to pass judgement, or judge and "live and let live".
What if we forgot to remember?  Refused to spin up or lather up our anger?
What if, for a day, a week or the rest of your life you adopted a different mantra
to deal with the sadness, that underlies the pain, that underlies the anger,
that begats the judgement, which feeds the whole cycle top-to-bottom.

The answer seemed so simple on my bike ride:   no judgement, no pain.

I'm going to adopt this simple mantra when I have these things pop up (because they do, hourly if not more frequently) and see if a new way of thinking can exorcise the demons in me.
The problems that are out there will always be out there,
the ones you can fix, or do something about are inside of your brain.

No judgement, no pain.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The space between

I read something profound once that

life is lived
in the gaps

intriguing, the idea of space, and nothing

and in those minutes,
when there's actually room,
to be