What I Learned From Rabbits

What I learned from rabbits?

Although I live in a rural area, my immediate surroundings are not; I reside in a subdivision. Even so, wildlife abounds. During the non-snowy months, I can, at any given time, look out my office window and see at least one animal and usually more; I’ve spent the last five months verifying this to be true.

The most common sight is birds. Squirrels come in second; sometimes they’re in pairs: darting, jumping, chasing, climbing.

I also see rabbits; they are common, but not a daily sight (though I don’t spend my time gazing out my window either.) When I see a hare, it’s always alone, which is a bit sad to mention.

But today I saw two: hopping, playing tag, hangin’ out. Then a third one appeared. One hops to my left, the other scurries right, while the third goes in a circle. They were on the smaller side, perhaps siblings from this year’s batch.

Then to my delight, a fourth one-hopped into view. A bit larger and more deliberate in movement. I surmised this to be their mom. For quite a while I admired their comings and goings, their freedom and their life.

I’m glad I took the time to watch them frolic; it was good to slow down—and to marvel.

It was good to slow down and to marvel at times. What do you do to slow down? Click To Tweet

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

planning

I remember when my wife and I were building a house. Actually, we watched someone else build a house for us. Though there were times I wanted to help, I suspect they would have charged more if I tried.

The early stages clipped by quickly: digging the basement, pouring footings and basement walls, framing the house, putting on the roof, roughing in the mechanical systems, adding insulation, and installing drywall. We enjoyed stopping by each night to see the progress and snap pictures to chronicle the birth of our home.

Then things slowed down. They warned us this would happen. Some days saw no progress and occasionally a whole week would march past with seemingly little to show for the passage of time. Much of this was normal, but some resulted from delays in shipping critically needed products, exacerbated by the holidays.

Added to the delays were inevitable cost overruns. While a few of these were our doing, most were not. It seems a quote is merely a guideline for intent, the possibility of what may occur—or not. We were over budget, which made all the worse since our starting point was higher than originally conceived when the project was hatched.

Then there were deviations from design, instigated by well-intended construction folk. Some of these were out of necessity, others were spontaneous decisions that worked out well, but a few were contrary to our wishes, with displeasing results. Of course, there were also instances where the reality of construction didn’t match what we envisioned from the black and white lines on the two-dimensional blueprint.

Whether building a house or living life, things don’t always go as planned. We are not in charge, and we can’t dictate the outcome, but we move forward in faith. Click To Tweet

While we hoped to move earlier than we did, the building inspector had other ideas, pointing out two minor items he objected to. We sigh, we waited, and we prayed for approval.

Building a house is a lot like life. Though we have a general direction, we aren’t in control. Things can cost more, take additional time, and may not end up as expected—regardless of the degree of planning and our attention to detail.

Whether building a house or living life, things don’t always go as planned. We are not in charge, and we can’t dictate the outcome, but we move forward in faith, confident the results will work out—and they will, for our house and our life.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Email Insanity

email sanity

Several years ago, I ordered an inversion table online. Part of the ordering process was to give them my email address.

Once they had my email address, they did the logical thing and began sending me email messages. One or two of them were offers for complementary health devices and exercise equipment, but most were for inversion tables. 

In case you are wondering what an inversion table is, it is essentially a device that allows you to hang upside down. That might cause you to wonder why anyone would want two.  It sure makes me wonder. Maybe I’m missing something.  Perhaps my enjoyment would be doubled if I had two.  Could it be that other purchasers of inversion tables turn around a buy a second one a couple weeks later? I think not.

Apparently, their marketing department wasn’t thinking either. Why else would they insist on trying to sell me something I had already bought from them?

Likely they reasoned that it costs next to nothing to send an email to me—no matter how nonsensical. After all, I might decide that I need two: one for the basement and a second one for the living room.  Yeah, right!

Because of an ill-conceived email strategy, they have forever lost the opportunity to sell me something else. Click To Tweet

Their logic is shortsighted, however, because it will cost them something—my business. You see, in exasperation for their thoughtless barrage of messages, I opted out.

Now, because of an ill-conceived email strategy, they have forever lost the opportunity to sell me something else.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Things You Don’t Miss Until They Stop Working

 information superhighway

Years ago, my on-ramp to the Information Superhighway was closed; that is, I lost my Internet connection. It was a painful two days. Although I was fully cognizant of just how much I do online, it was unaware of how fully my life and especially my work has been integrated into and dependent upon the Internet.

The first day was Sunday, so as my day of rest, being Internet-less affected me little. However, Monday was grueling. I quickly realized that without Internet access there was little that I could do—and nothing that I could complete.

It got me thinking how I take things for granted—until I don't have them. Click To Tweet

My backup computer was equipped with a modem so I reverted to dial-up access—once I signed up for an account and reconfigured things. Then I began downloading my messages. Six hours later, the task was finished! I kept the connection up all day, tying up my phone line—but I least able to putt down the shoulder of the Information Superhighway.

It was an arduous day and got me thinking about how I take things for granted—until I don’t have them. As strange as it seems, I think I am more flummoxed when I lose the internet than I am when I lose AC power. (And since we have a well, when we lose power, we also lose water, save what is already in the storage tank.)

Given all this, I’ve made my list of utility reliability, from the most to the least:

  • Natural gas: thankfully, I’ve never had an outage or a problem
  • Landline telephone: problems are rare; it’s therefore interesting that I am in favor of canceling it; see next item
  • Cell Phone: I’ve never had an outage and am almost always in a coverage area
  • Dish television: aside from some initial programming issues, the only outages are brief and weather-related
  • Electricity: there seem to three or four outages a year, usually under a couple of hours in duration
  • Internet Access: there are likely four to six outages a year, generally under 2 hours in duration. Interestingly, this service is provided by the same company that provides my much more dependable landline. I wish the reliability was the same.
  • Cable television: it’s been a while since we had cable TV, but outages of several hours were common.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

Happy Fourth of July!

To all my friends and followers living in the United States of America, I wish you a wonderful Fourth of July (Independence Day, if you want to be formal).

While there are certainly reasons for concern, worry, and even complaint, we do live in a wonderful country. We enjoy wide-ranging freedoms, abound in opportunities, and—despite the naysayers—reside in prosperity.

I’m glad to be a citizen of the United States of America and pleased to live in this amazing nation. I thank our forefathers who made this all possible and salute them for their foresight and sacrifices to form our country.

Happy Fourth of July! Click To Tweet

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

How to Understand Weather Forecasts

weather forecast

Are you sometimes confused by weather forecasts? I am.

Are you sometimes confused by weather forecasts? Click To Tweet

“Sunny” and “cloudy” I comprehend, but “partly sunny,” “mostly sunny,” “partly cloudy,” and “mostly cloudy” leave me a bit unsure.

My hope was to clarify this, but the only conclusion I can reach is “No one knows for sure.”

The Reader’s Digest said “partly sunny” is the same as “mostly cloudy,” while “mostly sunny” equates to “partly cloudy,” as in:

sunny (or clear)
mostly sunny or partly cloudy
partly sunny or mostly cloudy
cloudy

But I couldn’t corroborate this. Another source says the middle ground is shared by “partly sunny,” which is the same as “partly cloudy,” with “mostly cloudy” residing on one side and “mostly sunny” on the other side. This results in:

sunny (or clear)
mostly sunny
partly sunny or partly cloudy
mostly cloudy
cloudy

And I found other explanations as well.

Of course, any forecast with “sunny” in it would only apply to daylight hours, while indications of cloudiness level is equally applicable for day or night.

Perhaps the real explanation is if weather forecasters can keep us confused, there’s less chance of us accusing them of being wrong.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

Haste Makes Waste

I pride myself in having the discernment of knowing when to not take shortcuts, those times when doing so would likely end up costing more work or taking more time. Conversely, I also know which shortcuts are actually worthwhile. This applies to travel, repairing things, performing work, and so forth. Although I don’t believe in luck, some people seem to have better fortune than others. If you’ve seen—and happen to remember—the movie “Just My Luck” you were treated to both extremes of this situation: one person who expected everything to always work out—and it did—and the other who expected that everything would go wrong—and it did.

I remember when I did an uncharacteristically “low percentage” move, one born out of laziness or haste or a combination thereof, it was a decision with a high likelihood of disaster.

I was hand mowing around my house with the push mower; I neglected to first pick up the hoses. Upon seeing the first hose, not wanting to stop the mower, I tipped the deck up, slowly and carefully pushing it over the hose. Everything went as I hoped. At the back of the house, the process was repeated for the second hose. This time, it was done a little less carefully and a little quicker—the results were not pleasant, with bits of rubber flying in all directions. Now I had to stop the mower.

Know which shortcuts are actually worthwhile, for HASTE does indeed make WASTE. Click To Tweet

So, for not wanting to take a few seconds to stop the mower and move the hose, I ended up spending about a half an hour, going to the hardware store, buying a replacement fitting, and wrestling it into place. Now my hose is a few feet shorter as a result.

Haste does indeed make waste. I hope I learned my lesson.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Is Two Really Twice As Good As One?

answer plus

Several years ago, I sought to add another product to my publishing business. I looked at options and considered alternatives. Two possibilities rose to the top. I began investigating both, planning to pursue whichever path opened up first. Instead, they did. So, I embarked on two nearly simultaneous publication launches: AnswerStat (information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources) and Answer Plus Newsletter (for telephone answering services). 

AnswerStat used to be an advertiser-supported magazine, in which ad revenues cover the production and distribution costs; it is a model in which I take all the risks (I could lose money—and have on a few issues—or realize a profit, which are beginning to occur on a somewhat regular basis).  In contrast, Answer Plus Newsletter was a custom publication in which a sponsor covered all the costs. In this endeavor, my risks were minimal and a modest profit was ensured. (AnswerStat is still going strong, but I pulled the plug on Answer Plus after two issues.)

Launching both simultaneously was a confusing challenge. I was forever getting the two confused, as each had different requirements, goals, and expectations. This would result in things being overlooked or double-checked. I asserted that I would never again make the mistake to two simultaneous product launches—it is just too bewildering.

Fast forward seven years  later and I did it again. After years of being a “future” project, I launched TAS Trader, an e-publication. (It is laid out like a printed newsletter, but distributed electronically.) It is an advertiser-supported publication.  Right on its heels was another “someday” project, an e-newsletter, Medical Call Center News. It is supported by a sponsor.

Although neither is printed and both rely on email for connecting with readers, the similarities end there. Their design is different, their cost structures are different, their distribution is different, the revenue models are different, and their supporting websites are different.

So, guess what? It was a confusing challenge. So much so, that I’ll never again launch two products at the same time. Really.

I would never again make the mistake to two simultaneous product launches—it is just too bewildering. Click To Tweet

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

Stop Selling and Start Serving

selling

Once when I needed to order some ink cartridges for my printer—the kind I can only buy directly from the vendor. There was a problem with the website, so I picked up the phone to place my order.

I told the agent I wanted to order two black ink cartridges.

Not surprisingly, she suggested I buy a package that included two color cartridges as well. “No thank you, just black.”

Upon discovering the age of my printer, she tried to sell me a new printer. “No thank you—I just need ink.”

When I acknowledged that I own several computers from her company, she asked if they were working okay and did I… “No I just want to buy ink.”

Then she offered me a special price on anti-virus software for only…, “No, I only want ink!”

Next, she inquired if I was interested in a maintenance plan to… “NO, just ink!”

When the call took twice as long as it needed to, I became irritated. Click To Tweet

Perhaps she was supposed to try to upsell me five times or maybe she was on commission. I don’t know. What I do know is when the call took twice as long as it needed to, I became irritated, and the likelihood of me buying another printer from them is highly unlikely.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

In Memory of

Memorial Day

This Monday will be Memorial Day in the USA. It is a national holiday set aside in memory of military personnel who died while serving their country. As such it should be a solemn day of remembrance, attending parades and visiting the graves of loved ones.

Memorial Day is also an appropriate reminder to thank all those who have served their country through military service. Regardless of your opinion on the politics behind the various US involvements in which they serve, commend them for their many acts service; they put their future and their life on the line for their compatriots.

Memorial Day is also an appropriate reminder to thank all those who have served their country through military service. Click To Tweet

Additionally are those who return from military service with life-altering injuries, both physical and mental. Too often they are forgotten or marginalized. Remember them too.

Some observe Memorial Day by doing these things. For others, it is a day to relax or have a cookout. However, too many have lost sight of why this holiday exists, seeing it merely as a day off from work (for most people) or a long weekend. Aside from enjoying the day, one can take in a parade, visit a gravesite, thank a military man or woman, hire a vet, or do whatever they can to show respect or appreciation.  But whatever you do, remember to remember—today and every day.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.