Category Archives: Musings

Blog posts by Peter DeHaan; the musings of Peter DeHaan.

Email Insanity

email sanity

Ten 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-two weeks later? I think not.

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

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 grave site, thank a military man or women, hire a vet, or do whatever they can to show respect or appreciation.  But whatever you do, remember to remember—today and every day.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Thoughts About Moving: Do You Leave Home or Take it With You?

It was 2014 when my wife and I were selling our house. It wasn’t our plan, but things change.

We had just finished updating most of it: new roof, furnace, windows, carpet, flooring, kitchen, and bathrooms. It was a three-year effort that methodically moved from one project to the next as our budget allowed. We planned to live the rest of our lives on that house, the place where we raised our kids and the setting of many happy memories.

So, why then we moved? The answer is simple: family. Our son and his wife live about an hour away. It was hard not to be closer to them; the pull was strong. Then our daughter and her husband, along with our grandson, moved, ending up a few miles from her brother. The draw was inescapable.

My wife and I discussed that. Then we asked what our kids thought. They liked the idea, but one instituted a ten-mile buffer, but then reduced it to five, which eventually disappeared. Our daughter-in-law liked the idea of us living next door, where their kids could walk to grandpa and grandma. She grew up with that and so did I. Alas, we would not be that close, but we would be within seven miles of each of our kids’ homes.

The house stayed, but our home moved along with us. Click To Tweet

Now, as we were planning and packing, I recall the things that happened there: the happy times, the struggles we overcame, the celebrations, the milestones, and the friends who visited. But these memories do not reside in this house, they live in our minds.

The house stayed, but our home moved along with us.

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 via social media.

I’ve Got Food, But Not Everyone Does

starving children

On my post last April, I pondered how any effort to curtail water usage on my part could serve to help those halfway around the world who are thirsty. Alas, there is no direct solution (but I did suggest a course of action).

This discussion reminded me of the prodding I heard as a child to eat all the food on my plate because there were starving children in India.

Not only are there starving children halfway around the world there are also hungry people in your local community. Click To Tweet

Well, I thought to myself, just send them my food; I’ve had enough and don’t want any more. As a tiny lad, I even envisioned placing my unwanted food in the mailbox for the kids in India. Unfortunately, viable solutions are not so simple.

Not only are there starving children halfway around the world (and a plethora of organizations who provide sponsorship opportunities), there are also hungry people in your local community. Many are homeless, relying on homeless shelters and food kitchens for their daily sustenance. A couple of bucks will provide a meal for one of them. The results can be even more significant in feeding the hungry in impoverished third world locales, where a few cents can provide a basic meal.

So, I can go out to eat at a moderately priced restaurant—or feed 10 people at the local shelter—or 180 people in Uganda.

Think about it. I sure do.

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.

Living with Family: An Awesome Opportunity

extended family

I remember when my wife and I have lived with our son and daughter-in-law, it’s been a great experience for us and a wonderful time connecting with our kids in a deeper, more meaningful way. After only eight weeks, we’ve gone through three phases:

1) The Honeymoon Phase

For the first few weeks, everything went smooth, dare I say perfect. Our sharing of one house, of melding two couples used to living by themselves into one family unit, flowed forth like a dream. We shared household duties and melded our schedules with ease. Eating together, going for walks, and having deep discussions all unfolded naturally. It was bliss.

2) The Adjustment Phase

Eventually, a few cracks appeared. We began to expose our quirks and saw each other’s foibles. Whereas we once only saw one another’s strengths, now weaknesses poked through. We began adjusting what we did, how we did it, and when we did it for the sake of unity. Though we all made small sacrifices for one another since the first day, now we began to realize it. Just as living as a couple requires flexibility, even more so does living as an extended family.

3) The Settling Down Phase

While we continued to make adjustments, we were settling into a comfortable, peaceful co-existence. It’s not perfect, as in the honeymoon phase, but it is really great. A stable arrangement has emerged; this is sustainable, and it is good.

An Awesome Opportunity

My wife and I view this as a great adventure, a time to connect more deeply with our kids and learn from each other. Though we expect that to be a five-month living arrangement, a friend of mine did the same thing for five years. For her, when the parents moved on, there was a great sense of loss. I expect the same emotion. Though would it be good when my wife and I move on and resume living as one couple, I wonder if what we give up will be more profound.

If we can embrace this opportunity to live as an extended family, we will emerge better and stronger as a result. Click To Tweet

In today’s modern society we celebrate individualism; we value our freedom. What we lose in the process is the opportunity to truly live as an extended family, to influence each other and learn from one another, to fully connect.

Our affluence actually serves to isolate us. Living as an extended family, whether by choice or circumstance, offers the opportunity to live more fully in community. If we can embrace this opportunity, we will emerge better and stronger as a result.

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.

I’ve Got Water, How About You?

clean water

Although April began with the proverbial showers that are reputed to bring May flowers, it has been quite arid the past two weeks.  So much so that I have had to resort to watering my lawn.

I feel a bit guilty doing so.

You see, as I dump hundreds of gallons of pure, clean water on my lawn, over a billion people on this planet have no clean water drink.  I would gladly forgo my lawn watering ritual if it would somehow quench the thirst of those with parched throats, but alas, any water sacrifice that I make in Michigan does nothing to satiate those who are thirsty in third-world countries.

Remember to do your part to "water" thirsty people in the process. Click To Tweet

Even so, there are ways to help.  Countless organizations provide inexpensive and simple water filtration units to those with dirty, germ-laden, disease-infested water.  Even a small donation can provide a safe source of water to those in need.  Other organizations drill wells in areas lacking nearby surface water.  Wells are more expensive, but can serve thousands for many years.

I just did a Google search for “provide clean drinking water” and was treated to 284 million matches—I’m sure one of those organizations will click with you.

So, go ahead and irrigate your lawn if you must, just remember to do your part to “water” thirsty people in the process.

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.