Clean Your Plate!

“You can’t leave the table until your plate is clean.”

Have you ever heard something like that at the family table? Have you used that line with your children? Funny how that line creeps into our daily life. You ask somebody for some of their time and they respond, “I already have too much on my plate.” In other words, “I’m too busy.”

Do you ever wonder what they really mean by that statement? What do you mean when you say that or think that, “I’m too busy?” Sometimes a person might simply mean: “I don’t want to listen to what you have to tell me.” Or they could be saying that they don’t have time to do what you want them to do. What might be intended is “You have not given me a reason why I should share my time with you on this matter.” Sometimes the personal perception is “I already have too much on my plate.”

So how can people “clean their plates?” I remember the family dinner table from my childhood. Dishes would be passed and I would take what I thought I wanted from each dish. Several times, at the end of the meal, I just couldn’t take those last bites; there was too much on my plate. Dad or Mom would say, “Your eyes were bigger than your tummy.” So the lesson I learned was that it was better to go back for seconds, than to take too much, the first time dishes were passed.

And so it has been with life, many times I have said, “Yes,” to doing something, only to find that it was more than I could handle. Then I had to face the embarrassment of admitting that I would not be able to complete the job, or I would have to turn it over to someone else to carry the burden that I had created. In either case, it would leave me with a sense that I had failed.

Sadly, I have found that many people have created the feeling that they are too busy by their own doing, or should I say, not doing. If that is your feeling, let’s start here: do not allow other people to control your schedule. This starts with, “No!” If you really have a scheduling conflict, make a decision – never created a conflict that requires you to be doing two things at the same time. My father would say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” If you can’t do something “right”, do not accept the commitment to do it.

Two rules to achieving a persona of success:

-Do everything you say that you will do.

-Never say you will do something that you do not intend to do.

Thanks, Dad.

John Joseph Dauer


Who will be your pallbearers?

Who will be your pallbearers?

Perhaps your first response is “What difference does it make?”  Well, here’s the difference.  I have found that most of the people, whom I respect as successful, have a clear vision of the legacy they intend to leave behind.  What will you leave behind?

If you are willing to admit that you would like “more” of something in your life which could be left behind, what should you be doing?  Does not that “something more” start with your relationships with other people?  Most people come to realize that success is not about “things”.  Materialism is an empty success at best.  Some say that it’s better to be crying in a Ferrari, than in a 10 year old rusted-out pick-up truck.  But those who seem happiest are those who can visualize where they are going, not what they are driving to get there.

So?  Do you have six people who will send you flowers while you can still see, feel, and smell them?  Better yet, would you take a moment’s hesitation to see, feel, and smell some flowers while YOU still can?

Would you be able to enlist the help of 6 people, while you are still alive, to each make two calls per week to help you meet new people?  Would YOU be willing to make six calls per week to find other people who would make phone calls for you?  Developing relationships with other people is the pathway to creating your legacy.

You can have anything you want if you help enough other people get what they want.  Somebody has to be the first to speak: if not you, then who; if not now, then when?  The biggest motivator to action is the realization that time is the greatest equalizer and it is a limited resource.

Your next step is to contact me through .

An Old Poem About Some Boots

A Tribute to the Spirit of Living

The silver boots still sparkle a bit,

But observers detect The nicks and scuffs of time.

New heels and soles make a comfy fit

Which allows the wearer to reflect

 On trails walked in life’s monotonous climb.

Their brilliance belies the drudgery

Of making ends meet And doing thejob.

But where they walk A spirit moves on: Endures;

Trying doesn’t count, only doing;

Tomorrow will be better for someone,

Because I have today.

— Ken Dauer — © October 10, 1989

An old poem about some old boots. A Tribute to the Spirit of Living The silver boots still sparkle a bit, But observers detect The nicks and scuffs of time. New heels and soles make a comfy fit Which allows the wearer to reflect On trails walked in life’s monotonous climb. Their brilliance belies the drudgery Of making ends meet And doing thejob. But where they walk A spirit moves on: Endures; Trying doesn’t count, only doing; Tomorrow will be better for someone, Because I have today. — Ken Dauer — © October 10, 1989

I want to thank Mike S for his support through some bumps in my road.  In his business, he always found odd jobs to help some person maintain some dignity by earning their keep.  I remember him saying, “I can usually help one or two people at a time.  Today, they might be able to eat lunch meat, instead of just peanut butter.”  I’m not sure which was the student and which was the teacher; in fact, probably both were both. –FinePickens

A Story to Guide Your Day.

This story came to me as an email with no citation.  No copyright infringement is intended, if you have such ownership, simply notify me to receive credit. Hopefully, this will remind people of something they did today, that will allow them to sleep better, tonight.

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago . They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding.

ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath , got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?” She nodded through her tears.. He continued on with, “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.”

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister….” He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, “Are you Jesus?”

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: “Are you Jesus?” Do people mistake you for Jesus? That’s our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It’s actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.

You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Please share this, {IF you feel led to do so}. Sometimes we just take things for granted, when we really need to be sharing what we know….Thanks. “Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.” “If you’re not sharing Christ, you’re like someone with a million dollars in the bank and no check book.”

We Have not Taught This Generation. . .That is our biggest problem

Much have I travelled in realms of gold,

Many the goodly fields and cities, I have beheld,

But little did I see of America today,

Until I viewed an old YouTube clip

Of Dennis Prager at the University of Denver:

Taking seriously the charge that “we” have failed to teach this generation what it means to be an American, I went back to “Letters From An American Farmer “ by J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur.  Just “What is an American?”  Crevecoeur’s answer:

“What then is the American, this new man?…He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He has become an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of man, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims.” (from “Letter III,” 1782)

In revisiting the question, a couple books from my past come to mind: “Travels with Charley”, by John Steinbeck and “Blue Highways,” by William Least Heat-Moon.  I’m thinking that “Travels with Charley” would be a great book to re-write in 2012, but I don’t have a pickup truck and I don’t own a dog.

In summary, Crevecoeur advanced the social concept of America as “The Great Melting Pot.” “e pluribus unum” –from many come ONE.  Steinbeck, by contrast, showed scenes from very different worlds of people who were isolated in many respects from other parts of America.  Perhaps, the division between the “have’s” and “have not’s” which Crevecoeur said existed only in Europe has now come to America.

Not to be lost in any discussion is the flow of money which now supports “diversity”.  In another time, many of these would be called “rabble-rousers”, but today they are called “leaders” or “community activists”.  It seems that America has devolved into a litigious society which garners America’s wealth into the pockets of those “power-brokers” who portray some disenfranchised people as “victims”.

People seem to have lost a sense of personal responsibility and a vision of the common good.  What isn’t working?  America has spent billions on “physical fitness” and the citizens are fatter than ever.  America has spent billions on Medical research and treatments but people feel sicker than ever – or at least they are seeking more medical treatment than ever.  Educational expenditures have outpaced every other inflationary measure and yet we have fewer solutions to society’s problems of quality of life.

Perhaps it is indeed true that America’s biggest problem is that the citizens have lost the pride of personal responsibility, have lost the will to live an honest, self-reliant life which results in making the world a better place to live.  Crevecoeur referred to a “mild government”, well, that has been lost to big government, which requires increasing taxes.  It is time for America to set a new course in the spirit of the founders, a nation based on principled, productive living.

Sources: “Letters From An American Farmer “ by J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur.

Dennis Prager at the University of Denver:

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” John Keats

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease!

Perhaps it’s a sign of old age, the cycles become apparent.  The profound thought becomes a quote, then a platitude, and then a cliché. (How about that: TheOldGuy found the “é” symbol in Word!)

I find the current tone of public discourse irritating at best, possibly disgusting.  It does seem that “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease”!  I did appreciate the comment by Newt Gingrich, in response to hecklers, “Noise does not necessarily equate to intelligence!”  Bless you, Newt.  He knew that using 4 and 5 syllable words would cause the hecklers to hesitate, while they ask each other, “What did he say?”

A friend posted on Facebook, a concern about the lack of common decency in today’s world.  I hear a lot about the “double standard” of treatment by the media, regarding the news of the liberals and the news of the conservatives.  Rush makes a bad statement and several organizations call for his firing and cause 17 sponors to pull their ads.  A Kennedy calls a Senator by the same appellation and most people don’t even hear about it.  I remember Trent Lott was called upon to make some remarks at another Senator’s 100th birthday.  In trying to find something nice to say about that person, the loudmouthed, disrespectful left managed to get Lott to give up his important political position for one remark that was an attempt to be kind!

So now we have another cycle: the spokesman, excuse me –the spokesperson—the voice, the mouth, the demonstrators, the protestors.  How is “Public Opinion” created and controlled in America today?  Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend in American discourse: dissenting opinions are shouted down or denied access to a public forum.  On the other hand, authorities are demanding increasing access to private information.  For example, colleges and employers are now demanding passwords and access to social media sites.

We should not take lightly the impact of the TV talking heads who promote split screens and bait their guests to yell and scream, to interrupt, to talk without giving the other person a chance to respond and then close with, “Gotta go to a break!. Great Debate, folks.”  I wonder if some TV anchors even know what a real debate is.  The scary thing is that some of them are actually lawyers, even judges!

So where do we start a change?  It sounds sad, but I think it starts with the money.  The media makes its money from advertising.  Hollywood makes its money from movie tickets.  Celebrities make their money from endorsements.  Why did states vie so adamantly for early primaries?  It certainly wasn’t to improve the election process; it was to bring in the “big bucks” from the hospitality services provided for the media crews and the visiting politicians.  The media exacerbated the least fabric of dissension to encourage the sale of advertising time.  A Presidential visit generally costs a community something in excess of $100,000.  Much of that cost is actually charged to taxpayers, but politicians and media see it as bringing money into their coffers.

Why has this happened?  I’ll continue with that answer in my next blog. –FinePickens

In the meantime: squeak! squeak!

Wow! I’ve made it to DAY TWO

So why should YOU read my blog?

That’s a great question.  With gurus galore and millions of new books published every year, millions-or is it billions- of new blogs  — What makes my blog different?  Honestly, I am sure that you can find at least hundreds of blogs that are similar to mine, but they all lack one thing that this blog has —  This blog has ME –Ken Dauer, aka FinePickens, recently added also aka TheOldGuy.

So, welcome to the blog of FinePickens.  A few of you may benefit from looking up the definition of the words in my tagline.  Perspicacious, Peripatetic — I like those words; not because they have so many syllables, but because they engender so much meaning.

If you are reading this blog, you should give yourself much credit for how smart you really are.  Like it or not, your life is blessed with the trials and tribulations of modern society.  I used to congratulate my students on their intelligence with this story:

“You are smarter than some of the Presidents of the United States.  Just imagine what might happen if George Washington could walk into this room, right now.  If I were to ask him to turn on the lights, he would probably reach in his pocket and pull out a match and start looking for the candles.  If I were to ask any one of you, you would walk over to a strange switch on the wall, flip it the other way and fully expect something to happen to the objects in the ceiling.”  Just to tickle their minds I would add, “Can’t you just imagine when George needed to go to the bathroom — he’d be out behind the schoolhouse looking for a much smaller building?”  Of course, I realize that some of you younger folks will look at that last comment and wonder, “What in the world is he talking about?”  Folks, things change!

Things change, we change as the things around us change.  Our culture changes as things change, so here I have another story.  In the 1980’s computers came into the schools.  I was blessed with the support of a school board and administration which saw fit to put into my high school English/Language Arts classroom, one of the first file-sharing computer networks using word processing on a Novell platform.  From today’s perspective, it was archaic at best; but then, it was one of less than a handful of computerized “writing labs” across the country.

At the same time “Technology Education” became quite a catch-phrase.  Consequently, students would come into my class, excited about the latest robot they had created or the machine that would replace five humans.  In my classes, I expected the students to continue to talk about great ideas from literature and history.  They were expected to use the computerized writing lab to share their research and to engage in “peer editing”.  About that time another phrase popped up: “Collaborative Learning”.  I was finally able to capture the time with this statement to the students.

“You go to Vocational Education courses where you learn how things are changing; you come to English/Language Arts to learn how things are remaining the same.”  There is the old cliche: You should learn from history because you won’t have time to make the mistakes of the past.

Life is filled with choices.  For me, among the most meaningful of choices is to be clear about “What to remember” and “What to forget”.  When my wife makes a remark about becoming forgetful, I remind her that from my perspective that’s a good thing.

(c) FinePickens

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Hello from FinePickens

I’ve heard a lot about this new-fangled technology: you know, the blogosphere the technograffitti, etc.  So I thought I’d put in my two cents.  Notice that I used the correct “two”.

From swinging on “hay ropes” in the barn and building tunnels in the bales of hay to being a sysop in one of the first file-sharing networks in a high school English classroom and then into a working retirement, I’ve managed to develop a few opinions and observations –not necessarily in that order.

I invite most people to follow this blog, but I make no promise that it will be something that lasts forever.  Given the learning curve to start up, I may lose interest very quickly.  If you are a compassionate person who would like to give me some encouragement through the learning curve, you would be deeply appreciated.

For me, it is time to seriously rethink what we have become.  That is not to say that the world is a bad place, but it is sometimes very difficult to face.  I see many people struggling for success, but they have no idea of where they are going.  I see lots of good intentions destroyed by unintended consequences.  But I do know of a source of hope, something less than fanatical, that provides that quiet sense of a meaningful life.

If you chose not to follow me in this blog, I won’t even know it.  But if you do choose to follow me, “Thank you, I look forward to becoming acquainted.”


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