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Happiness Is….

picture of smiley face

What is happiness to you? It seems to me that the more people seek for happiness, the more discontented they are. I read somewhere that if we stopped trying to be happy, we would probably enjoy life more. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. is credited with saying, "Happiness is not found by looking for it. You stumble over happiness on the road to duty."

Recently I received an e-mail about a happiness kit. When I saw it, I knew immediately that I wanted to share it on my blog.

Employee Happiness Kits Now Available


All personnel will now be required to look happy while working. We will provide the supplies to each employee at no cost.

    Workloads getting to you?
    Feeling stressed?
    Too many priorities and assignments?
    Worried about pending layoffs?

Here is the new low-cost, company-approved solution to cope with multiple priorities and assignments.

Each employee will be supplied 2 paper clips and 2 rubber bands. (See Fig 1.)

Fig 1.

picture of kit supplies

Assemble items as shown in Fig 2.

Fig 2.

picture of supplies assembled

Apply as shown in Fig 3.

Fig 3.

kit in applied

Be sure to stop by the front desk to pick up your supplies. Enjoy your day. This new office equipment will help you to reach the end of a productive work day with a smile on your face! 😀


Even though that may have brought a smile to your face, we all know that a fake smile on the face is not an indication of a happy heart. Here's a story about happiness.

A 92-year-old man, who was fully dressed, clean-shaven and hair perfectly coiffed moved to our nursing home today. His appearance was all the more remarkable when I considered that he is legally blind. His wife of 70 years had recently passed away, making the move necessary. After having to wait for a long time in the lobby, he smiled sweetly when I told him his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet curtains that had been hung on his window.

"I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"But Mr. Smith, you haven't even seen the room yet – just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied.

"Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I have already decided to love it.

"It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice – I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

"We convince ourselves that life will be better after we finish school, get married, have a baby, then another....

"Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and say we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with; we'll certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

"We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are we able to go on a nice vacation, or when we retire.

"The truth is, if you're not going to be happy now, then when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

"Happiness is the way, not the end. Treasure every moment that you have, and treasure it all the more if you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with. And remember that time waits for no one, so don't you wait either!

"So, stop waiting....

until your car or home is paid off

until you get a new car or home

until your kids leave the house

until you go back to school

until you finish school

until you lose 10 lbs.

until you gain 10 lbs.

until you get married

until you have kids

until vacation

until you have grandkids

until you retire

until you die

"Young lady, there is no better time to be happy than right now. Happiness is a journey, not a destination."


picture of Spot a tot button

This week is our annual Bible Conference on campus. The gang at Creative Services on campus is sponsoring a fund-raiser for the Bible Conference offering. They've come up with a collection of buttons they're selling. Oh my! 😳 You can check them out at http://wiiiju.com If you would like to watch any of the messages live via streaming video online, here's the link to that - Bible Conference 2009

Our grandson Drew is usually a happy little guy. He recently got to meet Curious George at Barnes & Noble. Drew enjoyed high-fiving George.

picture of Megan, Drew, and Curious George

Megan and a good friend took their boys to McDonald's recently for lunch. They thought they'd let them try out the play area for their first time. They are both still a little young and didn't attempt much climbing, but they enjoyed it in their own way.

picture of Drew and Joey on slide

It doesn't take much to make little ones happy, does it? Maybe it's because at that age their expectations are lower than they are later in life. What advice do you give to unhappy people?


"Discontent is rooted in unbelief.... We bring God glory when we are content with what He is and does." - Dr. Jim Berg

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A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. (My wife has asked me to remember this....) 😀

The Power of Advertising

If I had any doubts concerning the power of advertising, they all vanished this past week as a result of something I participated in on campus last Tuesday. At our university we have a special day once every four years called Gold Rush Daze. Classes are suspended and the students and faculty enjoy fun activities the whole day.

I helped serve "breakfast in bed" in one of the men's dorms that morning, but my main participation in the day's festivities was in the program called Faculty Body that the faculty put on in the evening. Several weeks prior to Gold Rush Daze, my office mate Phil and I worked up four "Bo-Jonic" commercials, knock-offs of some Sonic ads that appear on TV. We spent an afternoon with several people from BJ HomeSat taping the ads in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

In anticipation of the evening, not having seen the finished products, Phil and I were fearful that our ads would totally bomb, making us the laughing stock of the campus. However the ads went over far better than we ever imagined they would! Here's a shot of me eating a tater-tot I'd bummed off of Phil, not knowing he had licked it before handing it to me! 😯

picture of me eating a tot

The folks at HomeSat did a fantastic job with the taping and editing, even adding the SLAP sound effect and the words in red. The ads looked so authentic! Here's a picture of the tail end of that ad.

picture of frozen frame

Several people told us that, after seeing our Bo-Jonic ads, Sonic and tater-tots were on their minds so much that they went to the Sonic closest to the campus on their way home. However when they got there, they were turned away – the folks at Sonic were so overwhelmed with people coming from BJ that they couldn't take and fill any more orders. The next-closest Sonic to campus was a little less busy, but bustling with BJ people nonetheless.

Even though our commercial spots were not for Sonic, per se, the suggestion alone was sufficient to induce people to head over to Sonic anyway. A while back I did a blog post on effective advertising. Since then, I have come across some other shopping bags that are quite creative, some advertising products and some promoting social causes.

If I saw this bag, I know that I would instantly crave some Nutella.

picture of Nutella bag

Here's a great bag advertising a pain reliever called Panadol Extra.

picture of Panadol bag

Here's another bag advertising Panadol Extra, perhaps even more effectively.

picture of Panadol bag

These two bags definitely have a touch of class.

picture of upscale bag

It appears that the side of the bag with the hands is mostly transparent, creating the illusion that a person is holding the book that's inside the bag.

picture of bookstore bag

This is a creative bag for a car dealer.

picture of steering wheel bag

Here's a bag from a Belgian animal rights organization GAIA (Global Action in the Interest of Animals) protesting the cruelty of making and eating foie gras. The bag says, "Folter deze gans. En spaar de echte: eet geen Foie Gras." = "Torture this goose. And spare the real ones: don’t eat foie gras."

picture of gooseneck bag

This bag promotes fitness in a unique way.

picture of fitness bag

This bag seeks to motivate people to help those with autism.

picture of autism bag

The Red Cross is always eager to have people donate blood. I'm afraid it would take more than this bag to move me to give blood.

picture of blood donor bag

Although it's cute, if the bag below is advertising something, it's so cryptic that I can't figure it out. Can anyone help me on this? (added Friday morning, March 20, 2009 - Since posting this, I have learned from a commenter and by e-mail that the woman on the bag below is Yulia Tymoshenko, the Prime Minister of Ukraine. She's iconic in Europe for her braids.)

picture of bag with braids

People have told Phil and me that they can't see us without thinking of Sonic or tater-tots, or they can't drive by Sonic without thinking of us – a testimonial to the effectiveness of branding in commercials. Do you think that advertising is effective on you or your family? Could you give us an example?


"The worst that this world can dish out to you is just an opportunity to serve God in a way you hadn't even thought of." - Dr. Drew Conley

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"I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second." - Steven Wright

Can You Take It with You?

picture of us at Biltmore

This past weekend I was reminded strongly of the folly of living for stuff. A few weeks ago a friend gave us tickets to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC. We had not been there since the day we got engaged, almost 33 years ago. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, even though it was cold and rainy. We could not believe how many visitors there were! It was a packed out house (or as I love to say, a packed outhouse)!

As we toured the house many thoughts went through my mind. Some of the rooms were literally so large that our entire little house would fit inside them. The 175,000 square-foot (16 300 m2) house with its 255 rooms and beautiful gardens reminded me of the châteaux we have visited in Europe. Although today's liberal politicians would try their best (or worst) to incite us to class envy by criticizing George Vanderbilt for using his own money to build the house he wanted and could afford, the building project and maintenance afterwards provided jobs for many people. I said to my wife that since Obama wants to create jobs, he ought to build a house like this. One difference would be that he would not be doing it with his own money.

As I viewed some of the amenities in Biltmore, my mind went to a post I did called Changing Times about what life was like in the US in the year 1900, which is right at the time Vanderbilt had just moved into his new estate. There was quite a contrast between what we saw in Biltmore and what most Americans considered the norm in 1900.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the house, but I was able to find some online to show some of the amazing features.

The first thing you see upon entering is the "Winter Garden." There were many plants and flowers throughout the house, and as far as we could tell by what we touched, they were all real.

picture of winter garden

Here's a view of just part of the banquet hall. The table can be extended to a length of 40 feet. Notice the triple fireplace at the far end.

picture of banquet hall

In the basement of the house we saw the Vanderbilts' two-lane bowling alley.

picture of bowling alley

Although there was no water in it, we were able to see the world's first indoor swimming pool in the basement.

picture of swimming pool

After visiting the house we stopped at the River Bend Farm on the Biltmore Estate. Even though it was winter and rainy, we were glad we visited it. As we watched a film inside the barn we learned much of the good that had come to the people living in that area as a result of George Vanderbilt's having built his mansion there. His interest in horticulture and his goal of running Biltmore as a self-sustaining estate was extremely beneficial to people in the area and added to advances in farming techniques in the United States.

Near the barn we visited the woodworker's shop, the blacksmith's shop, and the mercantile. The blacksmith was particularly entertaining and informative.

picture of blacksmith

There was a barnyard with animals to pet, including two huge horses. Here's one of them.

picture of horse

We enjoyed petting the adorable baby pygmy goats that were the size of our cats.

picture of baby goats

I don't know how much George Vanderbilt obsessed about his mansion, but I do know that he was able to live there for only a short time 1898-1914, dying at the age of 52 of complications from an appendectomy. And his magnificent house is still here – he couldn't take it with him. It made me think of a story to share.

There once was a believing rich man who was dying. While on his death bed, he tried to get the Lord to let him bring his earthly treasures with him to heaven. "Lord, please, I have worked so hard to accumulate all these riches. Can't I bring them along?"

The Lord spoke to his heart, telling him, "I never grant this request. Go ahead and plan what you would bring if I permitted you to bring just one suitcase, and we'll talk about it once you're in heaven."

The man immediately began to think about what he could take in just one suitcase. Finally he had a servant fill a large suitcase with gold bricks. Shortly thereafter, he died.

When the man got to heaven, he was amazed at the beauty surrounding him, and to say he was overwhelmed when he saw the Lord for the first time would be a huge understatement.

Enjoying the splendors of his new home, the man completely forgot about the suitcase he had wanted to bring along, until the Lord asked him about it. "My child, tell me what you planned to put into that suitcase you wanted to bring."

"Oh yes, Lord. I forgot all about that! I had my servant pack a large suitcase with bricks of gold."

The Lord said, "I know you haven't been able to see everything up here yet." He continued by asking him kindly, "But what in the world were you thinking when you decided to bring pavement?"


Have you ever visited the Biltmore or other mansions of the world? What were your impressions? Becka reminded me Saturday of a quotation from Joan, a friend of my mom, "Europe is a nice place to visit, but I sure wouldn't want to have to dust it!"


"Possessions have a way of possessing us as they take the place of God in our hearts." - Dr. Drew Conley

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I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

The Importance of Walking as Exercise

picture of walking feet

Do you enjoy walking? There is all kinds of evidence concerning the benefits of walking as exercise. Last year my wife and I took part in our university's Wellness Challenge. For various reasons we chose not to do so this year, and I have to say that, even though I walk a lot, I am still walking less than I did last year. And currently I weigh 4 pounds more than I did at the end of the Wellness Challenge.

People in many countries walk far more than Americans do, and most of them are slimmer. Although it may not be attributed completely to the fact that they walk more, I'm convinced that that is at least one factor in the equation. Here are some comments about walking and exercise in general that make me chuckle.

The Importance of Walking as Exercise

Each time you go for a walk, you can add minutes to your life. This enables you at 85 years old to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing home at $7000 per month.

My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60. Now he's 97 years old and we don't know where he is.

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

I have to walk early in the morning, before my brain figures out what I'm doing.

I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to go there.

Every time I hear or say the dirty word exercise, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

I do have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.

The advantage of exercising every day is so that when you die, they'll say, "Well, she looks good, doesn't she."

If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years, just to get over the hill.

We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our heads. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

They say you can't really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. I say if they've got itsy-bitsy feet or some kind of foot disease, I don't wanna know 'em!

You could print this post and walk it over to your friends' desks, but you might as well just e-mail them a link to this post.


Our daughter Megan posted some cute pictures recently on her blog. In spite of the demands of global warming, they have experienced a particularly hard winter up in Michigan. She commented on her blog that when they would go to the garage to get in the car, our grandson Drew would see his truck and want to play with it. After having to tell him repeatedly that there was too much ice and snow, they have finally had a break in the weather that allowed him to play in it for a while.

picture of Drew in his truck

It's like the Flintstones' car in that his walking makes it go. His friend Curious George, who goes with Drew everywhere, looks like he's enjoying being a backseat driver.

Drew turned two on Monday of this week. When we think about how tiny he was at his premature birth, we're especially thankful that he's such a healthy, happy little guy. Since we couldn't go up this year for his birthday as we did for his first birthday, Grandma and I mailed a package of gifts up to Drew. Here's a picture of him with the new Curious George we gave him.

picture of Drew and his new George

We were fearful that he might reject the new George, but we've been assured that he hasn't.


"Yield to the God who takes failures and restores them to usefulness." - Dr. Drew Conley

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Before I criticize a man, I walk a mile in his shoes. That way if he gets angry at my criticism, he is a mile away and barefoot.

picture of walker

Redneck Ingenuity

picture of redneck group

What is a redneck? Comedian Jeff Foxworthy defines a "redneck" as someone with "a glorious lack of sophistication," stating "that we are all guilty of [it] at one time or another." I would say from my life's experiences that there are probably quite a few of us who are rednecks with an extremely thin veneer of culture or refinement.

I read several different ideas of where the term "redneck" originated, but it was first applied to poor or working class white people from Appalachia, then later to people in that group in the whole southern part of the United States. Eventually the usage has widened to refer to people as rednecks throughout the United States and Canada. I found that the term "bogan" is used in Australia and New Zealand, and I learned in France that the French frequently use the term "paysan" (peasant). Can any of you from other countries tell us your term for rednecks?

It seems to me that at least one aspect of redneckery is being a packrat – if you throw something away, you will immediately need it and wish you had held on to it. Most rednecks are probably just making do and getting by with what they have – something everyone may all end up having to do if our economy continues to decline. Many of the abundant redneck jokes poke fun at old cars in the yard, old appliances on the porch, etc. Snobs might not prefer to think of it this way, but could rednecks just be practicing a different form of the modern virtue of recycling?

My wife and I enjoy watching the Red Green Show, Saturday evenings on PBS. Red and his friends could easily be among those Canadian rednecks. Their inventive use of unlikely objects that had been packratted away along with their heavy use of duct tape shows great redneck ingenuity. Here's a picture from the show's website:

picture of Red Green

The use of large quantities of duct tape by Red Green and the others in the Possum Lodge is a practice is not restricted to just Canadian rednecks.

Here's a redneck moving van in the USA.

picture of redneck moving van

Here's a rear view of that "moving van" heading down the highway.

picture of redneck moving van

This past week someone sent me the following comic strip along this theme.

picture of redneck mummy

A redneck snowplow....

picture of redneck snowplow

Some redneck body work...

picture of redneck body work

A redneck doghouse...

picture of redneck doghouse

A redneck mailbox...

picture of redneck mailbox

Some redneck planters (American Standard?)...

picture of redneck flower planters

A redneck fire alarm...

picture of redneck fire alarm

Rednecks do other amazing things with food as well. Here's some redneck seafood....

picture of redneck seafood

And the "pièce de résistance" – a redneck wedding cake...

picture of redneck wedding cake

I'll post more redneck pictures in the future.


"Every time you change something, something has to change." - Becka Loach

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Q: What's the most popular redneck pick up line?
A: Hey, nice tooth!