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Rod’s Birthday Party

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Dogpiled Rod On His Birthday

Rod’s has his birthday today. Around 30 kids showed up. It was a lot of fun.

Why I think swimming is an ideal sport for 40+ year old adults.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

A long time ago I noticed that I often meet people that are barely able to move and I meet people that are totally mobile.  I very rarely meet anyone in the middle.  It’s not like most attributes, for example height, I meet tall people, short people, and all I know every height in the middle.  I meet dumb people and smart people and everything in the middle.

So about four years ago our dog Sebastian pretty much behaved like a young dog.  Then one day he was jumping around along with our other dogs and he got bumped into the wall.  His eyeball popped out and was hanging.  Yeah you read that right his eyeball popped out.

We took Sebastian to the vet and they fixed him all up… Sebastian has never been the same.  He literally became a little old dog after that.  He pretty much lays around sleeping and he’s been insanely grumpy since the accident.  He changed for a super mobile young dog to a little old dog in one day.

Looking back over my life I’ve noticed that people do the same thing.  They have a single bad injury once they are over 40 and they are never the same again.  I twisted my ankle playing basketball last year and it took be 7 months to heal up.  When I was 15 I would have been good as gold the next day.

Once a human is over 40 injuries can be life changing.  I’ve known several very active older people that broke a hip or something like that and then they were not mobile afterwards.  Now I think twice before going all out when I am playing a sport of even running.  I don’t want to find myself immobile and just watching life go by.

The nice thing about swimming is that I can go all out and I don’t have to worry about breaking something.  It’s very nice to be able to put 100% into something and know that I won’t be breaking a hip or leg.

Kids and recessions

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

I love hearing stories from my family members.  From time to time Melissa tells me stories that sound like they are out of a Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn book.  These usually start with a canoe trip and a camp fire with her brother.  Melissa often says that the period of her life when she was having these adventures was the best part of her childhood.

One thing about me is that I am always very curious about all of the details about any story.  I want to know what led up to the story and how the events in the story impacted life afterwords.  I have always asked so many questions about the details of any story that when I was in high school all of the potheads were convinced that I was a cop.  That would have been a heck of a trick considering I went to Moriarity School from 5th ot 12th grade… but I digress.

Through my intense questioniong I have learned that Melissa’s father had a horrible accident in which he burned a large percentage of his body.  Her father was in the hospital for around 3 months.  As a result of the accident Melissa and her family lost almost everything the owned.  They found themselves in a situation where just after getting back from the hospital they had to leave literally their home and almost all of their possessions in the dead of night.

Somehow her family obtained a very inexpensive travel trailer and they moved into some kind of public or private camp site.  The campsite was on a lake where other campers were happy to lend a hand or share resources like canoes.

My guess is that Melissa’s family lived in the campsite for some time between 3 weeks and 2 months.

The point… My guess is that this was probably one of the most stressful times of Melissa’s parents life.  Imagine her dad almost died and they lost everything.  At the same time Melissa and her brother were having one of the best times of their lives.  They got to spend a lot of time with their parents and they got to live a more primative lifestyle.

The real point… If you are having a bad financial time and your adding stress to yourself because you are worried about how it will impact your kids, don’t.  Your kids are much more capable of adapting and enjoying a shifting lifestyle than you are.  The kids will find a way to enjoy their lives very quickly.  Sure they will be scared and they will resist change, but they will bounce back very quickly.  The only way the kids will be truly miserable is if the adults in their lives make them miserable.

Big Old Dog Was Getting Mean

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

We have a 10 year old Black Lab/German Shepard Mix named Dutch.  Dutch weighs 110 pounds so he is a very big dog.  About three weeks ago he started to get very mean and he was snapping at our other dogs.  He even drew blood on two of them.

I did some research on the Internet and most of the sites I found thought that dogs that used to be nice turning mean was usually the result of two fixable things.  First, the dog is in pain for some reason.  Second, the dog’s environment has changed.  Sadly, both had happened to him.

First, our house was flooded in the recent floods here in Georgia.  Our lower level was under about 18 inches of water.  Our daughter’s room is down there and so she was stuck sleeping on the couch which is where Dutch usually sleeps.

Second, we took him to our AWESOME vet Dr. Orr in Cumming GA and it turns out that Dutch had two ear infections and his hips were getting arthritis.  So we put him on a bunch of meds and Dutch is back to being a sweet old boy…  I love happy endings :)

Worx Cordless Lawnmower

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

I’ve been using my mower for about 2 months now and I like it a lot. It’s great because it’s so easy to use that I mow my lawn for about 20 minutes a night. It’s actually fun. In an emergency mowing my entire 1/4 acre lawn in one shot is not a problem. I just prefer to do it in small daily chunks.

The Worx Cordless Lawnmower gets 5 out of 5 stars from me.

Worx cordless lawn mower.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I’ve been using my Worx Lawn Mower for a couple of weeks and it’s really nice. It’s really easy to start and it doesn’t have exhaust. I have a very big yard and I use it for about 20 minutes a day. Since it’s easy to start (push a button), it’s not very loud, and since it doesn’t make you stink (no exhaust) it’s actually fun to use.

Family Status…

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

I’m still trying to figure out what this blog is all about.  For some reason I never thought to keep the status of my family on this blog…

Here’s the status:

Dad 40 working at ADP glad to be employeed

Mom 23 ;) studying gemology

Ana 19 student at KSU; plays for KSU and coaching Lax for Kell Middle School

Rod 12 middle school; playing basketball for Kell and Lax for Kell

Lex 11 elementary school, playing  basketball at the Y and Lax for Kell

Small Business Failure… thoughts

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Today I am heading down to Alpharetta because a tile business I know of is giving away the last of their inventory.  It’s always sad to see someone’s dreams wind down to it’s untimely end.  This is especially painful for me because we had a small business fail.

Closing a small business is very hard for two reasons:

1.  It’s hard to fail.  Failure is a real bummer.

2.  Most small businesses help the local community in many ways.  Small businesses often hire people with problems (people that can’t work at a normal job).  It’s always hard to tell someone that’s living on the edge that they have lost their income.  Small businesses usually support tiny local groups the ones that you don’t get a tax write off for.  Small businesses usually have people that like to hang out and connect at them (the people that hang out at your shop and then buy at Walmart… ok I am a little bitter).  The point is that when you close a small business you say goodbye to a lot of people.

So what makes running a small business so hard?  The cards are stacked against small businesses in the following ways:

1.  Credit Cards – For the first two weeks we were open our business did not accept credit cards, after we started accepting credit cards our business increased four times. Sadly credit cards are necessary.

I can illustrate my point through a story… when I was in HS I ran track.  My events were the 1500M and the 3000M.  I was the third fastest on the team, but to be honest the first and second fastest were MUCH faster.  A few times throughout the season my coach put five pound vests on the first and second fastest guys and we raced a mile.  If you have ever worn a five pound vest you know that it’s hardly noticeable at first.  Before the first race they didn’t think the vests would make a difference.  I ended up beating both of them.  The thing that was interesting about it was that all of the non-distance athletes thought I had just gotten faster.  They were all cheering and clapping when I came in first place.  They did not know that the other two athletes were wearing five pound vests.  We all learned two important things.  First, it doesn’t take much of a disadvantage to pull the better athlete down.  Second, they really weren’t that much better than me, but being a little bit better makes a HUGE difference.

So now I can make my point.  The percentage of a business’ sales that has to be payed to credit cards is like a weighted vest on an athlete.  As a business’ volume increases the percentage the business has to pay goes down.  So the weighted vest gets lighter as it gets busier.  So the way the current system works would be the equivalent to my coaches in HS making the slowest runners wear the heaviest weight in a race.

2. Rent, if you go to a strip mall and ask how much the rent is you will probably be quoted a price per square foot that’s 2 or 3 times what a national account would be charged.  I know this because one time we asked for a price quote on a location and the rate was $21.00 a square foot.  A few weeks later I found out that the property manager was one of my co-worker’s sister.  He was a very talkative fellow and he told me that the rate they charge for national accounts was $7.00 a square foot.  So from a head to head perspective a small business is at a huge disadvantage.

3. Rent again.  If you open a small business you will likely be competing against giant superstores.  If that is the case then those superstores typically pay less than $1.00 a square foot.

4. Taxes.  Most giant corporations work out deals for tax breaks.  So they may collect 6% in sales tax, but then the state or city returns some or all of that back. Many times these companies report profits of 3% so basically every cent of profit they made was made off of the tax payer.  It’s like the tax payers is footing the bill to put small businesses out of business.

5. Volume.  So lets say you sell shoes and you can buy at whole sale prices as the big guys (unlikely) then this is the situation.  I took an intro to business class and I remember they described the way a business owner should see selling inventory.  Let’s say the big corp buys 10,000 units for $10.00 each this is a possible scenario:

Month 1: Sells 3000 units for $30.00 each (earns $90,000)

Month 2: Sells 3000 units for $20.00 each (earns $60,000)

Month 3: Sells 3000 units for $10.00 each (earns $30,000)

Month 4: Sells 1000 units for $5.00 each (earns $5,000)

Total Sales: $185,000

Total Cost: $100,000

Total Profit: $85,000

As a small business you may look a catalog and see that you can buy 1000 pairs of shoes for $10,000 and those shoes at $30.00 a pair at the mall.  You think… awesome I can sell these shoes for $20.00 a pair and undercut the mall.  The problem is that by the time you get the shoes the mall is in month two or maybe worse month three and they are selling them at your cost.  Then the small business is in a world of pain when the mall is selling the shoes for half the small business’ cost.

6. Debt: One business I just loved was Steve and Berry’s.  They sold leather jackets and nice shoes for around $10.00.  Everything in their store was one price that was around $10.00.  Whenever we visit out daughter in NJ we load up.  I remember wondering how they make any money at those prices.  The answer is they don’t, they lose money.  They use(d) loans.  A lot of these giant corporations have access to billions in debt.  They can lose money for decades before anyone can tell that they have lost any money.  I’ve seen companies report profits for decades and then suddenly one year they go bankrupt with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.  A company reports 50 million a year in profit for 10 years and then suddenly go bankrupt in year 11 with 800 million in debt.  So instead of 500 million in profit over ten years they actually had 300 million in losses over 11 years.  Then the banks collapse and the tax power bails them out and I am left to wonder how many small businesses did that giant corporation run out of business over the last 11 years.

I am sure there are a lot more disadvantages, but I can’t of any more right now.

So why do some small business succeed?

1. I think most small businesses aren’t in it for the profits.  I’ve noticed that many small businesses are owned by individuals that are married to sales professionals.  If you own a thriving small business you may not be making any money, but you know a lot of people and you know what’s happening in the community.  If your spouse sells real estate, mortgages, insurance, or is a lawyer, or something else like that then a small business can be a great way to get customers to the spouse.

2. Many small businesses are owned by politicians.  To reiterate the previous point when we owned Melissa’s Boutique Melissa had 600 consigners and 2000 people on her email list.  She could with a push of a button contact 2600 people and the vast majority of them lived in Marietta.  Marietta is a city of about 100,000 people.  If you think about it Melissa was probably one node away from every citizen in Marietta.  Almost every mom in Marietta knew Melissa or knew someone that knew Melissa.  Small businesses are perfect for most politicians and as long as they break even or don’t lose too much money it’s the cheapest way to communicate and earn the trust of massive numbers of people.

3. Many small businesses are a different identity.  You can do business as a small business, but if things go bad you can start a new small business and have a fresh start.  Many people in the roofing, construction, mechanic… business pretty much just practice their trade.  Then if they get sued or make a huge mistake they can close the small business down and get a fresh start.

4. Many small businesses are vanity businesses.  A lot of people respect business owners (as they should IMHO) and people keep the business open for pride and because it’s good for the community.

5. Special side effects.  I met a guy that owned a bed and breakfast once.  He was working in a gas station in a tiny town in the mountains.  He worked the graveyard shift and I think he would drum up business by selling rooms to travelers that looked really tired at the gas station.  He told me about the awesome B&B that he owned and how it was 6000 SF and they had animals and they served a great breakfast and… and… and… The place sounded awesome, but I remember feeling sorry for the guy working all night at a gas station to keep the B&B afloat.  Then about a week ago I remember thinking Whoa, how many gas station attendants live in a 6000 SF house, with horses and stables, and mountain bike trails?  I know plenty of people that work 80 hours a week that don’t live that kind of lifestyle.  My guess is that the B&B loses money, but it’s probably worth it because he gets to live in an awesome environment.  He owns a business.  He gets to write everything (including his food, housing, probably clothing…) off as losses.  That’s an awesome side effect.

Small businesses have lots of advantages as well as disadvantages.  The point is if you think you are going to take on the big guys by running a traditional business for profit you IMHO are in for a long and painful journey.  But if you are clever and create a useful small business to drive business to a more profitable and difficult sale or if you use a small business as a way to improve your lifestyle then it makes a lot of sense.

Three minutes a room

Friday, August 1st, 2008

I was reading a story about how many house wives are getting addicted to meth so they can get all of their housework done.  I also know families that give up a full day (either Saturday or Sunday).  This is very, very sad.  I mean most families have two days a week togethor and they give up one of them to clean.  Or even worse a loving wife becomes a drug addict so the family can have free weekends.

I was just thinking THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY.  So here’s what I have come up with, every member of the family spends about 3 minutes a day cleaning a room.  We’ve been doing it for about three weeks and I can’t believe how well it works.  After about two weeks the hows was very clean.  It’s actually pretty fun and everyone pitches in and the job gets done.  No need to give up the weekend and no need to take drugs.

It works like a charm.