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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

The Power of a Worldview

 a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.

In recent years, I've seen the word 'worldview' pop up a lot in books that I've read.  I thought that I understood the word and its definition, but now I'm certain that I didn't fully get it.  To be fair, short and sweet definitions like the one above didn't help me to grasp the importance or power of a worldview.

Think about it this way.  When you are presented new information, whatever it be, your brain quickly references other information previously stored that pertains to the new and crosschecks it to make sure that the new information makes sense and is true.  The more applicable previously stored information you have available to reference, the quicker your brain can let you know whether the new information you are receiving is worth considering or if you should put up your intellectual guard.  This is all done in a flash.  For example, if your coworker passively mentioned to you that the Big Mac he was eating for lunch cost him $104, you would immediately know that that cannot be true based off of all your personal experience.  He would see the look on your face change almost as quickly (our facial muscles aren't quite as fast as our gray matter) and then he would clarify that he got a $100 speeding ticket on the way back from McDonald's.  You would then release the facial expression you were holding throughout your coworker's explanation and probably say something like, "Oh, now I see."

What happened in my example was that your brain would not accept your coworker's statement as being true.  You knew that Big Macs cost somewhere around $4 or less and you knew that your coworker wasn't a complete fool to have paid McDonald's $104 for one.  Your brain rightly alerted you that something wasn't right with the new information that was being given to you.

We all do the exact same thing all the time with all new information given to us.  We can't help it.  It's how we are made.  We are logical beings.  And, because we all have a different set of experiences, we all react differently to different information.  Similar experiences likely draw similar reactions.

Now, where it gets interesting is that most of us have been led to believe by our homogenized public education that we can be objective observers if we choose to be.  We think that to look at something scientifically is to look at it objectively.  I would wholly disagree with that based off of what I have already discussed here so far.  There is no such thing as a human being being objective while taking in new information.  Our brains simply do not operate that way.  We can no more choose to be objective than we can choose to refrain from digesting our eaten lunch.

Our worldview is our collective experience boiled down to our decided beliefs.  All new information is crosschecked by our worldview.  It may be better thought of as a set of filters on our mind.  Our worldview is strengthened and made more mentally valid the more experiences we have that validate it.  Right or wrong, our worldview dictates to us what information may be considered and processed and what information isn't worth considering or processing.

A definition for 'worldview' is probably better understood when given the synonym 'bias'.  Interestingly enough, doesn't agree with me that bias is a synonym for worldview.  They have similar, and somewhat overlapping, synonym lists but they aren't given as synonyms for each other.  However, I feel they should be.  Our worldviews are not at all easily changed or adapted.  People may change their minds on fringe issues, but a change of worldview is totally life-altering.  Because, it's the foundation of all our other beliefs.  It's the filter to everything we have allowed ourselves to consider.  It's the core beliefs that we hold that are the cornerstone to our intellectual identities.

Even when we force ourselves to consider something that our worldview does not allow, all of our considerations are bent by our worldview.  Our worldview becomes a master over our mind and we are its slave.  That's not to say that we can't revolt.  We can.  But, it's nothing short of momentous when that happens.  It's most certainly not an often occurrence.  Quite the opposite, we rely on our worldview to help us understand our lives and the world around us.  It can be a good relationship between your worldview and yourself, but all too often it resembles more of an unhealthy codependency.  You need the reassurance of your worldview that simultaneously requires you to be its crutch supporting it with newly found evidences that support its decided truths.  Of course, when you're out to find evidence to support what you've already decided to be true, you will find evidence.  But, evidence doesn't make something true.  Evidence in itself requires interpretation.  Interpretation is done by individuals.  And, as we've discussed at length so far, individuals are flawed and have deeply ingrained set limitations on where they will allow the evidence to take them.  Their worldview is that hall monitor with tyrannical power.

All that said, I plan on writing a blog this week for which I know most people's worldview will discard it to the spam folder.  I know that you cannot read this blog objectively.  Your brain will make judgements throughout the text.  But, I challenge you to keep reading it anyway.  I challenge you to consider the information against the advice of your worldview.  You may be asking why I would want you to read it or why there would be any benefit to you to read it.  It's because I think we were all lied to.  I think that we were all fed information throughout our entire formative years that was specifically designed to create a worldview in us that would filter out the truth.  I believe that correcting this implanted aspect of our worldview is crucial to being able to accept and retain the truth of this world.  But, I'll warn you.  It's not for the faint of mind.  Having your worldview challenged isn't exactly a picnic, unless you go the route of intellectual self-protection and dismiss the challenge.  If, on the other hand, you resist the urge to dismiss and you instead step into the rabbit hole to see how deep it goes, I believe that you will find a new ability to step free of the binds with which your worldview has held you captive.  I believe that freedom will lead you to finding a much more satisfying worldview, one that allows for hope and a greater logical understanding of our world.

Lottery "Winner"

There's been a lot of talk about Powerball around the office for the last week or so.  With the jackpot reaching $1.5 billion, it has probably propelled even non-gamblers into the arena of ticket purchases.  I certainly don't blame anyone for doing so.  It's a dream that everyone has, I'm sure.  At one time or another (if not lots of times) all of us have dreamed about what it would be like to come across a seemingly endless supply of money.

Now the sad reality is that the jackpot is entirely comprised of lost and wasted money.  It's not quite as alluring when you think of it in those terms.  That money comes pretty much from the bottom of society, financially speaking, and is paid to someone who gets unpreparedly thrust to the top.  It's a backwards Robin Hood effect.  ThinkProgress stated the following concerning the subject.

And it’s those who can least afford to lose any money who are most likely to be buying tickets. Low-income people account for the majority of lottery sales, while sales are highest in the poorest areas. One study found that the poorest third of households buy more than half of the tickets sold in any given week.

Profit from those ticket sales go to government coffers. The share of lottery profits that is paid out to players varies greatly by state, from just 15 percent in West Virginia to 76 percent in Massachusetts. But even that smaller share in the latter state is an important source of revenue. In 2009, lotteries in 11 states brought in more revenue than the corporate income tax. And thus the lottery acts like an implicit 38 percent tax on mainly the poorest people.

Others suppose that there is a curse on lottery winners.  NYDailyNews lists a select few of the known disasters to the lives of lottery winners as

  • Abraham Shakespeare - won $30 million in 2006 and was so hounded by family and friends for money that he desperately transferred his assets to his newfound female friend who offered to help him avoid those seeking money from him only to be murdered by her shortly afterwards.
  • David Edwards - won $27 million in 2001, returned to drug abuse, spent it all, had almost nothing to show for it after living in a storage unit and then dying in 2013 on hospice at only 58.
  • Jeffery Dampier - won $20 million and reportedly showered his family with cash and gifts and yet was kidnapped and shot in the back of the head by his sister-in-law.
  • Urooj Khan - won $1 million and was found dead the next day of apparent cyanide poisoning.  Despite both his sister-in-law and father being suspected of being involved, no one was ever charged.
  • Michael Carroll - won $15 million in 2002 and managed to burn through all of it on parties, prostitutes, and cocaine so that he was left with nothing when he was finally jailed in 2006 for drug possession.
  • William Post - won $16 million and managed to be $1 million in debt just one year later.  He was forced to declare bankruptcy, his own brother was arrested for hiring a man to kill him, and he died while on food stamps at 66 years old.
  • Jack Whitaker - was already worth $17 million when he won $315 million in the lottery. He had churches built and donated 10% to Christian charities and even started a charity to provide food and clothes to low-income families.  But, his life fell apart when he became an alcoholic, had his wife leave him, was robbed twice, was sued, had his granddaughter and her boyfriend die of drug-overdoses while she lived on a weekly allowance from him, and even had his daughter die of unknown causes.  Both he and his ex-wife said that they had wished that he had torn the winning ticket up.
  • Evelyn Adams - won the lottery twice in two consecutive years totaling $5.3 million and then gambled it all away at casinos in a short span.
  • Billie Harrell Jr. - won $31 million, donated money to those in need, lent cash to close friends, but when he went broke two years later, his wife left him and he subsequently committed suicide.  Before his death, he said "winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me."

The article where I found all this stated that nearly 70% of lottery winners wind up broke within seven years.  I don't know that there is a "curse" per se on the lottery, but I am not sure there isn't.  Perhaps, and more likely, it's that when you take a normal person with normal problems and you very publicly pour money into their lives whereby exponentially amplifying their finances they also have their problems exponentially amplified in turn.

It makes you wonder.  Before I read all the crazy stuff above, I was already aware that I would have to bump up my family's security if I were to win (not that I play the lottery, I don't).  I would want some things that we don't have now, sure.  But, I realized that along with that, I would need to hire some security or something, because it's not living confortably if you're living in fear of being robbed or threatened.  When people know you have money, it likely attracts people who would like to take that money from you if given the opportunity.

Come to think of it, I'm willing to bet that most people are forced to move to avoid all the people who would just show up looking for a handout.  That would have to be unfortunate.  Just to have to uproot your life because of something "good" happening to you.

All this makes me think about one thing.  I will never win the lottery.  I know this because I don't play the lottery.  And, I understand that not playing the lottery seriously diminishes the chances of a person winning them.  That said, I will live in luxury some day.  I will live in a palace built by the King of Kings and I'll get to hang out with Him face to face.  I will dine with Him and I think that I'll even get to play soccer with Him.  I won't have to worry about security, or financial advisers, shady accountants, or anything.  I'll be taken care of and I will want for nothing.  I won't have to go to work and I'll get to chill with the family all day.  Jesus already won what matters for me, so I don't need to win anything.  With that knowledge, I don't need to want for anything here either.  I don't need to worry, because I'm already being taken care of regardless of what my circumstances may look like.  Just like a lottery winner, I didn't do anything that makes me "deserve" what was given to me.  But, far unlike a lottery winner, what was given to me cannot be taken away, lost, or destroyed.  AND, I can share all I want!  It never runs out!

"You're no Daisy at all"

Last Monday, we drove to Bolivar to pick up a dog.  Daisy was her name.  She was a rambunctious 10-month old golden retriever/lab mix.  She was a beautiful and sweet dog who I only heard bark a couple times.  Pretty ideal for us, really.  However, she had one big draw back.  She liked to jump up on us in her excitement to say hello.

(Sorry about the confusing picture if you've never watched Tombstone.  If you have watched it, then surely you understand the reference in combination with the title of this blog.)

She scared Ezra pretty bad their first day together when Daisy jumped up on her and knocked her to the ground.  Daisy wrestled on top of her, no doubt, just thinking that Ezra was having as much fun as she was having.  Lyric had to tackle Daisy off of Ezra big brother style.  But, Daisy jumps on him, too.  She's not a large dog, but she's pretty strong.  And, she overpowers even Lyric.  She jumps on me, too, but I don't have any trouble pushing her off to the side every time she tries.  She figures out pretty quick not to continue it.  Yet, she still has to relearn it every time we meet for the day.  Our cat, Cute (yes, that's her name), was not fond at all of adding a dog to our family.  I figured that they'd get to know each other eventually and get along, but I wonder if that would ever really happen.

Confession:  We aren't dog people.  I always knew this about myself.  And, Jodi knew it about herself, too.  We only got a dog because Lyric wanted one.  And, we got a good one, admittedly.  After the initial jumping and discouraging shoves from me, she would follow me around and be pretty good company.  She was fun to play with and had a lot of cute personality.

Alas, despite all the good about this dog, we had to find a new home for her.  Which we did.  And, I'm thankful for the couple that came and picked her up.  They're dog people.  They have a couple smaller dogs and had been looking for a good lab for some time since their older lab had died.  They treat their dogs like their children and even sent us a picture of Daisy playing with her new siblings in her new fenced-in backyard.

We had her for six days.  It was a good learning experience for Lyric and Ezra both, I think.  It showed them that while they love the idea of having a dog, the reality of caring for one is maybe more than what they really want.  We aren't fully opposed to getting a dog for them when we are more prepared for one, but I think that with this experience under their belt they will be more wise with what kind of dog they're looking for.  I personally think that they'd be more compatible with an old lazy dog.

Poorly Installed Electrical Recepticle Quick Fix

I'm not prone to posting "how to" videos, but I am commonly searching them out and have been helped tremendously through the years by those willing to post them, so I thought as I do things that others may find helpful, I should document what I am doing to help them out when they go searching the Internet for help.

This is a fix for those wall outlets that are too far back to properly put a wall plate on.  This also fixes wall outlets that move around when you go to plug something into them.  The root problem is the same: the electrical box was installed too deep in the wall.  A properly installed box will take into account the thickness of the drywall to be hung so that once the drywall is hung the box will be flush with the surface of the finished wall.

This outlet had a box that was way too far back and I couldn't even put a wall plate on it with the screw that came with it.  I had to find a longer screw to attach it but it still looked terrible with the outlet so deep.

To be safe, flip the breaker to the off position for the circuit that you will be working on.  Confirm that there is no power in the outlet by testing it with something.

Remove the wall plate.  Then, remove the outlet by taking the top and bottom screws completely out.

Reinstall the outlet but add some washers to the backside of the screw so that the outlet will stand further out.  I used two nuts for a larger sized screw in place of washers since I had so much distance to make up.

Add back the wall plate.  Add more washers or take some away as needed to acquire a perfect fit.  The wall plate should be snug to the wall on all four sides and the outlet should be flush to the surface of the wall plate.  If your wall plate starts to bend into a convex shape as you are attaching it, the outlet likely needs to be further out so add more washers.

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