Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Way of the Wild Heart

The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldridge

This book is a continuation of the topics covered in the book Wild at Heart and has good expansion and further development of the themes. Eldridge's basic premise is that there are 6 stages of the full masculine journey in life. That of the boy, cowboy/ranger, warrior, lover, king, and sage. In each stage the boy/man walks through crucial elements in his development as a man.

The boy stage is when he is young and enjoying doing boy stuff like playing outside, exploring, climbing trees, basically having fun and being delighted in by his parents and family.

The cowboy/ranger stage is when the boy moves more into the young manhood stage where he goes out exploring on his on and begins learning the things of the masculine world such as how to fix a car, working with power tools, going on backpacking journeys in the woods either alone or with some of his friends. This could also include such adventures as backpacking across Europe. The main part of this stage is his learning the answer to the question "do I have what it takes/can I handle this?"

The warrior stage is when the man is beginning his quest and mission in life which may include beginning a career such as a teacher, lawyer, doctor, consultant, mechanic, salesman, or becoming a missionary overseas. This is the stage in which he is finding his cause to fight for and the things that are important to him and what he will work towards during his life.

The lover stage sometimes crosses over with the warrior stage. This is when the man is learning to appreciate beauty and how to love. It is not necessarily when he pursues a woman and learns to love in that sense but can also include the awakening to the beautiful things in life such as nature, art, and music. Full development in this stage will include learning to love and be loved by God in an intimate way. Something Eldridge said which makes sense is that it is best for the man to have established himself as a warrior before entering this stage. Many women can be frustrated with the men they marry who don't seem to have a sense of purpose to their lives and Eldridge indicates that it is best for the man to come to the woman from a state of strength and having journeyed through at least parts of the warrior stage.

The king stage is when the man becomes responsible for leading others. This might include being the head of his household, becoming a manager at work, or a coach of a team. During this stage, warriors may be working for the king.

The final stage is that of the sage. This occurs when a man steps down as a king but does not fade into the distance. He will commonly be an adviser to kings and provide the wisdom that comes only through years of living through the various stages. Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings trilogy would fit this category.

During each of the stages, the man will likely experience parts of all the stages but will generally be centered upon one of them. I highly recommend this book as an excellent understanding of the development of a man and what makes a whole and complete man.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spaghetti Score

We now introduce the Spaghetti Score. This will serve as a means to count the number of times the author eats spaghetti. This tasty bit of Italian cuisine serves as a staple in my diet and I thought it would be entertaining to track how frequently I partake. The rules of the game include spaghetti eaten with or without sauce. Each meal will increment the score by 1.

A counter titled Spaghetti Score will reside in the column to the right and will track number of times spaghetti has been eaten as a meal since June of 2007. As of this writing, the current score is 4. Stay tuned for updates.

Truman Library

This past weekend, I visited the Truman Presidential Museum & Library in Independence, MO. I thought it was well laid out and provided good information on Truman's life prior to becoming president as well as the decisions he was involved with during his presidency. He presided over some major events in history such as the decision to drop the atomic bomb during World War II, the recognition of Israel as a nation, the Korean War, and the founding of the United Nations, among others. Some famous quotes he's known for are "the buck stops here" and "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Planning a Vacation: Tips and Tricks

Having done a fair amount of travel in Europe and the US, I've picked up a few tricks along the way.

Outline a high level itinerary that you'd like to accomplish and when you would like to do what. While you may not stick to this schedule, I've found it very beneficial in ultimately seeing, doing, and accomplishing much more than just showing up and deciding what to do when you get there. In your research, you may even discover options you didn't previously know were available.

When first arriving in a city get out and walk. Anywhere. This will help to establish a framework and base from which to work while you're there. If you're into running/jogging, get up in the morning and go for a run to take in some of the sites and get a lay of the land. Essential to the walking/running is a good pair of comfortable shoes.

As far as transportation when you get there, if you'll be doing a good bit of sightseeing, walking can be the best option. You won't be tethered to a car and in all European cities that I've visited, I was easily able to see everything I wanted by using the trusty old feet. Public transportation such as bus and train can also be very beneficial when visiting a larger city. Most large cities have some type of route finder online for their public transit which you can utilize in getting an idea of where things go.

Also key if you'll be traveling on foot is obtaining a good map. I found the pocket sized pop-up maps (found in any bookstore or airport) to provide good directions in most cities I visited and very handy from a portability standpoint. Be sure to review the map prior to going on vacation so that you have an idea of where things are located and how to plan your schedule. This helps save time when you're there for actually seeing and doing things.

One site which has some great information on pretty much any somewhat major city is They have everything such as suggested walking routes, top attractions, basic city information, dining recommendations, and more. It gives lots of good information to work from and plan out a basic itinerary.

Other good websites are,, and These will provide a wealth of information as to good hotels in an area (including other visitor's comments) as well as assisting in comparing prices for flights and hotels. provides good high level information about a city/country and a taste of their culture. Always nice to read up a little on things prior to going.

If you're interested in seeing popular museums, exhibits, or shows, it is wise to book in advance due to long lines waiting for tickets or potential sellouts.

A key to getting good prices is to book far ahead of time. As the vacation date approaches, transportation and lodging fills up and prices rise substantially.

From a financial standpoint, it is highly advisable to save up for the trip ahead of time rather than paying for it on credit cards. This will avoid lingering debt and allow you to enjoy the trip without the specter of a credit card bill hanging over your head. provides excellent information on staying out of debt and saving up for purchases such as a vacation.

If you'll be traveling internationally, be sure to contact your bank to let them know you'll be using your debit or ATM card overseas. If you don't do this, your card could be blocked from usage and you really don't want to have to deal with this in another country. You may also want to pick up a small amount of cash for when you first arrive in the country. This can be done either at your local bank or at an ATM when you arrive.

Using ATMs will obtain the best exchange rate. Using exchange stores in airports will usually obtain the worst exchange rate so only use this if absolutely necessary. Check with your bank to see if they have any international relationships set up for free ATM transactions. Otherwise, you'll pay a hefty commission as well as possibly a 1% to 3% exchange fee.

If you do not already have a passport, be certain to apply for it well in advance of your trip as this can sometimes take a decent amount of time. Leave a copy with a friend or family member and put one in your luggage in case it is lost while on the trip. This will help the embassy in speeding the process of getting you a new one.

Keep a close eye on valuables at all times as pickpockets can abound in popular tourist spots. I always carried my passport and wallet in my front pockets and made sure to maintain contact with them, frequently, to help keep people honest. If you will be carrying a purse or camera, I recommend one which you can strap from one shoulder to the hip of the opposite side. Also, keep a hand on your purse or camera at all times. This helps to provide additional security by making it more difficult for someone to grab and run.

Most of all enjoy your vacation and be sure to have fun. Happy vacationing!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Burr Oak Woods

Today I went hiking at Burr Oak Woods with my friend Scott and his friend Sergu. It was really nice out with the trees in full green array. There is also a bird sanctuary which had birds such as yellow finches, blue jays, cardinals, and even some wild turkeys. The visitor center had a really nice display with information on the various local wildlife as well as some fish, frogs, snakes, and turtles in aquariums.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Free Root Beer Float

June 7 is Free Root Beer Float Night at SONIC®. Just show up between 8 p.m. and midnight, push the red button and order a free 10-oz. Root Beer Float. There's no catch. Tell your friends and family and don't miss this sweet deal. See here for official details

Kansas City Corporate Challenge

Last evening, I ran the mile for the KCCC. I finished in a time of 5:04, 8th overall in my age group, and 2nd in my division. I was very pleased with the result though sub 5 would have been nice. My quarters were very even at 74, 75, 77, 77. There are some races where you're thinking wow I feel pretty good this is kind of fun. Results viewable here.

Books on Buying a Home

Though I'm not necessarily looking to purchase a home in the immediate future, it is something that is on the conceivable horizon so I wanted to get acquainted with some of the intricacies to know when purchasing a home.

Guide to Buying Your First Home by Century 21 Editors and Patrick Hogan

This first book has more of an overall view towards buying a house and the various steps involved. They discuss Townhome/condo vs. Single Family dwelling, financing, what to look for in a Realtor, some of the fees to expect, title insurance, title search, legal information, inspections, home insurance, earnest money, escrow and a host of other items pertinent to buying a home.

Tips & Traps when Buying a Home by Robert Irwin

This book was also good from the sense of insider things to know on how to get the best bang for your buck and what to be aware of as possible problems. One useful piece of information provided in the book was a sample list of things to look for when walking through houses similar to what an inspector might look for if inspecting the house. He also provides advice on negotiating and ways to structure offers.

Overall I came away with the sense that there are so many things involved with a house that it is well worth hiring a real estate agent to walk you through the process. While people may be able to sell a home without using an agent, my thought is that they are probably going to help you on the selling side in increasing traffic to the home as well as advise on the many aspects of the transaction.

A useful tool online that I've heard of for estimating home prices is
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