Monday, April 30, 2007

Busy Man

I don't know how some people do it.

Day in and day out with few or no breaks - they are home on the weekends but they are working from home - Blackberries and laptops are always on and always humming. I even know some folks who sell back or trade in their vacation time because they just don't use it!

I would fall apart. I need the opportunity to put my mind in a different place for an extended period of time and give my head a chance to recharge.

Steven Curtis Chapman had a hit called "Busy Man" 15 years ago and in the chorus he sang,

"'re running with your eyes closed
You could be missing life all along the way
And you'd never even know it..."

For some folks, that I have observed, work is their life. Work and promotion defines them. Work is important - but there is so much more to life than work.

Ecclesiastes teaches us that if you look to work for ultimate fulfillment then you will be disappointed.

Some person with less experience than you will come along and get the position you have been working towards for 10 years.

Your old comfortable boss will move on and your new boss will be an ogre.

Your responsibilities will change “based on business need” and your new responsibilities will double your work load.

Work is a part of our lives but it is just a part of our lives.

Understanding that and creating boundaries is important if we don’t want to end up on the treadmill that can catch us all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Warning - Political Rant Below - Warning

Okay – I have been biding my tongue and have resisted the urge. But what is a blog good for if not the occasional rant.

Since the beginning of the year the President’s Job Approval Ratings have been in the 30’s. Twice as many people disapprove of the way that he is doing his job than approve.

The Administration lied about the evidence for going to war with Iraq and then tried to cover it up.

The Administration lied about Saddam being involved with bin Laden and al Qaeda in the plotting of 9/11.

The Administration lied about their intentions to go to war with Iraq from the beginning of the first term.

Just today we learned in hearings that the Administration has lied about the rescue of Jessica Lynch and the death of Pat Tillman.

The Administration lies and says that if we don’t fight them in Iraq we will fight them at home. Almost forty years ago on CBS’ Sunday news program “Meet the Press” this is what Senator Robert Kennedy had to say to this point:

RFK: "Do we have the right here in the United States to say that we're going to kill tens of thousands, make millions of people, as we have... millions of people, refugees, kill women and children?

I very seriously question whether we have that right... Now we're saying we're going to fight there so that we don't have to fight... on the West Coast of the United States, so that they won't move across the Rockies. - But do we? - Our whole moral position, it seems to me, changes tremendously."

The Administration ignores the will of the American people. Our President behaves as if there is no other view but his own and his own is right and so there is no need to consider any other view. You can hear it in the tone of his voice.

We have watched our young men and women die, our freedoms erode, and our Executive Branch lies to us for “our own good.”

We have watched this Administration ignore the Geneva Convention, this Administration has adopted policies regarding the treatment of prisoners of war that have disgraced the nation and alienated virtually the entire world. It has conducted domestic spying of organizations with no suspected terrorist affiliations, and does telephone surveillance without a warrant.

We have watched this Administration suspend habeas corpus - this Administration has sought to strip people accused of crimes of rights that date as far back as the Magna Carta in Anglo-American jurisprudence: trial by impartial jury, access to lawyers and knowledge of evidence against them.

How long much longer will we allow this Administration to be unaccountable for their lies and denials?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mexican Chicken Soup

This is one of my favorite soups and it can be ready in less than an hour. It's a crowd pleaser and it is easy to double the recipe. I have been making it for almost twenty years.

Mexican Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 onions
3 – 4 chicken breasts
1 large can of chicken broth
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 yellow and 1 green squash
1 cup of frozen corn
1 avocado
Monterey jack cheese

With two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, mix 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp chili powder in a dish and let stand.

In a soup pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil.

Add two onions sliced with the grain and soften in the pot under medium heat.

Add diced chicken breasts (½-inch cubes)

Add vinegar/spice mixture

Stir frequently. Cook chicken through but not browned.

Add one large can chicken broth. Two cans of chopped tomato. Add the diced green and yellow squash and one cup of frozen corn.

Salt to taste.

Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer 35 – 40 minutes until squash is just tender. Serve with a slice of avocado and sprinkle some Monterey Jack cheese on top.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Teamwork, Trust and Community

I have spent the entire day conducting a Team Effectiveness workshop.

These workshops are for some high performing teams that work with very important clients.

The foundational issue on all of these teams is trust - getting them to trust each other and their individual expertise so that they can function as a team to provide the best possible service to their clients.

A good deal of time during the workshop is spent getting them to open up to each other and take some baby steps of trust. After a few hours they begin to see their teammates with different eyes and relationships start to build – that hopefully they will continue to build on.

It is always eye opening workshop with huge payoffs for teams that take it seriously.

A couple of years back my friend James Walters introduced me to a book about trust and social capital by Robert Putnam. In his book, Bowling Alone, Putnam uses bowling as an example.

Although the number of people who bowl has increased in the last 20 years, the number of people that bowl in leagues has decreased. Since people bowl alone they do not participate in the kind of social interactions and civic discussions that might occur in a league environment. That lack of social interaction with co-workers has reduced the amount of trust in the workplace.

It is an interesting theory.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Easy Sunday Dinner

I made a pork roast yesterday with Potatoes Anna and green peas.

Roast Prep - 30 mins.

The roast was from the thick end of the loin and had a nice thin layer of fat on one side.

I left the fat on and coated the whole roast in salt, pepper, a teaspoon or so of 5-spice powder, and Dion’s Herbs d’ Provence and a bit of olive oil.

I browned the roast nicely on all sides and then added ¾ of a can of apple juice concentrate and a cup of organic chicken broth to the pot. I braised the roast covered in the oven for 2 hours.

Potatoes prep and cook – 30 mins.

For the potatoes Anna, I sliced the potatoes paper thin on a mandolin and melted some butter in the microwave. You pour a small amount of butter in the skillet and then layer the slices in a circle in the pan. Salt and pepper them, a little more butter, another layer of potatoes, salt and pepper, more butter, potatoes, salt and pepper – until all your potatoes are used up. You get the picture.

You start the potatoes on the stove top and when it looks like the bottom is browning nicely you transfer them to a 375 oven after your roast comes out. 20 minutes later (your roast is resting) the potatoes are crisp and ready to be cut into quarters.

Sauce Prep – 5 mins.

Pour off the juices from the roasting pan – bring to a boil and add a slurry made from potato or corn starch and cold water to the juices to thicken them into a delicious savory/sweet sauce for the pork. Stir carefully because the sauce will thicken quickly and you don’t want to burn.

There you go… Once the roast comes out of the oven – it’s thirty minutes to the table.

Prep time – a little over 1 hour total
Cooking time – 2.5 hours total

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pictures From The Pond


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Faith and our Fathers

Many of us today take pride in our genealogies.

And it seems like everyone who traces their family tree back far enough finds a king or princess or some well known person in their family line.

My father’s side of the family takes pride in our English/French ancestry and in one Robert de Pierrepont.

Robert de Pierrepont was an ally of William the Conqueror and fought with him at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He was Knighted for distinguished service, given land in Nottinghamshire.

According to the Domesday Book he possessed Henestede and Wrethem in Suffolk, and he held them for William, the Duke of Normandy.

More recently - but still about 6 great grandfathers’ back – John Pierpont fought in the American Revolution and hosted George Washington in his home for the night at Fort Pierpont on the forks of the Cheat River.

Unfortunately I cannot claim ancestry from father Abraham.

There is even more snob appeal there than in Robert de Pierrepont.

I'll admit that I sometimes feel the pull of arrogance in my own life, and I don't think I'm alone.

Isn't it funny how a man will act boastfully over something he has no control —like who his great-grandfather was?

Arrogance is usually like that. Ironically, though, Christians can boast about something over which we have no control.

Yet even the illustrious Abraham was justified not through his good works, but through faith.

Faith was the source of his righteousness. Paul uses the scriptures to make this point when he quotes Gen. 15:6 — "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."

That word for "reckoned" can be translated different ways: imputed, counted, or credited to his account.

All these choices depict the idea that Abraham's righteousness was something not earned, but given to him by God.

And so it is with us.