Friday, November 27, 2009

Attention Shoppers!!

As I write this "My Two Cents" the cars are streaming into the adjoining Wal-Mart parking lot--as shoppers begin to line up for "Black Friday Doorbuster Deals".

I find it ironic that many of those people struggle to get out of bed at 7:30 to make it to work by 9:00 every day--but somehow, they find the inner strength to be up at 3:30 this morning--just so they don't miss out on that $70 Blu-Ray Disc Player. Shoppers who take the elevator to go up one floor at any multi-story building today are literally sprinting to the electronics department to get that $60 GPS unit.

Of course, all of this is done in the spirit of "giving". Aren't we better people the more we spend on gifts for others? Isn't that the truest sign of love?

Why then don't we see such enthusiasm and determination when it comes to giving of ourselves? Why does the Salvation Army struggle to fill all the time slots for its bellringers at the red kettles? Why are food pantries dealing with bare shelves when more people than ever are in need? When you really think about it, doesn't a family of five with two unemployed parents need a few boxes of pasta and maybe some canned fruits and vegetables more than your son needs the latest version of World of Warcraft for X-box?

Which Christmas do you think your family will remember more: the year they got an iPod that was replaced two years later by a different model or the year the whole family helped out at the free Christmas dinner for the poor?

Just something to think about as you ponder the "Spirit of the Season."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

I have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Of course there is my beautiful wife--who has had to put up with more than her fair share of crap to stay married to me. I appreciate the sacrifices that she has made.

I still have both of my parents and one of my grandparents--along with lots of other family members who are a part of my life.

I have a number of friends that make my life fun.

I'm in great health and continue to avoid serious injury playing all of my sports.

I have a job that I enjoy and that gives me a sense of satisfaction. A real bonus in these economic times.

I am not in over my head in debt--owing only on my house. We also have savings in place for emergencies and to pay cash for our adoption (or a new car in case that comes first).

I live in a safe city with plenty of opportunities for recreation, shopping, dining and entertainment.

I can still drive my beloved Jeep Wrangler--even though it's not fuel-efficient, it's not zero-emissions and it definitely is not a "clunker".

I live in a country where dissent of the government is not only tolerated--but is openly encouraged and celebrated. And don't forget the wonderful Constitution that guarantees me the right to express myself and protects me from govenment infringement on my personal freedoms (for now anyway).

I can still eat and drink whatever I want (for now anyway).

I enjoy cleaner air, water and land than my parents or their parents ever did.

I can finally enjoy The Beatles in their full sonic glory, courtesy of the re-mastered CD's.

I have soldiers, police officers and spies working to protect all of the freedoms and security that I hold so dear. A big thanks to all of those people--despite the waffling of those elected to preserve those liberties.

And of course a big "Thank You" to all our listeners. I hope you all take time to consider all the things for which you are thankful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Living Like No One Else

We've carried the Dave Ramsey show here on WOSH for more than three years now--and for the first time Financial Peace University is coming to Oshkosh. My thanks to Community Church for bringing the program to the area--and making it open to people outside of their church.

For those not familiar, FPU is a 13-week course--held one night a week--to teach you the Dave Ramsey approach to a Total Money Makeover. Getting out of debt, learning how to save money for emergencies, how to shop with cash, how to save for retirement and how to get the rest of your financial house in order are all covered in the program. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Instead, it's about a long-range plan to achieve financial security not only for you--but for your kids and their kids as well.

The cost is just over $100--which covers the program materials--books, dvd's, cd's and worksheets that you get to keep. Community Church will not make any money on FPU. I will be one of the volunteer group facilitators--sharing our personal stories of getting out debt and changing our financial course--and also leading some group activities. Believe me, if my wife and I can find success in this program so will you.

So I hope that you will consider enrolling in the Financial Peace University course when it comes to Oshkosh early next year. Go to our website to register--and encourage your family and friends to attend as well. The more people we can get into the program and in control of their money the less we will need to depend on Big Brother to provide our mortgage payments, health care, and retirement benefits. Think of it as change that won't bankrupt us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Bunch of BCS

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the college football playoffs this year. We could have as many as five undefeated teams in the field--and some really good one-loss teams as well.

I finally had a chance to see TCU play a game over the weekend and I can see them easily knocking off a couple of the "Big Boys" and making it to the Final Four. The same for Boise State--who finally might get a home game against a major conference foe in the first round on their "Smurf Turf"--since nobody has the guts to go there to play them in the regular season.

It also looks like those pointless "money grabs" called Conference Championship Games will be moot points as well again this year--since Florida and Alabama are already locks to make the field from the SEC--as is Texas from the Big 12.

The real excitement of course comes in who will get those at-large bids? Is the Badgers late-season surge to second place in the Big Ten good enough to get them into the field of 16? I know I'll be in front of the TV on Selection Saturday to see if they get a bid. Then of course, the week after that is taken up by filling out multiple brackets--trying to whittle down the field to the two teams that will make it to the Championship Game the Sunday before the Super Bowl. They don't call it "Winter Madness" for nothing!!

Um, what's that? There is no college football playoff? Oh yeah, that's right. Polls and computers decide who plays for the "National Championship" in the Football Bowl Subdivision. That means no Cinderella run for an underdog team. No chance for the non-power conference champions to win the big prize--and this year, as many as four undefeated teams all with a legitimate claim to being "Number One".

Let's hope this is finally the cluster**** that gets the NCAA off its big fat wallet and dumps the Bowl system. We the fans have had enough of this BCS--I mean BS.

Monday, November 16, 2009

163 Miles

163 miles. That is the distance from Oshkosh to Thomson, Illinois.

Why should we care about how far it is to a sleepy town along the Mississippi River that houses a currently-vacant Supermax Prison? Because that is where the Obama administration is considering moving some of the detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That would put some of the most dangerous people on the planet less than three hours driving time away from your house. Currently, those men are 1,827-miles away--and would have to fight their way out of one of the most heavily-armed military installations in the world--surrounded by open ocean with no direct flights to the mainland US.

163-miles. That would be all that seperates us from men who would think nothing about killing anyone of us. A local official who supports using the prison to house terror suspects and enemy combatants says "they can't really be that different than a murderer." Your average convicted murderer has killed one person--usually someone they targeted specifically. The men that would be housed in Thomson couldn't care less who they kill. Their weapon would not be a handgun or a knife--they would use a moving truck loaded with explosives and nails and ball-bearings in an effort to kill or maim as many people as possible.

163-miles. The distance from a new magnet for every other terrorist and muslim extremist--who would all love to free their "brothers-in-arms"--or to die trying. They wouldn't want to set up camp right in Thomson--that would attract too much attention--but a city just three or four hours away? That might be a nice place to plot and train.

163-miles. President Obama never used that distance to describe how close he would bring Gitmo detainees when he talked about closing the prison during his campaign. Did he think that might turn off voters in key states like Wisconsin and Iowa--to know that professional killers and bombers would be seperated from them by just chainlink fence and barbed wired? Of course, where else would you expect the President to use the "Chicago Way" to get what he wants? You think any Democratic state official in Illinois is going to say "boo" to this plan? Hopefully, the administration uses stimulus dollars to fund the prison upgrade and hire the para-military trained guards--so at least a thousand jobs will actually be "created" for a change.

163-miles. Doesn't sound that far does it? Of course that is much better than the 0-miles that New Yorkers will enjoy between themselves and the men that helped to carry out the 9-11 attacks as they await trial in Federal Court. Suddenly, I feel much safer already.