Harry Truman–Advice for Campaigners

I’d like to welcome to the blog the honorable Harry S Truman, 33rd President of the United States.  Mr. President, thanks for joining us.
You’re very welcome, but you are aware that you’re making this interview up, aren’t you?

Well, not exactly, sir.  I’m trying something different just for fun.  It’s true that I’m not actually talking to you, but I am going to be using your exact words in the interview.  Would that be all right?
I suppose so, young man.

Thank you.  Can you give us a guiding philosophy, just to get started?
I don’t believe in anti-anything. A man has to have a program; you have to be for something, otherwise you will never get anywhere.

Pet peeve?
The people can never understand why the President does not use his powers to make them behave. Well all the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.  I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them … that’s all the powers of the President amount to.

Can you tell us something that you’re proud of?
I’m proud that I’m a politician. A politician is a man who understands government, and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a politician who’s been dead 10 or 15 years.

What do you think about government?
Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.  No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of a democracy, however, is that its defects are always visible and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected.

You’re from Missouri.  What do you think about the “Missouri Waltz?”
I don’t give a —– about “The Missouri Waltz” but I can’t say it out loud because it’s the song of Missouri. It’s as bad as “The Star-Spangled Banner” so far as music is concerned.

Favorite animal?
My favorite animal is the mule. He has more sense than a horse. He knows when to stop eating — and when to stop working.

What’s the difference between a recession and a depression?
It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.

Thoughts on internationalism?
No nation on this globe should be more internationally minded than America because it was built by all nations.

Thank you very much.  Can I ask you to give some advice to campaigners?
It isn’t important who is ahead at one time or another in either an election or horse race. It’s the horse that comes in first at the finish line that counts.

Mr. President, I really appreciate you being with us today. I’m a great admirer of your work and your character.  Any concluding thoughts?
In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.

Wade Astin–Advice for Beginning Hikers

I’d like to welcome Wade Astin to “Advice for Everyone.” Wade, do you have any nicknames?
I suppose many friends and coworkers call me Wade-O ….for some reason.

What do you do for a living?
I work in Information Technology, from within the Healthcare profession. I am an RN who had a love for computers, so when our hospital was implementing the electronic medical record, I volunteered to be on the design and build team. After some initial transition pains, I have never looked back. I was so serious about this profession that I pursued and obtained my Master’s Degree in Medical Informatics. The MIM program info can be found here: http://sps.northwestern.edu/program-areas/graduate/health-informatics/

From an IT perspective, how can patients and their families help healthcare workers better do their jobs?
This answer really stems from my background in IT BUT also from bedside nursing. The best thing a family member can do to help is to compile and maintain a succinct and accurate list of current medications being actually taken by the patient (not those prescribed) AND share it with each provider at each visit. Explanation….Medication discrepancies contribute greatly to medical errors and readmission, the vast majority of which are preventable. http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/leadership/medication-reconciliation-slashes-readmissions

How old are you? (You can lie if you want to….)
No benefit to lying here…I am 52 years old.

Where do you live?
I live in Horse Shoe, NC. My wife Lisa, along with two sophomores (one high school and one college) have been based here since 1997. We live on a mountain that always seems cooler in temperature than the town below. I experience this almost daily as I drive up the hill, and watch the outside temp on the dashboard of the car. The drop is a predictable 4-5 degrees cooler every time.

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?
No website….the closest thing would be a Facebook page. But, I do participate in managing a group Facebook page. It is for a band of hospital employed musicians: Karma Dogs. At this page we post events and share Karma-oriented message and images. There is an interesting write up about the band located here: http://newsroom.mission-health.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2017/03/2017-1-Spring.pdf

Are you a vocalist or instrumentalist or both? How would you describe Karma Dogs’ style of music?
I am a bassist, but at the casual level. You would not want to hear ME sing, as I warble off tune quickly. The REAL talent in the band is in the hands of Brenda (vocals), Mike (guitar and vocals), and Randy (drums). The Karma Dogs Facebook page states, “….We are passionate about providing a great experience for those who come to hear our blend of classic and modern blues, rock, and groove music.” Please check out the videos and recordings at… https://www.facebook.com/Karma-Dogs-1724575397758604/ 

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
I have a deep love of the Great Smokies National Park. I enjoy the beauty as much as the deep history. In particular, the north shore of Fontana Lake is of interest to me. Examples include the abandoned copper mine at Eagle Creek, the ruins of the Ritter Lumber company at Hazel Creek, the cabin site of Horace Kephart near Medlin, NC, and the Road to Nowhere, where the trails will take you to Forney Creek. There are multiple grave yards along the North Shore. It is a goal to visit and see each one. More info can be seen here:

Your favorite meal?
That is easy…breakfast, shared with others. In the tradition of a country breakfast, with eggs, bacon biscuits, hash-browns etc. I enjoy it best when cooked in a cast iron skillet, and eaten in the outdoors

Pet peeve?
Very few

Favorite book, or movie, or TV show?
Book: right now, I enjoy reading and re-reading “Our Southern Highlanders.”
Movie: I laugh out loud each time I see Young Frankenstein.
Television show….I no longer watch TV. I seem to struggle to enjoy the many offerings, although most of my peers LOVE Game of Thrones, Mad Men, etc. To be honest, I suspect I am missing out on much entertainment and conversation with friends by avoiding these TV shows.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for _________?
Serenity and peace.

Tell us about your family?
Married to Lisa since Oct 19, 1991. Two children, age 15 and 19. Hannah (age 19) is a student at UNCG, who is planning to study law. She works a summer job here in Hendersonville assisting at a law office. My son Walker is a sophomore in high school. He has grown to be a fine scholar, and practices several hours each day on his bass guitar.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I think my hidden talent is drawing/sketching. I have a love for pen and paper and cannot resist doodling a cartoon or plotting out a humorous caricature.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Explore the Smoky Mountains, end-to end. There are 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; some of the trails are essentially unused except by the most sincere hiker. If I had free time, I would become a member of the 900 Mile club. More info can be found here: http://900miler.smhclub.org/

Thanks, Wade. Can I ask you to offer some advice for beginning hikers?
I approach this section with a Tips/Tricks approach of things I have learned over the years.
Use GOOD socks and GOOD boots; be prepared to cross a creek with waterproof crocs or sandals. It is worth it to get your feet wet and cooled down. (BTW, awesome waterproof crocs are only six bucks at Walmart.)
Dime-a-dozen tea candles make excellent solid fuel fire-starter…no liquid leakage! Even doubles as a candle!!
Filter all water that you drink. Period.
Know your route….. in advance. Have a good map. Share start and end points with family before you go. Consider that 2-3 miles/hr is about normal.
Go as lightweight as possible.
Use the essentials for all hikes: Flashlight, Lighter, simple First Aid kit, Map, H20 Plan, Knife, Bandana, use Baby-wipes vs. TP.
Take a camera, and friend, and share the experience.

Wade, thanks much for sharing with us from your experiences. May your adventures bring you great joy and satisfaction.


Sven Christiansen–Advice for Canyon Hikers

I’d like to welcome Sven Christiansen to the blog, and thanks for being with us. Can you tell us how old you are and where you live?
A whopping 53, and Fishers, Indiana, a northern suburb of Indianapolis.

What do you do for a living?
President of USA Homestays – placing international college students to live with local families. Plus more.

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?

Okay, well, I’ll link to your organization’s website anyway, if that’s all right. How did you get into working with international students?
(At this point Sven and I had a lengthy phone conversation going around the mulberry bush a few times. We were neighbors twenty-five years ago, and it was a great chance to reconnect. We talked about families and kids and the international college kids he’s met and had the opportunity to get to know. The whole talk was a lot of fun, but it would take several pages to transcribe. I’m also, quite honestly, not a particularly good notetaker on phone conversations. The upshot is that there are lots and lots of international students who come to college in America and are looking for opportunities to stay in American homes and make friends and learn from each other. Sven has WAY more students interested in doing this than he has host families for, in several metropolitan areas. He’s always looking for more host families, and would also love to have coordinators to start this work in new areas. Check out the website for more details.)

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
North Korea. I was there before Dennis Rodman made it cool. (Clearly there’s a story there…)

Okay, what were you doing in North Korea?
During my college days, my dad was stationed in South Korea (US Army). I visited the family during the summers, at which point I also had summer jobs/internships. These jobs were always at AFKN, the American Forces Korea Network, TV and radio for troops. During one of my summer jobs, they had an armistice meeting in Panmunjam on the DMZ. I went and covered it. The meeting area is divided down the middle between North and South. Media are free to roam across the dividing line. I took two steps into the North and then two steps back to the South. That was enough for me.

Your favorite meal would be?

You’re an outdoorsman. Tell us about some of your trips?
Each summer we take a group of students to the mountains of Colorado. Each spring break we take a group on a 50 mile hike through the Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona. The canyon hike is brutal. I love the Colorado trip because all the young studs can go hiking to their hearts’ content while I stay at the lake and fly fish.

Pet peeve?

Favorite book?
Love the “Circle Trilogy” by Ted Dekker and “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for……?
Us to meet the right international students and the right host families.

Tell us about your family?
Been married to the same paragon of patience for 27 years. Four kids.   (Kelsey is a social worker in Indy, Connor plays football for Elon University, Chase just left for Alderson-Broaddus University and will play volleyball, and Mikayla is a freshman in high school.)

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Hmm. Well, there isn’t much I can do… I guess some people are surprised I can speak German.

When and how did you learn to speak German?
I was born in Berlin and German is my native tongue.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Read a novel.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I’d also like to write a novel.

Assuming you were serious about “I’d like to write a novel,” can you tell us what genre appeals? Western? Thriller? Sci-fi? Literary?
Thriller. For sure.

Can I ask you to offer some advice to canyon hikers?
Stay home.

Ha! But, seriously?
Serious advice: train, train, train before you go. And watch for quicksand.

Okay, and thanks much, Sven. I appreciate you taking the time to let us get to know you a little, and may God bless and guide you and your co-workers in your work with Homestays.

Tammy Greene–Advice for Cake Decorators

What is your name?
My name is Tammy Greene, but my family call me Deemie.

How did “Deemie” come about as a nickname?
When I was a kid, my sis babysat a little boy who couldn’t say Tammy. I became “Deemie.”

Oh, that’s funny. I had a niece who couldn’t manage “Henry” so I was “Uncle Ornery,” but fortunately it didn’t stick. What do you do for a living?
I am a General Manager for Hardee’s. I have been in food service for thirty-one years, and I used to decorate cakes.

How old are you?
I am approaching the half-century with alarming speed. (Almost 48)

Where do you live?
I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Everybody thinks they want to live at the beach. Can you give us a downside or two about beach living?
Well, the obvious ones are not being able to enjoy the beach because we are working retail tourism hours and sane people do not want to get out into tourist traffic. One aspect that may not be so obvious is the anonymity of tourism that allows people to act without regard to others.

Where can we find you on the internet?
I have Twitter and Instagram and my followers are surely disappointed as I update neither. Look for me on Facebook.

Facebook it is. The most interesting place you’ve visited?
The most interesting places are places I’ve yet to visit.

What’s a place you’d like to visit?
I have wanderlust. I want to go everywhere. The top of the list are a prolonged cross-country road trip (USA), exploring Scotland, Ireland, and Italy, hiking at least some of the Appalachian Trail and seeing a Broadway play.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
I have more spare time than I like to admit because, in my exhaustion, I typically waste it.

Your favorite meal would be?
Anything surrounded by friends or my children.

I like it. Pet peeve?
Apathy or extreme self-interest.

Favorite book, or movie, or television show?
Anything Harry Potter.

What’s the appeal of Harry Potter for you?
Aside from the fantasy of the magic, the characters possess a rich, earthy, real-ness in which they are not perfect, but do what’s right without donning a cloak of moral superiority. The very essence of the story is that good triumphs over evil because love wins over hate.

Tell us about your family?
I was married. I have four intelligent, kind, funny children. If I started talking about them here, you would never finish reading this. I have four cats as well.

I will bite. Tell us a little about your kids? (Keeping in mind that I’ll have to limit you to a couple of sentences each for space reasons.)
Sean is 22 and a fresh graduate from USC with a degree in chemistry and a minor in criminal justice. He is parenting done right.
Patrick is 20 and attends CCU, working toward a degree in business. I worry about him. He is a bit less motivated, but is smart and kind.
Ryan is a senior in high school. He is an honor student like his brothers, but hasn’t decided if he will push himself or chill out and settle for doing the bare minimum.

Ciara just turned 13 and is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. She is super smart, kind, artistic, and funny as heck. She is my mini-me in her logic-mindedness and her razor sharp sarcasm. She shows me how annoying I’ve always been, lol.

Thanks much! And, in the “Advice for Everyone” gimmick of the blog, can I ask you to offer some advice to cake decorators?
Experiment with designs and new techniques. Be creative. Trust yourself. I suppose the same could be said for many aspects of life, but people who are scared of messing up a cake will not put their all into it.

Tammy, thanks for sharing some of your experiences, and thanks for letting us get to know you a little bit. May you and your family be well.


Dave Sizemore–Advice for Spelunkers

I’d like to welcome Dave Sizemore to “Advice for Everyone.” Thanks for being with us–can you tell about your work history?
Originally from West Virginia, our family escaped around twenty years ago and ended up one tank of gas south in the Charlotte area. We still have valid West Virginia Passports. I worked in banking, managed a petroleum distributor/convenience store company for ten years. Owned and ran a convenience store/car wash business, sold it to a large chain. Worked as an executive and pilot for a Venture Capital Company for ten years. Went to work in the IT industry and have worked for major banks and currently work as a Senior Analyst for a large provider of financial software for banks and financial institutions for the last fifteen years.

Where do you live?
Lincolnton, North Carolina

How old are you?
I’m transaged. Some days I’m an adolescent. Some days I’m an old guy. Some days I’m your worst nightmare, an old adolescent. My actual age is 67.

How did you get into piloting?
I had wanted to fly as long as I can remember. I read everything I could find about aviation and flight. I decided to learn to fly while I was working for an oil company that serviced an airport with fuel. That was something that was just in my blood. I got my pilot’s license and was able to buy a small single engine airplane and pay for it by flying trips for the company I worked for. When I worked with a retired astronaut we had a corporate twin engine airplane that we shared the flying duties on. As part of that business we provided management services to a Fixed Base Operation in Charleston, WV. The company owned a charter service, flight school and maintenance facility and I was able to fly several types of aircraft while there.

Great, and thanks. To move to banking, just about everything is accessible online these days and we hear horror stories of unscrupulous hackers and superviruses. Tell us, how much is the banking industry at risk from these things?
The banking and finance industry are really working hard and implementing security updates regularly to combat the criminals that are trying to hack or breach system security. The criminals are getting smarter and better at what they do every day and the tools they develop are impressive. Just remember to do your part and use complex passwords (yes, they are a pain for the hackers). “1234” is not a good password, and using “password” for your passwords is just too easy. Pick a phrase that you know or like (maybe a scripture verse). Use the first letter of each word and end it with the numeric chapter and verse plus a special character somewhere in the password (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” would equal FGsltwthghoS#316). Don’t write your pin down on the back of your debit card or credit card; even if you reverse the numbers it’s no help. Remember that you do not have an Uncle from Rumania that has just died with 20 million dollars that needs to be transferred to your checking account and all you have to do is send your account info and $1000 to cover the expenses. Do not click on links or web pages that you do not know. Never open an email attachment from someone that you don’t know and even be skeptical then. Always use a good antivirus application. Always use common sense–if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s not true. And if you get a call saying that you have just won Publishers Clearing House, or a free vacation to Hawaii, if you provide the funds or information they ask for, no matter how true it sounds, then you will end up paying someone else for your hard work.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
NASA facilities at Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center and NASA Langley Research Center.

What was a highlight or two of the NASA visits?
A good friend of mine was an astronaut at the time and he had invited me to stop by if I was ever in the Houston area. I was in Houston for some training with my job at the time and stayed with him while I was there. On my down time, I went in to work with him and got to tour all of the off limits areas and meet a lot of the other active duty astronauts and even got to fly the Space Shuttle Simulator.

Several years later my friend and I were working together in a company we started when he retired from NASA and the Navy. We went to NASA Langley to fly a simulator for a type of space system that was being considered at the time for a replacement of the Space Shuttle.

My wife and I were invited to Cape Kennedy to the Space Shuttle Launch of STS-34 by Capt. Mike McCauley NASA/USN (Ret.)

Thanks! Tell us your favorite meal?
Grilled Grouper Picata

Pet peeve?
Negative people. Every day you wake up is a gift, get over it.

Favorite movie or book?
Movie: 12 O’clock High, Waking Ned Devine, Casablanca, A Christmas Story
Book: Anything by Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Stephen Coonts, Stephen Hunter, Joseph Heller, Clive Cussler, Robert Ludlum, Lee Child…

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for….?
A cure for cancer

Are you married or have you been? Any kids or pets?
Married to the love of my life for 42 years. We have one son, Tucker, and a Plott Hound named Grady and another mixed breed hound named Ginger, both rescue dogs.

Something many people don’t know you can do?
Speak Hillbilly, Ham Radio Operator. Also, I used to be a spelunker.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Spend it with family and see new places and finally do some writing.

Can I ask you to offer some advice to spelunkers?
Be sure to look up the definition of spelunking before you decide to get involved in it as a hobby.

Determine that you like to be underground, in dirty, small and muddy spaces that can be very beautiful (not all caves are small or muddy, but most will include that element as a bonus.)

Do you like to climb, both up and down…in the dark…while underground? If you have to rappel into a cave, always tie a knot in the end of the rope so if you feel the knot before you have gotten to the bottom, you’ll know not to go further without a plan “B”. (Never rappel into a cave that you don’t know the depth of the rappel and have sufficient rope.) Always include ascenders to use to help you climb back up the rope and know how to rig them for the climb back up.

Bats live in caves. So if you’re not claustrophobic, don’t mind climbing in the dark, don’t mind being cold and muddy, are not afraid of strange noises or being punked by your caving buddies, then the bats shouldn’t be a problem. Take lots of pictures as evidence you were there. Always use your flash or all of your pictures will look the same. If your caving buddies want to take a short break and have everyone turn their lights out so you can experience total darkness (it is very interesting the tricks your eyes will play on you in total darkness) they are plotting something that usually involves a discussion of how the brain suckers live in caves, in total darkness, then a loud noise and a flash of some kind, followed by hysterical laughter and pointing.

Always explore caves with friends. Never go into a cave alone. Never go caving with anyone that has left you in strange places before. I always made it a practice to be the last one while going into a cave and the first one when coming out. That way I was always between everyone else and the cave entrance so the group had to get me out before they could get out.

I enjoyed the sense of adventure of exploring caves and caverns. The challenges were both physical and mental, but the reward of seeing the amazing natural beauty in caves was well worth it. Many wondrous sights are there.

When exploring caves remember that the beauty you see took millions of years to create so be careful. Our philosophy was to “Take only pictures and leave only footprints”.

Dave, thanks for sharing some of your experiences and adventures with us. Take care and God bless.