Shel Silverstein–Advice for Doing the Dishes

I’d like to welcome to the blog the late Shel Silverstein, one of my all-time favorite poets.  Mr. Silverstein, it’s an honor to have you with us.
Please, call me Uncle Shelby.

Thank you, Uncle Shelby.  May I mention that I’m a huge fan of your work, and anybody wanting to see more of it could look here.

Can I ask you what’s in your refrigerator?
There’s a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire –
He likes it ’cause it’s cold in there.

Thank you, and good luck with that.  How would someone go about being friends with you?
I know a way to stay friends forever,
There’s really nothing to it,
I tell you what to do,
And you do it.

Um, okay.  Have you ever found any magic in the world?
All the magic I have known, I’ve had to make myself.

What do you think about impossibilities?
Just ’cause somethin’ ain’t been done
Don’t mean it can’t be did…

Fair enough.  What would you suggest as sensible behavior for birds and worms?
Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early early bird–
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

….right.  What would you like people to say about you?
Tell me I’m clever, Tell me I’m kind, Tell me I’m talented, Tell me I’m cute, Tell me I’m sensitive, Graceful and wise, Tell me I’m perfect – But tell me the truth.

Gotcha.  Can I ask you to offer some advice for drying the dishes?
If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore.

Well, that’s one way to look at it.  Shel, or Uncle Shelby if you prefer, thank you so much for bringing so much joy and laughter into the world during your time here.
Although I cannot see your face,
As you flip these poems awhile,
Somewhere from some far off place
I hear you laughing, and I smile.

And may that indeed be so.  Hope all’s well out there, friends, and God bless.

Dori Colborn–Advice for Visitors to Hannibal

What is your name?
Dori Colborn. I usually introduce myself as “Dori, like the fish on Finding Nemo”… kids love it and usually remember my name!

What do you do for a living?
I am the Payroll Accountant and HR Benefits Coordinator at Hannibal-LaGrange University, a Southern Baptist University located in “America’s Hometown” (aka Mark Twain’s hometown) in Hannibal, Missouri.

How old are you?
Twenty-three, although my birthday is on Thursday!

That would make you twenty-four when this publishes. Happy belated birthday! Where do you live?
I live in Hannibal. I moved here for college in 2012. I fell in love with the town (especially Calvary Baptist Church and HLGU!). Plus, I met and fell in love with my husband here. So, I thought it would be a good idea to stay. 😉

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?
Sorry, but I do not. I am not your average tech savvy mid-twenty year old. Haha. I am really good with Microsoft office and all that stuff, but when it comes to social media, I just stick with Facebook.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Oh, how I love to travel and see new places! I cannot leave out perhaps the most meaningful trip of my life, my trip to Germany to meet my grandmother’s side of our family. The summer of 2010, my grandmother, mom, and myself went on a trip to Germany where I met many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was one of the most magnificent things to see my grandma in her element. She was so excited to show my mom and me places from her childhood and share some of the memories that she had growing up. It was so awesome to see her interacting with her siblings and speaking German nonstop. She would sometimes stop mid conversation to translate for my mom and me. I don’t know how she can switch from one language to another so quickly! Germany is such a beautiful country where the people are so eager to express their joy for their freedom. One thing I found interesting was how much pride the people took in caring for their homes. All of the apartment buildings were painted a bright and happy color. There were gardens on almost all of the rooftops and yards of the buildings, and the streets were always swept. There was no litter anywhere and the people were so friendly and hospitable – I could see why my grandmother takes so much pride in her home and being hospitable. My favorite part of that trip, aside from meeting my family and seeing how much joy the trip brought to my grandma, was to see her childhood home. One day we went to the apartment building where she grew up. We stood outside for a long time, I don’t remember who suggested it, but we thought that maybe we could go see if the owner was home, and he was! The current resident welcomed three strange ladies into his home so we could see the actual apartment where my grandma grew up as a child! I will never forget that. My grandmother is such an inspiration to me. She had so much faith in God, that she trusted Him with her entire life and entire future by coming to America.

Also, I must share about the trips to Virginia that are near and dear to my heart, my family trips to Virginia to see a very special man. Some call him Pastor, Chaplain, or Doctor. Some might even know him as a Knight (which I just found out about on the last trip! – mind blowing!), but I call him “Grandpa Parker”. Every time my family has traveled to see GP, it is like we take a trip back into history. No matter where we go, even if it is just a little shop in a historical part of town, GP knows the story behind it. It is like going on a trip with your own personal historian, actually it’s not “like” that… it IS that! He is so knowledgeable about history and has lived through many events, which makes him the wisest person I know. Not only is he the wisest person I know, he is probably the wittiest person I know. A trip with GP always leaves me with new life lessons and wisdom as well as many fond and funny memories.

Sidebar – If there are any teenagers or twenty somethings reading this – my advice to you would be to put down those devices that you depend on so much for entertainment and go talk to your grandparents or parents. I’m not saying that Netflix or TV is bad, trust me, I watch my fair share of TV. All I’m saying is are you really living life if that is all you are doing? The generations before you have entertaining stories. They have REAL stories, not like from the movies, but real tales. They have LIVED through and seen things that you don’t know about and probably couldn’t even image. Instead of watching a movie or Netflix show about a war, go talk to a veteran who was actually there. Want to watch a romance movie? Ask your parents or grandparents how they fell in love. The same is true for Biblical history. Instead of watching shows about magic, read about REAL miracles that happened in the history of mankind. Did you know that for those who believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is their Savior that He has sent the Holy Spirit to live INSIDE of them? The person and the power that performed those miracles so many years ago, is INSIDE of those who believe today! Now, that is a story that is not only better than anything that you could find on TV, but what makes it so great is that it is true and it is everywhere around you and maybe could be a literal part of YOU and your own story… maybe your story will be something that your children or grandchildren will want to ask you about someday too.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”. 1 John 4:4

Thanks much, Dori! Moving on, if you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
In the spare time that I have had recently, I have begun doing art projects. I usually do a painting or drawing of some kind every week. Art is something that I discovered I was good at and loved at a young age. I kind of lost track of that during my college years, but now that I am married and have some more free time, I have rediscovered my passion for art. Thankfully, my husband supports it and encourages me to do it. On any given day, our kitchen table is usually covered in painting supplies rather than cleaned off for a meal! Unfortunately, I am running out of wall space in our house to display things! I have toyed with the idea of selling art, but (1) I’m not sure that I am actually good enough to do that because I am just self-taught and (2) then I would feel pressure to only do art in my spare time and I’m afraid it would become more of a demand instead of an enjoyable hobby.

Thank you much. Can you offer some advice for visitors to Hannibal?
he advice that I would give to visitors in Hannibal is to do everything! The Main Street of Downtown Hannibal offers a lot of historic experiences such as a candy shop, an old time ice cream store, as well as the Mark Twain childhood home, the famous white washed fence, and the Mark Twain Museum. It does help to know why the town is so special, so it is a good idea to read the book “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain before you visit!

The Mark Twain “must see” attractions are the cave, trolley ride, and the riverboat. The cave is an absolute must see because it is like you are right there going on an adventure with Tom and Becky. The tour guide will take you through the story and the hiding places mentioned in the book. Riverboat is a really cool experience because it is kind of like a dinner show, if you go in the evening, they not only share the adventures of Mark Twain on the river (and share some insights about the Tom Sawyer story), but you also get a nice dinner and a live music performance. If you go downtown during the summer months, you may even see Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher strolling on Main Street. This is one of my favorite things about Hannibal. Every year, 8th grade boys and girls enter a contest to see who will representing Tom and Becky for the town of Hannibal for an entire year. These kids study the material and take on the persona of the book characters. They travel all over the US, and sometimes overseas to make appearances. Mark Twain is famous all over the world. In fact, during the summer months, it is not uncommon to see people from all around the world in small town Hannibal. The small town of historic Hannibal is a great place to come visit!

Dori, thanks for being with us and sharing some of your adventures. May your journey be blessed.

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:

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.

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:

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… 

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:

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.

Bobby Beale–Advice for Snake Catchers

Hello, Bobby, and thanks for being with us at “Advice for Everyone” Can you tell us what you do for a living?
Assembler at Lowes Home Improvement, easiest job I’ve ever had! Previous jobs have been: communications technician, landscaper, retail clerk, and sewing machine repair tech.

How old are you and where do you live?
I’m 61 – June, 1956, and live in Cleveland, North Carolina.

Most interesting place you’ve visited?
Hard to pin down one place. Gettysburg battlefield, ANY clean beach, Smoky Mountain Knife Works…

Somebody’s going to visit Gettysburg for the first time. How should they prepare for their experience and make the most of the time there?
This one’s a toughie…for me, Gettysburg was a deeply spiritual experience. I went with a friend between jobs when I was on the road and only had a couple of hours, was thinking to just breeze through it and move on. However as soon as my feet hit the ground and walked around some I began to experience what Lincoln referenced in his Gettysburg address – this place is Holy – “…it has been consecrated far beyond our ability to add or detract…”
Also, a lot of members of our family are somewhat… sensitive. As I moved around I had the feeling of being watched, and not by the people around me. I got the sense that the dead who remain there were watching, that I was personally being watched, not with hostility but…well, with interest. I can’t describe it. I would say read up on the battle before you go and prepare yourself mentally and spiritually because Gettysburg strikes everyone differently.

Favorite meal?
A tie between livermush, eggs w/cheese, toast, hash browns, and crawfish etouffee.

Pet peeve?
People talking ABOUT others rather than TO others! If I have a problem with Henry, what good does it so me to talk to Bernie, Ted, and Alice. Henry’s the only one that can help me solve my problem with him, isn’t he???

Very true. Favorite book, or movie, or television show?
Book – “Lord of the Rings.” Movie – “Secondhand Lions”. TV show – don’t really have one. “Forged in Fire,” any UNC B-ball game…

What’s the appeal of “Secondhand Lions?”
1) It has a GREAT cast with Michael Caine as Garth, Robert Duvall as Hub, and Haley Joel Osment as Walter. 2) It deals with issues that are personal to me; adapting to a world where you don’t seem to fit, and adjusting from living in a world your mind wants you to have, to living in a world your body says you can have: managing a life where you (the teenager) are the adult and your parent clearly is not: and finding relevance for your life in a world that seems to be telling you that everything you believe in no longer matters. These are issues that everyone faces sooner or later but this movie does so with dignity, class, and humor. Just an all-round great movie.

If people wanted to pray for you, they could pray for…..?
A personal struggle I’m dealing with right now

Are you married? Any children or pets?
Married, two daughters, six grandchildren (four girls, two boys), one dog, Sammi

Something most people don’t know that you can do?
People that know me know most of my talents (sing, act, tell stories, artist, carver) but most don’t know that I have memorized several poems and spoonerisms.

Can you give us a few spoonerisms?
To “give” a few spoonerisms I’d have to video me doing one or two. It’s just words twisted around – Archie Campbell used to do it on “Hee Haw” – and it’s appeal depends largely on the storyteller. “Once upon a time, in a corin funtry, there lived a geautiful birl named Rindercella…” reads differently than me telling you the same thing. If you want to record “Rindercella” or “The Chris before Nightmare” you’ll need to let me know.

Thanks! Think about recording a few and put them on YouTube. If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Do more carving to build stock so I can do more craft festivals.

What sort of carving do you do?
Mostly I do walking sticks, Christmas ornaments, toys…whatever I take an interest in. I do mostly custom work – you tell me three or four things that are important to you and I incorporate them on a stick, each one’s different. My favorite stick is the one I just finished, and there aren’t many around the house because I do them for people and sell or give them away. Actually, it’s turned into a ministry for me – every stick has a cross on it somewhere the owner will see it. It’s a promise that God watches us, doesn’t slumber, and will never let us go. When I go to a festival, I never seem to sell ANY until I give a few away…

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?
When I was younger I used to catch snakes, venomous and non-venomous, for extra spending money. Once auditioned for National Shakespeare Conservatory. (Yes, I was accepted but couldn’t attend.) Other stuff, but modesty forbids….

Thanks much! Can I ask you to offer some advice to snake catchers?
This is a skill that you develop with time, but I’d say don’t go into it lightly. Snakes, like any animal, pick up on their surroundings, including you if you’re near them. Imagine that you’re at home or at work and someone comes along, takes the roof off of your house, reaches in to try and grab you, catches you, holds you up and says “look, isn’t he/she pretty” and then puts you in a cage or a big bucket. They don’t like it when we invade their privacy, don’t understand what’s happening, and act accordingly. Treat them gently, don’t hurt them, and place them back where they were…it’s better for them and probably better for you if you don’t want to get bit.

Bobby, thanks much for letting us get to know you a little bit. Prayers with the personal struggle, and hope the carving and other interests go well. God bless.

Ed Mathis–Advice for Business Owners

Welcome to my blog! Can you tell us your name?
Ed Mathis. Ed is the easiest name in the English language to spell. When I was born my parents took one look at me and said, “This boy’s gonna need all the help he can get.” So they named me Ed, so I could spell it. I guess they wanted to give me a ed-start… on my ed-ucation. I could go on…

What do you do with your time?
I am the semi-retired owner of Mathis Electronics. We design and manufacture printed circuit boards for a number of different industries, as well as LED replacements for wedge base bulbs that are used in autos and landscape lighting. Everything is manufactured in Asheville, North Carolina and has a lifetime warranty.

Before that, my wife and I were missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Zaire, Africa, and then with TransWorld Radio in Monte Carlo. The hard thing about being a missionary in Monte Carlo is trying to raise enough support for the yacht. Those darn things are expensive!

How old are you?
I’m 62. No, wait… 63… yeah… 63.

And where do you live?
Arden, North Carolina

Where can we find you on the internet?
I don’t have a personal website, but my business websites are: and, coming soon,

What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?
Hard to say. I’ve been to a lot of places and each one has its points of interest. Kenya is perhaps one of the most fascinating. It’s a very harsh but hauntingly beautiful country.

Favorite meal?
At this point in time I would have to say that my favorite meal is steak au poivre (pepper steak) at Bouchon in Asheville. Amazingly delicious!

Pet peeve?
I suppose my recent pet peeve is the way many news agencies distort the truth to make a sensational story so they can get better ratings.

What’s your favorite movie?
“Sling Blade,” without a doubt. “Coffee kindly make me nervous when I drink it. Mmm.”

If someone wants to pray for you they could pray for?
If anyone wishes to pray for me, please pray for my sanctification. Sanctification mystifies me, and seems to largely elude me. I want to write a book someday. In fact, I’ve already written it in my head. It would be titled, “Why Doesn’t God Fix Us When He Saves Us?” The book would consist of one page with one sentence at the top which reads, “Darned if I know.”

Are you married? Any children or pets?
I’ve been married to Sheryl, the finest woman to ever walk the face of the earth, since 1979. I have trouble believing that she really loves me, but she does, and I am devoted to her.

We have three adopted children, Sam (25), Rachael (20), and Miriam (17). The last few years have pretty well convinced me that I’ve been the worst father ever.

My first grandchild, Dakotah, is due in September. Can’t wait to get my hands on him!

Pets? I’m in a good mood. I’d rather not talk about pets. Actually, though, my daughters’ two pups are starting to grow on me.  Ok, that’s enough on pets.

Something most people don’t know that you can do?
Most people probably do not know that I speak three languages, including Lingala, one of the trade languages in Congo (used to be Zaire). Mbote!

I didn’t know that. If you had any spare time what would you do with it?
I have a good bit of spare time now, and I try to stay out of trouble by writing, arranging, and singing songs for men’s four-part a cappella harmony.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?
One of the greatest blessings of my life at this time is singing and playing guitar (and mandolin) with my father and brother in a group we call “The Stepsons of the Pioneers.” Cowboy songs, western swing, classic country, gospel, and an occasional jazz or pop song. We play almost exclusively at nursing homes. The residents really enjoy it, and it’s a great blessing for my dad, who is almost 90 and has lost the ability to do a lot of the things he used to enjoy, but he can still sing and play guitar well. He really looks forward to our gigs. It’s also a great blessing for me and Kevin.

Recently they’ve started bringing a lady in to hear us sing when we go to Fleshers in Fairview. She’s in a wheelchair and for all practical purposes is out of her mind. She just says, “Jesus, Jesus,” quite loudly, then waits a few seconds and repeats it, etc. The first time she was there, I just decided, ok, we’ll have a Jesus, Jesus night. So we sang “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er…”, and then, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name…”. As we were singing I watched her to see if she might clue in or sing with us, but she seemed to be unfazed by our music, and just kept repeating “Jesus, Jesus.”

At a certain point I looked and she was gone. When the song was over I asked what happened to the Jesus Jesus lady. The staff lady said she took her out because she was afraid she was disturbing. I said, “She’s not disturbing me. In fact, if I ever get to the place in life where I can only speak one word, I hope that word will be Jesus.”

The Jesus Jesus lady has become one of my heroes. I later found out that her name was Martha. You know, as in “Martha, Martha…” Now she’s saying, “Jesus, Jesus.” Brings tears to my eyes. Actually, in recent visits I’ve heard her say two new things. It’s still almost always “Jesus, Jesus”, but I recently heard her say, as she was looking out the door and motioning with her hand, “Come on, Jesus.” Then, a little later, she said in her loud, rough voice, “I love Jesus.” I melted. When I recovered enough to talk, I said to the audience, “I just love that lady.” I’m so impressed that a woman who has basically lost her mind is still proclaiming the name of Jesus with every breath. May it be so with me!.

Thanks much, Ed, and that’s a wonderful story.

As you know, here on “Advice for Everyone,” I ask people to offer counsel to wildly differing interest groups based on their own background. Could I ask you to offer some advice to circuit designers?
…..I’m coming up dry on this one. How about a couple of tips my dad taught me about running a successful business?

That works for me. Fire away.
1. Profit is not a dirty word. Don’t be afraid to make a profit. In fact, making a reasonable profit is a biblical concept. Many would-be business owners feel guilty about making a profit. They want to give everybody the “good buddy” price, and their family suffers for it.

2. Plan to make a profit every day. If you plan to start a business by breaking even the first year with the intention of making money next year, you will probably not make it.

3. Probably the best business advice I’ve ever heard comes from Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have, for He himself has promised, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Balancing making a profit with being content with what you have is probably the biggest challenge of running a business.

Ed, thanks much for sharing some of your adventures with us, and God bless.

Gordon Miller–Advice for Apartment Managers

Welcome to the blog. Can you tell us your name and any nicknames?
My name is Gordon C. Miller. While I have no preferential nickname, people have used many. In elementary school it was ‘Gordy’, in junior high school it was ‘GC’, and occasionally in high school ‘Gordo’. When I entered military service names were most often associated with rank held. Upon retirement as a CW4 (Chief Warrant Officer – 4) in the Army, many still refer to me as ‘Chief’.

Can you tell us how old you are?
My age is ‘Classified’ … just kidding. As a former MI professional, that’s Military Intelligence humor. In September I will be 48.

Tell us about your work history?
I retired after 28 years active service from the US Army. While retired from public service, I still work commercially. Monday thru Friday I babysit my grandchildren so their parents can afford to buy a home. All week long I serve as a ‘Resident Manager’ for the apartment complex my family lives in. On Friday and Saturday during the dinner rush I deliver for Domino’s, mostly because the money is good for the amount of labor that is required.

Can you tell us about a time in your military service that you could say “that was a good day?”
From my perspective, every day was a “good day” while I served. One event does come to mind that affected more than I would have realized at the time: Shortly before deploying to Iraq for the third time, I was promoted to CW3 at Fort Benning, Georgia. A team was sent before the deployment to figure out how to install “Red Dot” air-conditioning on our MI equipment without affecting their operations. I was ordered to assist the team by any possible means, which mostly consisted of keeping my soldiers out of their way. I left them to their task, but after two hours in the heat and humidity of Georgia I thought I should check on their progress. They were still scratching their heads and they took the time to describe the dilemma. My question was why use Red Dot and not normal A/C? They claimed ignorance that it didn’t exist or they might use it. I point out that the commercial variant of the military HMMWV was the H1 Hummer, which came standard with A/C. I then lifted the hood and showed that the brackets to attach A/C components to were already part of the A1 and A2 engine variants. I offered to go to NAPA and get them the parts required, estimating that total package would be around $5000, plus fabrication of ductworks absent in military vehicles. They declined but thanked me anyways. During my next deployment I noticed that many vehicles that had been equipped with GMC A/C and Red Dots (which cost $25,000 per vehicle) were being phased out or replaced. It wasn’t until after my fourth deployment to Iraq that I was reassigned to the Communications and Electronic Command (CECOM), part of the Army Material Command (AMC), at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD that I confirmed that the decision to convert the Army fleet of vehicles to standard GMC A/C was made right after that visit to Benning. Now, I’m not a big fan of ‘coincidence’, but to all the warfighters out their who benefited from working A/C … “You are welcome!”

That’s a wonderful story. Tell us where you live?
After retiring at Joint Base Lewis – McCord near Tacoma, WA my family and I moved to and now live in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This was to be near my wife’s family who desperately needed our support. My extended family includes both step-sons (one of which is married, has 3 kids, 2 of which I usually babysit), mother-in-law, and two aunts.

Can you tell us some interesting places you’ve visited?
Most of my “interesting places” involve the military and yes, some of them ARE classified, sorry. In 28 years I was stationed in Germany and saw a lot of Europe. While there the Gulf War started and I was deployed to Saudi Arabia. Over a decade later the War on Terror started and I was deployed to ‘combat operations’ five more times (officially). In all my travels I’ve visited about half the states in the US and eighteen foreign countries (no, passing through them does not count in my book, lol). While I still have North Carolina in my heart, at times it seems a distant memory. Nostalgia can be ugly at times.

Tell us about your favorite meal?
While I am fond of many, I don’t believe I have a favorite food. Like any Southerner, I don’t pass on BBQ and sweet iced tea when the opportunity presents itself, which can be rare up here in North Dakota.

Pet peeve?
My strongest “pet peeve” would be hypocrisy. I’m a firm believer in “my word is my bond” and “say what you mean and mean what you say.” Too often I run into contradictory people that condemn something one minute then condone it the next, usually for self serving purposes. Yep, definitely that would be my biggest peeve with society in general.

Favorite books or movies or TV shows?
Again, I’m fond of many things but I can’t really pin a favorite anything. I read as much as I can, with Economics and History subjects being at the top of the list, as they both define how we live, make a living, and how we got to where we are today. As for movies, I like war movies given my background in the military, and if I HAD to pick a favorite among them it would be “To Hell And Back,” about and starring Audie Murphy, a personal inspiration. As for TV shows, I sometimes watch the “classics” from my youth as pop culture nowadays is less appealing.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about where the world economy is heading?
To me, pessimism and optimism are two sides of the same subjective coin, with pros and cons for any given perspective. To be brief, the global economy is degrading FAST. This is the natural effect of disobedience to fundamental economics, the Natural Laws of Supply and Demand. Too many economists and political advisors are HUGE fans of Demand-side economics. The problem with this is by focusing on or arbitrarily imposing demands, supply suffers; either it diminishes or becomes unnecessarily expensive. As our country and most others have become very Demand-side oriented, we see the consequences and none of them are good or beneficial to the common man. I’ve lost count of the debates on this topic, but everyone who has taken up the cause of Demand has lost to the fundamentals. The ‘cure’ for these self inflicted wounds is Supply-side economic, which obey the Laws of Supply and Demand, but I’m not holding my breath for a return to what made our country the most prosperous on Earth in a relatively short amount of time.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for….?
Prayer is often welcome and if people wish to pray for me I always appreciate it. As I continue to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Lord, pray this for me and that my family be blessed with the same knowledge and wisdom.

Tell us about your family. Any pets?
I am married to a very wonderful woman, Amber, for the past ten years. I have five children, four daughters from two previous marriages, and my son with Amber along with two step-sons, and six grandchildren three of each). As much as I like dogs, we don’t have pets as I feel the constant moves and “apartment living” is rough enough on the family without tormenting an animal too. With all the family and grandkids, I believe I’ve got enough “companionship” for now.

Can you offer some advice for apartment managers?
Most of the best advice is proverbial, “Patience is a virtue.” When dealing with people in any capacity, especially service, it is good to learn and practice patience as too often people don’t take into consideration your time as being as valuable as theirs. Impatience is routine, so it is hard to not be impatient in return. Another great piece of advice is “emotional control.” Not so much overreacting, which is a given, but not reacting to common foibles encountered.

Anecdote: “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Yesterday a tenant called to report that none of the washers in her building’s laundry room worked. I asked how she had determined this and was informed that she put $1.25 in each machine but they won’t start. Fair enough, but before I could ask a follow up question she related to me that she had put in one quarter at a time and pushed in the payment tray until she had deposited $1.25, on all three machines. I informed her that she was to fill the five empty slots with quarters before pushing the tray and they should work just fine. I did this tactfully and with all sincerity, as much as I just wanted to laugh at her expense. We have been Apartment Managers for just a few months, but between my wife and I we have enough stories of this type to fill a few hours. It is wrong to take the stance that “people are stupid”. Most people aren’t, but they fail to read or follow instructions or think things through before acting.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Like anyone else I’ve made time for various entertainments and diversions but none I am desperate to make a full time passion. Hopefully in the next ten years I can move into full blown retirement, spending more time with family and friends with the possibility of travel, seeing the sights in the other states I haven’t visited yet.

Gordon, thanks for sharing with us. May God bless and guide you and your family in your adventures.