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Success Starts Early - Avoid a Reaction

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Have you ever been to the hospital?  I've been to the emergency room once or twice, plus I've had a few "minor" surgeries and procedures over the years.  It seems like a doctor will almost always direct someone to provide medication to the patient, either in a pill or through the point of needle, and then will want to find out how the individual is doing after a certain period of time.  Why?  To see if there has been any improvement, or at least to make sure that nothing has gotten worse.  If I were to have an infection, for instance, and the medicine was helping me, you might expect to hear someone say something about how well I was responding to the treatment.  If something had gone wrong, however, the medical professionals might be concerned that my body was having a reaction .  Notice the difference in those two words!  Today, as we look at how to live a successful life, let's make sure we know how to avoid having a reaction. In the medical example I provided

Success Starts Early - Consistency

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Have you ever played paper, rock, scissors?  I always thought it was a little goofy, because nobody seems to understand how paper beats rock.  My brother and I tried coming up with different items to put into the game, but eventually someone would try to introduce dynamite and to our young minds that beat everything so why continue to play after that?  You know what actually does beat paper, scissors, and rock in real life...without any explosions?  Water!  That's right, it can soak paper, rust away scissors, and erode even the biggest rocks.  In fact, some of the neatest places to visit are natural formations caused by the gradual wearing away of rocks - Grand Canyon and Arches National Park are two of my own favorites.  How does water do it?  Through effort that remains steady, persistent, and consistent  over time. When each of us decides what we want to accomplish and we get help identifying the right actions to take, we must be determined to keep doing what must be done.  It&#

Success Starts Early - No Excuses

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"The dog did it!"  Have you ever blamed a pet for something, maybe a mess that was discovered on the floor or a nasty smell in the air?  It's easy to point fingers at an animal that can't defend itself.  When my kids were babies, I used to jokingly blame them for doing things around the house before they were even big enough to crawl.  While these may be funny examples, you may have noticed that it's not always easy to claim responsibility.  But like it or not, it's a sign of maturity to refuse to give excuses .  I don't really know who said it first, but I used to hear that the definition of an excuse is "the skin of a reason, stuffed with a lie."  When you put it that way, they don't really sound very good!  Then why do they show up so often?  I think the biggest reason is because so many people don't want to admit (or even believe) that they're the cause when something bad happens. I didn't get a good grade?  The teacher didn&#

Success Starts Early - Positively Powerful

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Do you ever think about what you think about?  I don't think my dog spends much time thinking about much besides food and squirrels...and maybe how he'd like to finally catch a squirrel so he could have it for food (and that's never gonna happen).  Do you think it matters if you think about the right things?  I do!  What you think about most tends to affect the things you do, which eventually determines what kind of person you become.  And how do you control your thoughts?  Through words!  Our brains have a lot to do, but fortunately for us they usually do a pretty good job of handling everything.  A mentor of mine once compared the brain to a 3-pound computer that never stopped running as long as a person was alive.  Scientists have shown that even when we're asleep our brains keep working hard - in fact, the important work they do then is one of the big reasons we need to get so much sleep!  If the brain is the computer, then our mouths must be the keyboards.  What we

Success Starts Early - Give Back

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The lowest point on the surface of the earth is also one of the saltiest - the Dead Sea, a lake situated on the border of Israel and Jordan, sits over 1300' below sea level.  Because of its extremely low elevation, no streams or rivers are able to flow out of the lake, creating what scientists call a "closed basin".  That means whatever salt (or any other debris) a stream brings with it will stay in the lake, long after the water itself has evaporated away.  The salt may be valuable to companies that mine and sell the stuff, but it certainly does not lend itself to supporting life...which might have contributed to the name of this famous body of water.  As we each try to figure out how to have our own better life, we can also learn a lesson about how important it is to focus on more than just receiving.  We have to learn how to give back . Up to this point, our topics have been mainly focused on what we can receive.  Mentors and authors, as we have discussed, can provide

Success Starts Early - Reading

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I never enjoyed reading when I was younger.  Why?  Because I'm extremely competitive and my brother was better at it. That's right, I don't like doing things if I'm not able to be the best at it.  My older brother could finish huge novels over a weekend, but I always seemed to fall asleep or get distracted whenever I tried to read for more than 5 minutes at a time.  Imagine how I felt when one of my mentors told me that the saying "readers are leaders" was true!  I remember my dad handing me the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki when I was heading back to college after a weekend at home.  When I told him I didn't really like to read, he suggested that the alternative was to "stay stupid".  As someone who had gotten out of high school early and had already finished an associate degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA before the age of 18, that caught my attention.  Clearly my dad did not question my ability to think, but he knew something I hadn&#

Success Starts Early - Mentorship

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Most people, as they get older, can easily remember someone who made a big impact on them as young people.  Often a teacher or a coach from childhood, those who take time to pour a little bit of themselves into others are never forgotten.  But sometimes people don't realize how important it is to have someone help them reach certain personal goals.  For our chat today, let's call all of these helpful people mentors .  I played basketball while growing up.  For eight years I was a part of several teams with various levels of success - for instance, one never won a game and another reached a state championship game.  When playing sports, it's easy to recognize that your coach is the one with the ideas that the team should follow.  The same thing often applies to music directors, school teachers, and church leaders.  When someone has taken time to study the best ways of doing something, they're much easier to follow.  But it's not always that easy to know who you shoul

Success Starts Early - Setting Goals

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When I began writing this blog, do you think I knew all the things that would be included over the years?  No way!  But do you think I had any plans?  Absolutely.  That's because whenever you start a journey it's always a good idea to know where you want to wind up.  The things you want to do are what we call your goals .  My interest in maps began when I was young, as my family used to take a lot of road trips.  A good road map will include your starting point and a destination, as well as different options on how to go from one to the other.  When you start thinking about what you want to do, you'll need to be honest with where you really are, and then have a good idea of where you're going (or what you're doing).  Most success experts agree that there's no point starting without a destination.  It's like playing basketball with no goals - after all the dribbling and passing, how do you know who wins? So we need a destination.  But how do we decide what it

Farewell, Boston!

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I hope each of you have enjoyed our journey through Boston and have gotten something fun or useful out of it, despite the fact that it was so often interrupted along the way.  I've certainly learned a lot about this city, the Cradle of Liberty, over the past several months and have several new places that will definitely be included in a future vacation itinerary.  It seems like it is finally time, however, to officially close out this historical chapter and look forward to the next phase.  So farewell, Boston, it was great getting to know you better and I hope to visit you again sometime in the near future! As I pointed out earlier, I will be writing a series of topics about the basics of successful living.  To be clear, this is not because I consider myself to be an expert on the topic or even because I think I've arrived at any peak that allows me to pause and appreciate the fruits of my efforts.  Instead, it's because there seems to be a distinct lack of focus on the th

Boston: Fenway Park

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In April of 1912, a new baseball stadium was introduced to the city of Boston that would one day become one of the most recognizable venues in sports history: Fenway Park.  The new home of the Red Sox had been constructed hastily on land that had previously been along the swampy edge of the Charles River, and witnessed an incredible season of baseball that culminated with a championship.  Today, well over 100 years later, we'll take a brief look at the oldest remaining professional baseball stadium in existence that has become an historical icon for the city.   Change was in the air for the Boston Red Sox in 1911.  The owners of the team, father-son tandem Charles and John Taylor, had opted not to renew the lease at the stadium they had called home for a decade, opting instead to purchase land farther north in an area along Back Bay known as "The Fens".  Early in the 19th century, Beacon Hill and other high points around the city had been cut down and used to fill in loca

Geographist Plans!

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Big news!  Thanks to each one of you readers, this blog has reached more than 20,000 views!  Thank you so much, it's amazing and humbling to think of that many sets of eyes browsing the various topics we've been through over the life of the site.  Now for what's next!  I'll be wrapping up my overview of Boston soon, and have given some thought to what would be both fun and useful going forward.  The first topic on Geographist.com was "Our Story With God", which was the starting point of a book of the same name I published last year (available on platforms such as  Amazon ,  Barnes & Noble , and  Google ).  That effort, while hopefully useful and interesting to a broad audience, was focused primarily on the 5th grade level that my wife and I teach at our church.  I would like to return to those roots in my next project by taking several decades' worth of studying success principles and working to apply it towards younger minds.  As with "Our Story&

Vacation 2021 - Recap

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After traveling back to Texas from Yellowstone the girls lost their enthusiasm for providing daily overviews of the trip.  Along the way, however, we saw a few more sites (such as Mount Rushmore and Chimney Rock) and had one more big activity (whitewater rafting in Colorado along the Arkansas River).  Here are some final thoughts from each of the girls on what they enjoyed most, as well as what they hope to remember.   Whirly's Recap - My favorite memory was when we rode horses.  It's because I had a nice one. His name was Buck, and not because he bucks us off.  It's because he has a Buck skin. Girly's Recap:  My favorite memory was white water rafting in Colorado, while on our way back home. Although this wasn't my favorite trip, we did a lot of new things and did things not everyone can say they have done. Curly's Recap My favorite memory was white water rafting.  It was very intense.  I got wet.  My most embarrassing thing was sliding in the tree.  This was a

Vacation 2021 - Day 9

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Our ninth day of the trip was spent entirely in Cody, WY.  And it was almost entirely focused on the man who gave the town its name, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.  Let's see what stood out most to the girls.  Whirly Day 9 - We rode horses and my horse's name was Buck.  We saw the museum all day.  We saw a red tail hawk and a turkey vulture so yeah that was day 9. Curly's Day 9- We went to a museum and saw some Indian stuff. We also saw a showcase for raptor birds like a turkey vulture and a red tail hawk then we went on a horse trail. My horse was named Scrappy and he was stubborn. We went back to the museum and looked at animals. The museum was about to close, but we had time to look at firearms and guns it was cool. Then we drove back to the RV park. Girly's Day 9: This was the day we went to the Buffalo Bill museum and rode some horses. After being in Yellowstone for a couple days straight, it was time to do something different for a change. So instead of

Vacation 2021 - Day 8

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We've passed the one-week mark of this trip and are still enjoying Yellowstone.  This was the day we explored most of the park, venturing to both the NE & NW entrances.  I have a feeling I know what the girls remembered best, but let's hear it from them.  Girly's Day 8:  This day we were in Yellowstone almost the whole day. We saw buffalo and some birds. This is when we saw the most buffalo. Like herds and herds of them. Nothing really else happened. We just stayed in Yellowstone almost the whole day, and then we had German food for dinner. We arrived late to our RV park, and went to sleep for the night. Whirly's Day 8 - We went to Yellowstone we saw some bison we saw deer and yeah that was day 8. Curly's Day 8 We went to Yellowstone again and saw a lot of animals we spent the most time in Yellowstone and saw the most buffalo. So yeah that was day eight.

Vacation 2021 - Day 7

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Our first day in Yellowstone!  We entered the west side, then drove across to the west side and into Cody, WY.  There were plenty of amazing things to see, from scenery to animals to geologic features.  Let's see what stuck in the minds of the girls.  Curly's Day 7 We woke up and did laundry in a laundromat, fun right? We had gas station food. Then we went to Yellowstone and saw the geysers. We also got souvenirs - I got a bracelet. We went to Old Faithful, but it was going to blast in an hour so we left. We went to a town called Cody and picked up a rental car.  Girly's Day 7: This day we woke up in Idaho, and the day was already busy. We had to do laundry, so to the laundromat we went. We then went to a nearby gas station, and had some pop tarts, powdered donuts, etc. After that, we were on our way to Yellowstone. We were on the hunt for two main things: buffalo and Old Faithful. We found Old Faithful, but sadly it started raining and we weren't able to see it blow. W

Vacation 2021 - Day 6

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Our sixth day was another long travel day.  We started out in Utah and journeyed through part of Wyoming before stopping in Idaho for the night, near the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  Here are the highlights, as remembered by the girls!  Girly's Day 6: This day was a day full of driving. We started in Utah, and ended the day in Idaho. I had never been to Utah, Wyoming, or Idaho, so this was a new thing for me. For dinner, we stopped at this little restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was cute and it had delicious food. While waiting to get into the restaurant, we walked around and stumbled across a mock gun fight. After eating, we went through the Grand Tetons in the dark, and ended the night in Idaho.  Whirly Day 6 - We went to a restaurant that had a long wait.  So we went to a store and I bought  popcorn.  One of my sisters bought bracelet and then we ate so yeah that was day 6. Curly Day 6 We went to Utah and we found Jackson Hole. We walked around until we

Vacation 2021 - Day 5

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Today we found ourselves in a state that none of us had visited before - Utah.  We started in Moab and wound up in Mount Pleasant (south of Provo).  Plenty of sites to see, and several miles to walk.  Here's the recap!  Curly's Day 5 So, we woke up really early so we could go see arches in Utah.  We walked about three miles and we found some arches with, oddly enough, Wi-Fi. We even saw someone's water bottle roll of a cliff , but it wasn't deep. Later we saw someone else getting it out.  We took a picture under an arch.  Later we found a restaurant with scones and I hadn't tried one until then. So yeah that was day five. Whirly's Day 5: We went to a nice restaurant and saw arches.  Someone's water bottle rolled off the edge. and someone did a handstand under a arch.  And the girls boyfriend got her water bottle back and we all clapped when he got back up.  We took a picture under the arch. So that was day five.

Vacation 2021 - Day 4

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Back on the road!  Today we crossed a pair of state lines on our way from Albuquerque, NM to Moab, UT (with a pit stop in Durango, CO).  Here's the review!  Whirly's Day 4 - We went down to a river and one of my sisters flew into a tree and my other sister spilled her coffee on my sister who flew into the tree.  I only slid on my butt.  My dad and my dog where first and it was my dad's fault that we all got hurt and spilled on. Girly's Day 4: This day was when we drove to Colorado. We went through a little town, and enjoyed coffee from a small, local coffee shop. While going back to the RV, we headed to the river. But as Curly was climbing down the hill, she flew into a tree and got stuck. When I was going down, I lost balance, and started to run down the hill. I ran straight into Curly, spilling my coffee on both her and I, and almost pushed both of us into the water. It was a hectic day, to say the least.  Curly's Day 4 Well, we were in Colorado and we found a sma

Vacation 2021 - Day 3

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A day of staying put - we spent a second night in the Albuquerque area and saw the sights of northern New Mexico.  Let's see what the girls remember best!  Girly Day 3: This was the day we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We woke up, and saw two hot air balloons while outside. We went to the little, old town, walked around, and bought a few Christmas ornaments. While on the way back to the RV park, we ended up in an area that was highly secured. Dad got searched. The RV got searched for flammable items and weapons. We were not allowed to take any pictures or videos, as it was where atomic items were made and tested. We eventually made it back to our RV park, and watched a movie while waiting to get tired. Curly Day 3 So when we woke up we saw two hot air balloons.We also walked into a town.  There were alot of Indian based stuff. We also went into a Christmas shop and got some ornaments. Later we saw a New Mexican history museum. We also saw some Indian dwellings.  Also we saw a deer.

Vacation 2021 - Day 2

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Day 2 took us from Amarillo to Albuquerque.  Here's what the girls remembered!  Whirly Day 2 - I got to spray paint a car and hiked a 3 mile trail.  It was really far and after I got free water and my dad drove us all the way to New Mexico. Curly Day 2 We drove to the edge of Texas and we hiked about one mile in the Palo Duro Canyon.  We saw lizards and butterflies while we hiked then we went to Cadillac Ranch.  While we were there we got to spray paint a car it was very cool. Girly Day 2: We woke up pretty early today, so we could go hike at Palo Duro Canyon in Amarillo, TX. After a pretty decently long hike, we packed up in the RV once again, and headed to New Mexico. Along the way, we took a pit stop at Cadillac Ranch, which is a place with Cadillacs in the ground, covered in spray paint. We placed our mark on a couple of the cars, and left for New Mexico. We got to our new RV park and settled there for the next two nights.

Vacation 2021 - Day 1

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For our family RV trip, I thought it might be fun to let the rest of the family have their say.  All or some of them will share what they thought about each day's adventure.  So here goes - enjoy!  Our first day was from our home to Amarillo, TX. Curly's Day 1 First day in the RV we mostly drove around  to get to our RV park it was cool, but the out side not so it was very hot and we couldn't use the air conditioning all the time and that is really all so yeah that was day one. Girly's Day 1: I was woken up at about 6:30, early Saturday morning. We quickly as we could, packed up the RV and began our trip. The beginning started off with some troubles, however. Not even a full minutes into the trip, we took a sharp turn, and a glass bottle of mayhaw jelly flew out of a top cabinet and almost landed strait on my head. It was a long day, but we slowly but surely made it to Amarillo, which is where we parked our RV and stayed the night.  Whirly's Day 1 - When I was up I

Boston: Logan Airport

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On July 2, 1999, Boston's Logan Airport sustained a lightning strike that temporarily disrupted radar and communication ability.  At least that was the story that I was told in Pittsburgh, PA as my flight to Massachusetts was canceled.  My brother and I were on a trip from Houston, TX to join a three-week European concert tour consisting of approximately 150 high school musicians from across America.  After being forced to stay in Pennsylvania for an unplanned night, we made contact with five other kids and one adult who were also stranded on our way to the same location, and our so-called "Pittsburgh Seven" finally made it to Logan Airport.  That was my very first experience with the subject this week's post. In 1923, less than two decades after the Wright brothers made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, the first airplane arrived at a new landing strip in the middle of what used to be Boston Harbor.  As we discovered very early in our study of Boston, the city has

Boston: The Castle (Fort Independence)

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One of the most recognizable landmarks in Boston that does not fall along any of the city's historical trails is Fort Independence, which is known as The Castle.  The earliest fortification to stand on what is today Castle Island, just to the southeast of the city, was constructed in 1634 to provide a point of defense for the city against any attacks by sea.  The original earthworks were soon bolstered by a wooden structure, due in part to concern over a French warship which had approached the city, and that fort was enhanced or replaced multiple times during the following decades.  By the dawn of the 18th century a fifth version of the fort was constructed, which was named "Castle William" in honor of the English monarch who had taken the throne during the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688. Castle Island was an important location in the time leading up to the American Revolution, with its garrison serving as a secure shelter for British loyalists while unrest swept t

Boston: African Meeting House

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Welcome back to the Cradle of American Liberty!  If this is your first time seeing a post about Boston, I would encourage you to go back and look at some of the other information I've written about the historic city.  It seemed important to go back and finish looking into a few of the important sites before taking the blog in a new direction, and with that in mind I'd like to complete our review of Boston's Black Heritage Trail with the final site, the African Meeting House. As the 19th century began the legal freedom that many black residents of Boston enjoyed did not guarantee them equal rights.  Although they were permitted to attend the same churches as white Christians, they were not given membership voting rights or permitted to sit on first-floor pews.  A preacher named Thomas Paul had led a group that worshipped and Faneuil Hall, and by 1805 they organized as the First African Baptist Church.  By the end of the following year, land had been purchased and a building

Diary of a Homeschool Dad - Week 41

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The school year has drawn to a close, and with it my official time as a homeschool dad is ending.  Let's take a look at how the final week went down. Sunday - When you live on the opposite side of a major city from your church, sometimes you're not inclined to travel back and forth multiple times in a day.  We didn't have much of a choice this time, however, as our activities at church required us to spend the majority of the day on campus.  After spending the morning having the usual service and Bible study, we stuck around for lunch and a Nerf war with our 5th graders, including Curly.  The rain that soaked town all week forced us inside, but these soon-to-be middle school kids didn't let that dampen their enthusiasm as they took over the hallways of the west tower.  Girly was supposed to have training in the evening to prepare her for the summer's Vacation Bible School, but the children's resident did us a huge favor and took the time to work with her individ

Diary of a Homeschool Dad - Week 40

We're racing ahead towards the school year finish line!  For some reason I didn't take many pictures of anything this week, so it's going to be a fairly text-heavy post this week.  Sunday - Mother's Day at church is always nice, and I was fortunate enough to have mine and my children's with me.  We waited too long to nail down details, unfortunately, so we were stuck going to a restaurant without a reservation.  I was actually glad to see the wait, however, because I've been told this is one of two days where food service will make or break their years (think of it like a culinary Black Friday).  So many good eateries have gone away during the past year.  No evening church activities meant we were free to wrap up our day without the extra trip across town, which I'm sure the car would have appreciated if it had thoughts or feelings about such things.  Monday - Each of the girls has been gradually wrapping up some of their school subjects for 2020-21.  This w