August 2014


Size Matters

Short and Tall Businessmen

Throughout elementary school I was always the tallest kid in my classes. I do remember one day in 5th grade when several of my classmates came running down to the playground where our basketball team was practicing (I was the center) and excitedly told me a new kid had just registered who was taller than me. I couldn’t have cared less how tall he was, I was more concerned how athletic he was. He wasn’t, and he didn’t stay at our school for long. Although other people frequently noticed and mentioned my height, for me, it was just who I was.

I continued to grow and would eventually top out at a little over 6’ 4”.  While people often made comments about my height, I didn’t consider it to be as important or defining as did they. I truly never thought my being tall somehow made me superior to someone shorter. In fact, when younger, I probably heard more negative comments about big guys being “dumb jocks.”

Of course, I eventually realized being taller did have some advantages. Statistically, tall people make more money overall (I guess they didn’t figure me into that statistic). You can also reach things on the top shelf. You can also be seen in a crowd much easier. And, in most surveys, shorter people wish they were taller. I guess that’s why I’ve had a lifetime of shorter people demonstrating their admiration with comments such as, “How’s the weather up there?,” and “How’s it going stretch?”

Supposedly, being a taller guy helps in attracting the ladies. Now, while I was able to convince the cute head cheerleader to marry me, I attribute that victory to my overall good looks and sparkling personality.

The fact is, being this tall has always and still creates a number of obstacles such as feet hanging over the bed, almost impossible to get into and out of cars, bumping my head a few thousand times, and making my love for travel quite uncomfortable. Overall, being tall has probably been a net negative. Now, as I’ve reached my golden years, I’ve uncovered some very troubling news.

Troubling News

A recent study on height and longevity conducted by University of Hawaii Professor Bradley Wilcox concludes: Short men will live longer than taller people because they are more likely to carry a gene that protects them from the effects of ageing.”

The gene carried by shorter people is called FOXO3. I guess this shouldn’t come as any surprise. I’ve often mentioned to my wife you rarely see a very elderly tall man. How many years of life do taller men lose to their shorter counterparts? Height and longevity researcher and author Tom Samaras, The Truth About Your Height, concludes it’s about 1.3 years for every inch of increased height. That’s based upon your specific culture’s average height. Yikes, I better type faster to make sure I get this finished.

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The Ten Best Ways to Protect

Your Home While On Vacation

white-picket-fence-house

 This time of year finds millions of people heading off for well-deserved vacations. Of course, if you’re retired, your schedule is pretty much up to you. Regardless, I thought this might be a great time to pass along some valuable suggestions for protecting your home while you are away. As frequent travelers, my wife Trisha and I use checklists we’ve put together to make sure we don’t forget anything. While our memories are still pretty good, we find checklists very efficient and they give us peace of mind.

1. Silence Is Golden

Uncle-Sam-secrecy-poster

In this era of social media, don’t advertise your departure on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other form of messaging. I suggest you only share your plans with trusted friends and neighbors. It’s sad to say, but there are plenty of thieves out there in cyber space looking for an easy score. If you trust the folks at your local Post Office and newspaper, stop those deliveries. If you don’t trust them, ask a neighbor to collect those items each day. I’ve added the last comment because as a teenager, my wife’s family cancelled everything prior to their summer vacation. Twice, when they returned home, their possessions had been stolen. The bottom line is, only inform those you trust with your travel plans. There is plenty of time to talk about your trip when you get home.

2. Turn Off Electronics

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Thirteen percent of fires are caused by electronic malfunctions in the home. This means you need to make sure you have unplugged your electronics or turned off power strips for nonessential electronics such as coffee pots, amplifiers, electric blankets (a friend of mine forgot this one and nearly burned his house down), etc. This will also protect your electronics from power surges while you are away.

3. Make Your House Look Lived In

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Well, maybe not that lived in, but thieves casing neighborhoods are looking for signs that folks are away from home. Some examples would be porch lights left on all day, old newspapers lying about, yards not mowed, blinds or curtains closed tight, etc. All of these tell a thief, “We’re not home, help yourself.” What does your home look like when you are living there? Is there a car in the driveway? Maybe you should leave one there and have a friend move it occasionally. Leave some blinds or curtains in a “lived-in” position. Of course, the ones in front of your new 100” 4D television or your rare Monet on the wall should probably be left closed. Have a friend mow your lawn while you’re gone. In other words, make your home look like you are still there. Believe it or not, some people have even left messages on their phones such as, “Hello, we will be out-of-town until the end of the month, have a nice day.” I’m sure someone will have a great day hearing that message.

4. Secure Doors and Windows

dungeon_dweller_props

Once again, this may be overdoing it, but an important item on your checklist should be to secure all doors and windows. Hardware stores have very nifty (is that still a word?) little latches and gadgets for securing every type of door and window. In our case, we have a couple of doors that have glass panes making it very easy to break the glass and reach in to unlock the doors. For that reason, we have some very simple to install safety latches that make it impossible to open the door in such a manner. We use them every day, even while we are at home.

5. Inform Local Security

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If you have a security alarm system, make sure your security company knows the dates of your travel plans. The same goes for local security patrols or police as they may have a policy of extra surveillance. If you do have a security company as we do, make sure you get one or two of their signs for the front of your house. We also have decals from our company that are placed on various windows around the house. A smart thief should know that if they break a window or open a door, our alarm is going off. By the way, it’s really loud.

6. Turn Off Automatic Garage Doors

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For those of us with automatic garage door openers, we’ve all probably experienced coming home to a garage with the door wide open. Did we leave it open, or did someone else open it accidentally or on purpose? Before you leave, shut off the electronic door and padlock it from the inside.

7. Close or Block Pet Doors

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If you forget this one, trust me, I won’t be breaking into your home. But there may be some skinny little thief out there that could get through your pet door and steal your stuff.

8. Rethink Your Hide-a-Key

Real Estate Locks

Some would advise you not to leave a hidden key and suggest you leave it with a neighbor. I won’t say what I now do, but years ago I was glad I had a key hidden on my property. Here in California, the ground shifts a bit. While traveling we kept getting calls that our security alarm was going off. Both the security company and neighbors were not pleased, but no one could tell why the alarm was going off. The house was locked up like Fort Knox. I then realized that the alarms, and the calls to my cell phone were occurring at the same time each morning. How could that be? What happened at that time of the morning? All I could think of was my front yard sprinklers came on at that time. My neighbor checked and, sure enough, due to shifting ground a window at the front of our house had cracked. When the sprinklers came on, water hit the window, found the crack and ran down shorting out the alarm sensor. I told the neighbor where the hide-a-key was and he turned off my alarm system. If you leave a key, make sure it’s a super secure spot, if not, leave it with a neighbor. My wife came up with an even better idea than a hide-a-key. She bought one of those real estate locks (looks like a big padlock) that holds a key inside and attaches to a door. It has a combination we can share should someone need to get into our home while we are away.

9. Put Valuables in a Safe

Franklin_50_Gun_Safe

For all you cyber thieves reading this blog, let me say up front, I don’t keep my valuables in my home. I don’t even have valuables, just the typical important papers we all must secure. Whatever your situation, anything of importance should be stored in a safe while you are away from home. Years ago we discovered that the big home stores have two sales on safes each year. We waited for the next sale and took advantage of a great saving. Our important papers are now in a constant state of security.

10. Best Security Measure

Killer Dog Bowl

Every thief will tell you, should you get the chance to ask them, the  number one best security measure for your home, regardless of your being at home or away, is communicating to thieves you have a dog. This is so simple. Place a nice little sign on your fence, gate, or doors that say something to the effect of: Beware of Dog. Reinforce that idea by placing a doggie bowl next to your back door. I suggest the bigger the better.

Safe Travels

One more thing. As most of you know, my wife Trisha writes a terrific blog called Trisha’s Dishes where she shares some of her favorite recipes. Her most rectent blog is not to be missed. It’s titled Three Great Breakfast Recipes. Don’t miss these fantastic recipes, they have become favorites for our family and everyone else who has tried them.

Trisha Parker "Trisha's Dishes"

Simple go to:

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com and click on Trisha’s Dishes.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Flipping_coin

As we have all learned by now, life is one continuous series of decisions. We must decide when to rise and when to sleep, when to fast and when to eat, when to work and when to play, and when love and when to fight. Oops, left out when to sow and when to reap. Turn, turn, turn.

I must admit when I was younger my decisions were much more instinctual and reactive, in other words, I typically chose the course of action that seemed most expedient and  rewarding for the moment. At this stage of life, I try to be more reflective and make decisions, even the small ones, based upon a more thorough analysis of each situation. But realizing most of my daily decisions are still made in the moment, I’ve come to better understand the controlling mechanism for the entire process is based upon my attitude.

Given the time, I’ve tried to develop a more thoughtful inner-dialogue that poses questions such as: Am I making this decision for the right reasons? Is it best for me? How will it affect others? Is it the most positive decision I can make?

I’m frequently surprised how positive and calming this process can be. For instance, on a recent travel adventure with my wife Trisha, we were at Heathrow in London trying to make a flight to Stockholm, Sweden. Everything was going normally until we got to security. Trisha went through one line and I went through another. I quickly realized the woman in front of me was someone I’d seen at the ticket counter who had been warned about the number of carry-on items she had with her.

Well, despite the warnings, the large signs, and the loud verbal announcements, she was now being questioned by the one security officer for our line. I had one bin with my camera, she had five large bins. When asked if she had any liquids she responded “no.” The first bag in her first bin was opened and out came very large perfume bottles and an assortment of other similar items. Needless to say, the security officer had to open every bag and confiscate the restricted materials despite her loud protests. When I finally got my camera I ran through Heathrow (quite a long run), and as I arrived at the gate I saw my wife standing alone as our plane was being pushed out away from the jetway. Grrrrr!

O. K., so we had to wait three hours for the next flight, how bad could it be? We browsed some of the shops and then decided to get some food and settle in for the rest of the wait. Once seated, who do you think walked up and sat facing me just a few feet away? Yep, Ms. Five Bins who caused us to miss our flight. My inner dialogue was working overtime and Trisha was loving every minute of watching me squirm. Would I do what my instincts wanted to do which was tell her how inconsiderate she was and that she was the reason we missed our flight? I realized my only reason for that course of action would be to vent my anger and I also knew I would be inflicting some hurtful feelings on her. I admit it was difficult at first, but then decided the end result wasn’t worth it. I was in London vacationing with my wife eating good food and having a great time. Being negative and verbally assaulting this woman would have been a waste of my time, emotions, and energy. I mentally tied up my negative emotions and let them float away. As it turned out, that afternoon flight was a great time sitting and chatting with some terrific people we met boarding the plane. We would not have met them had we made the first flight. The life lesson was reinforced.

Trisha and John Parker Sweden's Parliament Stockholm

Trisha and John Parker
Sweden’s Parliament
Stockholm

 

In thinking about attitude, I always remember a former colleague of mine, the educator, best-selling author, and terrific human being Leo Bascaglia. Leo’s attitude was one of loving everyone any way he could. Rather than cut someone off in traffic, Leo would smile and wave them into his lane. He said his attitude even made some a little afraid and suspicious to trust because it was often outside the norm. He once spoke at a committee luncheon I co-chaired and a few minutes into his talk he stopped, walked into the middle of the room, leaned forward towards a woman sitting there and said, “Your smile devastates me.” Leo later told me he never wanted to miss an opportunity to compliment someone. The woman almost fell out of her chair.

Let me share one of my favorite quotes about attitude.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
― Charles R. Swindoll

 

Trisha’s Dishes

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

As I have often mentioned, my wife Trisha is a fantastic chef. Yesterday she made some cookies based on a new recipe she developed. I suggest you go to our website http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com and click on “Trisha’s Dishes.” You won’t be sorry and I’ll bet you can’t eat just one.

 

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