Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Celebration of Lights 2012

O'Fallon Missouri Celebration of Lights
On Tuesday evening, Lisa and girls met me for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. After dinner we drove out to O'Fallon for the Celebration of Lights. We had never gone to this event, but had heard that the light displays are quite amazing, once you get through the long line of cars waiting to enter the park. Well, on this night it was for pedestrians only, with no vehicles allowed in the park. We waited in a line of vehicles waiting to enter a parking lot, where we finally parked at one of the churches that was running shuttles to the entrance.

As we approached the line for the buses I was certain it would take us an hour to even get on a bus. Lisa and the girls wandered over to a tent and grabbed some free hot chocolate as I held our place in line. There were three lines waiting for the buses and each bus that pulled up went to a different line to pick up passengers. The first two buses pulled up to the other groups and as we awaited the next bus for our group I heard that they were only filling the buses halfway, as the bus would then drive down the road to another church to pick up more people. I started counting people in line ahead of us and figured we were about 30th in line. I guessed that each bus could hold 60 people, so I was worried we would not be able to get on the next bus and that we would have to wait for 4 more buses.

The next bus arrived and as we walked up towards the door, the volunteer was obviously counting people. She was moving to stop me in my place when she realized that the 4 of us were together and let us pass before stopping the next person. We climbed on the bus and moved towards the back, with Lydia sitting with me and Lainey with Lisa. The girls had never been on a big bus before, so it was all very exciting to them. Our bus made its way down the street in the line of cars and then proceeded to pass the entrance of the event to get to the next location. We pulled into the other church parking lot and picked up 4 people. I admit to being a little but frustrated at this point.There's no real reason why they shouldn't have filled the bus at our pickup point, but we were on the bus so it didn't really matter.

O'Fallon Missouri Celebration of Lights - Road
We finally arrived at the entrance and made our way through the line to pay our entrance fee. As we walked along the road, the number of lights strung from the trees on both sides was incredible. The entire roadside was lined with trees over 20 feet tall that were all colored in lights. Periodically, there were little scenes erected by various volunteer groups. The girls particularly enjoyed the scenes with characters they recognized (Sesame Street, Angry Birds, Toy Story). About halfway through our walk the fireworks display starting. This frightened Lainey, but Lydia was absolutely mesmerized at the beginning. A few minutes into the display, there were numerous successive loud explosions which pushed Lainey over the edge and dimmed Lydia's excitement. Thankfully, the fireworks did not continue for too long and we were able to continue on.

At the point where Lydia was really getting ready to want to leave we came upon a volunteer who was handing out lollipops. Some of you may know that our girls love lollipops and get them every week as we leave church. This perfectly timed event propelled us through the rest of the walk. At this point it was past the girls normal bedtime and we knew we were pushing into dangerous meltdown territory. Near the end we came upon a line of people waiting to enter a tent to see Santa Claus. I grabbed Lydia, walked around the line, picked her up and leaned into the tent door so she could catch a glimpse of Kris Kringle. She was pretty excited about that. I didn't even bother trying to do so with Lainey because she seemed content in her stroller at that point and she is terrified of the big elf.

After that brief excursion, we ran into our friends the Lortons, who were hustling their way to the finish as well. The girls were happy to see Owen and Jackson (baby Harrison was all covered up), but it is safe to say that all the kids were beyond tired at this point. We made our way out of the entrance and opted to walk the 1/3 of a mile back to the church, instead of waiting in the long line for the bus. This proved to be a smart decision. Upon arriving back at the church, we took a restroom break before loading back into the car. This was also a wise decision.

I dropped Lisa off with the other car at BWWs and on the way home I talked to the girls about their day and the lights we had seen. We all said "Hello" to the Mid Rivers Cow and Lydia said "That cow is always dressing up different." I had the girls Christmas music playing and I was singing along with it. Shortly thereafter Lainey was quiet. I figured she might have fallen asleep. A few minutes later I realized I hadn't heard Lydia singing in a while. I peeked back to find her all slouched over across the middle of the back sleep, sound asleep. When we arrived home I carried Lydia to bed and Lisa grabbed Lainey. Lydia awoke briefly as I took her coat off, but she was exhausted. Lisa came into the room and Lydia mumbled "Night night".

Lisa and I both agree that it was a fun night, but that we had walked along the edge of meltdown several times. If either of the girls had started crying I am doubtful that our memory of the experience would be so positive, but as it turned out, we all had a wonderful time. I am not sure that we will do it again anytime soon - we might attempt to view the lights through the car next time. All in all, it was a great evening out with the family.

Friday, December 7, 2012

On the Fiscal Cliff

Thomas Sowell expresses his thoughts about the Fiscal Cliff, and these portions echo exactly what I think and feel:
First of all, despite all the melodrama about raising taxes on "the rich," even if that is done it will scarcely make a dent in the government's financial problems. Raising the tax rates on everybody in the top two percent will not get enough additional tax revenue to run the government for ten days.

No previous administration in the entire history of the nation ever finished the year with a trillion dollar deficit. The Obama administration has done so every single year.

Referring to the Federal Reserve System's creation of hundreds of billions of new dollars out of thin air as "quantitative easing" makes it seem as if this is some soothing and esoteric process, rather than amounting essentially to nothing more than printing more money.
Debasing the value of money by creating more of it is nothing new or esoteric. Irresponsible governments have done this, not just for centuries, but for thousands of years.
It is a way to take people's wealth from them without having to openly raise taxes. Inflation is the most universal tax of all.

But it is not the same politically, so long as gullible people don't look beyond words to the reality that inflation taxes everybody, the poorest as well as the richest.

And there are these nuggets from Part 2:
A key lie that has been repeated over and over, largely unanswered, is that President Bush's "tax cuts for the rich" cost the government so much lost tax revenue that this added to the budget deficit-- so that the government cannot afford to allow the cost of letting the Bush tax rates continue for "the rich."

What is remarkable is how easy it is to show how completely false Obama's argument is.

What both the statistical tables in the "Economic Report of the President" and the graphs in Investor's Business Daily show is that (1) tax revenues went up-- not down-- after tax rates were cut during the Bush administration, and (2) the budget deficit declined, year after year, after the cut in tax rates that have been blamed by Obama for increasing the deficit.  
And here are the table and images referred to above:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Importance of Knowing Where We Are

As I read this quote, I wondered if most Americans truly know where we are as a nation, where they are as individuals and the impact they can have in the culture and economy at large.
"As for blame, who can be blamed for inheriting a culture that existed before they were born?  But, while nothing can be done about the past, much can be done in the present to prepare for the future. Whatever we wish to achieve in the future, it must begin by knowing where we are in the present- not where we wish we were, or where we wish others to think we are, but where we are in fact." - Thomas Sowell in Economic Facts and Fallacies, p186