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I’ll be honest; I have no clue what day this was. I think it might have been… Nope, sorry. I really don’t remember. Wasn’t last Saturday.

I finally got in to my hives again a few weeks ago. I’ve trying two new strategies this year:

  • Rose hive, which I can say appears to work quite well at least on the one hive I’m experimenting with.
  • Fewer visits. I used to go out every two weeks like clock work, and this year I’ve gone out only a handful of times total. I like it.

I’m not sure that the fewer visits is increasing production (anecdotally, there are plenty of beekeepers who say it will), but I’ve found that I enjoy each individual visit more. It’s less “work” and more “play.” I guess it also gives me less chance of getting stung, which isn’t preferred for me. I want to get stung. :-) Okay, maybe want isn’t the best word…. I think it’s important to get stung on a semi-regular basis for a couple reasons. First, it keeps me honest in my beekeeping. Keeps me careful and aware. If I go a long time without a sting, I get a bit lazy and casual, and I make mistakes. Second, I’ve found that frequent stings tend to help my reaction to stings. I go a long time, and I feel like I’m starting off from square 1. That first sting of the year is always the worst in terms of reaction and swelling, but if I have a particularly bad year for stings, by August, I barely react at all. I hate losing that.

But back to the hives….

Outside Hive

I’m changing the names of the hives to inside and outside, meaning inside the apiary and outside. If you remember, I created an accidental split back in June when I tried to move my one survivor hive into the apiary. Well, this hive is doing okay. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible. It’s currently a deep and a medium in size with a deep honey super on top. If they fill that up, I’m feeling great about their chances in the winter, but they hadn’t done much when I was out there. Of course, late June through August is our dry/dearth season, so no big surprise. We get a relatively big nectar flow in the fall with the late bloomers, squash, and cooler weather (the dandelions try to make another run of it), so I think they’ll be fine. Probably no harvest, but survival is better.

Inside Hive

My inside hive, also known as redonkulous the beehive, is doing quite well. It too hasn’t grown much in honey stores, but it’s just as big as it’s always been, just as thick with bees, and just as happy. I suspect that they’ll make a strong push for honey with the fall flow, and we’ll end up with at least 10 gallons of harvestable honey here. I wouldn’t be surprised if we inched closer to 15 or 20!

One note in general is that the bees are remarkably calm this summer. Not only have I had no stings, but I have yet to honestly feel like I really needed to use any safety gear. I have yet to have a single bee even headbutt my veil! And it’s not just my hives. When I helped my dad mid-summer with his hives, I didn’t have any gear, and we did a full split of the hive. That’s not a simple, non-invasive task there, and I did it without a viel, hood, gloves, or anything else.

It’s been a great year for beekeeping, and here’s to a wonderfully happy harvest!

I kind of feel like I’ve dropped off the face of the earth these last few weeks. I’m sure we all have that friend who got married and suddenly disappeared, right? Well, that’s how it is with this job. I’ve just disappeared.

And I can’t say this enough… I LOVE what I’m doing!

Why didn’t I make this leap sooner? I am working longer hours than I ever have before with more responsibility, more pressure, and more–I guess–stress, and I generally come home full of energy, recharged, and hungry for more. It’s been awesome, and while I had my doubts about making the jump to the start up life, I’m glad I didn’t listen.

My typical schedule is full days of training Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are a couple hours of training with the majority of the time having the agents on the floor shadowing and practicing. That time is where I build new trainings, attend leadership meetings (I love being on the senior leadership team), and mentor/coach other staff. My boss has turned out to be exactly what I hoped she would be–very down to earth, driven, excellent coach, open, and great to work with. I find myself stretching and scratching professional muscles that I’ve forgotten I had or didn’t know I had, and all the while working in my core strengths. Add in that there is enough variety any given day, and I’m just happy.

Who knew that work could be fun? It certainly hasn’t most of my career!

So for all those who I used to chat with, Skype with, email with, and so much more, I’m sorry. I haven’t forgotten you. I honestly just haven’t had the time in the day to take care of those relationships as much as I would wish. I’m still trying to figure out how to carve out a bit of time to do that.

Oh, and one more thing: I’ve always loved Saturday just for the down time, but it’s amazing how much I cherish Saturdays now and guard them jealously! I find myself feeling grumpy with meetings, events, and other things scheduled for Saturday that aren’t exactly what I want to do. Saturday is family time, me time, and play time.

The new job

I started on Monday, and to say I’m exhausted would be an understatement. That doesn’t come anywhere near what I’m feeling. I’ve been in training all day every day but the thing is that I’m less getting trained than I am giving training. To give you an idea, the guy helping me has put in 30 hours already this week. It’s Tuesday.

Since the launch last week, numbers have easily topped four times expectation. We had expected to need around 300 agents by Christmas. Yesterday that number was bumped to around 600, and there is talk of needing a full 1,000. By Christmas. It has been insane. There’s just no other way to describe what is happening.

And it is awesome!

I’m having the time of my life, but I get home and my brain just oozes out of my ears. I’m remembering why I liked the longer commute of yesteryear, though. I listen the scriptures and conference talks as I drive, and it makes for an enjoyable, calmer drive home. I tend to get home more relaxed (tired, but relaxed).

Right now I’m trying to figure out how we can create a faster, shorter training program that will handle larger numbers of employees. Our current system can maybe do 15 a week if we really push it. That’s simply not good enough. We need to get closer to 30 to hit the lower end goals and maybe as high as 50 if the higher estimates pan out, which–judging by what has happened so far–is not only possible but likely.

I still miss the people from the old job. Good people there. I do not, however, miss the rote and routine. I don’t miss the lack of challenge. I don’t miss the mundane that was so much of what I could do. I don’t miss feeling restrained and held back in my talents. I don’t miss feeling questioned by management and having my thoughts and ideas be rejected. I also, apparently, don’t really have any issue with airing that out now that I’m gone. :-)

It’s one thing to think that I just jumped in on the ground floor of an amazing opportunity (both professionally and financially), and that is certainly true. But it’s even better to sit back after two days and know that I did. Work is suddenly fun again, and that’s wonderful.

To what end?

I think it goes without saying that the things I treasure in life and love the most are the personal relationships we develop with those around us. As I come to the final death throes of my current job and prepare to transition to the new ones, the relationships have weighed heavily on my mind. Very heavily.

Today I went through my calendar and cancelled my weekly one-on-ones with my team, my team meeting, and a few other standing appointments, and as I did so, I think the reality of moving on finally hit me. This is not going to be fun.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited for the new job and for the new opportunities. I’m ready to go. It’s the right time to go. I know that it is the right time to go. I’ve reached a point with my current job that I’m just ready to move on. But at the same time, I realized that I generally love what I do. And when I say love, I mean love. As in I’d do it forever if I could. And the reason I love it is the people.

I find it odd (and frustrating) that the best relationships and friendships only seem to come at the end, and I often ask myself “To what end was this?” Why now? Is it the knowledge of ending that finally drives someone to make the meaningful connections that we all hope will stand the test of time and distance? Is it only now at the close (as JK Rowling might say) that things finally open, become whole, and become real?

One of the truths that gives me the greatest hope is the knowledge that life does goes on, that it has meaning, and, most importantly, that the relationships we have here can continue beyond the toil of this life. I find joy in knowing that goodbye is only temporary if we exercise faith, keep the commandments, and otherwise live the lives we’ve been asked to live.

The end, then, isn’t the knotting of a frayed rope but rather the discovery of the first threads and yarns that spin, twine, and then bind you to me, me to you, and each of us to others.

I’m going to miss my current job, but the truth is that I’m going to miss the people. They have made what was otherwise just a job, a joy. This last week has moved slowly; for that I am grateful as I’ve held on to each moment and tasted the sweetness that finally comes when people truly connect.

Debt and Kids

I saw an interesting (which is really another word for horrifying in this case) documentary on the social security system, retirement savings in America, and the collapse of pensions. It’s quite the scary situation even for people who are doing it right.

One of the people in the documentary is a 46-year-old married man with two sons, who I would guess were around 12 and 10. During a conversation regarding their budget with the film maker, one of the sons (older I think) interrupts and asks dad if they are in debt. He answers yes. Then the kid asks how much, to which the dad replies, “None of your business.”

Got me thinking….

Why isn’t it the kid’s business? First, you are far less likely to retire self-sufficient and stable than not. Second, even if you are on the road to self-sufficiency, the system provides no stable guarantees that your efforts will pay off (ask anyone set to retire in 2008 about that…). Third, it is growing increasingly common for multiple generations to exist under the same roof because of financial concerns. Your debt is absolutely your kids’ business (within reason of course).

It got me thinking of a conversation that Katherine and I had (she’s 10) not that long ago. We had gone grocery shopping, and as is common, she had asked for things. Instead of saying no, I pulled out my shopping list and showed her the cash I had brought with me (around $100). We then went through the entire list and wrote down how much all those groceries cost. At the end, we were right around $90. I added in $5 to cover taxes, and then asked her what should we do with that last $5. She got real excited about the idea of spending it until I asked her to imagine what would happen if I only had $90 instead of $100.

We went through the mental exercise of putting $5 back out of cart, and the light went on; she independently suggested that we save that $5 just in case next week we only had $90.

Driving home, she asked if we were poor because we only had $100. That opened up a long conversation about how we choose to live differently and without debt. I told her how we choose to save money today so that we have money for tomorrow. We talked about a family in our neighborhood who had recently become unemployed and how they were having to make really hard sacrifices and changes to their budgets just to survive. We talked about how they might lose their house.

Then Katherine asked me how much debt we had. When I told her that we didn’t have any debt (besides the house), she smiled.

Kids get this, but not only do they get it, they have a right to know (within reason again). We don’t make Katherine or our other kids privy to all the details of our budgets, my salary, and where we are with financials, but I take the time to frequently talk with them about money, how it works, how debt hurts, and what we are doing. Just this last week, Katherine asked me what we make with my new job, and I told her that that was a private conversation I would have with her another time (we were eating supper with the entire family, and that is information I’d share with her, but not necessarily the other kids). And I will tell her. I will sit her down and show her how that equals X per month and we need Y per month to live. I’ll show her that we put money in savings, that we keep ourselves safe for emergencies, and that we are doing everything we can to finish paying off the house.

Because in not too long, Courtney and I will get to see if (1) we are one of the increasingly small people who hit retirement fully self-sufficient, (2) we are one of those that can skirt the lack of guarantees in the system, and (3) who do not need the help of their children to make it.

But even then, we have a special needs child who may or may not get to the point that he is self-sufficient and able to take care of himself. I imagine that will be a relatively life-long experience for us. And for Katherine when we’re gone. Oh yes, she–and our other kids–have rights to this information. How could I ever dream of leaving any of it to them if I didn’t think they could handle it? That’s on me since the world is obviously doing a bang up job of teaching financial literacy!

How to get lollipops according to Myron:

  1. Get on the neighbor’s trampoline and start jumping.
  2. Wait until some girls get on the trampoline.
  3. Flee from the girls because girls are gross by just jumping off.
  4. Land awkwardly on your wrist.
  5. Break your arm near the wrist in two places.
  6. Complain about it until dad takes you to the instacare in the morning.
  7. Get X-rays.
  8. Get a splint.
  9. Milk the nurses for all they’re worth and walk out with TWO lollipops and a smile from ear to ear at your success.

We had dessert with some neighbors last night. We’ve been having a few neighborhood friend troubles, and the “troublemaker” is another neighbor kid. We had a pow-wow with this other family last night to try and see if there were anything we could do to help diffuse the situation a little and also give opportunities for growth and friendship with everyone. I really like these neighbors (this is the third or fourth time we’ve had a chat like this), and I very much appreciate their eagerness to find peace and happiness with everyone. It makes for a great neighborhood.

As we were talking, Myron was playing outside with their kids on the trampoline. For whatever reason he decided to jump off the trampoline. We didn’t see it, but we’re guessing he got some good air and landed right on his wrist. I didn’t know this, but bones in young kids are spongy, so they don’t snap when they break. They more bend and expand like a soft tissue. He broke both bones just past his wrist.

He seems to be handling the pain well enough, but I realized we were all in trouble this morning when we walked past the big bowl of lollipops. His eyes went to the bowl, and I could see the gears turning. He got the first lollipop after successfully sitting still for the X-rays, but you could see it immediately click in his head that doing well at the doctor meant lollipops. From that point on, every success was followed by a request for yet another lollipop. He had the nurses in stitches by the time we left with, of course, two lollipops in his hands.

After church today, his friends came over with get well cards and cookies. It was a sweet gesture. We are very grateful that he’s got friends. The one boy in that family even volunteered to draw a space ship on Myron’s cast when he gets his final cast on Wednesday. This kid, Wyatt, is an answer to sincere prayer for us. We’ve long been scared that Myron wouldn’t make good friends because of his autism, but he has. Wyatt is the kind of friend who fills that wonderful role of true peace maker. Someone who doesn’t stand for cruelty and meanness in others and who watches for the kid who just simply needs a friend. We are more than happy he’s taking an interest in being Myron’s friend. It’s a good thing.

And who knows, maybe Myron will score enough lollipops to share with everyone. Knowing him, I’d put your money on the boy with the cast.

Enchroma Glasses

There are two questions I seem to get pretty frequently:

  1. What are my thoughts on the Flow Hive?
  2. Would I consider Enchroma Glasses?

You can click the first link to see my thoughts on the Flow Hive. For the second answer, the fast response is no, I wouldn’t.

Enchroma is a company that provides glasses for colorblind people. These glasses have the potential of helping someone with colorblindness see colors as someone with normal color vision would. It doesn’t work in all cases, and while most of the reviews I’ve seen have been very positive, I just don’t know if it is for me.

Depending on the colorblindness experienced (yes, colorblindness exists on a very large, broad spectrum), these glasses may or may not work. If I’m remembering my numbers right, normal vision sees somewhere in the range of 1,000,000 distinct colors. A colorblind person may only see 100,000. Sometimes less. In my case (I’m a moderate to severe Doutan), I’m probably on the lower end of that scale. According to Enchroma, these glasses probably wouldn’t have much impact on my color vision, but even if they did, I don’t know that I’d want to use them still.

Most of the time when I hear someone talk about being colorblind, they reference the dullness of their environment. While I understand the idea, I don’t know that I agree with it. How can we understand dull vs any other vision without seeing it? I’m sure the full range of colors is a vibrant, rich experience, but isn’t my own experience also vibrant and rich to me? I see color. I see the beauty of a spring flower, the richness of summer grain, and the fire of a fall leaf. I see the blue sky, the slate mountains, and the green grass. These are not stale, dull experiences for me. They are meaningful and potent just as they are for you.

I am colorblind. I was born that way, I’ve lived that way, and most likely I’ll die that way. And I’m okay with it. The only times it really becomes a significant problem in any way is when I’m trying to play a game with friends, and the designers haven’t considered that dark green and dark blue really aren’t all that different for people like me. Same with reds, purples, and pinks depending on the shade and the contrast with surrounding colors. I am often asked about the Enchroma glasses; when we play games, the most common question you’ll hear me ask is, “What color is that?”

And yes, sometimes I make interesting choices when it comes to color, and I’ve noticed how meaningless color is for my memory. I just don’t associate color with many of my memories because color is shifting, liquid, and less meaningful than other senses. And it works.

If someone handed me a pair of Enchroma Glasses, I’d try them out for sure. Why not? But I don’t know that it would be a life-changing experience for me. I don’t know that I’d want it to. Maybe there is some fear that the experience would be like breathing deeply for the first time after living a life of shallow, short breaths. How could anyone who has never experienced a deep breath not crave that after a life of gasps? I don’t know that I’m gasping, and in some ways, I’d rather not know.

Just don’t ask me what color my slacks are. I’ve worn these for years, and I’m still not exactly sure….

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