Friday, May 21, 2010

What inspires you?

A little while back, a blogger friend asked this question.  At first, feeling completely uninspired, it was hard to come up with an answer.  Recognizing that as a problem, I spent some time on the subject. 

Here are my answers--I hope you'll share yours!

I don’t always feel inspired, but when I think of my son, it comes back. I’m inspired by the pure love I feel for him and how strong all my hopes are for his future. I’m inspired by how he is growing strong and smart and thoughtful.

I am inspired by certain music—an aria from Tosca, Samuel Barber’s Requiem, some Aaron Copeland, some Chopin—music that takes pure emotion and puts it into sound.

I am inspired by people who help others. I’m inspired when I see parents being great parents with their children. That doesn’t mean giving them everything, it means teaching, showing, enjoying, being present in the moment with their kids. It often means telling the child "no" for the right reasons.

I’m inspired by the clear and obvious turn-around of the United States in international relations and the head-of-state worldview as exhibited by our president.

I’m inspired when I see pictures of fantastic places I could visit: Machu Pichu, Iceland, Australia, and so many more.

I’m inspired at my church as we plan our building expansion.  We intend to make room for so much more ministry; I am inspired to think that we will hopefully be able to minister to more and more of our community through our activities.

I’m inspired when I fixate on a lofty goal, such as running the Marine Corps Marathon, or walking the Breast Cancer 3-day. Interestingly, the marathon would be solely personal, but the 3-day would be to raise a bunch of money for a cause. Does the goal inspire me to try to reach it, or does inspiration come from the crazy thought inside that I just might be able to do it?

I’m inspired by things growing—plants in my garden, baby trees planted/transplanted around the yard, newly rooted shrubs starting to fill out. It is a miracle I never tire of watching.

I’m inspired by a great book. It takes such work, thought, imagination, and much more to put together a well-wrought, intelligent, suspenseful (sometimes) book. I’m in awe of those who write books.

How about you?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Fun Sideline

Not too long ago, I received a most interesting email from someone at a major publishing house:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Always Get Road Hazard Warranty

I'm having trouble narrowing down the things on my mind into a subject for a post.  This has been such a full and busy time, with barely a moment to breathe.  Maybe it's the big subjects which are wearing me down: what would I want if I were facing the last month of my life? How would I spend my time?  And even more pertinent (hopefully) to my life right now: what do I want to be doing in the long term?  Is the pressure to bill hours or die any kind of real life at all?  Can the hobbies ever make up for the missing element in my avocation?  Most recently, I ordered several fantastic books about botanical illustration and started working through the beginning sketch exercises.  Maybe I'll photograph some and show you sometime. But I digress.

And then there are some of the other issues in the world to consider...the new Arizona law that attempts to extend federal immigration enforcement to every state, regional and municipal law enforcement officer in Arizona.... the oil spill in the gulf vs. "drill baby drill" (haven't heard that recently from a republican).... what else?  I could write a bit on those things (and may, still).

Well, maybe I'll just go with a little lesson I learned.  I got an expensive set of tires a year and a half ago, rated for 85,000 miles, and started having horrible problems with them--lots of vibration, noise, etc. recently after only 30,000 miles.  I went to the dealership to check the alignment (around here, I only trust them to align after my past experiences) and balance, and was told all 4 tires were ruined!!  There was a flat spot on one, extremely odd wear, and step-offs in the tread.  They sent me back to Pep Boys, where we got the tires.  When the young man there checked the tires, he said the "belts had shifted" and the tires were, indeed, all ruined.  So strange!!  The "belts" are supposed to be between layers of rubber, which I think are supposed to keep them in place!  (They told me a big pothole could cause that, and I did get in a very deep one, in the middle of a 20 by 20 ft puddle in a parking lot one rainy day.)  Thankfully, we had "road hazard warranty" and this story has a happy ending.  I ended up with 4 new tires, with installation and balancing (and the usual fees) all waived, for about $100 (they pro-rate the replacement for % use). 

So, then I went back to the dealer for alignment, and after a few minutes they called me out to my car up on a lift because my front brake shoes were "metal on metal" according to the young tech.  I thought this was odd, if not impossible, since I never heard the warning sound and they had just measured them the week before.

When I went out, I asked the kid to measure the thickness, since another tech had told me 4 mm the week before.  An older guy I know measured them for me....they were 3 mm.  They started to advise me about immediate replacement, and I asked how thick these shoes start out...12 mm?  10 mm?   They agreed the shoes were about 12 mm when new, and the "warning sound" starts at 2 mm.  Since my car has 120,000 miles on it and I am still on the original brake shoes, I told the Service Manager I'd take my 10,000 miles out of my remaining milimeter and come back after the warning sound started.  Suddenly I became a center of attention--other customers in there waiting asked how I did it (get so many miles out of brakes) and the SM told me I could probably get even more miles than that out of "my milimeter."

I actually left the repair shop feeling pretty smug! No one's taking advantage of this woman in a garage.  And, I really made out well with the tires....without the warranty, I would have been spending easily five times the amount to replace the tires.  Certainly made it a lot easier to take.  Too bad there's not a Road Hazard Warranty we can get for the bumps we hit in the road of life, huh?