I’m in ND as I begin this month’s blog, helping my mom watch her twin grandchildren, Max and Kora, my brother Andy’s son and daughter. Andy and his wife went to the Bahamas with some friends, as Northlanders are wont to do in January, and so I’m here helping out for a long weekend. And, it happened to be my youngest brother Joe’s 40th birthday, and his wife threw a nice party, and I took all my ND nieces and nephews out to a movie with all the trimmings - because we didn’t come home for Christmas and didn’t send any presents! As much as perhaps any weekend before, I was Uncle Curt - and doing the things that uncles do!
On Thursday last week, I took off a little before lunch and Jill took me down to DIA to fly to ND, and I did - and then as we descended for our approach the pilot said it was too foggy on the ground to land - and the realities of our fuel and nearby airports also being foggy required that we fly back to Denver! Thankfully, the fog cleared Friday morning and I was able to arrive in the early afternoon. It’s funny - when I tell people that I’m going to North Dakota for the weekend - in January - I always feel obligated to also share “to be with family”. I don’t want them to think I’m the kind of person who goes to ND in January for fun - it’s for a purpose!
Those “Why do we do things?” and “What are the results?” thoughts are on my mind as I begin this month’s blog, starting with me, taken up to a macro level, and then again back down to the individual. We’ll talk about regionalism, the border crisis, and maybe the 2024 election. I have lots of good stuff to ponder with you this month, and you can find more below.
Where to start?, much ground to cover. Let’s start with me, who am I and what do I do? Well, besides all the “uncle-ing” and “good son-ing” mentioned above, of course. I dunno - it’s a big question and I’m a complex creature, as are you, my reader. I suppose I could start with my social profiles where you only have so much space - I’m an Adventurer, a Christian, a Founder of LoCo Think Tank, a Host of The LoCo Experience podcast, a Husband, a Libertarian, a Foodie, Friend, Motorcyclist, Neighbor and Philosopher - in semi-alphabetic order. Oh, and did I mention I’m a little OCD, (semi-alphabetic?) and quite a lot ADHD? - and where do I put those in my profile? Oh, and aware - I’m pretty aware, and curious too…ok, make the turn.
You guys (and gals, implied for future reference) know about LoCo Think Tank at least a little bit, or you’d not be reading, and of course, I’ve been writing about my love for The LoCo Experience podcast for years now.
Adventure - I’m a ND kid from a class of 5, 1st generation college graduate, I’ve been all over the American West and to many foreign countries despite being kinda poor most of my life. I quit my banker job to become an entrepreneur, and recently bought an ambulance to convert to a mobile podcast studio…
Christian. I believe in the Good News, in the name of Jesus as the soundest foundation for a good life and a chance at a hereafter, and foundation for a sustainable nation, and I believe in my obligation to share that good news. I believe in a big God that I don’t understand, and who is just AND merciful and chooses whom he favors and blesses, and that we can influence Him with our prayers. My church attendance is not superb, as Adventure and Sunday compete for my attention. I hope and believe that I give those with other views my fullest respect - it’s an impossible certainty and I can’t prove my conclusion to be true and neither can you - but we can show love to one another regardless.
Husband - Jill Bear and I celebrated 20 years married last May. She told her mom she was going to marry me after about two dates - and I’m so glad she was right! Jill is my best friend, my biggest advocate, and my most valued critic. In our household, I do most of the cooking and dishes, tend to the trash and recycling, keep the yard up, the sidewalks cleared, and the woodpile stocked in the winter. You know, husbandry things. And, I encourage our 5-minute morning devotionals, ask questions more than provide answers when she’s processing something with me, and do my best to protect her health and safety and reveal my love for her.
Libertarian - Call me innocent, but I believe in an America, and in a world, as the Founding Fathers of our nation imagined. Very small government, providing limited services to a population, save for consistent rule of law and military protection from outside threats. Liberty is freedom mixed with virtue, and I believe every human is maximized with an abundance of that combination. And so I vote against new taxes, sign petitions that protect property rights, and share my views and learnings online. (and it mostly falls on deaf ears)
Foodie, Friend, Motorcyclist, Neighbor & Philosopher - I love creativity with food, both in my home with friends and family and during our adventures in town and afar. Three good deeds each day is my goal, and my motto (and LoCo Think Tank’s) is “Ask of your Needs and Share of your Abundance”. I’m approaching 100,000 miles traveled by motorcycle in my lifetime, on at least 15 different motorcycles (and I own two currently), and whenever I shovel the walk I also do my neighbors’ walks on either side. I write this blog. We are what we do.
Driving down to DIA last week, Jill and I were pleased to use the 3rd lane on I25 - toll-free for now! I was reflecting on this as a great example of regional cooperation. The cities of Northern Colorado were at risk of strangulation by congestion - companies don’t want to come here or grow here if they can’t get to and from a good airport - and so the regional Chambers of Commerce led the effort to create a funding coalition to build the road out more than a decade before the State of Colorado was planning to get around to it. When I moved to Fort Collins in 1999 there was a real spirit of competition between the cities of NoCo, and that has shifted over those 25 years toward a spirit of cooperation. We are what we do.
So what are some of the things we are doing as a nation of late?
Well, we’ve been experiencing an invasion of the Southern border, and now it’s in all the news how they’re gonna fix it all of a sudden. We’re proud to be a multicultural melting pot that brought together a wonderful stew of peoples and cultures who all wanted to live their American Dream and create a meaningful life in a new land. In recent years, however, the migration has surged, fueled by the quest for a better life, but also by promises of free stuff in America. A Yale study recently found that there may be 22 million undocumented immigrants in America today, nearly double other widely reported estimates, and they’re coming in at an increasing rate. My heart goes out to these people, they are the desperately poor of Venezuela, Guatemala, and El Salvador - and they are being funded for their journeys by the United Nations, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars - distributed through local NGO’s via debit cards and vouchers.
So, the United States is by far the largest funder of the UN, and the UN is the largest funder of illegal immigration from South and Central America to the US?! If we are what we do as a nation, then we are dumb! There are millions of would-be legal immigrants on wait lists, who are often well-educated and sometimes wealthy. To my mind, we must make illegal immigration legally painful or quite difficult or both if we are to prevent it, and for the health of our nation must make legal immigration less difficult. Why would we not have a merit-based immigration policy?
OK, one more rant on a national level before we zoom it back down. It seems as of this writing that Trump has all but secured the Republican nomination, without a debate, and that Biden will stumble generally unchallenged toward the Democratic nomination - although, did you see some guy named Dean Phillips got 20% of the vote in New Hampshire? - bet you didn’t! And did you see where former Democratic but now Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has the highest favorability rating among all the major presidential candidates? But why would you throw your vote away on a 3rd party candidate?
What are we doing America? An egomaniac narcissist, legally-troubled billionaire octogenarian vs an obviously corrupt lifetime panderer in a rapidly deteriorating mental state, who is older still?! If we are what we do, then we get what we deserve I guess. I’m prolly gonna vote for Kennedy, just saying, that I’ve thrown lots of votes away and I can absorb the scorn. And I will get some for that statement. In the 2020 election (where Biden shattered all records) I was one of a noble few who voted for Kanye - and I stand by it. I just don’t wanna play if this is the game.
It’s true of nations, and generally true of individuals, that we get what we deserve. Sometimes, too often even, bad things happen to good people, but more often bad things happen to those who do dumb things! Those who were driving too fast, or in the wrong neighborhood, or cheating on their spouse, or spent their lifetime lazy, or got too loose with the booze or pills and found themselves in active addiction. We hurt ourselves, mostly, or fail to live up to our potential.
So that’s my charge for today, to you and to myself. Remember always that we are what we do. Spend your time on things that matter, and be thoughtful about what the outcomes will be - both intended and unintended. We are all cogs in a giant machine, and if we focus on adding value to the world around us, opportunities will follow and our place in the machine may grow.
I could go a step further, in observing that to some extent, we are not just what we do, but we become what we do well, and we do well what we were designed to do, and what we practice at and are curious about. So - do good, be well, and prosper together!
I’m reminded at the close, of a passage of scripture that Google found easily, 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27.
12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.
15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.