Overcoming Your Fears

I have two main fears in life.  The fear of falling is the one that I normally encounter.  If I drive over a bridge, I need to focus on the road ahead of me so I don’t panic.  I’ve never had a full-fledged panic attack, but when I get near a precipice, I get nervous, my mind starts going over all the ways I (or something else) could go over the edge, and I try to get away from the edge.  It isn’t a fear of heights, also.  I can be behind the window on the 20th floor looking down at the street below with not a twinge of fear.  However, if I’m on the second story of a parking garage looking out over the edge, I back off instinctively.

The other fear that I have is more minor, and encountered less often.  That’s a fear of flying.  Well, not flying itself, but the takeoffs and landings.  For some reason, my mind fills with terror at the thought, flashing generic composites of every plane crash story to ever impact my consciousness.  I can manage this one by re-establishing context within my mind.  There are  28,537 commercial flights every day in the US.  (Source)  This means about 10.4 million flights per year.  In the past 5 years, there have only been 10 accidents involving fatalities.  (Source)  This is an average of 2 per year or less than 2 thousandth of a percent.  Even if I were to add together the four flights that I’m going to take this week (two each way thanks to stops), I’d still be looking at less than 8 thousandth of a percent chance of being on a flight that has an accident with a fatality.

In the end, this fear os more of a product of fiction than fact.  Almost anytime you see a character on an airplane, something happens to that airplane.  The airplanes in the movies seem to be awful contraptions that would go into a nosedive if someone sneezed.  All of those silver screen (and small screen) crashes has put a "It could happen to me" thought in the back of my head.  I refuse to give into the fear, though.  As long as I keep reminding myself of the reality of the situation and don’t let the fear rule my life, I’m fine.

What fears (rational or irrational) do you have?  How do you manage them?

My Bucket List

My wife and I watched The Bucket List this weekend on DVD.  It got me to wondering what I would put on my bucket list.  Unlike the movie’s characters, I have no interest in driving a mustang or skydiving (my huge fear of falling might play into this one, but mainly I don’t see why I would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane).  The travel related items sound nice, but I don’t measure my life by where in the world I’ve been.

I can’t really think of many things that I’d like to do before I die.  There are the usual see my kids grow up/get married/have kids of their own, but those are beyond my abilities to ensure.  I can do my best to stay healthy, raise my kids well, and not take any unneeded risks, but in the end it is up to God/fate/whatever what I live to see.  So those items don’t seem appropriate for a bucket list.  I also figured that anything luck-based ("I’d like to win the lottery’s big prize") was inappropriate since there was no way for me to seriously ensure that happening.  (No, I don’t plan on hacking the lottery’s computer systems.  Spending years in federal prison is definitely *NOT* on my bucket list!   )

1. Get a story of mine published.

Back when I was in college, I loved writing science fiction stories.  I even sent one into a magazine to get published, but got a rejection letter back.  Over the years, I’ve had less and less time to write.  I still bounce ideas around in my head from time to time and would love to be able to write something and get it published.  It could be anything from a short story to a novel (more likely the former than the latter), but it would be a hoot to see an original story of mine in print.  (Perhaps I’ll dig up one of my old stories and publish it here.)

2. Open my own business.

I’m not sure what the business would do or whether it would be a success or failure, but the idea of running my own business appeals to me.  In my college days, my friend (whose wedding I’m going to this week) and I went into business together running a computer repair service.  We spent money making some business cards and got a few calls.  One person, however, insisted that we do more work for him before he would pay us for the work that we did initially.  (The extra work was unrelated to our initial work.)  The guy basically took a gamble that two college kids wouldn’t fight to get the small sum of money that he owed, and he was right.  We stopped trying after awhile and stopped doing computer support.

Over the years, I’ve toyed with various business ventures:  Computer support, website development, even a sort of "instate importing company"  (more of a pipe dream than anything… importing food from famous bakeries and such from one part of the state to around where I live).

Like I said before, I have no idea what form this business would take, but I’d like to do it once just to try it out.  Of course, to do it, it would be nice if I achieved #3:

3.  Become wealthy enough to not have to worry about money.

This stretches the "no luck-based" rule a bit, but so many things that I consider doing get struck down (either by myself or by my wife) as "not being worth the money" or "too expensive."  It would be nice to not need to worry about how much something costs whenever we consider doing something.  Like #2, I’m fuzzy on how I would achieve this.  Unlike some, I don’t rely on lotto tickets to give me wealth.  We rarely even play the lottery,  So it would need to be from some great paying effort of mine.  I guess this dovetails nicely into #4:

4.  Build a very successful website from the ground up.

Now, I’ve managed successful websites for my company.  I’ve built web applications that thousands of our employees use.  But I want to come up with an idea, codify it into a website, launch it, and then have so many people like it that it becomes a wild success.

I’ve made websites in the past.  Years back, I saw an infomercial review and wondered how good the product was.  It looked great, but it could have been awful.  So I searched online for some reviews.  (To give you an idea of how long ago this was, Google wasn’t around yet.)  I couldn’t find any, so I decided to build a website to collect reviews on Infomercial products.  It was mildly successful, but was a ton of work to run.  My sense of ethics at the time told me not to run ads on the site, so I was doing a lot of work for no money.  In the end, that site died more a victim of my own lack of time (NHL was born) than anything.  I still have the URL, and everything, but the site hasn’t been workable for quite some time.  I might resurrect it someday, but now there are tons of review sites out there.  When I did it, posting a review online was a novell concept.  Now it’s old school.

Come to think of it, I could cross off 3 items in one stroke.  If I came up with a great idea for a website, built it up to a success (#4), I could find a way to monetize it (#3) and build a company around it (#2).  I just need the great idea to get started.

So that’s my bucket list (as of right now).  What’s on your bucket list?

Cooking With TechyDad: Cheesy Potato Pancakes with Sausage

A couple of weeks ago, we were looking through the Sunday circular and came upon an ad for Hungry Jack products. Along with the ad was a recipe for Cheesy Potato Pancakes with Sausage. They sounded intriguing, so we decided to make them.  Of course, we keep a Kosher home, so sausage patties were out of the question.  Especially when combined with milk.  We substituted veggie sausage instead, so this recipe is both kosher and vegetarian:

1 package Veggie Sausage Patties
1 cup Buttermilk "Just Add Water" Pancake Mix
1 1/2 cups Mashed Potato Flakes
2 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

 First, I prepared my dry ingredients.

I put the pancake mix into a large bowl.

Then added the potato flakes.

Next, I prepared my wet ingredients.

I cracked the eggs into a glass bowl.

Added the milk,

The vegetable oil,

And whisked it all together.

After that, I poured the wet ingredients into the dry ones.

In went the carrots.

Then I took the veggie sausages (cooked in the microwave as per package directions)

And crumbled them.

I mixed it all together.

Into the oil it went.

Turn it over.

Some cheddar to put on top.

Finished product with melted cheese (via microwave) and syrup.

All in all, this was a pretty good dish.  I did omit a few ingredients to either try to make it more palatable for kids (e.g. onions) or to make it easier to keep kosher (Parmesan cheese – hideously expensive for the kosher stuff).  Next time, I’ll put the onions in, put the syrup in the mix, and maybe even spring for kosher Parmesan cheese.


The Dynamic Debating and Dancing McCain

After last night’s debate, McCain walked towards the wrong side of the podium.  He caught himself and headed back around the correct side.  However, as he caught himself, he did a little dance.  I thought it was comical enough to try my hand at some video editing.  So here is Dancing McCain!


If the election doesn’t work out for him, perhaps he can be a contestant on Dancing With The Stars.

The Adventures of Super Kid

Faster than a speeding toddler.
More powerful than a toy locomotive.
Able to leap small stacks of blocks in a single bound.

Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Super Kid!

Yes, it’s Super Kid – strange visitor from another planet (at least he seems like it sometimes) who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Super Kid – who can change the channel on mighty televisions, bend Play-Doh with his bare hands, and who, disguised as NHL, sometimes mild mannered child of TechyDad and TheAngelForever, fights the never ending battle for Truth, Justice and More Time Watching Noggin.

Zooming Boy Photo

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