First things first, happy birthday to my twins! They’re 3 today, so I no longer have 3 kids under 3, which is nice. I think this is a recipe for more sanity at some point in the near future.
Second, happy birthday to my blog!
7 years ago today, I wrote my first post. At the time, I wrote:
Most blogs fail quickly, and this one is probably no exception. But I’ve flirted with trying it for a while, and you never know until you try….
Since then, I’ve written well over 1,000 posts on just about everything. Politics was the initial driver before I left that life and wrote about pretty much anything I wanted to. There were times I posted every day and times I only posted once a month.
But I always posted at least once a month until a few months ago, October 2012. That’s when I wrote the last post that’s been published here until now. I’d already written just one post a month for 6 straight months, a new low for me. Then the end of November came, normally a motivator for me to get into gear and write a post, and I just didn’t. For the first time in nearly 7 years, I let the month slip away without a post.
I’ve had fun around here, but it’s time to hang it up. I’m not necessarily leaving blogging altogether, but I am finished with Wide White. I’ve enjoyed the opportunities it’s given me, such as the first job I got after I left politics, which came through a referral in a comment on this blog. I’ve met some great people through it.
But I have those twins who just turned 3, their little brother who just turned 1, their mom who I love hanging out with, and numerous other commitments with work, church, civic involvement, and friends. Blogging has slowly dropped down the list of priorities as other things have squeezed their way into my life until it has simply fallen off the list altogether.
I have other blog ideas that I may pursue. I purchased a domain a few months ago that I haven’t done anything with yet. I wanted to wait until I could really dedicate some time and energy into resolving what I wanted it to be. I know this: I don’t want to blog aimlessly. I have a few blogs where I may contribute elsewhere. But I’ve long been dissatisfied with my lack of focus with Wide White. I never wanted it to be just a personal blog, but for a long time it’s lacked much focus elsewhere.
Thank you for reading along for these 7 years! It means a lot to me that so many people – friends, family, strangers – have read what I’ve written.
If you’d like to keep up with me going forward, you can find me on Twitter at @onejoey.
I’ll leave this site up for a while. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up exactly. There’s a lot of information here and I’ll probably try to archive it somewhere. There are a lot of memories I don’t really want to say goodbye to yet.
But eventually, it’ll be time to renew this domain and I won’t.
Thanks for everything,
Because this blog was very political in its infancy, I’m still asked each election cycle on where I stand regarding major issues facing the electorate. I prefer not to dive into politics too much here simply because most people’s minds are made up anyway and I question how useful political posts from me would be. Political posts tend to divide people into those who agree (and keep reading) and those who disagree (and quit reading).
That said, I’ll briefly give you a few reasons for my decisions on three major topics facing Minnesotans.
The presidential election
I plan to vote for Mitt Romney. I’m probably more aligned with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s views, but he doesn’t have a remote chance of winning. Besides, political positions aside, Romney would undoubtedly make a better executive leader than Johnson. I’ve been very disappointed with the divisive tone that Barack Obama struck from the minute he took office. It was particularly disheartening to see him shun his opposition while he had a majority in both the House and Senate, then turn around and pretend to want to work across the aisle with them over the last 2 years. I realize Republicans also played the role of the obstinate opposition, but I don’t think that immaturity in the legislative branch excuses poor leadership in the executive branch.
I suppose I could and probably should say more, but I’m not exactly energized about the presidential election and don’t have much more input than this. I don’t think I’ll get too excited no matter who comes out on top.
The Minnesota marriage amendment
I will vote no. This measure would amend the Minnesota state constitution to read, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.” Importantly, this would not change state law, but conservative lawmakers want to solidify that law in our constitution to ensure judges can’t overturn that law. At least that’s the reason that they’ve given.
One strategist who helped push the amendment through the senate now says the only reason it was put on the ballot is to bring out conservative voters and give Republicans a better chance against popular Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. After all, similar measures have yet to fail in any state in which they’ve been put on the ballot.
But regardless of any misguided political reasons for the amendment, that’s not why I’m voting no. There are two primary issues I have with the amendment:
- Constitutional amendment. The constitution should not be used to permanently encode a group’s religious definition of a secular institution. It’s important to remember that we aren’t talking about the definition of a religious marriage performed in your church; we’re talking about a civil institution that anyone can partake in, regardless of religion or lack thereof.
- Religious motivation. The only reason I’ve seen presented to keep the definition of marriage between one man and one woman is this: religion. It’s why the primary beneficiary of the efforts to support this amendment is the Catholic church.
The issue here is ultimately the term “marriage.” A Star Tribune poll from 1 month ago shows that while 49% of Minnesotans support gay marriage, 68% support civil unions for homosexual couples. If marriage certificates were changed to be called civil union certificates, I highly doubt this would be such a big issue for Christians.
I don’t want to live in a theocracy. Our laws – and especially our constitution – should not be dictated based on one group’s interpretation of a religious text, even if it’s my own. It’s so easy to scoff at Middle Eastern countries for establishing their laws based on Islamic law, yet many of us don’t think twice about creating our own laws based solely on our Christian beliefs.
Our laws are intended to govern all people, regardless of their religion or creed. The creation and maintenance of these laws should be a secular matter. I don’t think we should introduce religious arguments for secular laws. I especially don’t think the constitution that governs those laws should come from such an overtly religious perspective.
When a wedding official at a Christian wedding invokes “the power vested in me by God and by the State of Minnesota,” he is enforcing these as two separate entities. They should remain separate.
There are many Christians voting no on this amendment because they either don’t think the constitution should be used for this purpose or they don’t think the state’s policy should be set based on the religious beliefs of one segment of the population. Count me as one of those Christians.
(I also find it incredibly hypocritical that the same people who want government out of their lives when it comes to their money, businesses, and social programs want government to be so involved in moral and religious issues like this. But that’s a subject for another time.
Also, a few days ago my wife noted the irony that she spent time at the home of friends who have a “Vote Yes” sign in their lawn and a day or two later was at the home of friends who have a “Vote No” sign in their lawn. We have many friends who are passionately voting both ways on this and I don’t consider anyone to be less of a person for disagreeing with me on this issue.)
I plan to vote no. Minnesota is looking to join a handful of states who now require all voters to present a government-issued ID at the polls in order to vote. On the surface, I like an ID requirement for voting. ID is required for so many other daily activities, it makes sense that we should verify we are who we say we are in a function in which integrity is more important than perhaps any other.
But there are some serious problems with Minnesota’s voter ID amendment that make me uneasy.
For reference, here’s the amendment before the voters:
(b) All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section. A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law.
(c) All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.
Here are my primary concerns in reverse order of importance:
- Constitutional amendment. Permanently codifying the use of a tool that hasn’t been around that long as the gateway to exercising such a fundamental right just doesn’t set well with me.
- Vague language. It’s one thing to require ID in person at the polls. But what about those casting absentee ballots? What about military service members overseas? Where will college students be required to vote?
- Expense. This will be very expensive to implement. Not only will the state now be required to provide free photo IDs for anyone without one, but those who show up at the polls without an ID will need to cast a provisional ballot, which adds administrative expenses.
- Voter fraud isn’t a major issue. We seem to be proposing a solution for an issue that doesn’t exist. A 2007 report from the New York Times showed that a 5-year Bush administration crackdown on voter fraud yielded just 120 charges and 86 convictions nationwide.
- This still wouldn’t solve voter fraud. Fake IDs can be created. Election officials at the polls will be hard-pressed to determine who’s a felon or is otherwise ineligible to vote without an electronic system in place to immediately check for this information, which would come at an enormous cost.
You’ll notice I don’t list “Voter disenfranchisement” in the list here. I realize the elderly, poor, and minorities tend to have a lower rate of possessing a government-issued ID and this could theoretically affect elections, presumably in favor of conservatives. But I think there are already stipulations in the law that disenfranchise voters, particularly those who are transient. Any validation requirement will inevitably disenfranchise someone by definition. So, while voter disenfranchisement is certainly a possibility, it’s not why I hold my position.
I’m religious about keeping my wallet on me at all times, and ironically, I forgot it when I went to vote in the primary election in August. It’s easy for me to drive 5 blocks to retrieve it, but rural Minnesotans don’t have this luxury.
The complications presented by the voter ID amendment as it’s been written up are too great for me to think it’s a good idea to implement.
When we lost our daughter last year, we were supported by hundreds of people, many of whom we barely knew or didn’t know at all. We ended up with gift money totaling over $700, presumably to either do something nice for ourselves or cover expenses related to Kaylee’s passing.
Our expenses for Kaylee ended up being next to nothing. The hospital stay was already covered with money we had set aside in a Health Savings Account that had to be used that year anyway. The funeral home waived all of their expenses (something we did not expect and which I later discovered was really due to a communication error on their part that they let slide for us). The parking lot owners adjacent to our church waived their normal usage fee for the memorial service. We had numerous expenses like this that were just taken care of.
We had $700 and no real expenses to deal with. So we set the money aside, thinking we’d do something with it to carry on Kaylee’s legacy. We just didn’t feel right about using it for us.
A few weeks ago, a blog I follow told the story of a young woman who had just died suddenly along with her full-term baby. She left behind a husband and a 19-month-old son. The story didn’t contain much information and didn’t even include the names of the 29-year-old wife and mother or her family. But the story left me in tears as I considered the place her husband is in right now. I know the pain of losing a daughter; I can only imagine the magnitude of the pain of losing my wife.
The blog that posted this is a financial blog, and part of the purpose in posting the story was to note the importance of life insurance. This family didn’t have life insurance and the husband was left with a number of bills for the hospital, funeral, and burial. The widowed husband made a point of telling his brother to get life insurance so he wouldn’t be left in a similar predicament.
Jamie and I have life insurance policies, so we’re good to go there. We also have that “Kaylee money,” and the blog post about this family in need had a link to contribute to a Paypal account that was setup to assist them. It seemed obvious to us that some of that Kaylee money belonged with this family.
I don’t know where the rest of her money will go. I don’t know if I’ll even have the chance to let this family know about Kaylee and the generous people who made the gift to this family possible.
But I’m excited to see something good come from such deep pain.
Towards the end of last year I determined to post on this blog every day. I kept it going for a few months before scaling back due to the demand on my time, lack of ideas for posts, etc.
But since I started this blog, I’ve always posted at least once a month.
Which is why it’s 11:45 PM on August 31st and I’m finally getting my August post in. I made a commitment and I’m going to keep it. Sure, it was to myself, but I’m still going to keep it.
Earlier this year, my company did a 10,000 steps program. It’s a 12-week health program where you walk 10,000 steps (roughly 5 miles) a day, which you track with a pedometer. You also have to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables 4 days each week, drink 48 ounces of water a day, and eat a healthy meal that was specified for each week.
I managed to get the maximum number of points because I’m competitive. I had already wanted to lose weight, but was pretty sure I wouldn’t take some of the pieces of this program seriously. But when my boss said she had aced the program last year, that was all the incentive I needed. Once I knew it could be done, I committed myself to doing it.
I ended up losing 20 pounds over the course of the 12 weeks and won $100 at work, so there was more than just competition at stake.
Blogging each month and walking each day are pretty different, but they have two commonalities: neither was required of me, yet each task was public. Everyone who reads this space knows when I don’t post. Everyone who was in that program and on my team would have known if I hadn’t gained as many points as I could have.
If you’re struggling with keeping a commitment – eating better, exercising more, spending more time with your family, finishing a book – there’s no better way to make sure you achieve your goal and keep your commitment than to make it public.
One of my goals right now is to simplify my life. I want to sell and get rid of things I don’t need, eliminate my debt, and work towards a simpler life at home, at work, digitally, etc. But I haven’t done a very good job of acting on that goal.
Very soon I’ll be opening up a new corner of the web dedicated to this goal of simple living. I figure there’s no better way to move forward than to publicly discuss it, and while I could use this space for it, it’s important enough to me that I want to create a new space in the interwebs dedicated to that goal.
I’ve purchased a domain name and am working on building the site. This is the first time I’ve even talked about it outside of a few very close friends, but I know going public with that goal will help give me the last push I need to finish the project and start moving forward.
I’ll share more about the project once it’s going. Until then, what do you think? Does going public with a goal or commitment help you keep it? Do you have other methods that help? I’d love to know what works for others!
Boom! Another question in the inbox! This one comes from Daniel:
could you purchase a tablet today that could adequately replace your laptop? (a possibility question, not a suggestion
Great question Daniel. The short answer is “yes” and the long answer is “no.” Let me explain.
I bought a 2.5 years ago that has a quad processor. At the time, very few laptops had a processor with that much power and I needed a quad processor to handle high-definition video editing for the new HD video camera I bought.
Can a tablet replace that laptop and do HD video editing? No.
But I don’t need to do serious editing more than once or twice a year. 95% of my time on the computer is spent on the internet. I have some Excel spreadsheets that I use for keeping up with a few things and on rare occasions I’ll use Microsoft Word. But most basic functions in Excel can easily be handled in Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs).
So for my next computer, I plan to get a tablet. I want one I can hook a keyboard up to. I’m also reluctant to downsize to a smaller screen (I have a 17-inch laptop screen compared with tablets’ 10- and 7-inch screens) since we watch all TV and movies on our computer, but I imagine I’ll still have the laptop available for that.
Laptops aren’t going anywhere and they’ve gotten slimmer (I think 7-pound laptops like the one I have are a thing of the past, though I suppose today’s higher-end laptops are still relatively bulky). But I’d like to avoid buying another one anytime soon.
Have a question? Ask me anything!