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How young are these United States?
I'm somewhat optimistic



The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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 Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Tuesday, 31 July 2007 07:52:15 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

I was listening to a segment on NPR this morning, about Senator Stevens from Alaska, who may have accepted bribes from an oil company. I wasn't remotely surprised to hear that yet another Republican politician is probably bought and paid for by big business - nothing new there.

But here's what caught my ear: Mr. Stevens was part of the Territorial government and was one of the people who orchestrated Alaska's statehood! This just isn't the sort of thing a person usually considers.

I grew up on a steady diet of books about exploring the frontier and settling the territories. These stories are the core of the American mythology: stories of tough, honest men and women braving the wilderness and the greedy, dishonest men and women to carve out the nation we know today as the United States.

But they are history, as in dead and dusty. At least to most people, including myself.

So here comes this radio segment, reminding me that some of that history is still alive.

Whether Mr. Stevens is crooked or not is something we'll find out as the investigation unfolds. But regardless of whether he's one of the tough, honest men, or one of the greedy, dishonest ones, I sit in awe of the fact that he lived through a period of time that saw the transformation of a territory into a state.

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 Friday, 13 July 2007
Friday, 13 July 2007 10:47:23 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

I took this optimism quiz from BeliefNet. The end result is divided into four categories: negative, balanced but negative, balanced but positive and glowy.

I’m balanced but positive:

Sunshine with patchy fog: Everything's coming up roses--most of the time. Your outlook is optimistic, but you tend to think more positively in the short term rather than in the long run. You see the good side of the present moment but don't necessarily incorporate that into your overall attitude.

I’d say this is about right. I do look on the bright side as I go through life, but I always plan for things to go horribly wrong in the future. In fact, this has been my motto for most of my adult life:

Expect the best, plan for the worst.

It turns out, in my experience at least, that if you plan for the worst, then it is usually the case that the worst isn’t all that bad.

If you plan for an economic downturn by establishing some savings, then you don’t’ suffer so much (or at all) during the downturn.

If you plan for your company to do rounds of layoffs, then you are already prepared to find another job (and even might find a better one if the layoffs don’t happen).

I find that it is much easier to have a rosy view of life, and to view the people around you in a positive light, if you have planned for life to get complex without warning.

Being all bright and glowy may be nice, but it makes you vulnerable to life’s quirks. At that point you either become a pessimist, or you “fall back on your faith” and just assume life sucks because God hates you (or loves you and is testing you?). Either way, any bright glowy-ness at that point is merely a façade…

Being pessimistic (entirely or with some balance) means you go through life looking at the darkness in everyone and everything. Ugh!

Yes, people and life have darkness. That’s the nature of the world. But people are basically decent, conventional wisdom would say (I do so love Rush!), and given a choice, most people will choose to exercise their light side over their dark side. A little planning ahead of time puts you in a position to help that light side dominate.

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