Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Success Story – Fish Stories, One of Success and Courage

While teaching a group of fourth graders, I gave them an opportunity to exercise their public speaking skills. The lesson was not on public speaking but on fresh and saltwater fish identification. As they were working in their activity book and were all engaged, I saw the opportunity for a parallel activity instead of having them just sit there quietly.  I invited the students to come to the front and tell a favorite fishing story, true or fictional.  Many raised their hands to participate and several did, some stories long and some just a few words such as, “My grandpa caught a shark!”   A young lady by the name of Eliza raised her hand and said she had a story.  When she accepted my invitation to come up front, she just stood there and stood there with a blank stare.  At that moment, her lower lip started to quiver, her eyes showed a look of fear and she bolted out of the classroom.

I was able to call her back into the classroom and calm her down.  I knew I had a teachable moment available to me, so I took advantage of it.  I then explained to the group that speaking in public is a fear most people experience, and it can be overcome with a little practice. Eliza then agreed to start again.  This time, every eye was on her, and every ear listening intently!  When she finished her story, all the children exploded in applause and kudos for her.  Eliza beamed with pride and accomplishment.  This will be a “fishing story” of courage that will probably have a lasting impact upon her and the group. – G. Koerner


According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. - Jerry Seinfeld

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Back To The Basics of Living A Life That Includes God - My Subconscious Awakens

Well before I learned of God and religion, I was influenced by the God of the Boy Scouts of America, and their reference to him in that program.

It was about 1965 when I started participating in Scouting, following my mom around while she did her Cub Scout activities. Maybe she was a volunteer for the neighborhood, or perhaps she was involved with my brother John.

While the Boy Scouts (or Cub Scouts) do not advocate a certain way to believe in God, they certainly support the faith of believers in such a general way, that it is for the most part not offensive to any, other than someone who may have strong feelings that no higher power exists at all. Examples can be found in the Scout Oath and Law.

The Scout Oath: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

So here I am 53 years later, and these words of support from Scouting still have a strong influence on me.  So much so, as for this song below, Oh My Honor, to wake me up in the middle of the night as every single word and the melody came back to me, like I was sixteen again. I sang last night...

On My Honor
by Harry Bartelt

On my honor, I'll do my best, to do my duty to God.
On my honor, I'll do my best, to serve my country as I may.
On my honor, I'll do my best, to do my good turn each day,
To keep my body strengthened and keep my mind awakened.
To follow paths of righteousness. 
On my honor, I'll do my best.

This song was also recorded by the well known folk singer Burl Ives, and can be found easily in music formats online. Try here.

We sang this song on most major Scout outings.  The last time I sang it with a large gathering of people, was when my sister Irene included it in my Dad's funeral. To this day, the words tell me to serve God by serving others and to live an honorable, healthy life. I'm grateful my parents influenced me in this direction.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Task Force for the Family

I sent this to the president, Donald J. Trump today...

Dear Mr. President,

President David O. McKay, president of the LDS Church (serving from 1951-1970) taught that our most precious possession is our family and that home is the chief school of human virtues. Of the home, he declared: No other success can compensate for failure in the home. (This quote was on our family wall when I was a child.)

Home, its responsibilities, joys, sorrows, smiles, tears, hopes, and solicitudes form the chief interest of human life. When one puts business or pleasure above his home, he that moment starts on the downgrade to soul-weakness. When the club becomes more attractive to any man than his home, it is time for him to confess in bitter shame that he has failed to measure up to the supreme opportunity of his life and flunked in the final test of true manhood. The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of far greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles.

Our country is being torn apart from its very roots (the family unit) upward. We see it in increased crime, mass shootings, the opioid epidemic, disdain for human life, common decency and upheaval in our schools.

Please create a Task Force for the Family, which could be called The Parent Commission, to encourage mothers and fathers, grand parents and relatives to step up and raise our precious young children in American with values of kindness, generosity, and decency. This task force would be lead by clergy, major service organizations and academia to help American families to reinvigorate our youth with positive values in and from the home. This would be an investment in America, that will save the country billions of future dollars.  It would reduce crime, creating honest, healthy of mind, body and spirit the youngest of our citizens, which are our most impressionable today. 

I would be honored to lead this committee. Please contact me for my resume and references.

With deepest respect,

Gus Koerner

Monday, January 22, 2018

Low Tech

Low Tech
by James C. Christensen

Flight, particularly to the stars, for centuries lay solely in the realm of man’s imagination and dreams. It was, therefore, not so far-fetched that NASA should turn to master fantasy artist James Christensen to contribute his vision of man in space.

For Christensen, it was logical that before there was High Tech, there had to be Low Tech. There isn’t an engineer, programmer or IT specialist today that can’t identify with or see in themselves the indomitable spirit of the space age barnstormer that built the space program, designed the desktop and envisioned the cloud.  Nor could they escape the feeling of having to do it all with duct tape and spare parts found in their or their parents' basement.

This framed print was given to me by my old friend and boss Dr. Bruce Bugbee back in about 1990. In our lab where we built hardware for NASA plant science research, we took pride in our motto, "Not high-tech, not low-tech, but just the right amount tech!"

I'll always treasure it as a most thoughtful gift, and it is hanging in my office once again.  Thanks Bruce!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Teaching Kids the Importance of Keeping Track of Memories (For Disaster and Historical Purposes)

There are certain items we possess that have more than just monetary value, and sometimes it is difficult for children to realize this. It is important however, that we teach children the difference between items have a high financial value (electronics) and items that have long-term meaningful worth (achievement certificates). For example, a third grade report card may not be of much value to a teenager, but when that teen becomes of midlife age, that once insignificant document is now precious. As a middle-aged adult, I look at the "collectibles" of my young children and my diseased parents, and realize they are not just fun to look at, but a jewel to behold. Learning the true value of items we possess is one of the life skills taught in the 4-H Youth Development program, and should be a lesson taught to our own children.

Picture a scenario where a family finds out that severe weather is heading their direction, and notified to evacuate to a safe location. The family tells the children and decide they will depart in the morning, and can only take minimum supplies and valuables, because of constraints on space in the vehicle. What items will the adults pack, and what will the children’s choices be?

As adults, we know to take important documentation regarding our home, finances and medical needs. However, children on the other hand may have difficultly choosing, when they learn they can only take one suitcase. It is important that we begin to teach our children to begin to organize their things and separate what is important or not.

This document focuses on important papers and photographs; and how to store, organize, and prioritize them. We can support and teach our children to be prepared and give them tools to assist them.

Methods for Safe Keeping and Archiving Important Documents and Pictures

Items should:

  • Be stored in their original (paper) and digital format, but in some cases you may wish to digitize paper documents. 
  • Be prioritized into categories such as Mundane, Important and Critical. 
  • Be kept in a safe, water resistant and portable, designated spot for retrieval and evacuation. A plastic tote box works well for this, as well as zip-top bags within the tote to subcategorize. 
  • Consider the “shelf life” of a document. Birth certificates, mortgage papers and deeds should be kept for a lifetime, whereas monthly utility bill records may only need to be kept for a year. 
  • For families and individuals with more than one computer or electronic device, the Cloud can be useful as a repository. The Cloud is electronic off-site storage or an online web storage space, some of which are free and some are not. 
  • Purchase a portable back up hard drive to archive files on a regular basis. Computer hard drives, phone storage and thumb drives can be lost, stolen or damaged, causing the information to be lost forever or prompting expensive recovery services. Recording these data to a compact disc or DVD is also a good option. 
  • Consider storing critical copies with other family members or safe deposit box allowing for redundancy protection. 
Whether paper or digital, store documents and images sorted by the primary individual it concerns. In the short term, it is tempting and acceptable to sort the images by event, such as Family Reunion 2009, but ultimately as time goes on, individuals will want their own images or documents. Sorting single person images are easy. For example, a picture of Sally goes in a plastic tote or electronic file labeled with her name. Pictures of multiple individuals can be stored under the eldest family member in the photo. You may create your own organizing system for this purpose.
Purchase or set aside a section of files or tote box for grabbing and evacuating in hurry.

So if your papers, files and photos need organizing, remember – we never know when a disaster may come and we need to evacuate. Being organized and prepared will reduce stress levels, aid in recovery and preserve valuable items for long-term benefit. If we include our children in this process, they can assist with the task and start a healthy habit that they may carry into adulthood.

Sources:
Targeting Life Skills in 4-H, Marilyn N. Norman and Joy C. Jordan, UF/IFAS Extension Publication #4HS FS101.9, 2006.
Keeping a Household Inventory and Protecting Valuable Records, Michael T. Olexa and Lauren Grant, UF/IFAS Extension Publication #DH138, 2016.

From a Fact Sheet by:
G. Koerner, 4-H Program Assistant, A. Lazzari, 4-H Agent, G. Whitworth, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Florida / IFAS Brevard County Extension, November 21, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Really Good Chili

For today's Annual United Methodist Church Charge Conference and Pot Luck Dinner, I made a new chili recipe that came out really well!

About little bit about the conference: it is always a nice event when we get together with the other local United Methodist Churches and give an accountability report of what has and will transpire for the year.  Out little Saint Andrew United Methodist Church, and sister churches in the area are doing great things to show people the love of Christ.

The Chili I made from scratch, and not really following a recipe, so therefore I have to jot down how I did it so it can be done again.  It's like any good scientist would do in documenting an experiment with procedural notes, so as it can be repeated by someone else.

Really Really Good Three Day Chili

Hardware
I used a 5 quart Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, and a 10 inch cast iron skillet.

Software
Dry Red Kidney Beans, 1 pound.
10 cups of water
1 large white onion, peeled and cut in half
2 chopped cloves of garlic
5 Bay Leaves
1/2 teaspoon Chile Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
2 teaspoons of Salt
1 pound cubed steak, finely chopped when partially frozen
2, 10 ounce cans of Original Ro-Tel Tomatoes with green chilies
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method
Thursday night, I cooked the Kidney Beans exactly according to Pati Jinich's recipe Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot, then I put them in the fridge until the next evening after the dutch oven cooled a bit.

Friday night, the next day, I put the pot back on the stove on medium heat.

At the same time in a skillet I browned the chopped beef and added 1/2 of the onion and the garlic all chopped fine.  The beef was so lean, that I had to add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  When it was all nice and brown and the onions translucent, I deglazed the skillet with a little (1/2 cup) water and added it all to the bean pot.

Next into the bean pot I added the spices and Ro-Tel.  Then I let it simmer about 4 hours. It was time for bed again, so I let it cool and put it back in the fridge until the next day. This rest time for the chili lets all the flavors marry and deepen in flavor.

Saturday morning simmered it for 4 more hours prior to serving. I removed all the Bay Leaves, so the consumers of my chili wouldn't die with a Bay Leaf in their throat. The crowd seemed to enjoy it and I would absolutely make it again.

The total cost of the dish was about $13 and served about 15 people.
Beef - $6.00
Beans - $2.00
Ro-Tel - $2.00
Spices and Vegetables $3.00

I hope this recipe works out for you!  

- gus