Happy Birthday Charlie!

Today is my 2nd sons birthday! Charlie is 12 today! Wow! Time flies.

My Dad always told me that I would blink and the kids would be grown…man, he wasn’t joking.

As usual, Jen sums up how I feel perfectly!


See this young man??? He’s my most favorite 12 y/o on the planet. I love his love for others. He loves so big. He has conversations with Jesus at night in his dreams. I mean how cool is that? He is passionate about healing for himself but especially for others. He teaches me something new everyday about how we don’t all have to view the world the same way. You are a God chaser! Jesus has BIG things planned for you, Charles! Happy Birthday! We love you!

I love you Charles Talley! You are an amazing son and I am so honored to be your dad and I look forward to all the amazing things God has planned for you!

Happy Birthday Mei!

Today is Mei’s 7th birthday!!!

Jen summed things up perfectly:

Seven years ago this amazing girl made her appearance. Her birth parents made a heart wrenching choice to leave her in a safe placer where she would be found. And although their loss was our gain, I think of them all the time and thank Jesus that they chose life for my daughter. They didn’t have to…her birth mom did not have to carry her to term, but she did it anyway. And the result is this world changing, Jesus loving, passionate, tenacious girl. Happy Birthday Mei Mei! We love you!


Your daddy loves you more than you will ever know!

Cold War

I’m not a Cold War baby. I wasn’t born in the 1950′s. I didn’t live through the Cuban Missile Crisis and I didn’t ever do duck and cover drills in school…


I came of age when Reagan was elected President and lived through the last decade of the Cold War.

I was 7 when Reagan was elected and living in Southern California. The election was memorable to me because of how excited my parents were that he won.

This was my first exposure to politics and I have been fascinated ever since.

From that day on, I began to follow politics and more importantly, world events. Granted, this was before we had cable or CNN or the internet, but I would watch the news and I had a friend who lived down the street that seemed to know more than a 8 year old kid should know.

He was a peculiar kid. But I guess that’s what happens when your mom is Dutch and your dad is Cuban. His dad was always mysterious and looking back, I’m not totally convinced he wasn’t a spy.

In his room was a giant map that took up one entire wall. This was back in the day when the Soviet Union was the giant red country on the right side of the map. One day we were playing and he mentioned that we were working on making peace with our enemy. I asked him who our enemy was and he pointed to the giant red country on the map. I was stunned, that country was HUGE! We were going to make peace with that country?

That was the 1st time I remember hearing the words the Soviet Union.

I grew up and would ask dad about politics and watch the news when I could, but things really clicked when I saw Top Gun.

Don’t laugh. That movie had a very profound affect on my life.

I was 13 and was totally impressed with the movie. It was after that movie when I began building airplane models and decorating the walls of my room with pictures of fighter planes. And, as everyone else who saw that movie, dreaming about being a fighter pilot…

I dove in head first and read all I could about our military, our weapons and our tactics. It helped that my buddies were also affected by Top Gun and they did the same thing. We would talk about various planes and their capabilities. How many ships the Navy had and most importantly, how many carriers did we have.

Since this was the Cold War, I also learned all about the Soviet planes and how they rated against our planes. I knew all the Mig numbers and the NATO call signs for ours and the Soviet planes. I was a real Cold War geek.

Around this same time, my dad gave me The Hunt for Red October to read and the hook was set even deeper. Now my knowledge base expanded to submarines and sonar technology. This was followed up with me reading Red Storm Rising.

Also around this same time, I stumbled on a book that really put it all together: How to Make War by Jim Dunnigan.

This is when I got into land warfare. I learned all about our M1 tank and its predecessors and how we would fight a war in Europe. This included the good old Fulda Gap and assorted plans. I learned about the Soviet equipment: BMP’s, T-64′s and T-72′s. The book also covered tactics and I learned about the Soviet B and C formations and how they would or would not be effective. It was a great book and I read it numerous times.

In the late 1980′s we got cable for the first time and I would watch CNN all the time. This deepened my understanding of the world. (Don’t laugh…it’s all we had back then and was better than what we had before)

By the time I was in high school, I was a walking encyclopedia of Cold War weapons and tactics.

Then the Soviet Union disintegrated.

I remember watching the Berlin Wall come down on CNN and then came Yeltsin standing on a tank and before I knew it, the Soviet Union was no more.

It was a bizarre turn of events. On one hand, I was watching history be made, but on the other, I watched as all my years of study went up in smoke.

The 1990′s were when I was in college and the US military struggled to find its way in a post Soviet world. This was a military that was designed to meet the Soviets on the battlefield and to prevail, but now there was no one set enemy.

Since that time, I have stopped learning about new military tactics and weapon systems. Partly because I grew up and got a job and family, but also because the thing I had studied for simply didn’t exist any more.

This was driven home the other day on Twitter. Someone posted a picture of a fighter plane flying over Venezuela and called out that it was a Mig29. I looked it up and realized it couldn’t be that, I guessed Su-33 or Su-27…both were wrong. It turned out to be an Su-30. Back in the day I would never have made that mistake. Now…well now I just don’t know my military hardware as well.

Back then it was good old Fishbeds, Floggers and Foxbats. Good old Migs. Not to mention Badgers and Bears and the threat of losing a flattop. Now we live in a world of drones and stealth planes.

My Weight – Week 3

*** Part of a continuing series on my efforts to get healthy. You can see of these posts in one place by clicking here ***

First things first. Overall I feel I am making progress. Again, the goal isn’t to diet, but to change how, why and what I eat so that over the long haul, I am healthier. I can tell I have been feeling much better. The hearburn/indigestion have really settled down and I just feel better.


When I am at work, I do very well. Its the routine, the schedule. I eat a reasonable breakfast (2 fried eggs), then I drink about a liter of water before lunch. For lunch it’s either some leftovers from dinner or a regular sandwich, washed down by some unsweetened green tea. In the afternoon I drink another liter of water and then for dinner, I limit myself to one helping of whatever we are having for dinner.

My biggest issue has always been portion control coupled with the fear of leaving the table still hungry (see last weeks post). Avoiding as many sugars as possible and outright horrible foods (chili cheese fries…mmmmm….) combined with portion control is how I plan on living healthier. I am not avoiding carbs or loading up on protein. Those are all just fad diets. I am really looking to change my life.

I don’t want to deny myself yummy, tasty, glorious food…no, I just want to limit them. If I am at your house and you offer me dessert, I will take it, but only one serving and then I hope to be strong enough to ask for a small serving. The old Mike would get the biggest piece of pie (because pie > cake) and then go back for seconds. Same with going out to eat. I am training myself to look at what I want to eat, not at what will fill me up. That is so hard for me to do. I can’t even begin to explain how hard that is for me.

My weakness is massive amounts of food at low cost. So…in January, Subway was having all their regular footlong subs for $5. Only $5!!! Man, I couldn’t pass that up. So I didn’t…

Here’s the thing, Subway is only healthy if you get a 6″ turkey on wheat with no cheese and no mayo and no oil or other sauces. Just vegies and maybe mustard to help you choke it down. If you get that with water and apples, you are looking at almost 300 calories. Not to bad…but honestly, who wants that? I want a footlong, with lots and lots of mayo and cheese and deli meats!!!!

So when they were $5 for a footlong, I was pushing 950 calories here and 1,200 calories here. People eat there because they think, Jared, he was fat and now he is skinny and he ate at Subway! Anyway, January I didn’t do very well because $5 footlongs.

Or I can get a sack full (12) of Krystal burgers for only $8….mmmm Krystal burgers….

Now, where was I?

Oh yeah, trying to change my eating habits. Needless to say, it’s been a challenge. As mentioned above, when I am at work, I have no problems…it’s the weekends that are killing me…that and paydays.

No, I don’t mean payday the candy bar

Not what I am talking about, but I would give this a good home

I mean actual payday. Every two weeks the fruits of my labor show up in my bank account…for a few days at least…On a side note, ever feel like you are just part of a money laundering scheme? I mean, I work, get paid, the money sits for a few days then the vast majority of it goes off to other companies to pay for things. It’s like my employer is washing the money through my account to pay off other people…anyway… A great thing about not having money is that it limits my eating out opportunities which limits my ability to be a glutton. Notice I said limits. So, when Mr. Franklin and his friends pay a temporary visit to my bank account, it’s EAT OUT TIME!!! We are working on this issue though. Not eating out does two amazing things, its removes some really bad food options and it saves money. Win-Win!

The weekends are where it has been really tough. Without structure I get bored. When I get bored, I eat. Combine payday with a weekend and well, you get what happened last week.

My immediate goal is to avoid going backwards over a weekend. This weekend will be easy. The boys and I are going camping with Boy Scouts which means we will be limited on food and we will be outdoors getting exercise. So, I’ve got that going for me.

That brings up exercise. Now that its warming up, I plan on getting out and doing some brisk walking/running. I have always wanted to run a 5k, so I am setting that as my goal by this fall. See, I am taking things very, very slow.

I have no idea what my actual weight currently is. I stepped on the scale and it said 220, then I got back on and it said 175, then another time it said 243. So I can safely say that my scale is broken.


*** UPDATE: You can download our message by right clicking and save target as here ***

Jen and I have been sharing at church on relationships.

We started with communication skills. Honestly, most people suck at communicating. They just do.

One of the major keys to communication is understanding that there is this thing called a Code Book.

Everyone has one. You have one. I have one. And guess what? They are not standard issue. Each and every one is different. This Code Book tells you everything, it even tells you what the sound of someone breathing means. Facial cues, smirks, sighs, chortles, body language, phrases. It’s all in the Code Book. The Code Book is a product of our entire life. Depending on our race, where we grew up, position in the family, you name it, it all helps craft the book. The reason it’s a major key is because once you understand that the person you are talking to has a different Code Book from you, you no longer assume they understand anything and will begin to take steps to make sure you are understood.

Not understanding the Code Book issue will lead people to say things like “Everyone KNOWS that!” and “How could you have possibly taken what I said that way?!”.

Another key is to seek to understand. You have a job when someone is communicating with you. That job is to understand what the other person is saying/feeling. Your job is NOT to come up with a wicked awesome come back or list of reasons why the other person is a moron. A great way to do this is to put in your words what you just heard from the other person, trying to understand the emotion behind what they said.

Wow it sounds like you are very angry that the mailman didn’t wave at you today.

No, I’m not angry, but I am hurt.

What’s awesome about this is that even if you get it wrong, the other person will probably tell you anyway. As in the example above.

Remember the other persons feelings are 100% valid…to them…they may be 100% ridiculous (according to YOUR code book), they may be 100% exaggerated and unfounded….but that doesn’t matter. Our goal is not to be right but to make sure our relationships are healthy. Here’s the thing, what you said to the other person may have really hurt them. That may not have been your intention or it may be the dumbest thing ever (in your mind), but to the other person, the feeling is very real. When confronted by someone about something you did or said, you have one job and one job only…

I am very sorry that hurt your feelings. That was not my intention, please forgive me

Many people want the issue and admitting that what you did (right, wrong or in between) hurt them and asking for forgiveness short circuits their plan to beat you up over and over about what you did.

Two other great tools are questions:

  1. Help me understand…
  2. I’m wondering if…

Many times we walk around assuming way more than we should about another persons actions or words. Instead of hiding or walking on eggshells, get to the point and ask.

I’m wondering if I hurt your feelings because you have been throwing cats at me every time I walk by your desk.

Yeah you hurt my feelings when you “jokingly” said I was turning into a cat lady.

Oh man, I am so sorry my joke hurt your feelings. I didn’t mean for it to hurt them, will you forgive me


Help me understand why I can’t have my red stapler.

Oh, I’m sorry, we appropriated it for other company business. I thought someone told you.

No, no one told me.

Well, we did. Sorry about not keeping you in the loop.

Both questions keep you from beating around the bush and allow you to get right to the matter at hand. Most of the time people do not set out to hurt us. However, often times our Code Book gets in the way and a joke the other persons Code Book says is hilarious is terribly hurtful/offensive to you.

This isn’t saying we have to be so afraid that we don’t communicate with people or that we live in fear of offending. Far from it. This is a tool for powerful people. Once you realize the Code Book issue and you are not afraid to ask questions, then you can clean up any mess you create or find yourself in.

Instead of fear, we live and communicate in power.