Updated on 05.27.10

Talking to a Reader

Trent Hamm

A few days ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop (my once-every-two-months-or-so visit) reading some of the comments on The Simple Dollar with my laptop. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell that someone was looking over my shoulder at the screen, so I glanced over at this fortysomething lady. She smiled at me and said, “I love that website.”

I couldn’t resist. I said, “Well, watch this,” clicked on the “about me” link at the top of the page, and wheeled the screen around to face her. I pointed to the picture and said, “I’m a bit older now, but that’s me.”

She put her hand over her mouth and then said, “Trent! Really?”

I wound up moving over to her table and chatting with her for a little while. During the conversation, she said three things that I thought were worth sharing with all of you.

First, my life seems “smooth” and I make the challenge of financially responsible living seem “easy.”

Part of this is that I have the freedom to choose what I write about. In order to make an article seem straightforward and clear, I boil things down to their bare essentials.

I’ll write an article about making my homemade laundry detergent, but I’ll leave out the part where my son Joe (who was three then) dumped two gallons of water on the floor, which ran clear across the floor of the kitchen and dripped onto the carpet on the stairs.

I’ll write articles about making delicious homemade dinners from scratch, but I’ll not write as much about the days when my two year old Katie has a complete epic crying meltdown as I’m attempting to prepare a picnic lunch until I finally say, “Enough! Turkey and mustard sandwiches for all!” as I toss stuff into a backpack while Joe stands on a chair firing a Nerf gun into the air.

I’ll mention a great deal I found on some wine, but I’ll neglect to mention that when I popped the cork off of a bottle of bubbly, it ricocheted off the ceiling, hit the counter, and whacked me in the eye, causing me to drop the bottle and have it both hit my big toe and shatter on the floor.

I’ll relate some of my great time management techniques that work most of the time, but the wheels fall off when Matthew starts crying and I wind up rocking him for two hours while singing songs that were popular circa 1995 to him, only to happily discover that he quickly dozes off to his father’s awful attempt at singing “Champagne Supernova.”

My life is a train wreck at times and it’s often impossible to do things perfectly. Although such stories might be fun to write about (and maybe fun to read), they don’t really help anyone for much of anything beyond a quick entertainment. I also worry about preserving the privacy of others in my life; I have a pretty open policy with me personally, but that policy is much tighter with Sarah and the kids and almost impenetrable beyond those immediate folks. I feel no need to embarrass and insult people as a method to give myself an extra leg up.

So I try to choose things that people can actually use in their lives. Sometimes I can still talk about the disasters (for some reason, the best example I can think of is my burnt macaroni and cheese), but they’re usually not helpful. Just embarrassing. And sometimes funny to others. But not helpful.

So, be aware: I fail. A lot. Sometimes I mention them. But most of the time, they’re just funny … and sometimes kind of sad and pathetic (like my recent revelation that the Count on Sesame Street was supposed to be a vampire).

So, what else did she say? She told me that she’s trying to be more financially responsible because she is “afraid of the future.” I asked her what she meant by that and she said that she simply didn’t know where things were going and that being more in control of her money made her less afraid of it.

I think there is unquestionably something to that. In fact, I’ll go even farther. Over the last few years, the media has been selling fear – hard. I’m not just talking about right wing talk radio or about left wing print media – both are involved in this. Almost every media source is painting a horrible picture of what’s going on out there politically, environmentally, socially, and so on. Why? Because we tune in when we’re afraid.

Here’s the truth, though. I look out my window and I see a sunny day. Every single day, I meet a lot of people who are out there doing their job and being productive and, best of all, heping others with their spare time.

Yes, there are bad things going on. But there are a lot of good things going on, too. We hear every night about every last terror and disaster and economic calamity, but we don’t hear about the guy down the block who mows the lawn of the elderly lady across the street for free because she’s not getting around too well after her hip replacement surgery. We don’t see the neighbors who kept an eye on our house for us while we were traveling recently. We don’t get reports on the youth group that collected 100,000 canned goods for the food pantry.

Why? It’s a lot easier to sell the negative than it is to sell the positive.

Look around you at what you have in your life. Almost all of you have a roof over your heads. You have an active, thinking mind. You have steady meals on the table in front of you. Those three factors alone put you at the cream of the crop of humankind. Life. Is. Good.

People who want to tell you life is bad have something to sell, whether it be advertising space or a product that will make it all better for you. Trust your eyes and ears, not theirs.

One final thing she said that made me think was that I should talk more about the political issues that are going on right now.

That’s a statement I disagree with. The most profound change you can make on the world as a whole is to get your own house in order.

Railing about politics can be fun and it can also be cathartic. But, in the morning, you’re going to wake up to the same life you had yesterday, except possibly worse because you spent all your energy raging about a law or a corrupt official.

Don’t spend your energy there. Spend your energy making your own life financially secure, productive, and enjoyable. Then, when you can, spend your energy and money on helping out others. Adopt a child that has no chance and give that child one. Raise a big garden and give that food to the local food pantry. The opportunities you have to directly help someone else are endless.

The best way to create a better world isn’t to rail against the government. It’s to make your own life stable (so others don’t have to prop you up) and then help the people around you when you can, and then when it comes time, do your civic duty and vote. If you feel strongly about some issue, contact your congressperson with a calm, thoughtful handwritten letter (believe me, they pay attention to things like this, but they ignore rage-filled diatribes) and then direct your energy to improving yourself.

Think about how much better the world would be if every single person did that. Why don’t you be one of those who do? That’s what I’m doing – I won’t be wasting my energy here on political rants.

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  1. Adam says:

    Love your thought on politics.

    As far as not posting your failures much (even though they can be entertaining), you might consider one entertaining/light-hearted post per month or week or so. It may help us remember you’re just like we are. :)

  2. Wesley says:

    I think what would be interesting about the failures would be to do a weekly or montly article about the failures. Say pick 3-5 articles every time period and do a little write up about what went wrong or some sort of backstory for each. This serves two purposes, like #1 it shows that you make mistakes to and if the readers do it is no biggie and from a blog perspective it is a way to perhaps get readers to look at articles they missed.

  3. sandycheeks says:

    Trent, the first part of this post made you instantly more relatable. It’s true that your readers don’t need to hear about every stumble along the journey but IMO we haven’t been hearing about enough of them.

  4. Des says:

    I’m not sure I understand your stance on talking about politics. You say it does no good beyond catharsis, but then go on to say we should vote. So, we should vote without discussing issues? I totally understand not wanting to talk about politics on this *particular* blog, but you seem to indicate that it isn’t useful at all. I would say if you’re going to vote you should be informed, and information comes from communication with other people.

  5. Derek says:

    This is one of my favorite posts ever of yours. I don’t watch the 24 hour news channels because of their constant fear mongering and political diatribe. None of that stuff really affects you at the end of the day. Live your life, love others, manage your money wisely and enjoy it. :) I’m glad you won’t be delving into politics as I’d probably stop reading if you did that. Is this the first time you’ve ever ran into a reader in public that you didn’t know beforehand? It had to feel good to know that she likes your site.

  6. Being proactive is HUGE! As a matter of fact, one of my goals in life has been to get involved with a non-profit organization and eventually begin my own. The more I thought about it, I wondered why I shouldn’t just do it rather than simply thinking about it and pushing it further into the future.

    The result? I have begun breaking ground on a project to deliver OTC medication, medical supplies and personal care products to people in developing nations and impoverished communities around the world. (Anyone interested in what I am doing can check out my blog.)

    I may not know everything there is to know about what I am doing (yet) but I am learning a lot more diving in head first rather than pushing it further and further down the road.

    The only way we can do anything is to be proactive. Action is huge! Planning only gets us so far and doesn’t produce any results. It is the action that matters.

  7. lurker carl says:

    Injecting the things going wrong into your articles can make them stronger when discussing how to do it right. Otherwise, the words tend to come across as sterile, generic and even condesending.

    The goofy calamities that happen throughout the day, particularly when children are involved, are seldom train wrecks. More like bugs on the windshield. But when you’re responsible for the well being of others, all those smeared bugs sure make it hard to see the road ahead.

    P.S. – Never discuss politics or sex with strangers!

  8. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    The only other time I randomly met a reader was at a bookstore when I saw a person looking at “Your Money or Your Life.” I said that I liked the book and he said he read about it on a website. I asked him which one and he said The Simple Dollar. I was so taken aback that I just said, “Oh,” and clammed up.

    I think it’s great to be politically informed. I just don’t think angry diatribes and rage towards those who disagree with you is healthy, and most political discourse online (and in other places) seems to devolve into that pretty quickly. Use that energy for bettering yourself, not for belittling those who disagree with you. Of course, that’s true for almost any disagreement.

  9. Carey says:

    More failures please :)

    I don’t know if you read Wil Wheaton’s blog, but those are some of his funniest posts.

  10. Mary W says:

    Trent – Glad you aren’t going to discuss politics. Not that politics aren’t important, but that isn’t why I read this blog.

    Can you imagine what the comments would be like on a political post?!! Your commenters can get excited over making soap or how much to spend on an engagement ring. Can’t imagine what it would be like over something really controversial. lol

  11. kerry says:

    i love the idea that personal finance makes us better citizens!!!

  12. cv says:

    Are you a Julia Child fan? One of the things that endeared her to people was that she didn’t seem perfect in the kitchen – there was the famous episode where she dropped a chicken on the floor and picked up and continued to prepare it, but that’s certainly not the only example.

    Which is to say that I really respect your desire to maintain your family’s privacy, but glossing over the little failures that occurred along the way in some of your posts may not be the best way to inspire your readers. They might be intimidated by the example of perfection that you sometimes present, instead of inspired by what you’ve been able to achieve while dealing with all the little trials and tribulations of family life.

  13. chacha1 says:

    Trent, I agree that adding some backstory from time to time would give you writing more depth in general. I found it charming that you were sufficiently bold as to identify yourself to the coffee-shop lady, and usually “charming” is not the word that comes to mind. … Backstory will also help remind people that what they read here is not your whole life.

    Re: politics, thank you for not getting into it.

    The way to be an informed citizen is to read actual information (history, statistics, government publications, law), not to “discuss the issues” with random people who may not have any actual information at their disposal.

    Most people select only material that is consistent with their own views. Thus they only ever get one side of a story and it is ALWAYS biased and incomplete. That’s no way to be an informed citizen.

  14. bacall says:

    Loved hearing about your “failures”! I too, think it would be great if you could share some of your stories (provided the parties involved are ok with you doing so). Flawed people are so much more interesting and real to me. Plus, with all the negativity from various media sources, humor is a welcome escape.

  15. jgonzales says:

    I’m another who is all for hearing the setbacks sometimes. I love hearing about the fact that other people make the same mistakes I do and that I’m not the only one who sometimes throws their hands up when it comes to working at home with small children!

  16. Todd says:

    From what I see you rail about politics plenty enough.

  17. J. O. says:

    Now we know!

    A highly entertaining post.

    Thank you a million times for staying away from political commentary …

  18. Brent says:

    I have a suggestion, sure failures don’t make for much more than entertainment all the time. But some times as we look back on the positive or poor ways we deal with the consequences we can learn things about ourselves, each other, and money.

    When the bottle of wine shatters what are your first thoughts? have any tricks for finding small shard of glass? Did you end up having wine at all that night? What is the best way to plan a picnic with with a child meltdown?

  19. Clare says:

    I really enjoyed this post, and agree with other commenters that hearing about your mishaps and missteps make you seem more relatable.

  20. JJ says:

    Trent, the first part of this post was so awesome and helpful. I have thought the same a few times and considered emailing you about it — you write very well, and your ideas are very good, and you’re clearly smart, and as a devoted reader I sometimes feel like a complete financial failure compared with you! I agree with other commenters — failure stories are funny and relatable and help remind us that you’re just a normal, fallible person too. Hearing those stories a couple times a month would be really nice.

    And yeah, I don’t think anyone comes here for politics.

  21. Andrea says:

    If you browse the various frugality websites, in most cases you’ll see they suffer from the same flaw. The tips are written in a generic, impersonal and dry way. Writing about how strategies are applied in real life examples, breathes life into the subject matter. Trent likely has a limited number of stories he can draw from his own life, as each of us does. I like reading real stories about how people apply frugality. Sometimes Trent’s articles are the springboard to reader comments… what we add with comments, and our own stories, fleshes it the concepts.
    And yes, it is important to write about our blunders too. We’re all still learning to do it better. Hey, this is a good article idea: what frugality blunders have we done recently.
    My frugality blunder: I’m trying to find the right color floor paint for a floor that is in rough shape and must be painted. I have bought two colors (two gallons) so far and neither is right. I just realized (duh)that paint stores sell sample cans… will mix a small can for $3. I feel like I should have known this, but I didn’t.

  22. Shane says:

    You are absolutely right, whenever I get into a political discussion (and I try to avoid it), I feel like it was more or less a waste of time. It would be much more beneficial to discuss strategies for living our day to day lives and attempt to help each other. Especially when it comes to saving money and managing it. People get so uptight when it comes to money, but they will talk your ear off about politics.

  23. rosa rugosa says:

    Trent, I’ll definitely agree that I thought this was a great post! Telling us about the champagne cork incident makes you more endearing, accessible, and makes us listen more closely to the rest of what you have to say! You don’t have to devote entire posts to life’s mishaps, but interjecting them could be the best thing ever. I supervise 14 people at work, and I’m always telling them about my screw-ups. I’ve wondered on occasion if this makes my employees worry that they are being managed by a screw-up, but this doesn’t seem to be the case, and I’m considered to be very successful in my role. My rationale is that if they have a blunder, they will be comfortable coming to me, because I will laugh with them and help to fix it, rather than chastising them.
    I also found that you hit the nail right on the head with your remarks on railing about politics vs. keeping your own house in order. I’ve noticed that often my husband will be ranting about the federal deficit or illegal immigration, while I’m thinking about whether the drugstore coupon game can really save us money, or if I save $20. per week of my allowance, I can afford to do XXX. (We have an extremely happy long-term marriage, but nobody ever talks about the importance of knowing when NOT to listen). I think this type of focus makes me happier, because I’m thinking about things within my realm of control, which is enpowering. My husband often appears angry and frustrated during these tirades, so his focus does not seem to be making him happy. So while I won’t belittle the importance of focusing on the BIG issues, I feel that for most of us on a daily basis, it is more useful to spend more of our time focused on issues that we can actually do something about.

  24. Brendan says:

    I agree that this is not the place to discuss politics, and that the best way to make the world a better place is to make *yourself* a better person, and then help those around you.

    I wonder though: It often seems that a bit of mismanaged politics and a few external factors can leave people in extremely poor financial situations. The most immediate example is in the Gulf of Mexico, where many fishermen may be unable to work for months or years due to the oil spill. I can also think of Hurricane Katrina–I recently read that some individuals are *still* living in their post-Katrina emergency shelters, partially due to economic hardship.

    For me, I guess that frugality and being aware of the bigger picture–political or otherwise–go hand-in-hand. While I don’t think a blog such as this one should talk about politics, I think it is an important consideration when trying to mitigate all kinds of financial risks.

  25. marta says:

    I also agree that writing about such mishaps would make you waaay more relatable to your readers. Not in a “Ha ha, how dumb this guy is?!” way, but rather in a “Nobody is perfect, let’s laugh at ourselves” way.

    I’ve said before that the preachy tone can be a huge turn off — this doesn’t happen with the first part of this post, and there’s a reason for that.

    Re: politics, since your readership seems to be all over the place politically, I am not sure either this would be a good forum to discuss them — it’s just impossible to reason with some people, and tempers can run high. True, if everyone worried about improving themselves, the world would be a bit better. But the world would be for the worse if nobody said anything about political issues, including protests against something the government is (or is not) doing. If we waited till elections to speak our mind, a lot of damage would be done already.

  26. Stephan F- says:

    For the most part, things are going to continue as normal for most people as you will fall into one of the many protected classes or just be one of the masses.

    However, if you fall into one of the targeted, scape-goat classes your screwed, and have a good chance at being killed by the government.

    Who do you think is being targeted this time around?

    What class are you in? If you are in a targeted class how do you survive? If you aren’t what can you do for those who are?

  27. Adrienne says:

    Trent – I would encorage you to add more of your “challenges” into your posts. Not only do they make you more relatable but they are more encouraging to others. I’m much more likely to try to follow somone who owns up to the stumbles along the way.

  28. Trev says:

    Insightful post!

    Thanks for what you do, Trent.

  29. Jamie says:

    Cool post.

    On the including-funny-stories note, I think I would be MORE interested, not less, if you were to include more of those. For what that’s worth!

  30. Great closing remarks. If everyone spent more time fixing the finances of their own lives rather than bitching about the government not fixing theirs, we’d all be much better off.

  31. Dena says:

    Trent I love the occasional personal pieces in blogs.Too many personal finance blogs are far from personal.Some are even dry…just the facts.It’s so easy to lose yourself in just the facts.I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now.And you are one of my favorites.(tip) I’ve only got three :-)
    And the Count…he is a vampire,isn’t he? Keep up the great work Trent…..Dena

  32. Charles Cohn says:

    Your comments about dealing with your kids’ moods are very useful input for someone who is not sure whether or not they want kids. There wouldn’t be so much child abuse if people gave thought as to whether or not they really wanted kids before just going ahead and having them.

    I have always known that I didn’t want kids. Acting on that realization has given me a smooth life.

  33. james says:

    I want to thank you for sharing this encounter. it is exceptionally poignant, honest and true.

  34. littlepitcher says:

    Please don’t refer to these experiences as failures. They are, actually, successes in humor, another popular field for bloggers.

    Turning such experiences into humor is frugality in coping mechanisms–far cheaper than drugs, alcohol, tobacco, bail bonds for family violence…

  35. Teresa says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for being positive today! I needed it. I am not trying to hide my head in the sand about this economy but “seldom is heard an encouraging word” these days it seems. Keep it up and I love reading your posts! I would love to write everyday. I have a passion to write more devotional thoughts. Hopefully, someday I can get up everyday and write for a living too!

  36. Jenna says:

    I think this is one of my favorite posts so far, thanks!

  37. sillygirl says:

    Your writing about “fear of the future” is the important item to me. I think since 9/11 this has increased even more. It’s easy to absorb this feeling and I was doing that and wearing myself down. Then I thought about other times in history and this is nothing new – we have been fearful probably from the time we started thinking – what did people feel when there was the threat of [enter name of any group here] invading. If that’s true we might as well give it up and start living life joyfully – worrying won’t change things. We have gone overboard on the negative – I’m going to encourage the positive in my mind.

  38. Sarah says:

    Let me add another vote for a greater number of personal anecdotes that show the less-perfect side of life! Slip-ups happen. They’re real, sharing them makes you more relatable to your readers, and you can discuss them in a way that won’t embarrass your family.

  39. annk says:

    At some point in 2015-1017, publicly held debt will exceed GDP. The sun will still come up every morning, but what you see our your window will be terrifying.

  40. MelodyO says:

    Thank you Trent for one of my favourite posts of yours! The stories of your funny mishaps may not be helpful per se in teaching us finances, but it sure does brighten our day, so don’t be afraid to share them.

    I saw an interview with Will Smith, who said that he worries about his money just as much as he did fifteen years ago. So do I, even though my DH and I are in a very solid financial position. It’s always the “what ifs” that make us scared, and you are so right that it’s important to look at the positives each and every day. What if we lost all our money? We’d still have our family, we’d find a way to move on together, and that’s all that really matters.

  41. BirdDog says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Trent. I appreciate the time and effort you put into your work. I’ve really been thinking about how I support things and people in my life that are available at no cost to me. Anything that a twice a day reader could do to help you out?

  42. Cristina says:

    Trent, I agree with everyone who said that writing about your occasional stumbles and how you dealt with them would actually make people relate to you more easily. It amazes me that you have time to do everything you do AND write about it. It would encourage me to know that not all your endeavors go as smoothly as you make them sound in an article.

    I also don’t think you should write about politics. That’s not to say people should never discuss politics, but I don’t think your readers come here for political commentary. The way I see your blog, it teaches us about how to make the best of our current situation.

  43. Helena says:

    1. Stumbling along the way helps for us failing and getting back up people to keep doing it again. I learned to cook through countless burnt offerings to my children. It makes you more real!
    2. I don’t watch the news for that very reason. I take time to read some so as to not be completely ignorant.
    3. If there is a criss in each persons future from any source it will be easer to handle if your own house is in order.

  44. KC says:

    If you dove into political discussions I would stop reading this blog. The people who are loudest and most angry are always in command even if they are the minority. And the most negative people (trolls) always surface in political discussions. Like you said – the single biggest influence you can make on your life is to get your own house in order. Regardless of which party is in power, who the pres is, etc – take care of your own house and you will make the most positive change in your life.

  45. sylrayj says:

    “It’s a lot easier to sell the negative than it is to sell the positive.” You’ve commented before that in general, what you buy is what is provided. If we keep buying the negative, if it keeps producing the high ratings, we’ll get to see more death and destruction and drama. Not giving money to the fear-sellers isn’t enough, as you said; we need to be buying the positive news. Not so sure where to go for that, unfortunately, although my local paper does cover when the teens do a great fund raising job or when passersby perform CPR on a lawn maintenance worker who’d suffered a heart attack. We need more of that.

  46. Hannah says:

    Trent, your posts lately (since your son was born) have seemed more inspired. I have had a newfound enjoyment of this blog. Keep up the great writing!

  47. David says:

    “All politics is local.”–Tip O’Neill

    I’m with Trent. If every one of us took care of him/herself, and reached out to help their neighbor on the left and their neighbor on their right…I think very few problems would remain.

  48. FinanceFreak says:

    Great post. Want to echo the appreciation conveyed by others for keeping politics out of this great blog.

  49. Rachel says:

    Loved the descriptions of the trainwreck situations. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to mention these all the time, but do agree that it makes you more down-to-earth to hear them once in a while. It takes away one of the excuses – I can’t say “it’s all very well for Trent to do X, his children behave perfectly and he never makes mistakes/has accidents”.

    And it doesn’t take away from the frugal message of the blog either – if statistically you’re going to have to take a cork in the eye and smash a bottle of bubbly on your toe at some time, it might as well be a good value bottle to begin with, no sense wasting the more pricey stuff..

  50. Kristin says:

    I loved this post too! Thank you for reminding us that you are human! I’ve been trying to break the 24 hour news and fear cycle, and I’m surprised how difficult it is. I’d be so much happier focusing on my family and my economy. You’re right- when my house is in order, I’ll have so much more to give to others.

  51. JB says:

    Agree that revealing little personal anecdotes like you did in this article is great!

  52. Jessica says:

    I never read or listen to American news… I don’t like being sold the latest sensational fears on the market. Instead, I read world news from BBC, and my local news (because that’s important to me, despite most of it being terrible). I also have my regular feeds of good news – Gimundo, Good News Network, Great News Network, and HappyNews. And for news with a funny edge, I read Fark. :)

  53. Pat Chiappa says:

    Regarding smooth:
    Sometimes folks think that your (my) life is so ‘easy’ and that we are ‘lucky’. I too tend to look at the bright side of life, relishing what I have, being grateful and happy for my good fortune. Every once in a while I’ll relate a funny story about the ‘blooper’ that happened behind the scenes of my outwardly golden life – but mostly, I skip the drama – I’d rather have my interactions be positive. I also don’t want to feel responsible for entertaining others with my mishaps – although I have considered a comic strip…

    Regarding easy:
    And creating the life you desire comes with many sacrifices. If you want to be financially secure, you take the steps to get there which often include serious actions like saving, doing without, knowing when enough is enough and planning smart. It’s hard work and often hard choices, but well worth the effort. So if it looks easy – take a closer look.

    Regarding politcal ranting:
    My husband is a political junkie which is difficult for me, because, well, I live with him and am exposed to some of the sounds and sights of current events. My humble opinion has always been that unless you are going to take action on a particular political crisis or event – don’t bother kvetching about it.

    Building your own stable life so that others don’t have to prop you up – well said Trent.

    Thanks for another enjoyable post.

  54. MichaelT says:

    I’m grateful that you don’t discuss political issues on your blog. I often find your writing to be inspiring (and calming). For me, reading political opinions, and the ensuing debate, would not be enjoyable.

  55. Georgia says:

    #40 Jessica – Thanks for the suggestions. I might try one or two.

    I also enjoyed the post. I also never read one without reading all the comments. I love to hear what people think – good or bad. (Johanna – I love you. I rarely agree with you completely, but I love when people think through what they want to say, and do it.)

    And, Trent, this proves that finance does not have to be boring or stringent, when you tell of some of your mishaps. We might follow through and tell you some of ours.

  56. Melissa says:

    I’m really intrigued to know what you thought the Count actually was.

  57. oregonsun says:

    Thanks for the good article. Especially thank you for not delving into political issues. There are plenty of places to get into that issue.

  58. Julia says:

    I loved this post. Like Melissa, I am also curious to know what you thought the Count was. :)
    And like Adam, I wouldn’t mind a post every now and again on the failures. In addition, I do think it would be helpful. I was incredibly discouraged the other day when a series of little frustrations seemed to conspire to keep me from getting anything done. In times like these, it would be great to be reminded that I can laugh at myself.
    Finally, your thought that we must keep our own houses in order is one that I agree with wholeheartedly but had forgotten lately. I feel like over the last few months, as I’ve strayed from that value and worried more about outside factors, life has gotten more difficult. Looking back, nothing actually changed except for where I directed my energies. Thanks for the reminder!

  59. KimC says:

    I love meeting “fans” like that! I’m sure it happens to you far more often than to me since your feed subscribers are over 80k, but I did run into a reader once in a coffee shop 3 hours from my home, and many other times in less random places.
    Comments are nice, but there’s nothing in the world like real-life feedback!

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