Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hamvention Musings -- or, Why the hell is it held in Dayton?

For the past five years, I have been an annual attendee of the Dayton Hamvention, the largest ham radio convention in the world. Hamvention is held at the Hara Arena in Trotwood, Ohio, just north of Dayton, and is sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association. This year marked the 57th Hamvention, and although attendance was nowhere near the record this year (33,669 in 1993), the initial estimates by DARA show that this year was the best out of the last five years.

Many hams and non-hams alike ask me a number of questions about this convention. Most common is, "Why Dayton?" This simple question begs a simple answer, but the asker of the question obviously means to imply that Dayton isn't really the best place to have a convention. Specifically, those who know will imply that the Hara Arena isn't really the best place to have a convention.

Well, firstly, having the Hamvention in Dayton is a tradition and has been for 56 years. But, most importantly, the Dayton Amateur Radio Association is located, in, well, Dayton. All of the talent lives in or around the city. That talent is significant, considering that DARA's Hamvention crew are all volunteers. It would make little sense to hold the Hamvention in, say, Vegas, or Houston, simply because of logistics and expense. It would make little sense to "sell" the rights to Hamvention to another sponsoring radio club, because, as radio clubs go, it truly is hard to find the dedication and the stick-to-it-ism that DARA has repeatedly shown. Now I am not saying that it is hard to find a dedicated radio club. There are many that are dedicated to serving their local city or county with emergency communications, many of these clubs are non-profit and 501(c)3 charities that write and receive grants and do great things, many sponsor really nice hamfests… but let's be honest here. Just show me one other ham radio club in the entire world that could pull off a convention of the same magnitude as the Hamvention. I'll get more into that later.


Now why in the world would you want to hold a convention at the Hara Arena? In and of itself, the arena is, in fact, a dump. I will concede that fact. Many (including myself) have pointed out that the Arena is dirty and dingy. The blacktop in the parking lot where the flea market is held hasn't seen a steamroller or a fresh coat of tar in probably ten or fifteen years. The indoor bathrooms are insufficient (well, to be honest, the majority of the attendees are men so the women's restrooms are underused and, some years, I have seen women's rooms used as men's rooms for the convention). The plumbing fixtures are old, cracked, and leaky. Outdoors, they do have a number of convenient port-o-potties that are pumped out a few times a day. If the arena is this bad, why have the Hamvention there? Well, where else are you going to have it? In the last paragraph, we talked about why it is held in Dayton. Where in the greater Dayton area could the Hamvention fit? Think not only indoor space, which would need to be substantial, but outdoor flea market space as well? And, since the flea market takes up a ton of parking spaces in the Hara parking lot, the alternate facility would need to not only have room enough for the flea market, but for actual event parking as well. The Hamvention has no parking spaces at the Arena for attendees (other than a number of ADA parking spaces). There is free parking at a nearby closed-down mall with shuttle service for $3 a day or $8 for the weekend. Many businesses and landowners within walking distance make a ton of cash by selling convenient parking spots for about $8 a day or $20 for the weekend. If an alternate site were to be chosen, flea market space and the availability of enough reasonably-priced parking would be a big priority. This precludes most downtown convention centers and large hotels, which would probably be much too expensive for the Hamvention to use anyway. University sports facilities would certainly be an option but, again, they would probably be too expensive.

So, although the Hara Arena is a dump, it is probably the best place for DARA to hold the event, at least for now. I hear a number of complaints about it and a number of people that I have spoken to simply won't attend because of the condition of the place. To them, I will be blunt: Stop complaining. It's once a year, and you go for the love of your hobby, not to admire a building. If you are that picky of a person, then Hamvention is not for you. Stop going and stop complaining. But if you love ham radio, or even technology in general, then by all means, you will have a good time if you stop focusing on the negatives. Unless, perhaps, you own a piece of property within, say, an hour of Dayton, that could easily host the Hamvention, and you are willing to make the cost reasonable to the Dayton Amateur Radio Association. Then you can complain about the building.

On the other hand, the Hara can't last forever. The Hara will probably go further downhill in the next ten years, and it may actually get to the point where it is no longer a reasonable place to hold the Hamvention. Hell, it may even fall down. It will almost certainly not get better, unless the economy turns around hard and fast in Ohio, and perhaps if Dayton get a good professional sports team and they fix up the arena (unlikely). I am almost certain that the good folks at DARA are aware of this and are planning for the inevitable. The K9ZW blog ( likes to talk about the subject of moving and, although there is a lot of complaining about the Hara and Dayton in general in his articles, they and the comments are a good read. I like the idea that one of the commenters (WS4E) has about moving to Louisville, about two hours away from Dayton, but again this would pose considerable logistical and financial difficulties for the all-volunteer committee.


Why must hams be so negative and talk about how the attendance has gone down from the peak in 1993? Isn't it enough that 2009 apparantly had the best numbers of the past five years in terms of attendance and vendor participation? Isn't it enough that this year is seeing the worst economy in quite a while and yet the numbers are up this year? I was, in fact, shocked at the crowds this year. I thought there would be a substantially poor showing this year. In 2008 the numbers were down, probably due to $3.75/gallon gas prices, but, except for the flea market vendors that perhaps stopped bringing the "junque" that hasn't sold for 20 years, the numbers weren't that far off. We go for the love of ham radio. We suck it up and save up for the gas or the plane trip and buy our Hamvention ticket in advance anyway. And we line up at the ATM and spend money and buy things, big radios and little parts and components for our small projects that we may get to finishing before next year. We still pack the hotels and campgrounds, maybe not 75 miles out like in the 90s, but it's still hard to find a room.

The trick to putting on a show like this is to make it worth attending. To tell the truth, I like attending just to be able to see my old ham radio friends from the cities I have lived in in the past. I also like to attend a few forums. Everybody has a reason to attend. 20,000 people is an impressive number of people to gather for any hobby convention, much less many professional conventions. I had fun and I will go next year. Everybody I know who attended this year has commented on what a good year it was and how much fun they had (except, perhaps, for you Kevin, but you never have fun at anything). If I had fun, and everybody I know had fun, it was a success.


I want to take this paragraph and commend the Dayton Amateur Radio Association for their fine job making it possible for 20,000 people to come and have a good time. "Have a good time" is a vague description of their success, I admit. But there are so many facets of our hobby that to make the majority of us happy is a tremendous feat. These people are all volunteers. They work well as a team, they divide up the work and get the job done. Hell, I was the president of a radio club once, and we had a hard enough time planning where we would go eat after the meetings. This group comes together better than any other group I have ever seen. Sure they have some growing pains now and then, but remember -- these people are not professional convention organizers. They have "real" jobs, and families, and each of them commits a significant amount of time and energy to the Hamvention. They make it work -- every year. And when something goes wrong, remember, they are our brothers and sisters in Amateur Radio. We still owe them our support and thanks. They may be "amateurs" but they are probably some of the most "professional amateurs" out there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to Traffic School

(Cross-posted to my other blog at

This past Saturday, Kellie and I went to take "Defensive Driving School" -- referred to lovingly in Texas as "Traffic School." I took it to get out of my photo-radar ticket in Arizona. Kellie took it with me because we will get an 8% insurance discount. For $39.95 each, it's a pretty good deal. The outfit that teaches the class is called "Comedy Guys Defensive Driving" and--just like the name implies--the classes are taught by professional comedians. They have classes all over the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Ours was held at the Spaghetti Warehouse up on US-75 in Plano, and Comedy Guys even bought lunch (and the menu choices presented a good variety too!). We plan on someday visiting the restaurant just for the food!

Texas has this racket where you can get out of one traffic violation per year by sitting through this class. And, Arizona has the same racket where you can get out of one ticket every two years. I was able to work it out where I could take the Texas class, transfer the certificate to Arizona (you need to do this in coordination with an Arizona traffic school) and I would still be able to take the class again next week if I get a ticket in Texas. Not that I plan to, mind you, but I was able to reserve that right. My total cost was about $1 less than had I actually paid the fine to Arizona (the fine would have been $171, the defensive driving class was $37 {I had a coupon} and the fee that I needed to pay the Arizona driving school to transfer the certificate {I'm sure the state of Arizona gets their cut of this as well} was $133, bringing my total out-of-pocket to $170). But I got out of the two points that would have appeared on my Texas driving record. I don't think those two points would have hurt me much (I haven't had a ticket in 13 years, knock-on-wood) but it was easy enough to make it go away. I wish they had had this plan in Michigan because my wife has had a couple of tickets over the years up there.

So, as far as rackets go, this is one I just can't complain about! Of course, the whole purpose of all of this is to give people an option where the state can still take a little bit of a fee, but the people who want to fight it won't clog up the court system, and the people who otherwise wouldn't do anything about it (or, those people in Arizona who get a photo ticket in the mail and try to wait out the process server) have a palatable option to pay it and get it over with. The defendants are happy, the driving schools are happy, and the state is happy. Everybody's happy!

Anyway, here is my review of the class:

We saw a number of safety videos that were produced by the Michigan State Police for the AAA foundation in the 70s and 80s. The first video was called "The Final Factor" and it outlines the fifteen or twenty factors that can lead to accidents. Being as it was filmed in the mid-70s, they go over important safety guidelines as avoiding changing out your 8-track cassette (factor 1) whilst driving while drowsy (factor 2) in the snow with your baby fussing in her car-seat (factor 3) mounted in the front passenger seat while some dumbass kid rides out into the middle of the street on a bicycle (The Final Factor). Can you imagine if they had cellphones back then?

There was another video about organ donation. Don't get me wrong, organ donation is important, and when I kick the bucket, any of you can have anything that still works. But the only real connection to a driving class is that there may be an organ donation sticker on your drivers license.

The teacher spent about 20 minutes detailing the speed traps in the DFW area. My wife was furiously writing these down as she drives all over the area for work.

Then came a very easy 25 question test at the end. All in all, the whole experience was not too painful, except for my bladder, I managed to drink about a gallon of iced tea that day.

So, although I am happy that the state of Arizona has let me drop this whole thing from my record, I am still less than pleased with their methods of enforcement (Robo-Cop cameras, and portable speed-radar Talivans). One question now remains: Since my ticket has gone away, does it count? Can I keep adding to my 13 year record of no tickets (or, at least no convictions)?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let's not be sore losers today.

I woke up this morning exhausted.

It's the day after the November election and it seems that the past two years of campaigning has taken it's toll on me. I'm not so tired from staying up late last night watching the returns. I'm tired of the division in this country that sometimes takes on an edge of hatred. I'm tired of watching the infighting in the Democratic party. I am sick and tired of the attacks back and forth -- including the unfounded rumours about Obama's faith. And it's over. We true Conservatives lost the battle. And it seems like it was a very bloody one.

53 percent of American votors disagreed with my choice for president. And I'm strangely OK with that. Even though we face at least another two years of a Democrat party agenda. We lost. We punted the ball and now it's our opponent's turn to run it back. The Republican party really hasn't done much to impress me for the last 8 years. So now it's time to sit back, and instead of judging the opponent, it's now time to judge the issues. The opponent is now our leader. We must allow him to lead. He is our president and he must successful at being our president. That does not mean that he must be successful at introducing socialism, or gun control, or advancing a liberal agenda. He must simply be successful at holding this country together. We may not like his methods, and we will need to be on him every time he does something that goes against the fiber of how this country was designed.

This morning, on the way to work, I felt a strange sense of pride. I was proud for America that we were able to elect a black man as our leader without having race riots. And I pray for his safety for the next four years. I pray that his policies don't ruin our country. I pray that, until the next congressional election in two years, that the damage is minimal. And I pray that Obama wasn't elected simply as a novelty, because novelty will soon wear off. We elected a man -- not a black man. But more important, we elected an American, not an African-American.

So tonight, I will raise my glass to Obama. I will wish him well. He will be my President. I will not be a sore loser like many on the other side were four and eight years ago, and I hope and pray that most conservatives will take the loss in stride, look to our new President, support him as a leader, and speak up when he does something that we don't agree with. If the Democrats try to put in a too-liberal Supreme Court justice, we need to speak up. If Obama and Pelosi try to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, we need to shout from the mountain tops and derail that abomination just like we derailed the amnesty bill and the way we derailed (at least the first time) the big bailout. And when their policies affect our livelihood, our success as a nation, or border on tyranny (like trying to take our guns), we need to respond with torches and pitchforks. True conservatives are the minority now. The marches on Washington worked for minorities in the past, and now it's our turn. But now is NOT the time to be a sore loser. I guarantee you, if we act the way that our opponents did when George W. Bush beat Al Gore, our credibility will be shot. And we will need that credibility later.

So for now, Obama says that he plans on trying to help us heal our wounds. Frankly, I hope that he finds a way -- I am tired of being a divided nation. We need to come together again -- but at the same time, we cannot abandon our conservative principles. I don't know the best way to do that, and I bet that you don't either. That's what God is for. So don't panic -- just pray daily for America and our leaders, and ourselves.

The past two elections, we got lucky -- very lucky. Just think, we could have had a President Gore, or a President Kerry. Just think where we would be today. But our luck ran out yesterday. Even more so, the Republicans have just failed to deliver. Common sense could have prevented what happened yesterday. Americans are mostly conservative -- socially anyway. But many of those Americans are so used to be spoon-fed that they have forgotten that they need to vote based on. And many of our Republican leaders have forgotten how to talk to us. I sure hope that campaigning for 2012 doesn't start next week. Instead of fighting amongst ourselves the way that the Democrats did, lets take some time and figure out how to get back to our conservative roots. Then, when the time comes, lets provide simple answers to our problems. Like immigration. Didn't we learn our lesson about "comprehensive" immigration reform? Lets just cut the red tape and build a fence. Large government? Lets just say that we will start cutting large chunks of that out. Quit dancing around the issues, just make some promises and then DO them.

So tonight I will offer this toast to our new President Elect: "Congratulations, Barack. I'll be praying for you. Don't screw this up!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bill's Hotel Complaints

Even when I stay in a pretty decent hotel, I inevitably run into those little issues that will momentarily pi$$ me off. Among them:

10. Maids that turn off my air conditioner during the day. Nothing pi$$es me off more than, at the end of a long day working and sweating, coming back to a hotel room that has had the air conditioner shut off all day. With the curtains open. What I pay for one night in a hotel room more than pays for that room's electricity in one month. Leave the damn air conditioner on.

9. On a related note, air conditioners that are set to cycle the fan instead of leaving it on. OK, this can usually be remedied by removing the cover to the unit and flipping a switch. Sometimes it requires a little re-wiring. But I have slept with a fan on every night for the past 25 years of my life. I ain't stopping now.

8. Staff that does not speak English. Seriously. Hotel management, listen up. If you choose to hire immigrants (legal or otherwise), at lease ensure that they understand basic greetings in English. I'm tired of maids and other housekeeping staff giving me a blank stare when I say something complicated to them in English -- like "Good Morning."

7. TVs that revert to the hotel information channel every time you turn them on. The old Lodgenet systems are notorious for this. When I turn on the tube, I want the last station that it was tuned to before I last turned it off. I don't want to hear "Thank you for choosing the Holiday Inn Los Angeles. We hope that you enjoy your stay with us. Gracias por elegir el Holiday Inn Los Angeles. Esperamos que usted disfrute de su estancia con nosotros."

6. TV's and clock radios that mysteriously talk in Spanish when you turn them on. When you are lucky enough to have a hotel TV that will remember the last station it was tuned to, the maid will inevitably tune it to Univision or Telemundo while she cleans your room. And she will leave it there. Or, she will change your clock radio to the local Salsa station. You will usually discover this when the alarm goes off the next morning.

5. Your shampoo disappears. Whether you use the hotel-provided shampoo or bring your own little shampoo that you stole from another hotel, you will inevitably reach for it while showering -- and it won't be there. Whether or not there was any shampoo left in the bottle after you last showered, there is a 87% chance the maid will simply throw it away. Sure, she will usually leave you another bottle. But it is usually placed by the sink. The sink is usually out of reach from the shower. This may also happen if you use the free hotel-provided bar of bath soap. Luckily, it has never happened to my self-provided bar of Irish Spring,

4. Your bar of soap at the sink disappears. You know the drill. You check in. You poop. You wash your hands. While your hands are wet, you realize that the soap is still in the wrapping. No problem. You dry your hands and open the soap. Next day, you come in dirty from work. You wash your hands. You reach for the barely-used bar of soap you opened yesterday. But where is it? You look behind the faucet. You look behind the box of Kleenex. Nothing. Then you realize that the Soap Fairy must have visted and forgotten to leave a quarter behind. But she did leave a fresh bar of soap. You swear under your breath. You dry your hands. You open the soap. You wash your hands. The next day...

(other bathroom-related complaints include the fact that many maids will close the stoppers on the sink and tub drains... and you don't notice until the sink or tub is half full of water)

3. Your fridge isn't plugged in. Usually, on my way from the airport, I stop and pick up a couple of bottles of water because rarely have I run into a hotel that has tap water that tastes good. Then I check in and walk into my room and open the fridge to put my water in and notice that the fridge is warmer than the room that didn't have the air conditioner on and waiting for me (see above).

2. The maid forgets to leave the free pen if it is missing. Seriously, aren't pens like 10¢ in bulk? If I take the pen to work with me, and leave it at work, then just leave me another one so I can do the same the next day. (OK I am lying here. I steal the pens. I have a few hundred hotel pens rolling around my home. My wife and I haven't needed to buy pens in like 10 years.)

And the Number One thing I hate about hotels:
1. The hoards of people grazing the free continental breakfast. Now, part of this is the fault of the hotel -- namely, not realizing that nearly one hundred people will try to crowd into a tiny room with twenty chairs. Some of these people will be milk-spilling cereal-crunching screaming children running around underfoot and touching every exposed food item on display. Some of these will be big fatty fat people blocking your way to the orange juice dispenser. Or the person making six waffles, one at a time, for his entire family. Or the a$$hole that leaves his garbage on the table when the trash can is right next to it. Speaking of trash cans, the opening to the can is usually too small for the garbage that you want to put in it, and the flap is usually dripping with milk and juice. Seriously, though, the continental breakfast is a big free-for-all, and 90% of the people in that room have no manners at all.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Who "needs" an iPhone?

OK. The iPhone is cool. I'll admit it.

What I don't understand is why people seem to think that they "need" one.

I was at the big mall at King of Prussia, PA a couple of weeks ago when the new iPhone came out. They have an Apple store there. And outside the Apple store, past two or three more storefronts, behind a roped line, were people. Lots of them. Waiting to pay full introductory price for an iPhone.

Remember those pictures of people waiting in line for toilet paper in the bad ol' days of the USSR?

I betcha that two-thirds of those people waiting to plunk down their credit cards were already up to their eyeballs in debt. I bet a good number of them had to cancel their existing cellphone contract (and pay the ETF) to switch to AT&T. I bet a decent chunk of them are gadget freaks that just like to buy the latest toys.

I like gadgets. I have a fair number of them. Laptop (provided by the company), Blackberry (ditto), Palm Pilot (which I don't use so much since I got the blackberry), some ham radio equipment, a Slingbox, an XM Radio in the truck, hell, every light switch I have in my home could be considered a gadget, since I can control them all online.

But I don't need any of them. But yet I do. I spent two-thirds of my life without a cellphone. I grew up without cable or internet (which I now spend $160 a month on combined). Hell, I was in my early teens when my parents bought a microwave and a VCR. I was 16 when my dad bought us a computer (a Packard Bell 386, 16 MHz of blazing speed, and a 40 MB hard drive (to you teenagers out there used to Gigabytes, the MB stands for Megabyte. One MB = 1/1000 of a GB.) My computer at home is about 1300 times as fast, and has almost 600 GB of hard drive space. That is almost 15 thousand times more storage than I had back then. I remember having to actually delete files to gain hard drive space (imagine that). I have an additional 300 GB on a networked hard drive as well. And I actually had to just check my computer to find out how big my hard drives are. I honestly didn't know, and I had that computer for over a year now. Back in my teens, that 40 MB number, and how much space I had left after installing Leisure Suit Larry and a pirated copy of AutoCAD 10 that I brought home one floppy disk at a time from my high school (sorry AutoDesk, the statute of limitations is up on that one).

Our definition of the word need sure has changed, hasn't it? I mean, I now need a cellphone. I now need high speed internet. I now need cable TV. But do you truly need those when you can't afford your basic needs like food, shelter, and transportation? Or, even worse, when you bought too much house, too expensive of a car, and go out to eat every night and put it on your credit card?

My wife and I are blessed that we can afford what we have with no debt other than a mortgage that we can afford. And that we can afford the good things like cellphones, cable TV, internet, and decent cars. But we never lose sight of the basic needs, and we make sure that, if the worst happened, we could meet the basic needs.

I don't know how the hell this post got so long. I was just going to talk about the sheep waiting in line for an iPhone. Which I don't need.

Because, I don't buy anything because of the hype. I buy things because I need them.

However I end up defining need at the time.

Goodbye, my friend

Last week my good friend and co-worker Dave Jarchow was killed in a freak accident. He was riding his recumbent bicycle on a Michigan trail and pulled out in front of a pickup truck. He died at the scene.

You could not have asked for a nicer friend and a more patient coworker. I have known him for going on 11 years and have learned much from him. I never really met his family but I share deeply in their grief.

I also pray for the young 19 year old lady who was at the wheel of the pickup truck. This accident was not her fault. Witnesses have said that she tried to avoid the accident and that there was no way to have known that he was there until it was too late. I hope that she will come to realize that these things happen. We all need to die someday and we are not in charge of when it happens, and when God decides to call one of us home, sometimes it needs to involve the use of another human being who just happens to be there at the time. I know that that is an unusual way of thinking about it. But isn't that just what a fatal accident really is?

Goodbye Dave. Rest in peace and rest assured that your presence on Earth will be a lasting one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tithing and Giving

I have been researching the area of Christian tithing for a little while now. A couple things stemmed this particular quest of knowledge:

#1) I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey, a financial talk show host who is also a Christian, he promotes the (wonderful) idea of being debt free, and recommends tithing 10% to your church or synagogue no matter what your financial situation.

#2) I recently (beginning about five years ago after we lost our son) became a churchgoer. I was born a Catholic, tired of organized religion in high school, and continued for many years as a Christian who worked directly with God and "eliminated the middleman" (church). My wife and I started attending a wonderful United Methodist church in Michigan when we needed support after losing our son. At this church, the pastor (who became one of my best friends) hated to talk about money. People gave out of a sense of need, as we did.

#3) After moving to Texas, we started going to a wonderful church here. It is a large Methodist church with lots of property and plans to build. It has fancy lighting and sound, a computer lab for it's elementary school, and big plans for the future. They are also big on the tithe (giving 10% of your take home income to the church). Although they are good about not picking on you individually, it is brought up frequently during church. They are also big on annual pledging (I am not). Anyway, when you join the church, you make a pledge in front of God and everybody, I don't have a problem with most of it but part of the pledge is "I will give ten percent of my money." I cannot pledge this. It is the only reason I still don’t feel called to join, even though I love going to that church.

So, really, that is what has me thinking about tithing right about now. Personally, I believe in giving to the church, from the heart, as you would give to any other charity. And for a while, I was thinking that all of your charitable giving should count toward your tithing, as, when the tithe was created so many, many years ago, the church was pretty much the only charity around. If I had to give 10% to the church, I would have no money left to give to other organizations that I find to be important. So, when we get to church (depending on my travel schedule and my wife's work schedule (she sometimes works on Sundays)) we write a check for $25 and feel good about it. If we made more, we would give more.

Another thing that bothers me about their "10%" rule is that this church has so many bells and whistles. Don't get me wrong, I like bells and whistles, with my A.D.D. I need bells and whistles to stay interested. They have fancy automated stage lighting that changes colors and can be aimed anywhere in the room. The seats are comfortable, and the sound system is excellent. They also have a wonderful multimedia system including three projectors and monitors in other parts of the facility. They are looking at putting in a large expensive telephone system. If I gave 10%, I would want that money to go towards the poor, to spreading God's word, and doing other churchy things. The bells and whistles are icing on the cake. Don't get me wrong, if they wanted to buy another bell or whistle, and they wanted to take a special collection, I would be happy to give. But I don't think a biblical tithe should go toward maintaining a fancy facility. Now, I would freely admit, that they would need to take tithe or giving money for general operating expenses, including phone systems, computers, and infrastructure. In this day and age, you need these types of things to run a business, non-profit or not. I call these types of expenses the "icing in the middle of the cake" -- it holds the layers together. But you really don't need the bells and whistles, the icing on the cake, to hold a church together.

As far as annual pledges, I don't participate in those because I feel it is pledging money that I don't have yet, and if the worst happened and I lost my job and we had to scale back on our giving, I would feel bad about not keeping my pledge promise. I know, I know, there are compelling reasons for churches to have pledge drives. It helps them create their budgets, for one. But I just can't pledge money I don't have yet. It's a personal problem, I know.

After saying all of that, I love to give money to charities. My wife and I are blessed with good jobs, a healthy income, an affordable mortgage, and no other debt. We save well, we budget well, and we are able to give well. Starting last year, we set goals for the end of the year to give larger one-time donations to a few charities. This year, our goals are even higher. I won't provide amounts here, but we gave large sums to St. Jude's Children's hospital, the American Radio Relay League (a national amateur radio organization that focuses on radio education and public service), and the USO, with some smaller donations to a few local radio clubs for good measure. Basically, we split the amount evenly and my wife decides how to give her half and I decide on my half. It's fun. Our goal for this year is a 50% increase over last year. (And these goals don't include the collection plate offerings at church).

Anyway, I found an interesting website today called Now, they have some interesting biblical interpretations about tithing. As with most of the biblical interpretations out there, there may have been some bias against tithing while they did their research and picked bible verses. There may be conflicting verses that they didn't quote as well. I don't know. I'm not good enough at reading and interpreting the bible (remember my A.D.D.) to really know if they know what they are talking about. But they bring up some interesting points (everything within quotes, including links, from, some links did not transfer but the asterisks did, they point to bible text):

#1) "A Biblical tithe is 10% of certain agricultural products from the land of Israel to be paid by the farmers to the Levites, who in turn tithed to the priests. Wage earners and the poor were exempt from tithing. The poor were allowed to benefit from tithes."

#2) "Israeli* animals, seeds and fruit are tithed: When your herds or flocks go out to pasture, remove every tenth animal* that passes by. If you only have 9 or less, then there is no tenth animal, hence no tithe. You tithe on cattle and sheep*. Produce of the land is tithed by calculating what is one tenth, and that is your tithe. Examples: Seed and fruit* Grain, wine and oil* Grain, wine, oil and honey* Spices* and herbs* "

#3) "Money and wages are not tithed as money is considered as unrighteous*. Other things not tithed: Unclean animals, beasts of burden, fish, birds, insects, reptiles*. The spoils of battle are not tithed."

#4) "Israelite* farmers*, gardeners* and Levites*. Wage earners did not tithe since only agricultural products were tithed. See Jesus."

#5) "Charging a fixed 10% of everyone's income is unjust because the poor can't afford it. The Bible recognized this, and granted the poor the right to receive tithes, instead of having to pay them.* It was only the land owners (farmers), and the Levites who tithed. Most countries recognize the injustice of a flat taxation rate for everyone, and charge a progressively higher income tax on the rich, and often nothing on the poor, who are sometimes sustained by the state. "
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! OK, I personally believe in a flat TAX. I think a flat TAX to the government is fair, with perhaps an exemption for poor people who simply cannot pay… but up into the middle class and higher, flat fair taxes for all! So let's not get confused. However, as it applies to charitable GIVING, I approve of this statement. One should GIVE according to their own ability.

#6) "The biblical principle of giving, is that we give whatever we feel moved to give from our hearts, without compulsion. This was stated by both Moses*, and Paul* Tithing and giving are different concepts."
Could not agree more! is an interesting website. Again, it may tweak some people off. And there may be other parts of the bible that promote monitary tithing that they did not mention. But it raises a lot of good points and I enjoyed reading it. That being said, I am going to continue my quest to learn more about tithing and it's modern day applications.