2021 in Retrospect | From Wolves

Eli playing with our dogs Scout and Blaze

The Year of the Dogs

If I could sum up the entire 2021 it is this: We got dogs, and now we’re behind on everything else (including this post, this is the most time-slipped retrospect ever).

I expected dogs would be work.

But I didn’t expect:

  1. The amount of energy a puppy must exert is like trying to dissipate the heat of an overclocked CPU.
  2. During the adoption process someone leaked our credit card info to a pet health insurance company (I am not making this up, yes, there exist pet insurance companies, if you think that sounds scamsty, it is.).
  3. The destruction of furniture, backpacks, books, bibles, shoes, and jackets.
  4. A dark ring has appeared down the entire length of our hallway about the height of Blaze’s tail. Now we need to repaint the walls. I’m thinking black would be a great color.
  5. The cost and effort of training.
  6. All the holes in our yard.
  7. Dog clutter: dog crates, dog beds, dog blankets, dog toys, dog food, dog dog (second dog for the first dog), dog treats, dog bones.
  8. Traveling cost. You can’t just leave on vacation. You have to arrange boarding, pay boarding fees, get shots, you realized you’re a week behind on one shot so now you have to drive four hours to the nearest vet that’s open, etc.
  9. Traveling hassle. If you take the dogs you have to pay an extra pet fee at the hotel. You book the hotel online because otherwise they rip you off at the counter, but the hotel computer system doesn’t realize that if you’re paying a pet fee you might have a pet (hence the pet fee). So it books you in a hypoallergic room that’s not allowed to have animals and they can’t refund the room because you booked it online (who knew?). Needless to say the hotel clerks often promote Blaze and Scout to the rank of service dogs. Good job boys.
  10. The shedding of dog hair. Any adjective I could add to the previous sentence would be an understatement. Our hardwood floors are now carpeted.

I would not wish dog ownership on my worst enemy.

That said things are improving. We got a second older dog Scout who keeps Blaze under control (actually he completely terrorizes Blaze, I’m not sure that’s a good thing). But Scout is a really good dog–he has his quirks, terrorizes other dogs, and he’s a bit stubborn but if we’d gotten Scout first I would have thought dog ownership was really easy. Scout is the type of dog that will work hard, but if you get the flu he’s fine being let out only once a day for weeks and snuggling next to you while you rest. That said Blaze is now a much better dog now that he’s over a year old. But I wouldn’t do THAT again.

Here are the three things I learned about dog ownership.

  • Dog Tip 1: Hair does not easily come off of cloth. All new furniture, luggage, flooring, car seats, will be slowly changed to hard ABS, leather, or vinyl.
  • Dog Tip 2: Never get a puppy. Get an older pre-trained dog instead of a puppy.
  • Dog Tip 3: Get Two Dogs

Enough about dogs.

Refugees

Welcome to Idaho sign

Our little town has been swarmed with refugees from California and Washington. Over the Summer not a week went by where I did not meet someone new to North Idaho. Of the people moving up many have been impacted by Covid restrictions. The newcomers are a range from small business owners who were shut down or lost all their foot traffic and could no longer afford to stay open, to retirees who just want the freedom to not be stuck in their houses with nothing to do.

House Prices

House prices chart (going up).

Housing prices have skyrocketed in Sandpoint. Well over doubled in the last two years. Kris and I were looking to move from a 3 bedroom house to a 4 bedroom to no avail. The market was already hot before Covid hit. Now we’re competing with cash-offers over asking and if you don’t get your offer in the day a listing shows up; it’s too late. If we didn’t already own a house here, there’s no way we could afford to live in Sandpoint. I wonder what the young people are going to do.

Smoking

Smoking Brisket on a grill


We bought a Pellet Grill/Smoker. The one I got is the Z Grill 10002E and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve smoked brisket, ribs, chicken, almonds, hamburgers, pies, etc. Just turn the dial to the desired temperature and an augur feeds it the right amount of pellets. Once you get it going (and sometimes that is a challenge) it’s set and forget.

Luther’s Escape

For Reformation Day, I designed my second iteration of Luther’s Escape; a Martin Luther-themed escape room where kids have to solve a series of puzzles and tasks and learn about the Reformation in the process. The kids (and some adults) had a blast doing it–and the youth did a great job running it.

Visitors

Grandma Gail and Eli

We had Grandma Gail up for a bit, Eli always has a blast when she’s up and Blaze made sure to constantly alert us that we had a visitor in the house. The main redeeming quality to Blaze is he’s a good guard dog.

My family came up to visit us, this summer. We had a great time with fellowship, games, food. We have such a variety of interests and knowledge I’m always encouraged to learn and try new things after they’ve left.

Ben's family

Television Meet Technology

We bought a television set! All this time we’ve been using an old projector against the wall. Kris and I were opposed to having a big black TV as the focal point in the living room; but the projector wasn’t ideal. Then Lyle showed me his new TV that turns into art when off. Brilliant! So we got a 55 inch Samsung Frame. When it’s off, it’s a digital photo frame and you can put any 4K resolution photo you want there. I like watercolor, sketches, and drawings of world maps. I ran the wire through the wall and the TV automatically adjusts its brightness to match the ambient light; it’s nearly indistinguishable from a painting on the wall. It’s good enough some visitors don’t realize it’s TV–and that’s the way it should be.

Samsung Frame TV

Interview of the Year

Speaking of TV. I’m going to have to award the Interview of the Year award to the Babylon Bee, doing a surprise Interview with Elon Musk:

(Trailer) Babylon Bee Interviews Elon Musk

Full version here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvGnw1sHh9M)

I did not agree with the Babylon Bee jesting about salvation near the end (but I do have to remember this was unscripted), but other than that it was a decent interview.

Adventure Club

Adventure Club Logo

And on the topic of salvation, our church started its 2nd Year of Adventure Club. A Systematic Theology for children. This is an excellent mid-week Biblical program for children to supplement Sunday School and kids who go through this will be well rounded in biblical theology–the concepts taught go deep. I’ve enjoyed teaching and learned a lot myself from the curriculum.

Where Adventure Club shines is the theology in the lessons. It is often the case that we (myself included) must have our thinking corrected by scripture. Some of the lessons contrast unbiblical ideas about God, sin, angels, demons, grace, mercy, the church, soteriology, election, etc.–I see kids asking questions and wrestling with the truth of scripture against worldly ideas they previously had such as egalitarianism–and that is not a bad thing. When you send your kids to Adventure Club they will be challenged, and the gospel is interwoven into most if not all the lessons.

If you have kids from ages 3 years old up to 6th-grade look to see if a local church is doing this.

Snow

LastPass Guide Update

Dad reading the LastPass Guide

My LastPass Guide book sales have been providing supplemental income (which I’m rolling into the next venture) and I often receive positive feedback from readers. I am surprised it’s mostly older people purchasing the book which wasn’t my target audience at all.

I acquired a block of one hundred ISBN numbers (future plans), and published a physical paperback version. I sell the book for $36 but my profit is only $3-4 per book due to the cost of color printing. Next time I publish a physical book, it will not be in color. That said, the eBook is profitable.

If I learned one lesson about publishing books it is this: color printing is expensive.

Podcasts

Bitcoin and the Bible logo

Book reading was a failure (when I did try to read my dog ate my book), but I made up for it with Podcasts since I go on lots of dog walks. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Briefing – Albert Mohler – I don’t know of anyone who has a better daily analysis of news and events. You just can’t beat Al Mohler.
  • Bitcoin and the Bible – The moral case for Bitcoin (some men at my church produce this).
  • Proverbs 18:10 Podcast– Paul Taylor’s apologetics, news, and views (also attends my church).
  • The Art of Manliness – A well-rounded introduction to a variety of topics. I can’t say I agree with most of the interviewees, but it’s a good resource to stay well rounded and learn a bit of history.

2022

Well, as I previously mentioned our furniture got eaten, so this is the year we’re planning to replace our furniture, and try to pick up from where we were before we got dogs. Maybe I can get through a book. Time will tell.

From the Bryan family, we hope you had a good Christmas, and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Ben, Kris, and Eli (and Scout and Blaze)


But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”
And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

— Matthew 15:25-28 ESV

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