– Ben Martens


Surviving Election Season

I’m less and less enamored with politics as time goes on, but it seems unavoidable as we head into presidential election season. Since I know this is a common frustrating for people, I thought I’d share some of the things I do to try and stay sane:

  • Beware of people who use name calling. They’re trying to get you on their “team” and create division. Even if you happen to agree that the other person deserves it, it’s not healthy.
  • Beware of people who try to play to your emotions to get you to agree with them. Reading a news story or watching a talk show shouldn’t be like getting riled up about sports.
  • Beware of people who speak in absolutes or hyperboles. AI isn’t going to kill us all. Their opponent getting elected won’t be the end of the world.
  • Remember that even the choice of news sources can be full of bias. Not reporting on a story can be just as bad as taking a slanted view of the topic.
  • Think about how concerned you are about telling people what you think about a politician. Imagine if you felt that strongly about sharing Jesus with them. What if for every conversation you had where you shared your political opinions, you also had one where you talked about Jesus? Which conversation is more relevant and important?
  • In a world where you want to tell everyone about Jesus, why would you alienate more than half of everyone you meet by telling them about your political opinions or even hinting at them?

Disc Golf

When I started playing disc golf towards the end of last summer, I started learning that I was right in the middle of a big surge of interest in the sport. It really spiked when COVID hit and the interest has continued. UDisc is the most popular app for tracking scores and finding courses. They have an annual report about the growth of the sport if you’re interested in stats.

It’s been a big hit in our house because it’s something that all three of us can enjoy, and it’s generally free. UDisc says that 90% of all disc golf courses are free to play. You can get a starter set of three discs for about $30 and I used my starter set for a very long time before buying some specific, fancier discs for $15-20/each.

I’m writing this post because I realized there have only be a couple blog posts that mention disc golf. Considering how much I have been playing, that feels a bit off, so I thought I’d use this post to answer some of the questions I had as I got into it:

Where do you play? There are courses at lots of local parks. UDisc says that 28% of Americans live within 2 miles of a course and 88% are within 10 miles. You can find them by going to or searching on internet maps. I’m lucky to live near a great course at Blyth Park in Bothell.

It seems intimidating. How do I not look like a moron? This is the biggest thing that held me back from playing. I regret the time I lost worrying about this. Disc golfers are generally super friendly! With so many people joining the sport, you’re probably not the only newbie out there. If you don’t know what to do, find somebody else who is playing and just ask them. Or if you look confused, someone will probably offer to help.

What do you do? When you get to the course, find the first tee. Sometimes there’s a map showing all the holes. Or if you have the UDisc app, it will show you a map of the course with your current location noted. That app is really helpful as you go from hole to hole looking for the next tee. Once you’ve found the first tee (usually some kind of a concrete or dirt pad about 2 feet by 6 feet), throw your first shot. Walk up to your disc, make sure one foot is right behind where your disc landed, and throw your next shot. Eventually you’ll make it to the basket and your disc must end up in the basket. Count your strokes and move on to the next tee.

How long does it take? My local course has 10 holes. (9 and 18 hole courses are the most common but it’s not super rare to have a different number of holes.) I can play a round by myself in 30-40 minutes, but obviously if there’s a lot of traffic on the course that can slow things down a bit.

What is the etiquette? If you’ve ever played traditional ball golf, a lot of etiquette is very similar. Some general guidelines are:

  • Wait until the people in front of you are out of range before you throw. Generally this means waiting until they’re done with the hole.
  • Yell “Fore!” if your disc is heading toward someone else.
  • Whoever is farthest from the hole throws next.
  • Play “ready golf” by knowing which disc you’re going to use and being ready to throw when it is your turn.
  • Be aware of people throwing on holes near you. Disc golf courses can be tight and it’s easy for errant shots to veer into neighboring holes.

What’s the difference between a disc golf course and a traditional/ball golf course? While both have “tees” and “fairways” and conceptually are similar, the physical appearance can differ in a few ways:

  • Disc golf holes are shorter. Most holes will range between 200-350 feet if they are beginner-friendly while long/pro holes can stretch over 1000 feet in some extreme cases.
  • Disc golf courses have a lot more variety. Courses might be set in thick woods, an open field, zig zagging across an old golf course, etc.
  • Disc golf courses make a lot more use of natural terrain and obstacles and some will even include man-made obstacles like a tall fence stationed at a key point in the middle of the fairway to make the hole more interesting.
  • Some disc golf holes include a “mando” (short for “mandatory”) which means that you must go to the right or left of a specific obstacle.
  • There’s no “green” for disc golf. There’s an imaginary circle around the basket with a radius of 30 feet and there are slightly special rules in that zone, but generally this isn’t explicitly marked.

Why do my discs always go to the left? Because of the physics of a disc, most discs will curve to the left, especially at the end of their flight. As people get better and can put more speed and spin into the disc, they can have different flight characteristics depending on the disc. As a beginner, I just plan for the curve.

Do discs get lost? Yes. Most people write their name and phone number on the back of the disc and people are pretty good about calling or texting if they find your disc. Thankfully I haven’t lost a disc yet, but I’ve probably spent more time than is reasonable looking for lost discs. Losing a disc isn’t as common as losing a golf ball though which is good because people get more attached to their discs as they learn how each specific disc flies.

What are some good sources for learning? I subscribe to quite a few disc golf channels on YouTube. Here are three of my favorites. All of these have a lot of videos so click on their playlists section to zero in on content that interests you.

  • Robbie C Disc Golf – Robbie has a lot of beginner friendly videos and always focuses on mechanics that are helpful to average players.
  • Overthrow Disc Golf – Josh was a full time professional tennis coach before switching primarily to teach disc golf. He is excellent at breaking down body mechanics into simple steps.
  • Foundation Disc Golf – Foundation is mainly an online store that sells discs, but they have a fun YouTube channel as well. There is a ton of content of them playing rounds with various tweaks to the rules (like only using the worst selling discs in their store, playing doubles but taking the worst shot, etc.)
  • JomezPro – Over the past few months, Elijah and I have started watching the final round of the touring pro tournament series. JomezPro posts very nicely produced coverage of the rounds 12-24 hours after they finish. It’s wild to see what the pros can do and it’s interesting to get to know the various players in the game.

Can you be a professional? I guess I answered this with the JomezPro recommendation above, but one of the most interesting parts about disc golf for me is that anybody can be ranked on the same charts as people who get paid to play the game. If you join the PDGA for $50/year, as soon as you play in a sanctioned tournament, you’ll be assigned a rating. Your rating goes up and down every time you play in a sanctioned tournament so you can directly compare your skill level against the pros. On the PDGA website, you can see how much money everyone makes in tournaments. As a local player, you’d be doing very well to make a couple hundred bucks a year. The highest level pros would do well to make $100,000/year from tournaments, but they are likely to have additional sponsorships that make them more than that. Estimates are that the highest paid pros may be making around $500,000/year but that’s a guess.

It’s a deep rabbit hole, but you can easily play casually and have lots of fun. According to my UDisc app, I’ve already played 19 rounds this year (39 last year). With the longer days and drier weather, I’m able to head to the park quickly after Elijah goes to bed to play a round in the evenings. It’s a relaxing way to get away from the computer screen for a while and get some fresh air. I’m more than happy to play a round with you if you live near me and are interested!

Tesla Model Y 20,000 Mile Review

We hit 20,000 miles on our 2022 Tesla Model Y just a few weeks short of the 1-year mark. Let’s take a look at how it’s going so far.


If you remember my very first post about the car, lifetime cost was a major factor in my purchase of the car. I’ve been interested in electric vehicles for years, but I wasn’t willing to pay extra to drive one. We would likely have replaced our last Ford Escape with another Escape so I used that as a baseline to see if an EV was likely to be cost effective. Even taking a pessimistic view towards EVs, I felt like the Model Y was likely to at least break even with the lifetime cost of the Escape in our scenario, so we went for it. I also used 100,000 miles to define “lifetime” because I knew that with a long enough time range, the EV would almost always win and again, I didn’t want to jump into anything just “hoping for the best.”

Based on the price of the Escape we were looking at an the Model Y we purchased, I needed to save $18,000 over the life of the car. This includes sales taxes and delivery fees and also assumes that we would have been able to get the Escape at MSRP. Since I have access to some special Ford plans through family and work, we hopefully could have gotten it under MSRP, but the average person walking in off the street would struggle to get MSRP.

Let’s break down the various factors in the lifetime cost of the car and see how its going. Buckle in. I have lots of data.

This is the cost difference that usually comes to mind first, and we’re really doing well in this category. My “break even” analysis was done with an estimate of gas prices averaging around $3.50 for the life of a car. (Remember I was being pessimistic about EVs so that’s why I picked a low price.) I have an app running on my machine that pulls gas prices from the 6 closest gas stations and I use the average of those prices as in my what-if analysis. The red arrow in the chart below denotes when we took delivery.

It felt pretty good to be driving a brand new electric vehicle when the average gas price as over $5.50!

Every day, I run a calculation that takes the average gas price and the number of miles we drove that day and estimates what our gas price would have been for that day. Obviously this isn’t quite perfect because we wouldn’t fill up every day, but it’s not going to be very far off and it’s way more accurate than using average gas prices over large chunks of time.

Over the last 20,000 miles we have spent $802.56 on electricity versus an estimated $4041.63 on gas for a savings of $3239.07 or $16.15/100 miles. If that keeps up, we’ll have saved over $16,000 on gas by the time we get to 100,000 miles!

Registration Fees
Washington state charges an extra $150 registration fee for all electric vehicles since they aren’t getting gas taxes. In my area, we also have registration, property, and sales taxes related to light rail buildout. The registration tax is based on their estimated value of your car. This year it cost $939.25 to put license plates on our car! It’s hard to compare this to what the Escape would be since my cost to register keeps going up (despite the car value going down) as new taxes are voted in and I’m not going to recalculate them all. But since about 2/3 of the total fee is related to that light rail tax and since the Escape was about 2/3 the cost of the Model Y, I’d estimate that we’re paying an extra $200/year for that light rail tax plus the $150 extra for having an electric vehicle. So that’s $350/year extra that we pay for the Model Y versus the Escape. Hopefully that will decrease over time as the car depreciates… it will be a race between depreciation and our ability to vote in new taxes.

Service Costs
The only service costs up to this point is a leftover bottle of wiper fluid that I’ve been using. We did have a leaky tire but that was patched by Discount Tire for free. There have been some recalls but they’re all handled via software. We’ve never had this car in for service. Our last Escape cost us $4318 in service over 105,000 miles so I’m expecting we’ll come out ahead there too.

Resale Price
How much will we sell the Model Y for? How much would we have sold the Escape for? This is where the comparison falls apart. When we get to that point, I can makes some guesses based on the current market, but it’s hard to predict going forward. But we tend to keep our cars for 7-10 years and I’ll be surprised if gas cars hold their value over that period. Pure electric cars currently make up about 6% of total auto sales and it’s skyrocketing. I’m sure there will still be a market for gas vehicles in 7-10 years, but it seems like EVs will probably be more common by that point. We’ll see.

Cost Summary

So all in all, I think we’re easily on track to save that $18,000 by the time we hit 100,000 miles. We’ll probably get there purely with gas savings so unless this car proves to be very unreliable and we have a lot of service costs, we should break even or come out ahead.

And yes, it is of course true that this is not the most cost effective way to drive around. Fixing our old car, buying a used car, or choosing a different type of car could all have been ways to save more money. My comparison was explicitly between a new Escape and a new Model Y.


  • 6181 feet – Highest elevation reached when we drove to Sunrise Visitor Center on Mt. Rainier. The battery charged 4% on the drive down. We drove 57 minutes before getting back to the same power we departed with.
  • 292 miles – Longest road trip. We drove to the Alsea, OR area.
  • 263 Watt-hours per mile consumed – A single gallon of gasoline contains 33,700 watt-hours of energy so this is the same as 128 mpg.
  • 99% – Charges (by count) that took place at home
  • 96% – Charges (by kWh) that took place at home
  • $77 – Average additional month cost for electricity (for about 1650 miles/month)
  • 24% – Energy lost to charging inefficiencies (heat, etc) and drain while sitting (running the computers, preconditioning the interior, etc.) My cost numbers above include the cost of all these non-driving uses.
  • 20 – Software updates. These have delivered many new features including Disney+, additional games, and the ability to make the car fart from my phone.
  • 18 – Counties visited (map)
  • 16 minutes – Average length of charging stops on road trips
  • 14% – Lowest usable battery reached. This equates to about 45 miles of range before hitting zero and there’s usually another ~20 miles available after that.
  • 6.89 MWh – Total energy consumed which is enough to power the average home in this area for about 6 months.
  • 4.9 metric tons – CO2 emissions avoided. This is equivalent to about 5.9 acres of forest for one year.
  • 1 – Non-Tesla service center visits. (I had a leak repaired by Discount Tire.)
  • 0 – Service center visits
  • 0 – Mobile service visits
  • 0 – Number of times battery died before reaching a charger
  • 0 – Number of brake services or oil changes
  • 0 – Number of times Autopilot killed me

(Thanks to user jonjiv on Reddit for making a similar post that gave me this idea.)

Most of the data above comes from TeslaMate. I’ve been running that data collection software from the first day we got it. The list of stats above is just the beginning. I could go on for a very long time with all the random stats and charts!


If we’re just going to break even, is it worth it? Absolutely! This car is a great fit for us. Here are some of my favorite things other than saving money:

  • Charging at home is so convenient. I think this is a major point that many prospective buyers miss. Sure, stopping at gas station is faster than stopping at a charger, but you know what’s stopping at a gas station? Charging while you sleep! We plug in every night and in the morning we’re full again.
  • It’s fun to drive. We have the slowest Tesla that they make and that means it goes from 0 to 60 in only 4.7 seconds. The instant torque is quite an experience and I can see why people burn through their first set of tires quickly.
  • Getting a new car always feels good because you get rid of all the problems you knew your old car had. Our Escape was always dripping oil and needed a turbo replacement. I love walking into the garage and not smelling anything or having any mystery drips coming out of the engine bay.
  • The charging network is incredible. We’ve never seen a Tesla charger that is out of service. No other charging network comes close and if you’re in the market for an EV, I think this should be a major decision point for you. I feel confident going anywhere in the Tesla because I know I’ll always get a charge easily. I would be extremely hesitant to plan a road trip on another charging network.
  • In contrast to the point above, I’ll also mention that the charging network isn’t as important as it’s made out to be. “I can’t buy an electric vehicle because we don’t have many chargers around my house.” The charging infrastructure around your house is nearly irrelevant assuming you can charge at home. The only time we need supercharging is when we’re far from home on a road trip.
  • The Autopilot feature is incredible. I wrote a full post about it, but in short, it’s still a feature that I use almost every time I drive it. It works everywhere, but I generally use it on the highway when I’m not doing a lot of lane switching. While I know that I’m still responsible for the vehicle, it’s nice to have a robot doing most of the work. I feel much less tired after long drives. You don’t realize how much energy it takes just to stay in your lane until you go an hour or two without doing it!
  • One of the best summaries I can give of the car is that even after a year, I still walk into the garage and smile. I still look forward to driving it.

The car gets an “A”, but there is always room for improvement.

  • I don’t like how long it takes the car to fall asleep. It’s the difference between using a couple hundred watts versus using only a few watts. Once the car is asleep, using the app wakes it back up, even if you just want to check your charge level. Thankfully I run TeslaMate so I can see basic info about the car without waking it up, but I don’t know why this isn’t built into the default software or why it sometimes takes a few hours for the car to fall asleep. In terms of actual money, it hardly matters, but I’m obviously interested in overall efficiency so it bugs me.
  • For the most part, I’m ok with almost all the controls being done through the screen, but I wish there were physical controls for the windshield wipers. About a week ago they added the ability to remap one of the steering wheel buttons to control the wipers but it’s still a combo button press to do something simple.
  • The battery does degrade over time. Tesla says that batteries lose about 5% in the first 25,000 miles on their way to losing 12% over the first 200,000 miles. TeslaMate keeps track of that data too (of course) and our car is at about 2.5% loss. I knew this before I bought it and it doesn’t impact us at all. I think it’s mostly a matter just having confidence that our battery will follow that curve and not die prematurely.
  • The cruise control is a “Traffic Aware Cruise Control.” Most of the time this is great. It means that I set a maximum speed that I’m willing to go and the car will go that speed or follow the car in front at a specified distance. It automatically sets to be x mph above the speed limit and knows when the speed limits changes. BUT, it’s not perfect. Once every few thousand miles, it does brake when I’m not expecting it to and when I can’t figure out a reason for it to brake. I still use it all the time, but this could be better.


If we were making the choice again today but with the added knowledge we’ve gained, it would be a no-brainer to buy it again. Prices have come down since we bought it and there are federal incentives that may or may not apply in various scenarios. I’m pretty confident that this will end up saving us money versus the Escape in the long run, or if not, it will be so close that I’m happy to have paid a few extra bucks for all the convenience and fun that it offers.

EVs are here to stay, but it will take a long time for all use cases to be met by them. I’m just happy that our use case has been nailed!

PaperKarma Review

A huge percentage of our mail is junk… or it was. This is the point where I’d normally hit you with some stats about how much junk mail we get per day, and honestly, I did start collecting it at one point. Normally collecting data about random things is fun, but even data can’t make junk mail fun. So even though I didn’t count the junk mail rate, I did throw it all into a box for a month or two, and then I signed up for PaperKarma.

This isn’t sponsored, but the idea of PaperKarma is that it helps you unsubscribe from junk mail. You take a picture of the junk mail with your phone to help it search for the company that sent it, you tell it the exact addressee for the junk mail, and then they go off to tell the company to stop sending you mail.

I was skeptical at first but we signed up for a six month subscription for $16. Since I had a big backlog of junk mail, I was able to enter in a lot of mail right away. Again, I don’t have data, but we get WAY less junk mail than we used to. Some still sneaks through, but I know I’ll never be rid of it all and just reducing it has made me happier.

The only real nitpick I have with the service is that the photo of the junk mail seems pretty pointless because it rarely works. I end up typing in the name of the company so why include the photo step?

I plan to let our subscription lapse for a while and see how long it takes to build back up, but I won’t hesitate too long to resubscribe for a bit to beat back the flood.

Navigating the Divide

As I change some of my volunteer activities, I’m setting myself up to spend more time talking to people who disagree with me. This can be healthy, but it’s also a challenge. I’ve been thinking about specific behaviors I want to keep in mind while I have those conversations. What’s missing? What’s wrong? How different would our world be if everyone approached discussions with this mindset?

  1. Ask lots of questions. If someone’s argument seems absurd, I probably don’t understand what they’re trying to say or what led them to this viewpoint. Asking questions helps us walk back to common ground to find where we diverge so we can have a productive discussion.
  2. Assume that everyone is logical, rational, and fact-driven even when they have a completely opposite viewpoint. It might not always be true, but it’s a healthy place to start.
  3. Rhetoric is a red flag. If someone is using name calling or inflammatory language in their argument, resist the urge to join in or fight back. Call out the rhetoric and ask questions about the root issues.
  4. Don’t use metaphors and similes to make a point. If someone disagrees with me, they’re going to pick apart my comparison instead of focusing on the point I’m trying to make. Facts and data are a much stronger argument.
  5. Always be willing to change my mind when presented with enough evidence. Don’t engage with people who are unwilling to do the same.
  6. When presented with evidence, don’t trust secondary sources that don’t link to the original material. (I’m very happy to see that Elijah is already learning this in school.) Related to this, use a neutral news source, but also pull content on a topic from multiple sources on both sides of the issue to understand where there is disagreement.

I fall flat on these very often, especially when the person I’m talking to is emotional and not following a similar approach, but maybe writing these things down will help me keep them in mind more often.

2022 Year In Review

After two years that were defined by COVID and its aftermath, it was nice to have a year where we could setting into a more sustainable routine. Don’t get me wrong, COVID still played a major part of 2022. It’s one of the top five killers, but we’re learning how to fine tune our behaviors so we can live life while protecting it at the same time.

The first part of the year started off with a bang as we un-paused our Hawaii trip which had been planned for the week everything shut down in March 2020. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the warm sunshine by playing on the beach, hiking Diamondhead Crater, visiting the zoo, and sampling lots of delicious food. It did feel a little odd to take our big family vacation so early in the year, but the rest of the year didn’t disappoint.

We kept up our monthly family adventures with day trips like the ferry to Kingston, Deception Pass State Park, Leavenworth with Luke and David, hiking to old train tunnels, Birch Bay State Park, Tiny Hearts Homestead, Barclay Lake (with Dad and Mom before the forest fire!), Dege Peak at Mt. Rainier, and Kayak Point.

We had two nice camping trips. One was to Seaquest State Park near Mt. St. Helens with Tyla’s family. It’s interesting to go back there every few years and see how much has changed at the eruption site. The second trip was to San Juan Campground. These were first come-first served rustic camp sites right on the North Fork of the Skykomish River with the Scherschels and Neumanns. Elijah has always asked to go camping where we can’t see anyone else, and this came pretty close to meeting that criterion.

Even though we went to Hawaii, if you ask us about our favorite trip this year, we’d probably all say it was our visit to Leaping Lamb Farm. This was a bonus trip that Tyla picked for Tyla’s 40th birthday celebration. Farm managers Denny and Kate were magnificently friendly, and it was a fulfilling to see Elijah helping with the farm chores and roaming the farm on his own.

This was also the year our family got into disc golf. I’ve always been curious about the sport, but I’ve also been too intimidated to try it out myself. Tyla and Elijah gave me a starter set of discs for Father’s Day and that eventually encouraged me to do some YouTube learning and get out to a course. I was hooked! I love that it’s friendly, approachable, free, and something the whole family can enjoy together outside. According to my UDisc app, I played 428 holes the majority of those were with Elijah. Part of the fun of learning new things is experiencing the rapid improvement as you progress from total newbie to bumbling beginner. By the end of summer, I had even played in my first tournament!

Work continues to go well. The vast majority of my organization still works from home and while there are people who go in for a few days a week, only a small percentage of employees show up every day. I pretty much only go in when there is free food for a social gathering. Otherwise, I very much prefer working from home. While it’s relatively unimportant compared to other work I do, the highlight of my work year was probably the US Government officially awarding me a patent. It’s fun to know that, at least according to the patent office, I’ve invented something brand new and it will be recorded forever.

It’s beyond cliche, but I’m really noticing how quickly life goes by. A week at work seems like nothing when I look back on it, and even the months fly by if I have something fun to look forward to next month. I suppose it’s a good way to breeze through the mundane parts of life, but it’s also an encouragement to live in the moment. If I don’t appreciate each day, the fast forwarding can keep accelerating until all I’m doing is looking forward to huge life events. (Queue the reference to Adam Sandler in the movie “Click.”)

Along with the increased pace of live comes more thoughts about how quickly my life will be over. Maybe this is also cliche for someone in their early 40s. I’ve always thought that eventually we’d move out into the country for a place with more land, but if we wait until Elijah is done with high school so we don’t have to care as much about school districts, then how long will we live in that house before we need to move back closer to town/doctors/help/etc? Regardless of all these earthly decisions, whenever the end of this life comes, I have heaven waiting for me through faith in Jesus’s saving death and resurrection. I think Paul’s words to the Philippians sum this all up nicely:

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14

Previous Year In Review Posts: 20032004200520062007200820092010201120122013, 2014201520162017201820192020, 2021

Merry Christmas


1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Disc Golf Newbies

The new craze in our house is disc golf. I asked for a cheap starter pack of discs for Father’s Day, and all three of us enjoyed it the very first time we went out. There are about half a dozen free courses within a 30 minute drive and the closest one is only 5 minutes away.

I was a bit nervous/embarrassed the first time we went out, but I’ve found the disc golf crowd to be extremely friendly and welcoming. Plus, we quickly learned that lots of people are just out there having family fun and we weren’t as slow or bad as we thought. Course etiquette is very similar to golf so I was able to work on those social norms with Elijah first and then we started learning more about the game.

YouTube is a great resource for learning disc golf and it helped us understand the basic form, the flow of play, special rules, etc. While there are people who are extremely good at the sport, I’ve found it to be very accessible for inexperienced players. You can go out there knowing nothing and have a blast. And while it would take a huge amount of time to master the sport, you can find bits success early on. For example, only about 10 rounds into the sport, we’ve all made a par and I was a few inches off from a hole-in-one. You can pick up a starter set of discs for around $30, and as I mentioned, many of the courses are free. The UDisc app is a great way to find nearby courses and keep score.

It’s fun to discover a new activity where I can compete against myself, play for basically free, and see myself rapidly improve since I went in knowing nothing! If you’re in the area, I’d be happy to share some discs with you and show you what it’s like. At the very least, you get to enjoy walking around in a park for an hour.

Woodworking Instagram Reborn

As mentioned previously, I lost control of my @martenswoodshop Instagram account. Since then, I’ve realized that I really do like having a single place that can easily function as a portfolio of my work. “Oh you build stuff? What do you like to make?” It’s a lot easier when I can just send a simple URL. And it’s also good motivation for me when I look and see how long it has been since my last project post. It makes me want to get out and do more!

So if you’re at all interested in this kind of thing, please follow @martenswoodworks. I reposted some of my projects to that account and I’ll be posting more going forward. I’m wrapping up a project soon that involves 3D carving on the CNC!

Savings and Debt

I think about retirement more than is normal for someone of my age, but saving for retirement is a long-term game. My basic plan has been to save some money, pay off debt, and then save more money. We’ll see how well that works out for me, but it aligns well with Dave Ramsey’s “7 Baby Steps“.

Those basic guidelines are great, but there are so many small choices along the way. What’s a good order to do them in? Then I found a flow chart on reddit and I was in awe! I’m sure there are people with different opinions, but if I have a tough time believing that anyone would go too far off course if they followed this verbatim. You should be able to click into it to see all the details, but if not, check out the linked post above for the original content.