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As a gardener and dog owner poop is part of life.

In fact, stepping in poop is part of my daily life. I step in dog poop, chicken poop, or I don’t even want to know whose poop it is poop nearly every day. Sometimes several times in a day.

It doesn’t seem to matter how much we clean up nor how careful I am in walking around: I’m in the poop. In fact, I step in it so frequently that I’m an expert at getting the poop off of the bottom of my shoes. I could do a PhD in it. 

It’s Good to be in the Poop

Everyone who gardens knows that being around poop is part of growing your own food. I amend my soil with worm castings (poop) and chicken manure (poop). Plants in our aquaponics are fed by– you guessed it– fish poop.

If I’m not stepping in it or cleaning it up then I’m moving it around or putting it in the garden.

As a gardener you get comfortable with poop because it’s part of running an effective garden. Sure, we don’t take many pictures of poop. But all the fruits, veggies, and flowers that people like to take pictures of– fueled by poop.

Being in and around the poop is a sign that you are doing something. That you’re being productive. In a way, being in and around poop is proof you’re in and around where the action actually happens. 

The Sterile Unproductive Life

When I go to a grocery store or even the farmers market I kind of laugh at the sterility of it all. Beef is in neat little packages as if the cow didn’t step in it’s own poop or pee on itself multiple times a day. We open a carton of eggs to make sure none are broken, but you won’t see chicken poop on an egg at the grocery store… something I experience several times a week. All of the fruits and veggies have been washed, poop removed. As if celery or lettuce or strawberries weren’t planted in a field fed with manure.

If working in the garden and getting poop on your shoes is close to the production of food than walking around your grocery store is the exact opposite of that.

Maybe that’s what you want? Maybe not? 

But one thing is for certain… if you buy your food exclusively at a grocery store and then pretend to be a farmer everyone will know you’re a fraud. We all know that someone who produces food gets their feet dirty. They might like things sterile, but they’ll always have a little bit on their shoes.

I’ve never been to a country music festival but I would imagine there’s a term to describe people who actually live the farm lifestyle and those who just dress up like they do because they like the music. Am I right? 

The Messy, Productive Life

Let’s shift from thinking about the garden to thinking about the Christian life.

There are Christians who are out doing the work in the field. Just like a farmer you know these people because it seems like they are always stepping into a mess.

Likewise, there are a lot of people who like to dress up like a productive Christian but who live a fairly sterile life.

Just like at the country music festival those people think they fit in but they stick out like a sore thumb.

People Smell Right Through It

The other day I had a little Facebook back and forth with a Facebook friend about people not going to church because they don’t want to be confronted with the truth.

My current experience is the opposite. I have far more people in my life that are not part of a church, even if they are believers, because they don’t see the church as having honest answers for contemporary society. They look at the movement and see something sterile, far too clean to be interesting. High on the hog opinions but no relevant experience to know that those opinions carry no weight in a society that has largely moved on.

In an Age of Fake, How do I live as a True Christian?

Yesterday, I was meditatin’ on this question: “If everyone thinks Christians are being fake, how do I be real?”

And along the way I was reminded of the second half of Romans 12, something I memorized a long time ago that bubbles to the top a lot in my life.

And there it was– right in the ESV– the headline for verses 9-21: Marks of a True Christian

Oh baby. Here we go. I’ve added two sub-headers for you to chew on.

Adam asks: Who Am I Supposed to Be Right Now?

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[a] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Adam Asks: What am I supposed to be doing? 

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[b] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[c] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

My advice: If you don’t want to be accused of being fake, get in the mess, get some poop on your shoes.

This is original content from Adam McLane. © adam mclane

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Here’s why I’m NO on Prop 6:

  1. Prop 6 would take an existing power away from the legislature to do what they do… impose fees and levy taxes to pay for stuff. In this case, each time the legislature would want to impose a new fee or tax on vehicles voters would have to approve it. Hogwash, that’s why we elect a legislature.
  2. Generally speaking, I’m in favor of levying taxes that match behavior. California needs a mechanism to improve infrastructure for vehicles, tax gas and raise registration fees. Makes sense to me.
  3. Paying more gas tax encourages drivers to buy more fuel efficient vehicles.

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Here’s why I’m against Props 1, 3, and 4:

  1. I don’t like bonds on the ballot. Going into debt on things you could afford today makes no sense to me… I mean, we’ve got a $9 billion budget surplus. Why bonds?
  2. How many more water bonds can we put on the ballot? Seems like we just approved a water bond about 3 weeks ago, no?

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San Diego residents here’s why I’m a NO on Measure YY.

  1. I’m all about San Diego Unified Schools so don’t read it the wrong way, I fully support our schools. We have 3 kids in the district, 2 in a SD Unified public charter and 1 in a neighborhood school.
  2. This is simply dollars and cents. There has to be another way to fund building and building maintenance of school buildings rather than raising property taxes. We received our tax bill this week which has rolled up all the bonds into categories for the first time. We currently pay more than $550/year for existing SD Unified bonds. For us, Measure YY would raise our property taxes by roughly $150/year for the next 40 years. I’d like to see us pay off some of these bonds from the 1990s before we add new bonds to our tax bills.

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Here’s why I’m YES on Measure G (SDSU West):

  1. Like many San Diegans, I wish that the city had been allowed to go through the normal process, whereby after an RFP and much public debate, a winner had been chosen for the current Mission Valley location of the Chargers. But Measure E (SoccerCity) forced the hands of civic-minded people to stand up for the university before the land was stolen by the hedge fund guys. Given that this is isn’t the process we want but it’s the process we’ve gotten, this is the best of the two options.
  2. Voting YES means saving taxpayers millions and 10 years of debate. I think it’s HIGHLY LIKELY that if the city were to go through a regular process, something like SDSU West would emerge from that process… just in 10 years and at a cost of millions of dollars.
  3. Living in the college area I know how much pressure the growth of SDSU is putting on the neighborhoods. The College neighborhood immediately to our north has been entirely lost to mini dorms, including developers getting an ordinance meant to protect the neighborhood from mini dorms in the courts. Building out MV for SDSU– even if it’s not that much housing– will take pressure off of the College area neighborhoods and move it down to MV which is better equipped for higher density housing.
  4. Unlike SoccerCity, SDSU West would sell the land to the CSU and any development going forward would undergo a complete environmental review.
  5. With a growing population in California every university in San Diego needs room to grow. Last year 93,000 people applied for 8,000 first-year spots. The current campus is pretty much maxed out, we need more space.
  6. Everything will be paid for via public/private partnerships and revenue bonds. This won’t raise the cost of education nor will it pass the cost off to citizens.
  7. All of the costs of upkeep, tearing down the existing stadium, etc immediately go to SDSU as soon as the deal closes. (This is a big difference between Measure G and Measure E)

I could go on and on. Given the circumstances, this is the best option for SDSU and the city. Voting no on it would only delay things by 10 years for no real reason, basically just making it all more expensive for everyone.

Full disclosure

I’m a season ticket holder and a relatively inactive member of the Aztec Club, who does fundraising for SDSU Athletics.

I am currently working with SDSU West’s spokesperson Fred Pierce on an unrelated neighborhood matter. He and I have no relationship beyond the discussions we’ve had on the neighborhood matter.

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San Diego voters, I’m voting NO on Measure E. Here’s why:

  1. Full disclosure. I was initially VERY excited about SoccerCity. I was just about the first member of the public to join their email list. I was among the first to join when they sold memberships to their “Original Supporters” group.
  2. All of that soured when the details of their proposal were published. Two major things: a. Their entire endeavor is an attempt to privatize public land at a severe discount by locking out all competitors. b. Their soccer endeavor would be nearly completely financed by making San Diego State University, a public university, a tenant of their private venture built on privately leased public land.
  3. Nick Stone and his group of investors are really, really shady people. Having tracked every dollar of Measure E via public disclosures you can see their strategy has been very Trump-like: Buy the media and try to persuade the public with misinformation.
  4. They collected signatures by lying to the public that their signature were going to build a new stadium for Aztec football. That was not ever the case. Measure E never should have made it to the ballot in the first place.
  5. Even if they win SDSU has already stated they will not work with FS Investors.
  6. The only thing that is “soccer” about “SoccerCity” is the word “soccer.” It’s really about building 4800 condos, putting in a mall, and building multiple office buildings and jamming them into about 75 acres of usable land.
  7. In short, I think it’s a scam.

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Continuing my trip through the California ballot, here’s why I am NO on Prop 10:

  1. There’s a reason rent control is used as an example of bad ideas in every economics class, it’s a bad idea. Controlling the price and supply of something just raises prices because it artificially inflates demand. (Anyone who has ever tried to buy a Nintendo product near Christmas has learned this lesson.)
  2. In yet another study just published in August, this one from Stanford about the long-term effects of rent control in San Fransisco the authors summarize, “Landlords treated by rent control reduce rental housing supplies by 15%, either by converting to con- dos/TICs, selling to owner occupants, or redeveloping buildings. In the long-run, we find rent control increased the gentrification of San Francisco” (source)
  3. But, the single biggest reason I’m against Prop 10 is that it’s a statewide solution to a local problem. I’m a firm believer in local leadership, let individual city councils rollout rent control instead of shoving it down the throat of 40 million people. Could some form of rent control slow gentrification in areas of San Diego? Maybe. But rolling that out statewide is– particularly considering most of the land mass of California is quite rural– unwise and impractical.
  4. If this passes it’ll just end up in court anyway. I find it highly unlikely that the state supreme court will take away the rights of homeowners statewide.

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Here’s why I’m a YES on Prop 5 on the California ballot:

  1. The current law, Prop 13 from 1978, was designed to help homeowners stay in their homes. The worry at that time was that property tax increases would force many older Californians to lose their homes to the county. Prop 5 fixes an unintended consequence for many people who now cannot afford to move because of the increase in property taxes.
  2. Simply put Prop 5 will allow people to downsize. Let’s say you own a 4 bedroom house that you purchased 30 years ago for $120,000 that is now worth $500,000. Not only do you no longer have a mortgage, Prop 13 locked in your taxes so that you’re paying a tax rate far less than your current homes value. If you’re on a fixed income it’s perfect as long as you never move. Prop 5 will allow you to profit from the sale of your home, move into a home that fits your current needs, AND take much of your current tax rate with you, making it possible for you to downsize from that 4 bedroom house to the 1 bedroom condo you really want.
  3. Prop 5 will ultimately free up inventory for younger families. This is a real problem in Rolando where I’d estimate at least 50% of bedrooms don’t have an occupant. (Their kids grew up and moved away.) Since people over 55 can’t currently afford to downsize because the increase in taxes will eat away their savings, which locks them into a house larger than they need/want, their inability to move is actually locking young families out of the neighborhood simply because there’s no inventory.
  4. Creating tax portability for people 55+ will help with the statewide housing crisis. Yes, we need to build more housing, but we also just need to help get people into the right-sized property, too.
  5. I think this will ultimately generate more revenue for the state and counties. Think about it… if someone is currently paying $800/year for property tax on a $500,000 home and they move to a $300,000 condo, their property taxes would actually go down. But the flip is also true. A person under 55 who buys the house for $500,000 would start paying a little over $5,000 a year for a property that the county used to collect just $800 on. Factor in that people over 55 don’t live as long as someone buying that home who is 35 and you’ll actually see more transactions on both properties and more overall revenue on both the original home and the condo.
  6. More fluidity in the California housing market is good for everyone.

Learn more about Prop 5 here

This is original content from Adam McLane. © adam mclane

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Friends who live in the La Mesa / Spring Valley School District: Please consider voting for Rebecca McRae for LMSV 2018. I know Mrs. McRae as a passionate first grade teacher at Jackson’s school. She’s running as a parent of two kids in the district, her lack of name recognition and political experience speak to her simple desire to see improvements in the district. She’s not running to advance anything other than making the schools better and more welcoming to all.

Speaking purely from our own personal experience of having two kids go through their middle school, the changes she seeks are needed.

I’ll point to 2 things which I find problematic:

  • Nepotism– Most exemplified by a person currently running who is the spouse of a district principal– but there are also other examples like married people working at the same schools– and the mayor of La Mesa is somehow employed at a district school. Yeah, that’s serious small town stuff that shouldn’t be happening in La Mesa. A lot of home cooking going on. The last thing the district needs is a principal’s husband on the board… surely, they would benefit from expanding perspectives a little bit at the top.
  • Church folks basically run the school board – Obviously, I think it’s great when Christians get involved locally. I champion that. And I love it that there are so many Christians who are teachers. But there’s also a point of unhealthy meddling which, as I’ve personally seen, negatively impacts the education in the district. These are public schools and people serving on the board should be champions of public education for every student and family in the district, not attempting to advance a Christian agenda in the schools as we sometimes experienced. Several school board members and people running for the board are church staff members, again this doesn’t disqualify them, but members of their church are largely financing their campaigns to make sure church folks continue to run the board, which is far from the independence we should expect in public education. For example, when a seat needed to be filled a couple years back the republicans who run the board appointed a 25 year old church secretary and graduate of private Christian schools to a board seat despite her lack of qualifications and over the endorsements and recommendations of several other people who were highly qualified. The descending board member later wrote, “To place someone with no background or knowledge of public education in such an important and crucial role simply because they ‘fit’ an ideological direction is counter to the spirit of nonpartisan school boards and does not show respect for the civic expectation that board members will have life experiences and skills needed for the demands and gravitas of this role.”

I know this is an overtly political ask. But if you are a La Mesa / Spring Valley voter, please look into and consider Rebecca McRae. I think she’ll do a nice job to help right the ship and get the district headed in the right direction again.

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When our teenage children were young my wife Kristen felt convicted about giving our kids lots of stuff for Christmas. To her, toys simply weren’t the point of Christmas.

Christmas is about Jesus, right? So if we make a big deal out of loading up the tree with toys it stops being about Jesus and starts being about toys.

Give Experiences, Not Things

As the years progressed this idea morphed as things do in a family. Along the way we shifted our thinking about Christmas and birthday gift giving from things to experiences.

We tend to help create ways for our kids to earn their own money to buy things. (Our middle child earned $800 in 6th grade to buy and build his own gaming PC, our high schoolers now pet sit to buy all the things they want.) And we tend to give experiences as gifts. (Excursions, day trips, weekends, and the occasional longer trip.)*

Making Memories Together

As I reflect on our 17 years of parenting I have a hard time remembering all of the day-to-day stuff. The millions of lunches made, drives to school, homework help, soccer practices… it all blends together.

But the memories I hold dear, the photos in my brain, mostly come from our shared experiences. These vivid snapshots of our family will last a lifetime.

  • Playing in rivers at Yosemite, squinting at the walls of El Capitan to see climbers.
  • Watching my 12 year old catch a fish half his weight.
  • Seeing Jackson play in the snow for the first time.
  • Hiking to an alpine lake.
  • The wonder of riding the ferries in Seattle.
  • Being overtaken by the smells of a Mexico City bakery.
  • Driving across Costa Rica just to see monkeys on a beach.

If life were a Polaroid camera these are layers of snapshots laying on the table.

Ah, San Diego

We’ve lived in San Diego for 10 years now. (Crazy, right) And I think we’re still tourists. I still regularly go somewhere and think, “I didn’t know this was here!”

While it’s a place known for big attractions it’s also a place of small wondrous corners.

Yes, the zoo is great.

But so is Barrio Logan.

Yes, Sea World is great.

But if you go to the tide pools at Cabrillo at just the right time, it’s way better.

Helping Families Make Memories in San Diego

This Spring, Kristen pitched the idea of starting her own business to help families visiting San Diego make memories that’ll last a lifetime.

She calls it McLandia and the scope of the idea is all of these things.

  • Helping families discover unique parts of San Diego, stuff that’s off the beaten path. We know people want to visit the main attractions. But we hope to help families visit really cool parts of our community, too. Each month she’s sending out a Beyond the Zoo Guide for free, sign-up here.
  • Helping families create memories with unique experiences. One of the things she’s been learning is that it’s just too hard for a family to pull off some of the cooler things you can do in San Diego. So she’s working on some turn-key experiences you can book directly on her website, like the perfect beach bonfire night on the bay.

*I want to be clear that this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Please see the phrase  “tend to” as sometimes we give gifts.

This is original content from Adam McLane. © adam mclane

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