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Posts published in “Day: November 22, 2007

A hard lesson to learn

By Kristan Hoffman

The other day, a good friend of mine came to me because she was “freaking out.” She had applied for a major international scholarship for graduate school but had not received a callback for the interview process. This was the second year in a row that she had tried; she did not want it to be the second year in a row that she failed.

Unfortunately, I think I provided little if any consolation. The truth, I told her, is that she probably shouldn’t apply to anything if she isn’t prepared to be denied.

My nonchalance doesn’t come from indifference, but from experience. As a sophomore in high school, I tried out for the Honor Corps on my dance squad. I spent hours choreographing and practicing my thirty-second tryout routine, and even though I was terrified to be watched and scrutinized by the judges — not to mention by my whole squad — I really thought I put my whole heart and soul into my performance that day.

But I didn’t make the Honor Corps.

I spent hours crying that night, and I moped for the rest of the week. A friend who did get into the elite group of dancers tried to comfort me, saying that there was always next year. I thought that was easy for her to say. She had tried out on a lark! She hadn’t invested the same amount of time, energy, or hope that I had.

And that was the key. What I learned from her and from those tryouts was that caring is good, because that’s what makes you try your best, but caring too much only sets you up to be disappointed.

A year later, that very same friend urged me to try out again. She helped me choreograph and practice my tryout piece — which was a lot better than the one I had done by myself — and when I auditioned, I simply danced the best I could.

And I made the Honor Corps.

I would like to say that I learned the lesson instantly and irreversibly, but like most things, it would take some time to fully sink in. A couple years later, as a freshman in college, I applied to be a Resident Assistant, and when I didn’t get the job, I was heartbroken. Everyone—and I mean everyone—thought I was going to get it, so the shock probably hit me worse than the disappointment. But everything turned out for the best, because I did a number of things the next year that I would not have been able to do as an RA, including working at the Carnegie Museum of Art and traveling to New York City to see The Gates in Central Park.

Now, I know better than to pin all my hopes on one thing. When I apply to jobs or submit stories for publication, I adopt the motto “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” And because I believe that things happen for a reason, I trust that “the worst” is actually leading me to a better path.

I came to this conclusion the way I come to all things: the hard way. And my friend may have to do the same with this scholarship. But after spending hours helping her prepare — editing essays, doing mock interviews, giving pep talks — I can sincerely say that she deserves this opportunity, and I hope she learns this particular lesson later, rather than now.

Fatal Fire in Huffman

Houston fire fighters found the body of Rodney Hodges, 56, during an in inspection of this Huffman home on Broad Ripple Drive, which caught fire on Nov. 15. The home was in the Lakewood Heights subdivision. A spokesperson for the Harris County Medical Examiner’s office said that Hodges’ cause of death is still pending. The cause of the fire is also under investigation.

Highlands mourns loss of community leader Lisa Urban

The communities of Highlands and Baytown mourn the passing of Lisa Urban, well known in these towns for her dedication to civic organizations and selfless community service. She was also a member of St. Jude Church in Highlands, with many friends there.
Lisa Hood Urban, 51, passed through this life to be with her eternal Father on Nov. 17, after contracting a rare pneumonia.
Lisa was a wonderful companion and best friend to her husband and confidant Johnny Urban. She was always the doting and loving mother to her two sons, John Paul Urban III and Matthew Urban.
Lisa was preceded in death by her father, M. L. Hood; father-in-law, John Paul Urban, Sr.; and loving sister-in-law, Teresa Urban Mosier.
Lisa is also survived by her parents, Betty Joe and David Boothe; sisters and bothers-in-law, Rita and Greg Singletary and Dee Anne and Chris Navarre; and brother and sister-in-law, Greg and Debbie Boothe. Lisa had a loving relationship with her mother-in-law Fern Urban, her brothers-in-law and their wives, nieces, nephews, great nephews, and great niece.

Lisa was born in Houston, Texas on May 20, 1956. Her family moved to Baytown, Texas in 1965. Lisa attended Baytown schools and quickly became a favorite to many friends. Her warm, sweet smile, quick wit and the ability to share a kind word were her trademarks.
After graduating Ross S. Sterling in 1974, Lisa attended at Lee College. She transferred to Southwest Texas University and then to The University of Texas at Austin. While at Southwest, Lisa met Johnny and a true friendship was formed and cemented in love. This love carried them through their thirty years of marriage.
Lisa and Johnny had a wonderful life together, they were truly blessed. They traveled about the world, laughing and loving along the way. Their mutual respect was evident everyday of their lives together and was truly a partnership made in Heaven. Their partnership was further sealed when they were blessed with the birth of their two sons. Lisa and Johnny reared their boys in a Christian way, passing on their morals that are evident in these young men today. Lisa was a devout Catholic and member of St. Jude Catholic Church in Highlands, giving thanks to God for even the smallest accomplishments in her life.
After graduating from the University of Texas with honors in accounting, she became a C.P.A. and started her career in Houston at a large accounting firm. In the mid 1980’s, she came to Baytown, where she started her own accounting firm. Later, along with Mark Mendelovitz and Ed Altemus, they formed the accounting firm of Mendelovitz, Altemus, and Urban, C.P.A’s. The company later became Mendelovitz Urban, and Associates PC, currently under the management of Lisa and co-owner and longtime partner Debbie Busch. She thought of her employees as family; she truly loved each and everyone of them.
After starting her business Lisa began her community service to Baytown. She served on numerous committees and organizations such as Rotary Club of Baytown as Treasurer, United Way of Baytown, Lakewood Civic Association, Friends of Lee College Foundation board member, the first female chairperson for the Chamber of Commerce of Baytown, co-chairperson for the Regional Urban Design Assistant Team, Chairwomen of Baytown’s Long-Range Planning Commission and selected Citizen of the Year in 1996 for her tireless efforts.
Lisa was diagnosed in January 2006 with Adenocarcinoma Lung Cancer. She never smoked and was never subjected to second hand smoke. Lisa and Johnny began their quest to learn as much about this cancer as possible. Their research led her to The Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where her doctors and nurses grew to love her quickly. She was given the best care available and was conquering the cancer when she contracted pneumonia. Lisa was amazing throughout her illness, never complaining. Lisa was a staunch believer in education. After she was diagnosed with cancer she expressed her desire to set up an endowment with the University of Texas. As was Lisa’s fashion, this goal was met this past year.
Her family received friends Nov. 19, from 5 until 9 p.m. with a rosary at 7:30 p.m. at Navarre Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. at St John Catholic Church, 800 W. Baker Rd, Baytown, Texas 77521 with Rev. John Zebelskas officiating. Following the mass all family and friends were invited to attend a celebration of Lisa’s life at the Goose Creek Country Club, 5000 Country Club Dr., Baytown, Texas 77521. At Lisa’s request her body will be cremated afterwards.
Pallbearers were Charles “Cha Cha” Conder, Tim Dodson, Dan Peters, Frank Williams, Calvin Mundinger and Ron Thompson. Honorary pallbearers will be Sherman Glass and Keith Fulton.
Lisa’s family would like to thank all of their friends and family who have been through this journey with them. Lisa loved all of you and cherished your friendships.
Because of Lisa’s belief in higher education, contributions may be made in lieu of flowers in her memory to the Lee College Foundation, Attn: Robert Wright, P. O. Box 818, Baytown, Texas 77522-0818.

Rotary club cited for highest fund raising in Houston District 5890

Past District Governor Suzi Howe presents an award certificate to Johnny Gaeke, past president of the Highlands Rotary Club. The Award announced that the Highlands Club, in 2006-2007, raised more money per capita for the international Rotary Foundation than any of the 57 clubs in the district. The amount of $383.79 per member was very close to the record amount for the whole world, which was about $400 by a club in Brazil. The Rotary Foundation funds humanitarian projects worldwide.

C-H Chamber elects directors

CROSBY– Last week, during the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership luncheon Board of Director elections were held.
The six positions were filled by: Juli Hain, Brothers Commercial Carpet Cleaning; Justin Brady, Edward Jones Investments; John Sparks, Sparks Insurance Agency; Bob Ward, Bob’s Computers; Don Cox, Century 21 Lifechangers and Julie Gilbert, AAA Home Loans.
Also during the luncheon Valerie Coleman, of the Small Business Administration spoke about the programs designed to help small businesses grow and prosper.

The right word makes the difference

Are you as tired as I am of listening about all of the sub prime loan problems? Those big banks should have sharpened their pencils instead of rubbing a crystal ball loaded with dollar signs. It keeps on and on and on, enough already.
You know you learn something every day and I learned a new word this morning.
While looking through the big city paper REAL ESTATE section, there was an eight million dollar house for sale over in the big city. The description of this high dollar six holer house besides the 6 bedrooms, wine cellar, carriage house and pool included a loggia.
Never heard of a loggia so GOOGLE was utilized to find out what a loggia is. GOOGLE says it’s “An open-sided, roofed or vaulted gallery”.

By crackie that ain’t nothing more than a porch but reckon that sounds more uppity than the word porch and I’ll bet’cha it doesn’t have a swang.
Maybe we can get a place similar to that when my ship comes in. I know the Mrs. would get mad if I stocked the pool with white perch.
Have been called tight before, but yesterday, my old friend in Wilmington, NC said I was cheap. Inquiring what he meant he went on to say it again “You are cheap”.
Adding, he said rather than go out to eat; you just go to the store and buy it, take it home and fix it. You save a lot of money that way but not like us, we are lazy so we go out to eat.
Never thought being called “cheap” could be meant as compliment.
One of our twins flew into town (from Pennsylvania) over the weekend. He took a test Saturday seeking employment with Exxon but told him not to hold his breath. Of course he likes these fall trips down to Texas so he can load up on canned goods to take back.
Slipped a ringer in on him with all the chowchow he took back. One jar had a T on top indicating Tabasco Peppers and a whole lot of them in the batch. That should help keep him warm when he is out shoveling snow; time will tell.
The twin works for a plant in York, Pennsylvania that makes plastic bottles for large companies. He said the security guard at the plant is from Highlands, Texas so he picked up a copy of the STAR COURIER to take back to the gentleman. Small world, eh?

A Thanksgiving Message…

This is a good season. This is the beginning of the holidays and specifically, Thanksgiving week. That’s a good time to think about our blessings, our families and how each has executed these past 12 months. May you find happiness and blessings in your life as we look back on our lives and look forward to our dreams. I get a little sentimental this time of year.
Tomorrow, the vast majority of us will feast.. But we cannot forget those who have not been so blessed. A few days ago I needed to prepare a Thanksgiving message for my church and came across Dr. Patricia Moseley Stanford’s “Five Kernels of Corn.” Most all of us know the story but let’s look at it one more time in Dr. Stanford’s words.
“…In the fall of 1621 the Pilgrims had a good harvest of Indian corn. However, the garden seeds they had brought with them did not reproduce well in the New England climate. With the foods they have grown and preserved, the Pilgrims decided to celebrate what they called Harvest Thanksgiving. They invited their Indian friends to join them, and much to their surprise about 90 Indians came and stayed for three days.

“A few days after the Harvest Thanksgiving, the ship Fortune arrived bringing 35 colonists from England. Most of the new arrivals did not have much more than the clothing on their backs. The sailors aboard Fortune also needed food for the voyage back to England, which was an unexpected drain on their food supplies.
“As the food supplies dwindled, every colonist knew daily hunger. They lived on half rations for six months. During the summer, many of the men and boys were two weak and thin to do the heavy labor of raising crops. It was not a good growing season. The harvest of 1622 was slim, and some of the crops that matured were stolen by the Indians.
“They Starving Time came upon the colony in the spring of 1623. Tradition tells us that each person received only five kernels of parched corn a day. When the corn supply was exhausted, they had neither bread nor corn for two or three months, and their entire diet consisted of fish and water.
“For the descendants of Mayflower passengers, the five kernels of corn are symbols of the Pilgrims’ willingness to fight great hardships for their beliefs, and must importantly, of their greatest legacy—a government by consent of the people with just and equal laws.”
A great story that has endured for nearly four centuries. The Pilgrims had a difficult time those first three years, but, Dr. Stanford forgot one thing. The Pilgrims were also looking for, and found, religious freedom.
By the way, if you find yourselves with guests for Thanksgiving dinner may there be less than 90 and may they not stay for three days!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Own a business? Put your retirement,succession plans in order

If you own a small business, you probably laugh at the notion of a “9 to 5” workday. Unfortunately, many small-business owners work so hard, and are so focused on the “here and now”- increasing sales, controlling costs, attracting new customers, etc. – that they forget to plan for their own retirement and for the fate of their business.
Don’t make those mistakes. No matter how hectic your schedule, take the time to set up a retirement plan for yourself and a succession plan for your business.
Let’s consider retirement plans first. These days, small-business owners such as yourself have several good retirement plans from which to choose as well as other options that may provide even more opportunity. If your business has no employees except you (and possibly,your spouse), you can choose a SEP IRA, an “owner-only” 401(k) or an “owner-only” defined benefit plan. If you have employees, you might want to explore a SIMPLE IRA or a “Safe Harbor” 401(k). All these plans have at least two things in common. First, your earnings can potentially grow tax-deferred. Second, you can fund any of these plans with virtually any type of investment: stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, government securities and more. You can even create a mix of investments to reflect your time horizon and risk tolerance.

Beyond these similarities, though, these plans have different requirements and features, so, to find the one that’s right for you, consult with a financial advisor who is experienced in helping business owners.
Once you’ve established your retirement plan, it’s time to think about succession planning. Here are a few general recommendations to keep in mind:
* Always know what your business is worth. Your succession plan may involve either selling the business or passing it to your heirs, so it’s essential you know the sales price or its inheritance value. Once you have this information, you can help draw up plans for selling the business or helping your family pay estate taxes.
* Integrate your succession plans with your estate plans. Many small-business owners just plan on leaving the business to their spouse – a move that could cut off other heirs from an inheritance. This can be particularly troublesome if all your net worth is tied up in the business – a situation you’ll want to avoid by having some outside investments, in addition to one of the retirement plans mentioned above.
* Include key employees in your planning. If you’d like to keep some key employees on after the business is transferred, let them know your plans while you’re still in charge. Of course, if you plan on selling your business to one of them, you’ll need to invest and organize the proceeds in such a way that they can be efficiently passed on to your family.
* Plan for “what if?” A good succession plan must also include plans for contingencies. To cite just one possible complication, what if you want to leave your business to an adult child, but that child dies before you? You may need to take many “what ifs” into account when you construct your plans.
You invest your heart and soul into your business. To protect that investment, work with your financial, tax and legal advisors to create the appropriate retirement and succession plans. Even as busy as you are, it will be time well spent.