Monday, December 13, 2010
Recently I learned something I already knew...but didn't. I needed time off. I was too stressed out. I was putting my body through too much, and if I didn't address these things soon...there would be consequences...serious ones.
I credit my vacation for the clarity. A week away from the grind did me a world of good, but two weeks would have done me much much more good...alas one week was all i could manage.
I catch myself working up the stress...thinking too much, take a breath and let it go. When I feel that spacey creep of exhaustion coming up...I back off. I'm letting myself ease into things instead of the crazy manic charge I've done for too long.
Changes are coming...
Monday, August 9, 2010
The other night our oldest nephew came into our bedroom to show us a paper that came in the mail. It was a letter from UH Manoa saying he was officially and fully admitted, and ready to register in about 10 days. He was very proud of this, and he should be (and so are my wife and I). You see when he came to live with us, just before his 14th birthday, he was not the kind of kid who you would think would be headed to college. In fact you may even have doubted he would graduate high school. And if you were him…in a moment or rare vulnerability he revealed, you would have thought he would never have lived to see his high school graduation. The why and what happened are private…but let’s just say he was not headed in a good direction.
So what happened? He made a decision to change the course of his life. It was all from HIM. He did it all on his own. What was different? My wife and I gave him something his life has lacked, and that was stability. A home he would always be able to go back to, a fridge with (real) food that did not go empty, and an environment with positive values and goals. You see I believe that those “troubled kids” are often that way because they don’t have an opportunity to make better choices. Nature vs. Nurture? That’s a long standing debate, for me it’s clear, given a shot at better circumstances those kids can & will begin to make better choices. When a kid has a bed of his own, food in his belly, and no worries about “bad guys” coming in the night, he can worry about grades. He can worry about a future. He can worry about what people think of him. He can dream, he can achieve, he can grow, and he can prosper.
I don’t deny that my wife and I have helped…but I’m telling you, nothing would have happened without him deciding to do it.
I was especially proud of him when I saw the letter from the university. I always thought he had the brains to get there, and I also thought that he wanted to go. What was important to me is that he did it himself. There were bumps with paperwork & other financial aide things and he handled them himself. Once was a time were he would cave at the first sign of difficulty. Not here, not now. The self esteem and self belief that he deserved to make a better life drove him to overcome. From “I don’t give a sh*t” to “I can do it”. If that isn’t growth, I don’t know what is.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
The black cloud of the Hawaiian economy has really put a pinch and a small panic on my little corner of it. I'm having to do things I never had to before, and I'm trying new things to keep things positive. Challenges, challenges, but we are hanging in there.
A former co-worker's (ex?) boyfriend left a rambling in comprehensible message on the phone system. Was it venting or a threat? Who could tell? Drugs are sooooo f*cking glamorous...
The battle of the bulge has been a real mother...just as I was getting back on track...I came down with bursitis in my knee. I am impatient as hell waiting for it to heal, especially as it seems to have triggered a hunger I haven't had in a long, long time.
I've brewed two more beers since last time. A Imperial India Pale Ale (featured at twobeerqueers.com) and a simple pale ale. After the high gravity hop bomb of the IIPA I thought a more sessionable pale ale made sense. Next up will be a Belgian Wit beer or a robust porter with some chocolate & coconut additions. The pale ale will be aged by the 18th of August and the IIPA will be ready on Sept 2, just in time for the UH home opener vs. USC. I tasted the IIPA after a month of bottle conditioning and it was VERY promising. If the flavor stays the same and it just smooths out...it may well end up replacing the hefe as my favorite beer I've made...stay tuned.
My son finished pre-school on Friday, and he begins the entry to Kindergarten on Tuesday. His only school time this week is a few hours on Tuesday. Then next week he'll be there on Tuesday & Wednesday for half days before finally having a full day on Thursday. Since he is no longer enrolled in pre-school, we do not have day care. So what do I do? I will be taking him to work with me for most on the next week and a half (as well as missing a bunch of work)...ugh. Thank God this is only for Kindergarten...if every school year started like this...yikes!
Our older nephew starts at UH Manoa in a couple weeks. It's gonna be a real shock to him, especially as he's done a lifetime of "having fun" this summer. Hope the memories last because he's about to learn the real meaning of work (he has no earthly idea!). His brother can't have him gone soon enough since it means he moves into his brother's room (after sharing a room with our son for 3 years).
I am waaaaaay too focused on my November vacation. Can't help it...I'm ready for a break from the constant stress and demands on me. Can't we go next week instead?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I haven’t posted in a while. Been busy as usual, and didn’t have a theme to really sink my teeth into. But in the interest of keeping things going and perhaps inspiring a flood of posts after this…I present a stream of consciousness.
- Once upon a time I did stand up comedy. This was before Seinfeld, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I quickly discovered that although I could write comedy, performing it was another matter entirely. I quit after about a year and a half. Did plenty of shows, but never got to the part where it began to pay. Now I have the urge to write comedy again. I have no desire to perform (although I think I could do it better today than then), but I would like to write. Maybe I can use this space for some of that…hmmmmmm?
- I have a new hobby, home brewing. I like beer, craft beer, high quality beer, not the stuff you buy in 30 paks of cans from 7-11. I mean expensive beer snob beers that come from breweries that even we beer snobs never heard of. So the next step was to brew my own. Armed with my $150 starter kit I brewed my first batch, a pale ale. It took a ½ day to cook up, 3 weeks to ferment, and 4 weeks of bottle conditioning before it was ready to share. That last part explains my motivation. The biggest kick of home brewing is the feedback you get from those you share it with. I’ve since brewed two more batches, a dark brown ale that’s bottle conditioning right now (ready to drink for 4th of July). And a hefeweizen that I cooked up this weekend and is in primary fermentation. I’ve already decided that batch 4 will be an IPA, even though I’m not a huge fan of IPAs. As hobbies go it’s not too expensive. My out of pocket cost for a 5 gallon batch is about $45 for ingredients & energy costs (lots of time on the gas stove). The next step would be to try all grain brewing. That would require a bunch of new equipment, and a greater time investment. For now I’ll be content to be the best extract brewer I can be.
- I am thoroughly distracted by thoughts of my vacation that will not happen until November. I-am-torturing-myself! Maybe the solution is to take some time off during the dog days of summer. I could use it to see a movie without talking animals (ask any parent of a young child), go to the gym, and get reacquainted with my long suffering mountain bike. And nap, take lots of naps…
- LOST ends this Sunday. My Wife and I have watched this show from the beginning. Before the house was over run with boys, we would sit in the living room with our dinner of kraut dogs and ponder the many mysteries & puzzles that made up this show. But after Sunday it will be all over. So now I’m on the hunt for a new favorite show. And I had better find one soon, and it better be one my Wife can enjoy too because I am driving her up the wall with all the Top Gear reruns on the DVR.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
He’ll be staying with us until the Fall when he moves into the dorm at UH. His younger brother (who moved in with us 3 years ago) will take his room for his own, no doubt a relief, since he’s been sharing a typically small bedroom with our 4 year old son. Although he’ll be at school and his brother occupying “his” room, there will no doubt be a messy pile of stuff in the corner to remind us he’s part of the household too.
Our legal commitment to him is over, but as I told him, I regard him as my son as much as any of our boys, and always will (cue the theme for 60’s TV show My Three Sons).
His younger brother and I also had a great heart to heart talk about school, girls, & friends. He is often the closed book “I don’t know” type. This time he opened up. I shut up & listened. And I think he realized that Uncle isn’t the fire breathing dragon he always though I was. I’m hoping the communication stays more open like this.
And finally, my son, 4 ½. The other morning as we were getting ready for work & school. He grabs me and gives me a hug and says “Daddy, you’re my best-est friend”. I thanked him and asked “But what about Mommy?” He said “oh yeah, Mommy too”. I than asked the same about his two cousins and Tutu, and he proclaimed them his “best-est friends” too. Then I asked if our dog Lani-Girl was one too and he said “ahhh, noooo”. So I’m happy to know I out rank the dog.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Lose it! App for iPhone & iPod Touch
Quiz time. What fits in your pocket, has a powerful database, and can help you loose the weight you’ve fought so hard to loose? It’s an app called “Lose it!”. Not only is it easy to use and effective, but it’s also free!
I’m half way though a weight loss fight for life, and I plateaued a while back and couldn’t get back to losing weight again. I tried a bunch of strategies to no avail. I even got so discouraged I back slid for a while. Then I was reminded of “food journaling”. You think you are watching how much you eat? Really? Write it all down (honestly) and you’ll be surprised. I could never get myself to keep a food journal…just not a way that worked for me, writing in a notebook. Then I stumbled upon this app. The price was right (free) so I gave it a try. You start by inputing some information like your age, weight, height, and target weight. It calculates your allowed calories based on your weight loss goal. My iPod Touch is my constant companion, and this allowed me to keep the daily notations of food & exercise. In fact, seeing how daily calories are calculated (and reduced by exercise) made me more mindful of getting in my workouts. I found myself getting to the gym and avoiding those extra snacks, all in the name of keeping the daily calorie counts on target. So after two weeks here’s my result…a 5.4 pound weight loss. Plateau no more! I’m on the right track now. I can not recommend this weight loss tool any more highly. Want help losing weight? Get this now.
Monday, March 22, 2010
This past week has not been a good one to be my friend. First my cousin Frankie passed away after a long fight against cancer. The cancer was from the agent orange he came into contact with during the Vietnam War. The same war that shaped him and greatly influenced his entire life after. The Army helped him discover his talent for learning languages, which he used as a soldier, and then as a business man in
After hearing about my cousin I got the bug to try and reconnect with an old friend who moved from
Finally, as I scanned the newspaper yesterday I found a obituary of my old Hawaii Bicycling League colleague Frank Denton. We both served on the HBL board during an especially difficult time (not that any time has been easy). Frank had a can do attitude, and would always have a suggestion seasoned with a solid business man’s flair. After our time on the board, I would frequently run into him at the bank. We’d chat and discuss HBL and our businesses. I hadn’t seen Frank since I relocated my business to Kalihi last year. Perhaps Frank will join John Kelly for a bike ride in the great beyond, Frank on a touring bike and John on his triathlon rig. A memorial is scheduled for tomorrow at Murphy’s.
Time on this blue marble is short. Even if you have a faith that there is a life after this turn on the mortal spiral…leaving it and seeing friends & family leave it is sad and can shake you up. Nothing here is permanent. Nothing here is permanent…maybe it’s time to act with that knowledge.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Or just plain tired.
I'm usually dealing with some sort of fatigue, but today I'm tired in a way I can't remember feeling. I have been hitting it hard as usual. And I'll admit I'm at a personal best on the stress front (not in the good way). I have three more long days ahead, then another hectic Sunday. And the caffeine isn't doing it for me either. Having trouble concentrating on work.
I need some time off.
Ummmm, not soon...
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
So is this just another example of a product going through it’s life cycle? Is the traditional morning newspaper in the end of it’s life cycle? Newspapers have had a long product cycle run. Don’t think so? Look at cassette tapes. You bought one last when? Do you even have any? How about CDs? I know people who have gone completely digital and no longer have a single CD or even a player (outside of the optical drive in their computer). Times change. Things come and go. Some quicker (CDs), some take longer (newspapers?). I’m seeing my own business eroding away because of the product cycle.
I grew up in Chicago, a town that was blessed with three daily newspapers. The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times, and the Chicago Daily News. When I was a kid the Daily News closed down to the utter shock of all in the city. Much like Honolulu, every family had it’s preference. Our house favored the Tribune, my Aunt & Uncle preferred the Sun Times. Today I prefer the Advertiser. The fact that it’s the larger format like the Tribune of my childhood is no coincidence. I heard recently of the financial woes of the Tribune…seems my favorites are suffering right now.
My immediate reaction to the news of the sale of the Advertiser was a feeling of sadness for the 300+ employees who will no doubt be going through some big and probably hard changes in the next few months. The only question is who it will be…some from both papers, all of one, or the other…no one knows yet.
These times are definitely changing. I won’t say for the worse…because as far as I’m concerned, we are far from the end of this cycle of change. Let’s see where it lands us, let’s see how we can make it good.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Last night I went into the garage to retrieve something, do it all the time. But last night I needed something behind & above a bag of "HI-5's". The bag was in the way so using my foot I attempted to push it aside. Pain. Blood. Lot's of blood. One of the glass containers in the bag had broken and a shard of it stuck through the bag in the exact spot where my foot contacted it. The glass went straight into the bottom of my third toe...about 3/4"into the toe. Pain & blood. Blood & pain. I called my wife to bring the first aid kit while I held a work towel to my foot. Luckily our friend the EMT was over for dinner, and he cleaned the wound & stopped the bleeding. Followed up with my Doctor this morning and all is well except for a deep wound & a very swollen toe.
I had planned to go to the gym this morning but...um...yeah. I'm hoping the swelling will go down by the weekend...it's tender & throbbing right now but getting better by the hour. Look at the picture...whatta nasty bit huh?
Friday, February 19, 2010
The Metromix/Grilled Cornbread brain trust was asking earlier this week...what are your guilty pleasures? Well...here's one of mine.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I was accompanied by my Wife who was a champ and even surprised me with a frantic run at the start (arrrrgh, shin splints!). We finished with a time of 2:12, and if you believe my Nike+ do dad attached to my iPod, we covered 8.26 miles (I guess all that zig zagging adds up). We both had a great time and made a pact to look for more of these events to do (looking at Ford Island 10k next). So we finish, exit the stadium, get a bottle of water, a banana, a can of “POG Energy” (blech!), and a variation of a moon pie in a wrapper...say what?!?!?! Where are the Loves donuts? No donuts! A travesty!
I’ll return again next year in spite of that oversight.
But I’m gonna bring my own donuts next time.
Friday, February 12, 2010
It’s been a while since I’ve been to this trail, but I’m chomping at the bit to go again. It’s best to go when we’ve had 4-5 rain free days or you will face a muddy and sometimes very slick trail. There are two big payoffs on this trail. First are the views, great views of the H3 & mountain ridges. Second, about 2/3 of the way around (clockwise from the top) is a plane wreck just off the low side of the trail. Dating back to the 40’s, the wreckage of a cargo plane can be seen just feet below the trail. I seem to see a little more of it every time I pass by. I’ve been on this trail many times, most of them on a mountain bike, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. A mini adventure that lasts an hour tops. Better when dry, not much fun when wet (and it’s not good for the trail either).
At dictionary.com it says this about stress:
8. physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension: Worry over his job and his wife's health put him under a great stress.
Usually we think of this when we hear the word stress. I’ve often said that stress is caused by “how we choose to react to a situation”. Choosing our reaction to unpleasant events or circumstances is no easy feat. I’ve practiced trying to choose a less harmful reaction for some time. It’s not always easy. Fact is it’s often very hard. But I keep trying. I’m stubborn like that. My wife says that sometimes I’m relentless. Wow…that sounds powerful…truth is I’m just pig headed.
It’s no secret the world economy is in the dumper, and we here in Hawaii are not exempt. Neither are our local businesses. Each week I hear about another filing bankruptcy or closing down. In the past five years I’ve seen a number of my long time customers close shop. People with years of experience, who rode the ups & downs of business, and just couldn’t continue. Being good isn’t enough anymore…the situation has changed that much. It’s hard to deal with when you discover the skills and strategies you’ve spent a lifetime learning just don’t work anymore. Heck some things that worked 5 years ago don’t work anymore. Some from last year don’t work…quite a cycle to keep up with. Facing that…it could be tough to choose a positive reaction. Enter what we know as stress.
I’m a small business person. Been at it for a long time. Learned a lot. Forgot more. Tried not to make the same mistakes twice. But the current climate is working every talent and strategy I have. I’m scrambling for sure. It’s very tiring. And last week I noticed it creeping into my home life. Not. Good. At. All. I needed a personal re-boot and I needed it quick. How? I learned this technique from Scott Smith’s podcast (motivationtomove.com). You stand up and start pacing the room (best done when alone). As you pace, you say out loud what’s stressing you. Sometimes just hearing yourself say it out loud is enough to trigger a response. Sometimes it brings me back down, realizing I was getting all nuts over nothing really. Other times it comes harder…ideas fly, considered and discarded, like sorting through my mental “messy desk”. Most times I walk away with a plan of action, but not always. The success rate is high enough for me to keep trying this. Even when I don’t get a usable plan from it, I at least get some relief from the energy spent. Not as physical as a workout, but that kind of endorphin high. Even if I’m no closer to an answer, I feel better about the situation. God willing I’ll wake up the next day to try again…the fight isn’t over. Sometimes all I need is to know I still got fight in me to make me feel better. I must not be alone, 20 years ago Styx did a song about it…
“I’m not dead yet - not dead yet
I’m a mad dog fighting with the wall against my back
You’d better get a bigger gun, I’m not dead yet”
Hey stress, you lookin at me?
Friday, February 5, 2010
This week I have a book recommendation, with one caveat, I am listening to the audiobook version. My commute exceeds 2 hours a day so audiobooks are a nice diversion from traffic. Tony Dungy is widely known for his time in the NFL. His football cred is untouchable. But his book “Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life” touches on much more than football. In telling his own story Tony shows how faith, personal values, and the belief in a greater purpose have propelled him in his career and personal life. High highs and low lows and how he handled them all. I’m ready to get a hard copy to study further.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Shaka stickers, sign waving, the bus...all Frank. Godspeed Mayor Fasi.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
For a family man it may be the last vestige of his bachelor days. For some it’s the only place they can keep their golden nectar. And for me, it’s a little slice of heaven where I go to get away if just for a few minutes. I love, I mean love craft beers. Small batches, strong flavors, high ABVs, dark, darker, darkest, love it all. But it’s a little outta place next to the eggs and milk in the kitchen fridge. And with three boys plus Daddy in the house, a small fridge in the garage for drinks was a natural step. I call it my beer fridge, but to be honest, the only place you find beer is the door. The rest of the fridge is filled with juice bags, soda, & bottled water. But the door…oh yeah…that’s my territory.
WARNING: EXTREME BEER SNOBBERY AHEAD
To quote a famous craft brewing company, I don’t care for fizzy yellow beer. The beers I like usually start at a darker yellow and go all the way to absolute black. Red & darker ales are always welcome. Pitch black porters & stouts are divine. Strong bouquets, multiple layers of flavors, and the ever complex game of identifying and naming all the flavors. It begins with the hunt for new beers. Always in search of something new, something with a different twist. Once in a while I find one that really satisfies and I put that on my “list”. The “list” is for the beers I fall back on when I don’t find anything new that peaks my curiosity. Kapuziner, Old Rasputin, Darkforce, and when I can get it Arrogant Bastard. All good, all interesting, when nothing else comes forward these are the go to beers for me. I don’t deal in volume when it comes to beer, and that’s a good thing since many of the beers I gravitate to are high ABV (alcohol by volume) beers. Two is my limit on anything stronger than you will find at Foodland. It’s not about getting bust up, it’s about taking some time to enjoy a “treat”. Slowing down, enjoying the sensations, being in the moment. With a busy life like mine, I need these breaks to keep me grounded. It’s not the alcohol, it’s the pattern break…speed limit zero.
So there is my refuge, the door of the beer fridge. More than just a drink, it’s a “mental health break” for a busy life.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
I don’t want to use this blog to espouse my religious beliefs, but there is a concept I hold to be true that I want to speak on here. I believe that every day we wake up, we have an incredible opportunity…the chance to get it right. I don’t know about you but I screw up every day. Far from perfect, I can see at least one major personal shortcoming every day. Not to say I’m all down on myself, just owing up to my own brand of suckiness.
But I wake up again…not dead yet! So this new day is my chance to get right the things I got wrong yesterday. That’s a pretty cool thing when you think of it. I won’t dwell on yesterday’s suckiness, I’ll put my thoughts & efforts to getting it right today. Will I get it right or screw up again…sure I will, time & time again. But I hang my hat on that chance a new day brings me.
Perfect? Nope! Willing to try, you bet…and I will, every time I get that new day.
P.S. 6 1/2 hours later, the garage is clean and the Daddy Wagon is detailed for the first time in a year. I had to take a picture so I can remember how it's supposed to look.
P.S.S. Deschutes Brewery, Mirror Pond Pale Ale is a good end to a day like this.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I've been working most Saturdays for the past 23 years. It started out casually, I would go to the shop to "get some things done". While there if the phone rang or someone would knock on the door, I would help them best I could. After a while some customers came to depend on my being there on Saturdays. At one point I just declared us open on Saturdays, set hours, and scheduled one of the staff to come in and help. Some Saturdays we'd hardly see anyone (like I suspect today will be like). Some we'd be super busy and do more business than the preceding Friday. So I work Saturdays. That makes for a 6 day week not counting a Sunday here or there and when I bring work home. I'm fine with it, and even enjoy being here when it's quiet. But it's still working on the weekend. To make it more than another work day I started going to breakfast on Saturdays. Today was no different. I was reminded of a favorite after a brief exchange on twitter with @zztype, @scrivener, & @Melissa808. So there I was this AM, enjoying blueberry pancakes, bacon, & coffee at The Original Pancake House in Kalihi. And it was magnificent. That thick bacon is worth the small fortune it cost ($4.99 for 4 pieces). The pancakes are creamy and had plenty of fresh blueberries. A little butter and a dollop of syrup and they were good to go. That breakfast will take care of me long into the afternoon, which is good since I think I'll be in constant motion until then. Nice way to start my extended work weekend.
Friday, January 29, 2010
My Aloha Friday Suggestion for this week is a song by the band Anitproduct. Based in LA but the darlings of the UK, featuring A. Product (Alex Kane from Life Sex & Death), Claire Product, and an eclectic rotating roster of players. Press me for a label to put on the music, and I'd go for "power-pop on acid". OK...it really is better than that sounds. Revved up power-pop with a twisted sense of humor. But the songs are very, very catchy. The song I'm suggesting is called "Parties All Over the World" from the cd "Please Take Your Cash" (available from the band at antiproduct.com).
Thursday, January 28, 2010
So Steve Jobs showed off his latest wiz-bang can't miss toy yesterday (Got an Apple TV? Didn't think so). The iPad is Apple's "magical and revolutionary devise". It appears to be the same form factor as a iPhone or iTouch, only bigger. I love my iTouch, carry it and use it all the time. I covet an iPhone, but alas, as a Verizon customer I'm out of luck (for now). So to say I'm a prime potential buyer is no overstatement. But after seeing the big announcement I'm...not blown away.
The tech press had been teasing that something really different, a game changing killer app was a foot. I'm still waiting. The mail & picture handling is a step up from the iPhone/iTouch, but nothing better than I have on my laptop. iTunes store, App store, yeah my Touch has those too. Listen to music? Check. Watch videos? Check. OK then, how about a book reader? The reader is what looks to me to be the app with the most potential. As a student I lugged around a large bag full of heavy books. Expensive books. Books that the book store would often be out of, causing me to miss reading assignments or have to photocopy others books. Then I had the task of trying to sell them back to the book store after that semester for pennies on the dollar. Down loadable digital books would be a quick, always in stock, easier to transport, and (one could hope) more affordable than the dead tree version. If it catches on, I can see devices that serve as book readers (& more) being a really big thing. I would have loved such a setup in high school & college.
But for me, middle aged family with a mortgage, it's a harder sell. The reader is cool, but not the killer app I want. For me, the killer app would be Excel on my iPad. It would make certain important tasks at my shop much easier, replacing a lot of hand written pages with direct entry. Certainly a time saver, and would probably add to accuracy too. I know there's iWork Numbers in the app store, and yes you can export to Excel...but I would want to avoid all the extra steps to do so. Email myself the Excel file, modify it, and email it back. That's what I want.
And the price. I won't grumble about the price since hey, it's an Apple product...if you want a super low price don't sniff around the Apple tree. If I had an extra $499 burning a hole in my pocket, it would be a nice, less squint worthy alternative to my iTouch. But without MY killer app, it's just a cool toy.
And the name, oh the name. Was it some passive aggressive move by the women at Apple not to point out the obvious FAIL that is the name iPad? Even before the introduction was over, Twitter was being deluged by hygiene product jokes. Steve Jobs, hello! Didn't you run this one past your wife?
*Apple had the nerve to call it magical? Well perhaps it is, if it can make $499 disappear from my wallet in April.