Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Manliness, The art of

I like to send out note cards from time to time to keep in touch with friends, to tell people thanks in a personal way for the good deeds they have done on my behalf. But, I have discovered that many of the note cards available are not at all very manly.

In my search for more manly cards, I came across the site The Art of Manliness.

I did find that, through this site, I could buy some very manly cards. But more than that, I found that it is a wealth of manly information. For instance, in the Manly Skills section, you can learn how to remove a fishhook from your finger, how to fold a flag, how to read a topographical map, among many other things.

Other sections include advice on Dress and Grooming, Health and Sports, Money and Career. And the list continues.

So, for a fun and useful diversion, head on over to The Art of Manliness, and maybe you will become a better man for it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

An imprecise science or two

I can't say that I agree with all of the author's conclusion, but I did find one quite compelling. In the book Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools, Steve Brill argues that many of the things we believe will fix schools really don't always help as he looks at the education reform measures of the last few years. One of his ideas is that the amount of resources the school has does not correlate with the results.

I thought of this as I looked over my property tax bill today.

I know most of you don't look at yours, or maybe you rent, so you pay it indirectly and never see the bill. So, I will let you in on a little bit of mine.
Of the nearly $2,200 we have to pay this year, about $920.00 goes to the City School District. That is pushing close to one half of all the property taxes.
For comparison purposes, another 1/4 of the County property taxes go to the county and the rest is divided between the City, Pima College, the Library, School Equal (whatever that is) and other areas like that.
Oh, and $7.14 goes to the Fire District.

Currently in our state, we are being asked to vote for another one percent of all our sales taxes to go to "education" (Proposition 204), which seems to have become a code word for "you had better vote for this or you must hate children and want our society to descend into absolute chaos".

Last year, it also meant that you wanted to burn down the schools because the firemen would all be fired if you didn't vote to spend more of your money on one tax or the other. I see that the firemen were able to get $7.00 out of that deal.

While it would be nice if schools everywhere could have all the money in the world, I really don't think throwing more of our money at them whenever they want is really going to make them better.

Am I wrong?

In the meantime, for those of you that are a little shaky on your macroeconomics, or if you went to a public university and were overexposed to Keynesian economics without learning the countering viewpoint, you can check out the video below. It is a music video that compares Keynes and Hayek's economic views, the economists that have the most influence on how we deal with our economy today. You get the basics in just a few fun filled minutes. You are welcome.

Fight of the Century: Keynes and Hayek Round Two

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And Again

No, it is not just to trumpet that I know how to read. The point of this post, and similar ones, is to encourage you to grab a book and to give you a few ideas. With that in mind, here are a few I have been taking in:


Into the Fire
Killing Lincoln
The Good Son
The Barefoot Bandit

Friday, October 12, 2012

The 900

When I was younger, much younger, I was into the whole skating thing. That would be skakeboarding, for those that were wondering, not ice, roller or getting by at work without doing much of anything.

I had a Powell-Peralta Caballero street deck with Independent Trucks, Bones wheels and swiss bearings. We used to skate around town, on a big ol' ramp someone made in their back yard, at the huge drainage pipe at the lake and pretty much anywhere we could find concrete. I was sad to discover when I moved back to Tucson that the pool we had rode in here in an abandoned hotel downtown was now filled in.

The picture up top here is the Mini-logo deck I have now, with Indy trucks, bones wheels and mini logo bearings.

A huge moment in skateboarding came when Tony Hawk landed a 900. This is a 900 degree spin on a ramp that he had been working on for about 5 years and landed at the X Games in 1999. Several other dudes were working on this trick, but no-one had been able to land it yet. After he did it, others jumped in and were able to land it too.

In March of this year, 12 year old Tom Schaar was able to land the first 1080. That's 360 degrees times three spinning up in the air on a skateboard and landing it while still rolling.

Sometimes, we need someone else to show us that the impossible really can be possible. Then we can go on to meet the "impossible" standard and even exceed it.

Here is a pearl of wisdom from Tony Hawk about how he learned to land the 900 from a recent Catalyst conference:

Tony said he didn't learn to land it until he was able to shift his balance while he was spinning.
 I have found that I often need to change my balance in life, but I don't always get a time out to do it. Maybe I should learn to change that balance (focus, effort, etc.) while I am still spinning, moving and functioning.

Here is a picture of the deck I had. Not the exact one, but they are doing a reissue of it. Tempting.....

And here is a video of Tony hitting that historic 900.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Living like a hobo

I am happy to say that we have a nice home here. It has running water, electricity, air conditioning and heating, beds, soap, the whole nine yards.

After recently returning from an outing to New Mexico where I had to share a kind of rustic room with 7 other guys, I was ready to enjoy our home.

But, this weekend, I was scheduled to go camping with Ethan and his Cub Scout pack at the scout campground on Mt. Lemon. I wasn't too excited, but I knew Ethan was looking forward to it, so off we went.

It is not at all very clean at this camp and the bathroom facilities are outhouse style facilities that I am pretty sure never get cleaned, beyond getting pumped out from time to time.  We also had to cook over the open fire, which was actually pretty tasty. especially when compared to the heaps of rubbery spaghetti and macaroni and cheese that was served for our one group meal.

Our tiny tent seems to barely have room for the two of us to stretch out in as we are trying to sleep. And since it is a lightweight summer duty tent designed for backpacking in warm climes, it doesn't have much insulation.

October on the mountain is not too warm, so I began working on adding a little extra insulation to the thing. I put a couple of extra towels we had over the open air netting. Then a put a rain poncho over that, before covering it with the rain fly that came along with the tent.

As I was doing this, I was thinking how I was living just like a hobo.

It was right about then that Ethan said, "This is so much fun!"

I suppose camping can be worthwhile.

Monday, October 8, 2012


If you know anything about the history of ancient Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament or the writings of a 1st century historian named Josephus, you know that a good deal of it goes kind of like this:

Israel decides to stop doing what God says, start living like everyone around them and worship weird gods - things go south for Israel -someone pops up to lead Israel back to the straight and narrow (usually a Judge or a King or a Prophet) - Israel prospers

Until.......Israel decides to stop doing what God says - rinse - repeat.

Usually the characters that stepped up to the plate are venerated for what they have done. Josiah, Judas Maccabees and Deborah are names that are not forgotten among the faithful to this day.

But I recently came across a passage in the book of 2nd Kings. Israel was going through the same sort of thing, led by an evil king and repeatedly beaten in battle by another nation.

Then it says simply, "So the LORD provided SOMEONE to rescue the Israelites..."

No name. No title. No record of the things they did.

Just someone.

I think that sometimes we are asked to be, simply, someone. To do the right thing, to influence others, maybe even to make a world changing, people rescuing impact without anyone ever knowing who that someone was.

And sometimes it can be hard not getting the credit, the title, the recognition.

Sometimes it is hard to just be someone.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lessons Learned

Their are some who say that one of the basic life skills we need to succeed is the ability to sell. Whether it is a convincing others to listen to our ideas or trying to earn a living, convincing and persuading others (of course in a non manipulative and honest way) is important in much of what we do.

With this in mind, Ethan, our youngest, is working on a campaign to sell popcorn for his scout troop. I think he has learned some valuable things in this endeavor.

 Among the lessons learned:

- Setting goals and not giving up until you reach them.
He is looking for $1,000 in sales and plans on pushing until he reaches the goal or runs out of time.

- Rewards for hard work and the power of incentives
One of the reasons he set this goal, which is much higher than the goal he set last year, was because of the rewards and incentives he gets for reaching this level.

- Basic communication skills
He has found that you have to talk to and relate with people in order to get them interested in your product (idea, adventure, etc.)

- Dealing with setbacks
We recently learned that some of the donations collected (not the ones that were sent to him personally, but the ones that were collected at the store sales events) were not counted towards his total sales. This set him back a little over $100 in his campaign. Consequently, he has learned that you can give up on our goal, or you can try and overcome the setback and still go for the win.

Even if he does fall a little short of his goal this year, I think he has still gained some value from the effort.

 But, if you do want to help him with these valuable lessons, you can still order online at this link:


Monday, October 1, 2012

Opening Lines

"To many of the friends I had back then, I am already a ghost. Just a specter that passes through their thoughts when they happen to remember the things we saw together. Someone they figure they will never see again, except for at some river up yonder in the great day of gathering, or something like that.

But I am still very much alive, and I still have a few things to do, so they might just see me again. Soon."

There. There are the opening lines to a new western novella. Now I just need some unpardonable past wrong, some lever action rifles, a few Indians (hostile and friendly), a beloved horse that will probably have to die, a couple of scruffy villains and a sidekick. 

Oh, I better throw in some dynamite. Or maybe nitroglycerin. That sounds even better. Then the story will be good to go.

Please leave your opinion on whether or not it will need a Gatling gun and/or the cavalry.

Who wants to reserve their advance copy now?