mono as in one or me. rail as in to vent or complain. thus monorail.
     
MONORAIL

Weblog
current
archives
random

SEARCH dearmitt.com
what i'm looking for

Biographical
what i'm remembering
what i'm eating
who i'm looking like
what i'm coveting

Books
what i'm reading
me vs mla's top 100

Film
me vs afi's top 100

Music
what i'm hearing

The Net
what you're wanting

Contact

page me


 
MONORAIL: LATEST ENTRIES [random]
WIFE (permalink) 01.13.2017
sweet-tooth
our family was at ted drewes, a famous dessert shack in our town. after putting in our order we stepped to the side to wait for our treats. a group of old guys took our place at the order window. the first of them said, "i'd like a hot fudge sundae with extra-extra hot fudge and the seniors discount."

after completing his sentence, he turned to the two old guys behind him and said, "i bet you didn't know about the seniors discount."

the consented they did not. he flashed a schoolboy's smile.

then he caught marty's eye and before he could say anything to her she said, "and i didn't know about the extra-extra hot fudge."

his schoolboy smile got a bit younger and a touch wider at her clever quip.




 
icnArchiverTop
icnArchiverBot
txt_monoArchiver
ARCHIVE VIEWER
1
year ago
2
years ago
3
years ago
4
years ago
5
years ago
6
years ago
7
years ago
8
years ago
9
years ago
10
years ago
KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 01.17.2008
my sentiments, quite exactly.
alex stood quietly, watching me peel potatoes for dinner. the potatoes were wet and i was fumbling them in my hands. i started getting frustrated. i took a breath about to mutter something when alex spoke up:

aahhhh. you gotta be kidding me.

i looked at him and smiled. that is definitely something i mutter on a near-daily basis. he never took his eyes of my hands and continued to watch me struggle. after a few more minutes of slippery spuds i drew another breath and alex shot out:

son of a beeeeaaaannnn.

you see i usually catch myself before i finish that one and it would seem alex has surmised the word i've been omitting is 'bean' given the way i end up elongating the letter B. when the kids are a bit older i bet we could make a sporting game out of guessing the swear dad or mom would use given various scenarios.



monthly archives




QUOTES, WIFE (permalink) 01.12.2017
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
MANHOOD




TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 01.11.2017
redundant
some people recently learned marty still didn't carry a cell phone. as most, they pushed her on this doing little to hide their incredulity. her response.
The only reason I would need a cellphone is to call people to tell them I'm running late but everyone I know already knows I'm going to be late so what's the point?
next issue.




PHOTO (permalink) 01.10.2017
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.



JANUARY 2017




LIST (permalink) 12.23.2016
web sampler, 2009 - 2016
part 1 is here

2009
anthony lotion


2010
mom


2011
boyhood


2012
potty words


2013
someone to love

vcr


2014
black

2015
you spilled


2016
hear out

new car



PART 14
< Web Sampler, Part 1
List-Fest 2016 - PART 15
Table of Contents




LIST (permalink) 12.22.2016
web sampler, 2001 - 2008
selecting past posts to share was a much harder assignment than i expected but not for the reason you would think i would say, at least not fully.

finding anything of merit in the early years of the site is very challenging. i was a blathering dolt. and i know this. i know this now at least. and it is why i nearly deleted the first five years of the site one night. but a reader, the way-with-words girl from seattle, convinced me to leave it in tact. now, yes, she agreed with me that the early days were quite the embarrassment and i was a competition-grade bore but the point she made was that when viewed en masse you get to see an opinionated and self-absorbed CHILD transform into an opinionated and self-absorbed ADULT. she was obviously kinder in saying this. she more eloquently, as is her way, put it as "you get to see the birth of a man". namely because there was a lot of sharing about what a fumbling parent looks like. so to protect the transformation story, that early stuff will stick around. but you can't know how hard, painful even, it is for me as it really is quite embarrassing.

so while this began as finding my favorite posts, it turned into trying to find ANY posts in the early years to then when my children were older and more entertaining to limiting myself to just a few posts. so this is far less organized than i hoped and represents a collection of posts that my memory drew me to.

2001
the start of it all


2002
dad nursing


2003
aleo


2004
sonogram glove


2005
marty in florida


2006
alex toys

anfer


2007
a morning in the life

bloody anthony

FSU


2008 (the year of the bathtub)
alex sleeping in the tub

bella tub battle

stroller debacle




PART 13
< Best Conversations
List-Fest 2016 - PART 14
Table of Contents
PART 15
Web Sampler, Part 2 >




LIST (permalink) 12.21.2016
best conversations
teasing a good conversation out of a situation is a powerful bit of alchemy. when younger, i was horribly unskilled in this art. and it's not a young versus old thing as i have seen plenty of effervescent conversationalist of all ages. fact is, lots of poeple would want to point at my daughter as someone who can handle herself pretty admirably in new and tough rooms but my aleo, now thirteen, has proven himself to be a capable ambassador in all sorts of situations. he has a quiet and easy way about him that makes people calm and comfortable. for all the unweildy baggage applied to middle children, marty and i believe their ability to be comfortable with older AND younger people provides them with a unique skill to be able to speak to a broader range of people (bella can get goofy around older kids sometimes and anthony just stares at anyone younger than him like they are an odd animal at the zoo he's never seen before). regardless, being able to facilitate good conversations is a skill and craft i have given hard hours to in improving. given all the time i've put into it, this is a rather meager listing. but, they are also what incent me to keep trying to get people talking.


marty first date
when marty and i went on our first date (the second time around) something happened at the dinner table that had never happened to me. the world around her, around us dissolved away, almost like it was greyed out, and we fell into this deep conversational void. i have no clue how much time passed. it could have been five minutes but it might have been forty. all i remember is having a laser focus on her face and words that i had never experienced before. the two most remarkable things about the moment for me were (1) we were on a double date when it happened which means there was a couple across the table from us that we were completely ignoring (and i promise you were not locked in an equally connected conversation) and (2) what happened to me happened to marty too. it was truly as if someone had drugged the two of us. we deem that as the true start of our now 27 year relationship.


chris and gina wedding night
i used to work with a guy i loved talking to. he sorta liked talking to me but not as much as i liked talking to him. i think this was because i asked him questions he deemed too personal. but he was such an interesting guy i couldn't waste my time talking about the game or the popular show of the time. this was in part because the dude didn't have a tv which in 1996 was interesting thing number one about him.

i found his wife and their relationship equally interesting. his wife was so lovely and i enjoyed the rare minutes i got to spend with her. these minutes freaked chris out though because he was always afraid of what i might ask her. knowing this, and liking chris, i was always respectful of his concern and reserved my questions for gina to innocuous topics, until one night.

chris and gina were about to leave the country and it was likely that we would never see them again, so marty and i threw a small dinner party for them so our small circle could say our goodbyes. after dinner and while sitting in the living room, with no real prompting on my part, gina got to talking about their marriage and wedding night. i'm not going to share the specifics of the conversation that unfolded in the conversation because it is not my story to share but i will say that i believe for the handful of people in my living room that night it was one of the most beautiful pieces of storytelling we ever experienced. if there was a downside, it was how uncomfortable chris seemed as his wife shared their tale.


brian and tracy start of relationship
third up is another relationship centered one. there's probably a perfectly understandable reason for that but i'm not sure what it was. but here the family of a friend of ours hosted a pre-thanksgiving meal every year. it was a wonderful event with loads of interesting people. the matriarch of the house loved marty and this adoration led to an invite for the pair of us to this coveted event. given all of the interesting people, there were lots of good conversations to be had. one year i got talking to a young couple that were just starting their relationship. i asked a few questions about how they met and whom approached whom and when did they know. as they were re-telling the story you could see they lost themselves in the memories. you could see they forgot there were a dozen other people in the room watching them. they even turned to each other talking through the various details. for the circle of folks in the room, each and every one knew they were seeing something special and not a single person dared interrupt what was happening. for me that was the most striking thing about the moment, that everyone present felt what was happening and just watched. with that many people you almost always have some clod want to interject something about themselves into the story and wreck the whole flow of it, but here everyone just sat back and watched what was probably a twenty minute moment where everyone got to see and feel what young love is from an inside perspective.


joey is a vegan
i found myself at a work party. i knew most of the people in the room because i worked with them but there were a few spouses about so i made my rounds there trying to make them feel comfortable and not completely left out of the affair. i sat down next to one young man and after introducing myself asked him my patented "what are your interests" question. one detail i remember about the moment was as he was talking, i fully interrupted him and said,

TROY
i'm sorry but i just gotta say you look so much like a young tom cruise, it is startling.

JOEY
uhh. well. i guess maybe.

TROY
oh, come on. you're telling me people don't tell you that everyday.

JOEY
well, i have heard it before but i don't think it is everyday.

TROY
i don't know if i believe that. i mean you are like the spittin' image of the guy.

now at some point his wife tuned into the conversation and i'm sure i asked her some possibly inappropriate questions of what it was like to have a relationship with a tom-cruise look-a-like. then i asked him what he did to stay in shape. he gave the typical response

TROY
so what do you do to keep this tom-cruise fit body.

JOEY
uh, well, i don't know just try to make good choices.

TROY
what do good choices mean to you? like working out? dieting?

JOEY
i'm pretty careful about what i eat.

TROY
and what does that mean?

JOEY
i maintain a vegan diet.

ok. so in my defense this was the first vegan i had ever met. AND i knew it was the only vegan i would ever meet that looked like tom cruise. now that part has nothing to do with the story but i just felt like it needed to be said. but what happened next in the story is a vivisection of the vegan lifestyle unlike any that had ever taken place before or since. i was ravenous to know everything about it, everything from the food and its taste to the psychology behind the start and maintenance of such a lifestyle choice. and he was glad to talk about the various questions, questions he had admittedly never contemplated before. now as joey and i were locked in this conversation what i didn't realize because of how dialed in on joey i was, is that all the other conversations in that room had stopped and everyone was just watching and listening to joey and i. when the lack of ambient noise finally did register, i turned and looked at the room which was fully looking at me. i think the next two things said by the others were "geez. let the guy breathe troy" and "yeah, maybe you oughta get a room". there's nothing i would have loved more than to get a room because this guy was super-fascinating and i could have talked to him for days, but i had the sense his young, and also beautiful wife, was not going to let her man go so easily. so like so many beautiful things in this world, our conversational nirvana came to an abrupt and premature end.


the honest opinion exchange


Troyscript: Remedial Self-Help



and of course this one


Troyscript: Feelin' Sexy


christmas traditions
this next one does not refer to a specific converation but rather a conversational technique. please know it only works during the holidays but if you find yourself at a holiday party that is boring or just lacking intrigue, do this to splash a little tabasco into the egg nog. seek out a young couple. the sweet spot is an engaged couple but if there are none of those about, a dating couple will do as will a newly married couple. when you spot your candidates go up and start an easy, typical conversation. how are you tonight? are you ready for the holdiays? you doing any traveling? you know, the usual bore-fest. then once you've established things, ask them about the christmas traditions they are excited to establish in their home once they have kids. sometimes you will have to help this along with a few examples like are you going to have a real or fake tree. when will you open presents. what will christmas-eve look like. but once they get the drift, you can just kind of settle back and watch what was just moments earlier a sedate and droll mood go absolutely nuclear inside of five minutes. guaranteed.

if you're curious how or why this works so reliably (and magically) here's the reason. all people have fond and wistful memories of the holidays in their home growing up. all people also have private wishes of re-creating these memories for their very own footed-pajamad children. aside from the obvious factors, there will be a tree, there will be presents, and there will be a christmas meal, and the like, there are an infinite number of variations to the nuances of each and every tradition decision. and here is the part that matters most, both people care passionately about their traditions and are ready and willing to fight for their protection, like, to the death it seems sometimes. i've heard things like, "fake tree? FAKE tree! have you lost your mind. what next. fake turkey? OH! WHAT! we're not having turkey??? on christmas day? where the hell did you grow up? communist russia?". oh, it's hard to describe how much fun it is.

weddings have the potential to go down this way too but the guy always relents and believes it is the bride's day and takes the 'whatever you would like dear' approach. but the same is not true of christmas. both people have opinions. and both people care. this is why this conversational napalm rarely dissapoints.



PART 12
< Favorite Possessions
List-Fest 2016 - PART 13
Table of Contents
PART 14
Web Sampler, Part 1 >




LIST (permalink) 12.20.2016
my favorite material possessions






the content from this website (starting in march of 2001)

for sure and without doubt, my most cherished and valuable possession in this world is the content from this website, since the birth of my first child at least. this didn't happen by design and it never really occurred to me what i possessed until a reader pointed it out to me in 2006. fact is right around then i was going to shut the site down but that story has been told. i have no idea how many hours i have poured into this over the last 17 years but i also have no way of quantifying the value it holds to me personally, and as times passes, my family. it is certainly not a daily or overt appreciation but can be seen when i observe marty and one of my kids going through old photos, or bella commenting on a troyscript she had recently read, or when i see my wife in the morning stepping through the archive viewer, occasionally saying, "ahh. do you remember when alex/anthony/bella did that?". most often my answer is no and i'll peer over her shoulder to re-aquaint myself with what happened 7/8/9/10 years ago as if i'm seeing it for the first time. that is where the true value of this 'thing' shows itself to me as the vault of my family's forgotten history.









glasses

like most people i started needing glasses in elementary. and like most people the glasses i got as a kid were kinda cheap and sucky--no high fashion here. so when contacts became available i gladly jumped ship to them. but as i aged i noticed my contacts-aided vision became increasingly blurry. when i asked my optometrist about it, he said it had to do with a facet of my vision and (at the time) could not be corrected with contacts. if i wanted crisp vision i would have to go back to glasses. my sight continued to worsen so i decided to make the move BUT declared i would not get crappy glasses. unfortunately, i didn't know what that meant.

then marty and i went to a movie. in this movie there was a character that took a pair of glasses off and set them on the table in front of him. as the scene played out, shown in the image above, i stared at the glasses and with a spooky level of clarity and confidence i knew they were the glasses for me. after the movie, i continued to perfectly see them in my mind as if i was looking at a still frame from the film.

for the next two years every time i passed a glasses store i would tell marty to give me a minute, i would walk in and ask the sales clerk if they had any "rimless, cable-wrap, saddle-bridge glasses" and for two years i was told no. then one day the sales guy said, "as a matter of fact i believe i do". he turned, scanned the wall of options, pulled a pair down and set them before my blurry, astonished eyes. i picked them up, put them on, leaned into the small mirror on the counter and said i'd take them. marty interrupted with a "whoa, whoa, whoa" and asked a silly question about cost. he studied the sticker on the glass's arm and said a number that surprised even me. but my pause was momentary. and before he set them back down on the counter, i repeated my declaration that i would take them.

that was 17 years ago and since then i have bought three more pairs so i would have extra parts for when they stopped making them (which they recently did).









necklace

in any picture you've ever seen of me in the last seventeen years, where my neck is visible, you will see my necklace. when purchased over the web in 2000, i never thought that this sub twenty dollar bit of pewter would be draped around my neck for almost two decades. i'm also amazed it hasn't been lost or broken. but here it is still in tact and still around my neck. sure i've gone through about hundred yards of leather cord, having to replace it every other year or so but that metal nubbin with the single word SIMPLIFY stamped into its soft face has never faltered through my every adventure over these many years, including the birth of all three of my children. i'm not exactly a superstitious man but i would be plenty sad to lose the one physical object that has been with me through it all. the only other such possession i have would be my wedding ring, which i don't know why i would not include that on this list but it somehow feels different.

another thing i like about my necklace is most people who try to read its tiny print thinks it says SUPERFLY instead of 'simplify'. the expression they give me when they think i, a very not-superfly kinda guy, am wearing a piece of jewelry with that proclamation on it, is one of the best faces i ever get to see.









bike(s)

i've only had three bikes in my adult life. i rode my first one for three years. it was a starter bike of sorts to see if i would take to the sport. i did. i rode my second bike for more than twenty years. and it wasn't like it was staying pristine hanging in my garage. i rode it a lot. and i mean a lot. in a story that hasn't been told (yet) a new bike has come my way and i very much see it as my next twenty-year bike. it truly is a piece of art. truly. and flying down a smooth road on its back is truly a source of intense-joy for me.









car

like my bike, my car brings me great joy. i'm not exactly a car guy and my car isn't exactly a showpice. fact is it is pretty beat to hell. part of that abuse is due to a philosophy i adopted after my kids were born that said, "you can love your stuff or you can love your kids, but you can't love both." because of that, in part, my car has plenty of nicks and scratches in the paint, namely because my kids, when younger, loved getting in and out of my car through the sunroof. there wasn't another kid who witnessed this allowance without great envy. there also wasn't a pleading glance at a parent that wasn't met with, "don't even think about it."

as for the car i adore so much, it is a 91 bmw 318i, or an E30 for those in the know. i wanted one for many years and became dour when they stopped making them in 91. when it was time for me to replace a failing car, i kept a sharp eye out for one in the used lots. when i spotted this one, the deal was done before i completed the u-turn. i'm its second owner and have had it for 19 of its 26 years. unlike my bike i don't drive it often (as i walk or bike most places) but the days i get to pull it out of the garage are good days, especially when i'm headed for the highway for a cross-country adventure in one of the most fun-to-drive cars i have ever come upon.









desk/office

ever since i was in junior high, making my desk a place i found comfortable and productive has always been a thing. between having a large workspace, my wall of wonder as the backdrop and lots of custom additions to it, i've always made having a space i want to be at a priority. when we bought our house, i knew the room and space i wanted and claimed it immediately. it was originally the nursery/changing room of the house and is part of the master bedroom suite. part of it included a double doored closet. after we decided to buy the house i gained special access to it again to measure the closet to see if my 50's government issue desk would fit into it. it would with an 1/16 of an inch to spare. to say it was like it was meant to be would be too goofy so i won't, but you gotta admit ...









watch

a guy whose core hobby and interest is time and life managment has to have a watch of note. my timepeice of choice is an original military issue timex. the two things i love most about it are (1) its rolling date feature (not all the modern-day replicas have this), and (2) it does not have the ridiculously large (american) face current-day watches do which is a better fit for my smaller wrist. next year the watch will be 40 years old and still keeps spot-on time just as it did when it originally rolled off the line.



PART 11
< The Most Important List
List-Fest 2016 - PART 12
Table of Contents
PART 13
Best Conversations >




PHOTO, LIST (permalink) 12.19.2016
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.



DECEMBER 2016



PART 10
< Ideal Day
List-Fest 2016 - PART 11
Table of Contents
PART 12
Favorite Possessions >




LIST (permalink) 12.16.2016
set your schedule or someone else will

MY DREAM DAY
05.30     wake (naturally)
06.00     write (for web or talk)
07.00     get aleo off to school
07.30     set goals for the day
08.00     get anfer to school
09.00     work - deep-dive development
01.00     exercise
02.00     meditate
02.30     design window
03.00     administrative - work
04.00     administrative - personal
05.00     read - professional
06.00     family dinner
06.30     dad hours (two 45 minute blocks)
08.00     clean kitchen (for marta)
09.00     leisure
10.30     bed

were i allowed to live the above day unperturbed for lots of days, i could cover a remarkable amount of ground on an enviable variety of fronts.



PART 9
< Home Buying
List-Fest 2016 - PART 10
Table of Contents
PART 11
The Most Important List >




LIST (permalink) 12.15.2016
buyer beware, like, really.
when marty and i bought our first home, we nearly made a dire mistake. but, there was a good reason--the home's front foyer had a circular staircase. well, that and an office that had a secret wall panel entrance. our minds reeled with grand visions of how these two unique and curious features would make the home perfect, especially given the eleven problems we were willing to overlook to make those two features ours. we tried immediately and near-desperately to make a bid on the home but the seller's agent was MIA. it turns out that flaky agent saved us from this near mis-step and during the wait marty and i got our senses back.

what we came to realize is lots of homes have some sexy selling feature, even if it is just one thing like a windowed breakfast nook, fancy tiling work, spacious screened in porch, nearby coffee shop, domed plaster ceilings, sprawling lawn, or even a winding staircase in the front foyer, there are many things that can engage your "i must have this" neurons. we thankfully realized in a moment of calm, non-arousal that we should probably figure out what we really needed and were after in the largest financial purchase we would ever make, document those needs, and then hold each other accountable to those clear-headed thoughts. this is how our home-buying checklist was born.

how it worked is we each got to pick five things our house had to have. if a house lacked any of your five items (even if it had all of the other person's items) you, the one missing stuff, could veto the sale and the other person had to accept your position. our checklist allowed us to make quick work of the dozens of houses that popped up every sunday. got 1, 3 and 4 but is missing 2 and 5. next! heck, we could even rule homes out before even pulling to the curb. super-efficient. i would say super marriage-saving too but after we had our list, one house spawned the second biggest fight of our marriage.

there was a house we looked at that had a two story turret—this was its SUPER eye candy. the bed of the master bedroom sat in this fully windowed circle and looked like the best sleeping nook ever created. even with our list in hand, the home's narcotic took hold of me. i had to have it. the house missed on three counts. it wasn't brick (but that was my item to give on). it didn't have a garage (which was a problem as it was marty's item) and it exceeded our agreed upon budget by 20k (which in home buying, i viewed as little more than a smidgen over--suffice it to say that marty did not concur on this interpretation). after having walked all the rooms, marty gave me the calm where-to next face. i on the other hand was in full rut for the house. i started making the case. without an ounce of emotion or excitement marty matter of factly pointed out that it's missing this, it's missing that, and it's over budget. and while yes it did have a fireplace (in fact it had five of them), none of them were functional. door closed. i told her i would build her a garage and figure out how to make the fireplaces work. marty calmly and rightfully held her ground which means we did not buy the house. marty also held her composure while i huffed and tantrumed over not getting my two-story turret. twenty years later i still cringe at my petulant episode.

years later we came to know the people who bought the house. they said after the sale they discovered massive foundational issue that was costing them a small fortune to rectify. financial ruin averted.

below is what our small but mighty checklist that totally saved marty and i from botching our most important financial decision.

marty's five
  1. wood burning fireplace
  2. garage
  3. two toilets
  4. breakfast room
  5. at least three bedrooms

troy's five
  1. brick
  2. third floor
  3. at least 8 distinct rooms/spaces
  4. circle in the floorplan
  5. it had to already be an old house A
the home we did end up buying lacked one thing from each of our lists. marty didn't get her second bath and i didn't get my third floor office. given the other benefits of the house and the beauty behind how the home came to us, we each forgave those items and wound up with a greatly functional and sound home. had we not made this list i can't imagine what we might have ended up with making this one of the smartest lists we've ever produced.

i should add one detail to this whole process that made it all more difficult. i was the problem here, fully, and my wife and realtor (for a while) were most understanding. while marty drew a hard and deep line in the sand about the budget, i said i would not buy what was termed a "starter-home". this is where you buy a house that will fit your family needs for a few years, typically until a second child arrives and then move to a bigger house. we knew we were going to have kids. we weren't sure how many but knew at least two. i wasn't going to buy a home where we would, by design, have to move when our second kid arrived. our realtor explained to me this was common practice. i explained to her that it sounded like the most asinine decision making i'd ever heard and when my second kid arrived i'd be trying to figure out how to be the parent of two kids and stay married and not looking to unload one home and find another home. just as marty held to her money guns, i held to this conviction until we found a home that could (and has) shouldered the needs of our growing family.

this said, one difficulty of saying you are going to essentially buy a home once and not move is you are young and inexperienced (having never bought a home). while our home has served us well, we have definitely learned some things through the experience as you would of course expect. some things are good, some less good, but thankfully none were super-huge in our case. an example here is our home has a front porch that extends the length of the house. when we first viewed the house we crossed over the porch, barely giving it a glance. it was not on our list and thus not something we were looking for or valuing. the modest strip of iron-railed cement has become one of our most beloved home features. fact is, my nickname to many in the neighborhood is "the porch guy" given how often i'm found out there, feet kicked up reading or eating. a counter-example is i never really gave a ranch-style house any kind of chance. were i buying again that might make my top five.

A for all of my twisted notions, this may be up there at the top. when people asked why i would only buy an old home i explained that it was so i didn't have to go through any growing pains with a house, namely the puberty stage. to explain. if you buy a new home, it is only new for a short while per the below aging scale:

the home aging-scale
  1. new home
  2. recently new home
  3. puberty years
  4. tired looking
  5. old home
two notes. first the puberty years refer to the period of time where the home design falls out of fashion and the trends are heading in a new direction. during this period the formerly new home occupies an awkward stage of not being new but not yet having withstood the test of time to see if its design will be a coveted one or not. this is an important distinction because not all homes make it to those later stages, which is my second point. some never emerge from the puberty or tired states. those get demolished or forever neglected. if you start in an old home, that is all you will ever have. once a home has made it to its wizened years, it has withstood decades of home-buyers judgement and now can never be anything other than what it is, an old home. further, when a home reaches this rarefied stage it will often be described as stately (having been handsome enough to be cared for over the years) or solid (having stood the test of time) or "they don't build em like that anymore" (which becomes more and more true with every passing generation). for all their uneven walls and unpredictable measurements, old homes are rich with character in ways new homes never can be.



PART 8
< Best Game of 2016
List-Fest 2016 - PART 9
Table of Contents
PART 10
Ideal Day >




LIST (permalink) 12.14.2016
if you like words and reading them ...
today i'm going to talk about someone else's list: famous year-end list pusher TIME Magazine. this year i have the honor of knowing one of the people on one of their lists. a dear friend of mine produced a game that made TIMEs list of TOP 10 GAMES OF 2016 (#7). the game is called crashlands.

for those who know my friend's story know that this is an extra-poignant victory on numerous levels. in short, my friend got sent through life's wringer being told at the mature age of 24 that the odds of him being alive in a year's time were quite bleak. hell, i think there was a time they said if he was alive in a month, it would be rather miraculous. if you've ever seen first-hand a greater example of tragedy, devastation, spirit, strength, resilience and perseverance i would deem you a most-fortunate individual as witnessing this young man's ordeal changed me in no small way.

for those of you who don't know my friend's story, here's an abbreviated version of the crashlands saga (in list form):
  • sam graduated college and started making kooky ios games with his brother, seth (e.g. piloting a rocket ship with occasionally working controls through an asteroid belt)
  • sam and seth, working as butterscotcth shenanigans, saw modest but growing success with their early games.
  • out of nowhere the crazily-healthy sam was told he had stage 4 cancer. the day before he thought he was coming down with a cold. three days before he beat his also crazily-healthy brother seth in a three-mile footrace.
  • it was bad. all very bad.
  • modern medicine met super-human samuel coster and a chance, albeit a meager one, was found.
  • in the middle of the multi-month, in-hospital treatment sam said to seth, "i don't want the last game i make before i die to be about a sloth riding a motorcycle through the jungle."
  • the next day the first crashlands neuron was fired.
  • months later sam rang the bell and walked out of the cancer treatment ward, a free and cured man.
  • crashlands development began in earnest and began to take for-real shape over the next year.
  • the cancer returned. bigger and bolder.
  • a half-year medical battle was waged, again.
  • sam rang that bell, reserved for few, a second time.
  • crashland's work resumed.
  • after more than two years of effort, and two cancer treatments, including a bone-marrow transplant, the game was released.
  • as for how crashlands did, its first week out it sat right below minecraft as the most popular iPad game, ready to be the first to knock Minecraft off the #1 perch it held for more than a year. while they never succeeded in taking the pole position, assuming the second spot in today's flood of games is a remarkable feat in itself.
and it also did well enough for time magazine to name it a top ten game of 2016 which is representative of the popular and commercial success it saw.

and lastly, if you're wondering what a kooky ios game looks and sounds like, get a taste of the coster boys work and style below. the voice you hear is sam's.



oh, and there's also a documentary coming out about all of this. the last i heard it is scheduled for release on january 21st, 2017



one last thing. regarding the second round of treatment sam went through. to erradicate the cancer, they, the doctors, had to, essentially, kill him, sam, to kill the cancer that re-invaded his body. when both were dead or in sam's case, walked right to the door of death, the doctors would attempt to nurse him, and just him and not the cancer, back to a healthy state, which they were astonishly able to do. since watching sam shoulder that hell-wrought wildcard from life's deck, i've never looked at another of my "trials" the same.



PART 7
< The List I'm Most Proud Of
List-Fest 2016 - PART 8
Table of Contents
PART 9
Home Buying >




LIST (permalink) 12.13.2016
the list i'm most proud of
over a three year period i lost 25 pounds. two things contributed to this. first my doctor said my blood pressure had been slowly increasing and had now reached a point where i had to start taking medication for it. i have a personal goal of never having to be dependent on any pills, like any and like ever, so my question to him was completely predictable:

TROY
ok, but when can i stop taking them?

DOCTOR
stop taking them? what do you mean?

TROY
i mean how long do i have to take the pills before i can stop?

DOCTOR
well, never. you will take them the rest of your life mr. dearmitt.

i explained i didn't want to take any pills. he said that was a fine notion but my heart was saying something different. i asked if there were any alternative solutions. he said i could stop drinking. i don't drink. i could stop smoking. i don't smoke. i could leave my high pressure job. i don't have a high pressure job. i could lose some weight. well, i'm not exactly obese but i could stand to lose a few pounds. so let's try that. i asked him to give me three months. he agreed but said if there was no change after three months i would have to go on the medicine.

i lost ten pounds in those three months and when i went back my blood pressure had returned to its normal range so no medicine for me. woo-hoo. but during my weight campaign i heard/read something that caught my attention. i can't remember if it was dr. oz or tim ferris but i think it was one of the two and they said that this notion that as we age we have to lose the battle with our weight and physique is a bunch of nonsense. that not only is there no reason you cannot retain your college age body but your college age body is representative of what you are supposed to look like.

when i heard that and after having the initial success in dropping weight, i drew a new line in the sand that i would re-claim my college body. the below chart shows my happiest day over a three year period. that was the day when my weight, after starting at better than 175 pounds first dropped under 150 pounds. this is probably the first time my weight was below 150 in more than twenty years.

at my last annual checkup, my doctor had a student shadowing him. after a few introductions and pleasantries, he asked me to remove my shirt and get onto the examining table. after doing so, my doctor looked at me over his clipboard, turned to the girl at his side and said, "i assure you mr. dearmitt is the healthiest patient we will see today."

i'm unable to quantify how much sweeter a sentence that is than "i am about to put you on a pill that you will take until the day you die". i don't think we've invented the math to compute the difference between those two emotions.


click to view in full size




PART 6
< Steps to achievement
List-Fest 2016 - PART 7
Table of Contents
PART 8
Best Game of 2016 >




PHOTO, LIST (permalink) 12.12.2016
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.



NOVEMBER 2016



PART 5
< Shopping List
List-Fest 2016 - PART 6
Table of Contents
PART 7
The List I'm Most Proud Of >




LIST (permalink) 12.09.2016
the truest and longest standing workhorse of my home
i've shared our shopping list and menu before. i've not been updating the site's menu pages because since having kids we weren't entertaining as much. but do not take that to mean we abandoned our food planning systems. i think this is probably our oldest joint-list, our most functional list, and the most impactful list to our home (although that seems like a lofty claim so please take it as me saying it's VERY helpful to us). every other year or so marty and i have a full-blown conversation about how people manage this process in their home (shopping and cooking) without a list/plan. we try to remember what we used to do before we started using our process but it's hard to remember because we've been doing it so long. of all the list i have shared and will share, i gotta think this one is definitely one of the most vital and sanity-saving of them all.

below you will find both a pdf and word version of our shopping list template. the word version would allow you to modify the list to your own needs should you be curious to give it a go and not want to start from scratch. marty definitely adjusts ours to match the flow of our grocery store. below those two files is a sample of what one of marty's ready to go lists looks like in action.


download
20kb

download
184kb






PART 4
< Self-help Books
List-Fest 2016 - PART 5
Table of Contents
PART 6
Steps to achievement >




LIST (permalink) 12.08.2016
in few places is timing more important than your intersection with knowledge
if you think people bristle at lists, just ask them about self-help books. i will confess to not understanding the stigma and baggage wrapped around them. especially when therapy in comparison, in some circles, seems like a status symbol. but from the first time i ran across one, i instanly became intrigued by their composition and objective. for me they served a mentorship role i was in dire need of. that said, most self-help literature is admittedly like eating chicken wings—lots of work for minescule chunks of meat. but, oh my, can that meat be a tasty and memorable morsel. and that is what keeps us reaching for that next one in the basket.

one lesson i've learned in life is the importance of timing. my first and most powerful dose of this came when i first met my wife. i knew in a single breath that she was the one for me but after five painful and awkward dates, anyone could see it was just not clicking so we threw in the towel. i called her a year later for a follow-up date, mostly because i couldn't stop thinking about her. this do-over date began as each of the prior ones did, painful and awkward but then, forty minutes in, for reasons i've never understood, the world fell away and at that precise moment the rest was irreversibly set in stone.

self-help books possess this timing quality. there are many times i've started a book and it just didn't speak to me. i pull it off the shelf years later and it owns every ounce of my attention. while this applies to all sorts of books, it is doubly applicable to self-help books. further, i have recommended some of these books to people and to my knowledge, aside from the third one listed, they have never helped anyone to the degree they have helped me so in that vein i do not recommend reading them on a whim or simply based on them being listed here. it would be akin to taking Nyquil medicine when you are not sick. Nyquil is a violently foul thing to swallow when you need it and know it will help you. it is an unfathomable thought when you are doing ok and don't need it. so please peruse this list with that understanding in mind.



SELF-HELP BOOKS THAT HAVE HAD THE LARGEST IMPACT ON MY LIFE
(in order of their import/impact)

The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management (Hyrum Smith)
this book started it all for me. it was recommended by a friend i approached who seemed to be the most engaged and energized human i ever met. i've recommended it to dozens of people over the years. it has impacted exactly ZERO of them the way it did me. as for how it touched me, i vividly remember reading it on the subway going into work and without realizing it, i had had tears running down my face. this book is namely why i make the red-text note above that your intersection with anything, be it people, a film, a sentence you hear, a job you get has more to do with the timing of it in your life than the actual payload it carries. i found this book when i needed to and it began a life reclamation project that continues today.

Let me share an experience that suggests the potential power that the natural laws discussed in these pages can have in your life. An executive with the Merrill Lynch Corporation attended our seminar several years ago at their corporate training facility in Princeton, New Jersey, as part of the advanced training Merrill Lynch provides its brokers after their first year with the firm. A year after this gentleman had gone through the seminar he wrote me a four-page handwritten letter that, even as I think about it today, makes me emotional. In his letter he said something to this effect: "Hyrum, I went to your seminar a year ago in Princeton. It never occurred to me that what I do on a daily basis ought to be based on my governing values. I found that to be a very exciting idea. I came away from that seminar and identified my governing values, the things that really matter most to me. In the process of that introspection, I discovered that one of my governing values was a good life for my son. When I admitted that to myself, I also had to admit that I wasn't doing anything for my son. This past year, I decided I would dedicate my life to making a good life for my son.

He then described several fun things that he had done with and for his son. On the third page of this handwritten letter he said, "Hyrum, last week my son, eight years old, was killed in an automobile accident. I have experienced some real pain at the loss of my son. But I have to tell you that I have experienced no guilt. For the first time since your seminar, I realized what you were talking about when you discussed the idea and concept of inner peace." He then closed the letter by saying, "Hyrum, thank you."





Aging Well (George Valliant)
the primary lesson i took from this book deals with the devastating and irrecoverable toll poor and immature decisions can take on a life. its impact on me was near immediate. days after digesting the core message i received a combative email from a difficult colleague. moments after reading it i pushed back from my desk to begin a heated march to his office. the notions from this book played across my mind's ticker-tape machine. i stopped myself and decided to wait out this initial reaction and consider what a "mature" response to this push in the shoulder might be. by the next morning my cooler mind had found an elegant and reasoned course that spared me (and my foe) from an unprofessional and time-consuming (and pointless) dust-up. the ease of this alternate path made an immediate convert of me and i work hard to view all of my more important and consequential decisions through this measured prism.

What follows is not an excerpt from the book but from an Atlantic article about the book (and ultimatley what led me to the book)

The story gets to the heart of Vaillant's angle on the Grant Study. His central question is not how much or how little trouble these men met, but rather precisely how—and to what effect—they responded to that trouble. His main interpretive lens has been the psychoanalytic metaphor of "adaptations," or unconscious responses to pain, conflict, or uncertainty. Formalized by Anna Freud on the basis of her father's work, adaptations (also called "defense mechanisms") are unconscious thoughts and behaviors that you could say either shape or distort—depending on whether you approve or disapprove—a person's reality.

Vaillant explains defenses as the mental equivalent of a basic biological process. When we cut ourselves, for example, our blood clots—a swift and involuntary response that maintains homeostasis. Similarly, when we encounter a challenge large or small—a mother's death or a broken shoelace—our defenses float us through the emotional swamp. And just as clotting can save us from bleeding to death—or plug a coronary artery and lead to a heart attack—defenses can spell our redemption or ruin. Vaillant's taxonomy ranks defenses from worst to best, in four categories.

At the bottom of the pile are the unhealthiest, or "psychotic," adaptations—like paranoia, hallucination, or megalomania—which, while they can serve to make reality tolerable for the person employing them, seem crazy to anyone else. One level up are the "immature" adaptations, which include acting out, passive aggression, hypochondria, projection, and fantasy. These aren't as isolating as psychotic adaptations, but they impede intimacy. "Neurotic" defenses are common in "normal" people. These include intellectualization (mutating the primal stuff of life into objects of formal thought); dissociation (intense, often brief, removal from one's feelings); and repression, which, Vaillant says, can involve "seemingly inexplicable na´vetÚ, memory lapse, or failure to acknowledge input from a selected sense organ." The healthiest, or "mature," adaptations include altruism, humor, anticipation (looking ahead and planning for future discomfort), suppression (a conscious decision to postpone attention to an impulse or conflict, to be addressed in good time), and sublimation (finding outlets for feelings, like putting aggression into sport, or lust into courtship).





Getting Things Done (David Allen)
this is the one and only book i've ever read that i think could help all people (that live in a first-world society at least). every other book on this list deals in the perceptual and abstract. this is the only brass tacks book on the list. i've read others which have helped here and there, but this one offers the tools to do a complete makeover of your organizational life. allen's methods are shockingly mature and tested. it seems most of these books are penned on the quick trying to beat others to market. unlike those, allen's methods were in play for a good long while before the notion of documenting his approach gained traction. and it is his comprehensive and proven model that lets you hit the ground sprinting with confidence.

The purpose of this whole method of workflow management is not to let your brain become lax, but rather to enable it to move toward more elegant and productive activity. In order to earn that freedom, however, your brain must engage on some consistent basis with all your commitments and activities. You must be assured that you're doing what you need to be doing, and that it's OK to be not doing what you're not doing. Reviewing your system on a regular basis and keeping it current and functional are prerequisites for that kind of control.

If you have a list of calls you must make, for example, the minute that list is not totally current with all the calls you need to make, your brain will not trust the system, and it won't get relief from its lower-level mental tasks. It will have to take back the job of remembering, processing, and reminding, which , as you should know by now, it doesn't do very effectively.





Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
for someone into time and life management, this work is breathtaking. you can tell how much a book spoke to me by examining it physcally and observing the number of dog-eared pages and how marred the margins are with my excited scrawls. this book is devastated.

in short, the author, with an unfortunately unpronounable name, teaches you how to bend time like neo does in the matrix. flow is something that has happened to all of us, but it is an elusive experience. here the phenomenon that happens to our time and experience is documented and described in a way where you can not only better understand what is happening BUT have the potential of cornering it in the paddock and riding, even taming, it like the wild and ever-moving creature it is.

Although, as we have seen, people generally long to leave their places of work and get home, ready to put their hard-earned free time to good use, all too often they have no idea what to do there. Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback, rules, and challenges, all of which courage one to become involved in one's work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed. Hobbies that demand skill, habits that set goals and limits, personal interests, and especially inner discipline help to make leisure what it is supposed to be—a chance for re-creation. But on the whole people miss the opportunity to enjoy leisure even more thoroughly than they do with working time. Over sixty years ago, the great American sociologist Robert Park already noted: "It is in the improvident use of our leisure, I suspect, that the greatest wastes of American life occur."

The tremendous leisure industry that has arisen in the last few generations has been designed to help fill free time with enjoyable experiences. Nevertheless, instead of using our physical and mental resources to experience flow, most of us spend many hours each week watching celebrated athletes playing in enormous stadiums. Instead of making music, we listen to platinum records cut by millionaire musicians. Instead of making art, we go to admire paintings that brought in the highest bids at the latest auction. We do not run risks acting on our beliefs, but occupy hours each day watching actors who pretend to have adventures, engaged in mock-meaningful action.

This vicarious participation is able to mask, at least temporarily, the underlying emptiness of wasted time. But it is a very pale substitute for attention invested in real challenges. The flow experience that results from the use of skills leads to growth; passive entertainment leads nowhere. Collectively we are wasting each year the equivalent of millions of years of human consciousness. The energy that could be used to focus on complex goals, to provide for enjoyable growth, is squandered on patterns of stimulation that only mimic reality. Mass leisure, mass culture, and even high culture when only attended to passively and for extrinsic reasons—such as the wish to flaunt one's status—are parasites of the mind. They absorb psychic energy without providing substantive strength in return. They leave us more exhausted, more disheartened than we were before.

Unless a person takes charge of them, both work and free time are likely to be disappointing. Most jobs and many leisure activities—especially those involving the passive consumption of mass media—are not designed to make us happy and strong. Their purpose is to make money for someone else. If we allow them to, they can suck out the marrow of our lives, leaving only feeble husks. But like everything else, work and leisure can be appropriated for our needs. People who learn to enjoy their work, who do not waster their free time, end up feeling that their lives as a whole have become much more worthwhile. "The future," wrote C. K. Brightbill, "will belong not only to the educated man, but to the man who is educated to use his leisure wisely."





The Obstacle Is The Way (Ryan Holiday)
this book kicked open doors in my mind i didn't even know existed. and thankfully so, because i can already see the thinking that got me through the first half of life is probably not going to serve me equally well in my second leg of life. this book, i believe, is sharing some tools i'll need for this next bit of road. it has also led me to a extensive bank of exciting authors and writing that will surely have me occupied for decades to come.

What is Perception? It's how we see and understand what occurs around us—and what we decide those events will mean. Our perceptions can be a source of strength or of great weakness. If we are emotional, subjective and short-sighted, we only add to our troubles. To prevent becoming overwhelmed by the world around us, we must, as the ancients practiced, learn how to limit our passions and their control over our lives. It takes skill and discipline to bat away the pests of bad perceptions, to separate reliable signals from deceptive ones, to filter out prejudice, expectation, and fear. But it's worth it, for what's left is truth. While others are excited or afraid, we will remain calm and imperturbable. We will see things simply and straightforwardly, as they truly are—neither good nor bad. This will be an incredible advantage for us in the fight against obstacles.




Have a book that changed your life? you know i'd love to hear what it is and what it did for you.



PART 3
< Favorite Restaurants
List-Fest 2016 - PART 4
Table of Contents
PART 5
Shopping List >




LIST (permalink) 12.07.2016
i hope you've eaten recently.
here's a list everyone has, whether they know it or not. and when i say ALL-TIME FAVORITES i do mean all-time as this list dates back to my elementary-school days. some of these pictures are not my own.


MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
(in order of adoration)

Cafe Natasha (St. Louis, Missouri)
a friend first took me to cafe natasha in the 90's. he was a vegetarian and liked some meat-free option they had but told me that everyone raves about their kabobs. always ready to listen to a food suggestion by the masses that preceded me i ordered it up. the result: the family that owns this business has since watched my children grow up. i honestly don't know how many years now i have been eating my birthday dinner there but long enough that my children all celebrate my birthday more heartily knowing they have a cafe natasha kabob in their near future (versus celebrating another year of health with/for me—I don't fault them for this and if you tasted one of these vibrant cudgels of meat which simultaneously melts AND explodes in your mouth, you wouldn't either).

fact is, i will be eating my birthday dinner there tomorrow night which is fortunate because writing about my favorite meal has sparked the salivary flames.


Jake's Seafood (Portland, Oregon)
a work dinner first brought me to jakes. i was not much of a seafood guy at the time and a touch nervous about finding something i'd like. before i had time to figure it out my boss's boss ordered for me. i had no time to act and given the pecking order seated at the table, had no proper out. when the plate arrived i studied it more closely and asked what it was called again. i was told, "it's their stuffed salmon and it's very good." over the next two years i worked in portland for multiple weeks. every night i spent in the city i ate at jakes and the only dish i ever ordered was their stuffed salmon because, yes, as i was told at the start, it was very good.

another boon and perk of jake's seafood is it is within walking distance of powell's used book store. my all-time favorite bookstore. this evening combination made my work days in portland agonizing because all i could think about all day was that stuffed salmon, followed by hours of slow meandering through the seemingly endless stacks of used books at powells. i think i may need to find a reason for my new employer to send me to portland just so i can re-experience one of best work-travel destinations this country has to offer (to an introverted, non-drinking, ritual-loving curiousity like myself at least).


Frontier Restaurant (Albequerque, New Mexico)
it is possible my adoration for this meal was caused by a hunger-fugue state but given the crowds we competed with to order and find seating, i don't think that was entirely the case. i've always preferred mexican food from the west. the mid-western versions, right down to their grease-laden sopapillas are simply embarrassing. this meal, one of my early yelp-wins, took both my breath and hunger away.

it is worth adding that what took me to the frontier restaurant was a memorable friend boondoggle. bookguy called me and said he had to drive from north carolina to new mexico and wondered if he could pick me up in st. louis and have me join him for the rest of the drive west. once there he would fly me back. this is not the first time bookguy and i have shared in such an adventure. for as protective and militant as i am about my time, i will say each of those trips stood as some of my least-productive but most memorable and enjoyed days. life includes lots of funny and unpredictable math.


Panhandler's Pizza (Fort Collins, Colorado)
i grew up eating pan's pizzas. their slices were magical then and have somehow only gotten better in time. this privately owned place's ability to grow and compete with the times is almost as impressive as their lovingly and expertly prepared pies.

you sometimes wonder how much of a food-want like this is truly taste and how much is sentiment as i grew up eating at pan's on friday nights and for high school lunches as we had an open school-campus. i was affirmed on a recent trip back to fort collins by a friend's experience. before going there he confessed to disliking pizza, all pizza, but would eat there because others wanted to. at the end of the meal, he said that may have been the first good piece of pizza he had ever had. so good food plus boyhood sentiment. all good all the time.


Wong's Wok (St. Louis, Missouri)
when i first moved into the community i now live in, there was this hole-in-the-wall chinese place. they shared a galley-area of seating with about four other little eateries. they had a sign taped to their menu board that read, "spicy beef noodle soup - friday and saturday only". and if you ever happened through this area on the weekends, half the tables were occupied by people, mostly of asian descent, hunkered over the large bowls with piping steam escaping their hovering faces. in time you have no choice but to try it. that was more than twenty years ago and i could in no way tell you how many times my head has been one of the many hovering over one of wong's bowls.

a few years ago through some scandalous and smarmy business dealings, wong's wok and all of their neighboring merchants were ejected from the space. i was devastated to lose my favorite eatery. but in one of the most fortuitous results, wong's wok found a new storefront and not only is it closer to my home than it used to be, it is the closest food-place to my home. this is one of the rare times in my life where the universe seemed to contort, fully, to my wishes.





DEFUNCT FAVORITES
(in the order of their closing)


Spudworks (Fort Collins, Colorado)
this was the original loaded potato place. and the spud wasn't just an accoutrement, it was the full meal. they would put seemingly everything and anything on a potato. and their potatoes seemed to be grown under nuclear conditions because they were absolutely gigantic. my favorite was called the wisconsin and came out laden, and i DO mean laden, with melted colby-jack cheese, sour cream and spring onions.

spudworks was also the first place i worked. i got the job after our waitress checked in on us after my family had eaten asking if there was anything else she could get us. my dad said, only half-jokingly, "yes, a job for my boy". my mother and i both looked up somewhat surprised. the pert girl said "let me check" and disappeared into the kitchen area. she returned a few minutes later to say they did need a dishwasher. i started a few weeks later, the summer before my 16th birthday.


Big V's Burger (St. Louis, Missouri)
finding your favorite burger place is a complicated and individual process. it's almost as hard as finding another married couple you and your spouse/partner enjoy equally. first you have the need for the four adults to get along, in all directions (sometimes the married couple themselves possess the disconnect). then if there are children involved you just left basic algebra and entered trig2. burger joints are similar. first you have to find a burger that works for you and if you haven't yet studied the great variety of possible burger styles you might want to block some time for the conversation as it will get a little deeper than you are probably expecting (e.g. fat vs thin, single vs stacked, rare vs cooked, meat to bun ratio, few condiments vs the works, and on). then, of almost equal importance, are the fries that come with it (e.g. fat vs skinny, vegtable or peanut oil, fresh-cut vs pre-fabbed, waffle vs string, and on). i used to work with a guy who would make multiple stops for his family's burger nights. first he'd go to burger king to get the burgers and then go to mcdonalds to get the fries (even the order of the stops was calculated based on which could last longer before being eaten). talk about being committed to getting it right. part of me wants to judge him but another part of me knows he is right and if i could snap my fingers and have that meal presented to me i would, which leaves me kinda respecting the effort he is willing to give for a non-compromised experience (that said, i could never burn the extra minutes to make it happen).

when big V's came to my community i wasn't really eating burgers or fast food at the time. i went there only so i could report on what they were like as lots of people ask me about the eateries that are near my home (as we have a lot of them). so i stopped by one day and ordered a basic combo. i ate lunch there for five consecutive days. it was, for me, the best burger-fry combo i'd ever experienced.

then a sad, nearly impossible, series of events took place that forced the very popular restaurant to shut down waaaayyyy before its time. i'm still in mourning over the loss of my big v burger that was within walking distance of my home.


The Yellow Sub (Fort Collins, Colorado)
this was definitely my first culinary love. my mom and i ate here frequently starting in my elementary days. sometimes she would bring food from here home after work and sometimes she would send me up on my bike to get us a hoagie. the owner, frank, from back east, was by my recollection the first adult who spoke to me like i was his peer, and not just a little kid (this is how marty conducts herself with young people too). after i moved away from fort collins anytime i would return, the yellow sub was always one of my stops. i remember how stunned i was when i walked in after having been away for more than five years and frank came out from behind his windowed view of the space to greet me, even sitting down at my table and talking with me at length about what had been happening in my life. these social visits on frank's part were mixed blessings because while i would love nothing more than talk to him for hours and days on end, the whole production line would halt whenever he left his station (and you could see/feel the glares of the other patrons waiting for their food—although i knew part of it was envy that frank wasn't talking to them—true celebrity treatment that).

but frank was certainly the lifeblood of the place and when he finally retired after many decades of service, the community came together to try to save the establishment (one of the new partners was my former art teacher). but even though frank personally trained them how to make all of his perfected specialties, in time the new owners learned that people went to the yellow sub for two reasons: (1) frank's wonderfully simple and consistent food creations and (2) frank himself, the maker of that great food, who after you ordered might, through his windowed perch, give you a blank stare, a friendly nod, or even surprise you with a warm, insightful, or cutting comment about the look of the day or state of the world. but in the end it wasn't the tasty food or macrame-decorated walls people came for, it was the man behind the counter and without him walking the subs and burgers out to the tables, the place was just never the same. i'm thankful i had such a unique and textured boyhood haunt as part of my youth.



so if you have places you think i should try, anywhere in the country (or world), please feel free to pass them along. nothing like a bonus reason to visit a new place. as with many folks, i'm always looking for that next memorable meal.



PART 2
< Morning Checklist
List-Fest 2016 - PART 3
Table of Contents
PART 4
Self-help Books >




LIST (permalink) 12.06.2016
morning automaton
i think morning time is one area where the existence and value of regimentation (e.g. checklist) shows its global relevance as mornings for most people, based on my polling, begin virtually the same day in and day out, workdays and non-workdays each having their own cadence of course. most of my days i wake in my home begin like this ...

MY MORNING CHECKLIST
  1. wake. hopefully naturally and hopefully between 5:30 and 6:00.
  2. pee.
  3. weigh myself.
  4. get my drinks ready for the day (those drinks being tea and vietnamese coffee).
  5. write (for website or talk/lecture, until 7:00 a.m.).
  6. @ 7:00 a.m. do my first set of pushups for the day (daily goal is 5 sets of 25).
  7. review my goals.
  8. update my LIFE spreadsheet (recording prior day's progress & happenings).
  9. schedule the day's hours (if they haven't already been set).
  10. start day.
there do seem to be a few natural areas in life where the routines are so pedestrian and mindless, they just organically come be be set in stone. even if the first thing you do upon waking is reach over and check your email or favorite website, it is something that will in time get written into the fabric of your days. i have met a few people who actively fight these natural patterns by, say, brushing their teeth with their non-dominant hand or always going to repeat destinations using different routes. this upstream swimming always perplexed me as it seemed counter-productive and, well, kinda pointless. then one of these practitioners explained why they did this. they said they liked heightening their awareness of even the most mundane matters so they would be more engaged, or the modern-day wording is "present", in the various points of the day, ALL of the points of the day. this turned my bafflement to intrigue. i've long believed that as long as you have a thoughtful reason for doing what you do, then you are golden (of course, as long as your inclinations aren't harmful to others in which case your have some twisted thinking and should seek help). that said, i will not be brushing my teeth with my left hand anytime soon. i've got too many interesting things on other lists to spend my time foolin' with that.

if you are thinking the above list is just what sort of happened on its own and i simply wrote it down to share here today, that is very much NOT the case. that above process is the end product of years of successes and failures and constant tuning. in six months i will look at it again. touch each piece and see if it is making my mornings and days richer or is more of a styrofoam peanut simply taking up the day's space. fact is i recently turned my whole day upside down. i used to be way nocturnal and did all of the above things after 10pm, including drinking coffee. i even exercised after 10pm. in reviewing my processes one day, it occurred to me that i was doing some of my most personal and long-lasting work (e.g. working on my health, writing/sharing my memories) at the end of the day when i was completely spent and fading fast. i was giving people who weren't me my best hours and giving myself only a fraction of what i was capable of. so i began a long-term project of going from being someone who stayed up until 2am every night and cursing my morning alarm clock to someone who gets up by 6am (without an alarm clock). i definitely bristled at the start of this change. my main concern focused on the obvious advantage of night-work that you can work until you were done and just sacrifice sleep (like that matters at all) where if you moved to the morning, you could only work until you had to go to your job, else you might lose said job. after a fair bit of rumination, i concluded the quality of the product, even if there was less of it, out-weighed the quantity. now having a few years of practice in, i think it was the right choice for me and over time, i have become more productive with the hours i had, mostly due to how finite that time is, which holds a more honest fidelity with how the natural world actually functions than does thinking that time can be stolen from the day by sacrificing sleep or exercise, which is some short-sighted math and a lesson it sadly took me more than three decades to learn.



PART 1
< For the love of lists
List-Fest 2016 - PART 2
Table of Contents
PART 3
Favorite Restaurants >




PHOTO, LIST (permalink) 12.05.2016
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.



OCTOBER 2016




SPORTS (permalink) 11.04.2016
undefeated




i'm not sure how i was completely numb and dumb to this documentary for the last seven years but as the kids would say, OMG.

sometimes these gritty documentaries can move you to tears at the end when their masterful storytelling comes to a well architected culmination. but in this case, my thirteen year old alex, who drifted in and out of my office as i watched the show, put it most accurately when he told his mother, "dad cried lots through that whole movie". as nick cannon said after first hearing grace vanderwahl sing, "i wasn't expecting that". what an unassuming masterpiece.
you think football builds character.
it does not.
football reveals character.

i am not a believer in trailers but know most are (i previewed this one and it will not wreck the experience too much). that said, i very much enjoyed stumbling into this one blind for it was a most lovely surprise.





HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 11.03.2016
literal losers
odds are you are not going to like this.

a lot of science has come out in the last few years about the power of posture, namely on our mood. the classic example being smiling helps your mood in a number of ways, in fact it is impossible for smiling to not improve your mood (TED the hidden power of smiling). then there was this reasonably popular treatise about how you can change your complete emotional state by simply altering your posture (TED: your body language shapes who you are). i'm mildly embarrassed to admit to trying this before a few important encounters i had a few years back and can report there are definitely some merits to the claims which i will also report surprised me more than a little.

a friend recently turned me onto the newish tim ferriss podcast. he is the 4-hour workweek/body guy. his shows are long and he talks more than he maybe should (i assume his interviewing and editing skills will improve as he does it longer) but there have been a couple of affirming and revelatory bits of info pass through thus far, which for those who are familiar with ferris is surely what one would expect to happen given his dense and intense way of approaching things.

i won't bore you with the affirming parts as no one cares about that except me. but one of the revelatory snippets talked about people and their cellphones. it turns out that any person engaged with their phone screen is in a classic "losers" position. think of someone who just lost a tennis match. head down. shoulders slumped. disengaged from what is around them. and if you give any credit to the body position and framing studies above, this is doing you no kinda favors. and now when we see older folks grousing about all of these losers and their smartphones, it turns out they are a little more on point than we may have first given them credit for.

and lots of science has also verified that people's connection to social media is a fraught and losing psychological endeavor--put differently you will never win the psychological health award by playing a game that never ends and hosts an endless stream of players. now, not only are people losing emotionally, they are also losing physically.

this will give me a new game to play as i wait on people sitting through green lights, blocking sidewalks, and holding up checkout lines because i know, based on the above ted talk, smirking is better than scowling.




PHOTO (permalink) 11.02.2016
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.



SEPTEMBER 2016




QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 11.01.2016
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
FRONT YARD




QUOTES, BOOKS, LIFE (permalink) 09.02.2016
so true. so obvious. so ignored.
Even if all the bright intellects who ever lived were to agree to ponder this one theme, they would never sufficiently express their surprise at this fog in the human mind. Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives--why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! people are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy. So, I would like to fasten on someone from the older generation and say to him; "I see that you have come to the last stage of human life; you are close upon your hundredth year, or even beyond: come now, hold an audit of your life. Reckon how much of your time has been taken up by a money-lender, how much by a mistress, a patron, a client, quarreling with your wife, punishing your slaves, dashing about the city on your social obligations. Consider also the diseases which we have brought on ourselves, and the time too which has been unused. You will find that you have fewer years than you reckon. Call to mind when you ever had a fixed purpose: how few days have passed as you planned; when you were ever at your own disposal; when your face wore it's natural expression; when you mind was undisturbed; what work have you achieved in such a long life; how many have plundered your life when you were unaware of your losses; how much you have lost through groundless sorrow, foolish joy, greedy desire, the seductions of society; how little of your own was left to you. You will realize that you are dying prematurely.

So what is the reason for this? You are living as if destined to live forever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don't notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply--though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all the you desire. You will hear many people saying: "When I am fifty I shall retire into Leisure; when i am sixty I shall give up public duties." And what guarantee do you have of a longer life? Who will allow your course to proceed as you arrange it? Aren't you ashamed to keep for yourself just the remnants of your life and to devote to wisdom only the time which cannot be spent on any business? How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end? How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived.
from seneca's On the Shortness of Life - life is long if you know how to use it

hihglighted passages represent my notes




PHOTO (permalink) 09.01.2016
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.



AUGUST 2016




SPORTS, TELEVISION (permalink) 08.31.2016
that special time of year
are you ready for some football??? !!! if not, the folks at amazon and netflix have the elixir you require in two top-flight documentaries.



first is ALL OR NOTHING. this one was for-sure made possible by the decades of great ground work done by NFL films and the hard knocks folks because it is like a grown-up, evolved version of hard knocks AND has lots of the heart-wrenching moments offered by the classic NFL films offerings.

my favorite quote from this series was:
if it is to be, it is up to me.

- possibly the longest obscenity-free string of words ever put together by bruce arians (he was quoting a preacher which may explain that).




the second show is LAST CHANCE U, another documentary about the highest performing junior college football program in the nation. i avoided that initially thinking it was tv series but the second i heard it was a documentary i popped in to try it out. i did not regret that decision. holy smokes was it well done.

my favorite quote from that series was:
don't let someone else's misbehavior affect your peace of mind.

last chance U coach quoting ghandi maybe (don't recall who they credited).

and if you're not ready or into football, then watch netflix's STRANGER THINGS. anthony and i got watching that and were quickly joined by others in the family given how stellar it was.



as a rule i try to not watch tv. like any. but dang are these show makers making it hard. while there is an astonishing amount of dreck being churned out daily for our DVR equipped masses, the top flight stuff that finds its way to press is truly top flight. crazy impressive how good some folks are at this business. granted, it is equally curious how poor some of the other stuff is.




TECHNOLOGY (permalink) 08.30.2016
yes, please don't sweat so much on our fitness band -- it's not good for it.
l have been seeing more and more articles on how fitness trackers are not living up to their expectations. based on my conversations with people most of these trackers need a boxing about the ears. my five second evidence-light sense is, apple watch aside, the better a tracker looks, the less functional a tracker is. i exclude the apple watch mostly because i think it is far more than just a "step-counter" which is essentially where all these trackers initially took hold.

here's one sample case, i bumped into a guy wearing a fitbit. i always thought those were very sleek and sharp looking. but after a ninety second conversation with him the thing seems like little more than an expensive wrist bangle. first he said he got it wet and it stopped working. how the hell can an activity watch not handle moisture. then he went to show me one of the readouts but it was too sunny and we couldn't read the screen. he cupped his hand over the truly miniscule display and pulled it close to his face before reporting that he just couldn't see it. really? unreadable in the sun. but, to be fair i could see how handling water and being readable in daylight could get missed during the design requirements session. i mean those are pretty unusual asks for something fitness related.

while the man was blocking light and moving his hand around looking for an angle that would let him see the readout, i glanced down at my wrist and noted the large, readable print. print that you could still read even if someone aimed a bright flashlight right on the readout, in the daylight. like with the kindle paperwhite folks, the makers of my band have this screen-in-the-sun business fully figured out.

if you are one of the reported masses struggling with the form or function of your band, before giving up on the market i would suggest looking at garmin's vivofit 2. it is surely not the sharpest looking band on the market and looks downright utilitarian, but that is because it is. by my account, it is the functional and smartly designed workhorse of the activity watch lineup, but for reasons i don't understand it is not part of these tracker roundtables, the ones i'm reading at least. i think it may be yesterday's news even at garmin as i see they just released the vivofit 3.

i initially had the first generation vivofit. i got it to let me know when i was sitting too long. it was ok but i had three gripes about it:
  1. i wanted an audible chirp when the alert to move took place.
  2. i wanted a backlight so i could read it at night.
  3. i wanted a stop-watch feature.
when they announced the vivofit 2, it possessed all of these features. i upgraded mine the day it came out and have worn it every day since. so if you're finding your activity tracker wanting, i would highly recommend looking at a vivofit 2.

and for what it's worth i'm leary of garmin's vivosmart which is a "connected" version of the vivofit 2. i predict too many distractions. i know i'm in the minority here but like to keep my gear as simple as able. i'm confident i wouldn't benefit from the connected features because the reason i have it is to tell me to move (and record my vitals and activity) and twitter or messaging is not part of that equation. not only is it not necessary, i deem it counter-productive. this is part of the reason i don't like the apple watch as a fitness band. i've seen way too many exercisers standing on the side of the road/track punching out messages on their mini-computer. not helping.

as noted above, i just saw that there is now a vivofit3 but they changed the screen pretty dramatically, seeming to model it after some of the more stylish/connected trackers. my spidey-sense tells me there is trouble ahead. the amazon reviews are also middling so i'm not seeing anything to run me off from my 2, especially since the 2 is fully meeting my needs at present (i have nary a suggestion for improvement). one possible good thing to come from the release of the vivofit 3 may be the vivofit 2's are now only $60 now -- cheap enough to try it out or get a backup.

i don't know what is harder with good design: coming up with the initial idea or protecting a proven one. why are we so averse to letting something that works do what it does, work, and leave it alone or at least better protect the refinements.

that above sentiment reminds me of something i heard someone recently obvserve about self-help books. there are loads of them that teach/tell/help you become successful, but there really aren't any that teach/tell/help you STAY successful. thinking on it for a few moments, success is a different animal that carries some new and often confusing challenges. it is a most astute point and worthy of some attention.




PHOTO (permalink) 08.29.2016
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.



JULY 2016




QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 07.15.2016
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
ADVICE




WIFE, KIDS, TRAVEL (permalink) 07.14.2016
surprise!
for the third year in a row, on her first week of summer, marty took my, well, our children to georgia to visit my dad ... and i didn't go. i stayed back because of work or lack of vacation or both. i don't get how remarkable this is until i say it out loud to someone. most guys scrunch their face and say, "wait a minute. let me get this straight. your wife takes your kids to see your dad and leaves you home alone for the week?!?". then i scrunch my face all up and pretty much say the same thing to myself in shared disbelief.

but that is marty. the girl is double special.

this year they were scheduled to get home on tuesday. on monday afternoon, around five i got a call from alex saying they were like three hours away and were just going to push through. an hour later i got another call, this time from bella, that said mom got crabby, the kids term for when marty gets tired, and they were going to stop for the night. i lamented at how sucky it was to have to stop just a few hours from home but certainly appreciated marty not jeopardizing my world by driving when she shouldn't.

i had just finished cleaning the house for their return and now that they weren't going to return tonight so i went upstairs and started doing some work in my office. a couple hours later i was sitting at my desk filing some papers when something caught my eye. i looked up. anthony was standing like two feet away from me. i sprang back in my chair and shrieked,

TROY
oh my god anthony! you scared the hell out of me! what, what, what are you doing here?

ANTHONY (exasperated)
dad, we're all sitting down on the couch waiting to watch a bob's burgers. are you coming down or not?

with that he turned and left the room. i fell back in my chair touching my chest to feel my racing heart. once i thought i was not going to go into cardiac arrest, i went downstairs and found my full family, just as anthony had described, all on the couch and looking at me expectantly. i said to them, "you're lucky i'm a pretty fit guy because if i wasn't you'd all be hoping right about now that the ambulance would get here in time."

marty tells me that the plan they hatched was just to have anthony call from the steps that they were waiting for me. i guess he was confused when they parked the van around the corner and super quietly unlocked the door and crept into the house. he mis-read that and thought that he should continue the sneaking until he was standing just ten inches off my shoulder in what i thought was a completly vacant house when he made his sharp proclamation. i'm serious when i tell you i could visibly see my heart pounding in my chest.




 
Welcome Professional MonoRail TroyScripts Gallery