Sunday, July 31, 2016

Great things that happened - July 31, 2016

- Started our week at summer camp.
- Tom did something that brought the house down.
- I caught it on video.
- Traded Tom my scalloped potatoes for his vegetables.
- Then got more veggies when Tom went up for seconds.
- Over 17,500 steps, and one more hike to go.

Yankee Gift Exchange - the strategy

Every year my in laws host a Christmas in July party.  As part of the party we have a Yankee gift exchange.  Each person brings a small wrapped gift.  We then draw numbers for choosing the gift.  When your number is drawn you can steal one of the existing gifts (starting a chain reaction).  Once all numbers have played, the person with number one can trade with anyone.

The key is to NOT get stuck with the worst gift.  Every year there seems to be one really "interesting gift".  If you have position one you can avoid the gift by trading at the end.  Any other position - you have to steal.

So I steal.  Shamelessly.  Every time.

(#2 is the worst position to draw).

Friday, July 29, 2016

A vacation day well spent

Tom, Beth and I went to the Ohio State Fair today.

We followed our normal routine:

We started with the scout / 4H building.
Then the sheep building.
Then the commercial building.  We picked up all kinds of cool free stuff, plus a few items like hot mustard and ratchet tree trimmers
We then had lunch in the Ohio building.  Each of us got Thanksgiving dinner:  Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce.
Then we went to the antique building and found some more neat stuff.
We dodged the rain by going to different buildings until we got back to the Ohio building for milkshakes and strawberry shortcake.  (They have the same ice cream and milkshakes as the dairy building, but much less of a line).
We finished up the day at the arts and crafts building where I got some maple syrup.

On the drive home we talked about our day and all agreed - it was a day well spent.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The morning routine - my favorite part

Sitting with our dog.  I start the coffee and sit on the floor.  She comes over and sits next to me.  Then she lays down and I pet her while reading the Bible on my iPad.

The whole thing takes five minutes.  It's some of the best time I spend all day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Massive collection process begins

I listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast "Caging the Monkey Mind" recently.  (I might have the title wron).  In it Tim was interviewed at Google.  He talked about how to get the "monkey mind" doubts and thoughts out of his head so he can get to real work.

Monkey mind thoughts as I understand it are the doubts and questions and worries you have that keep you from doing big things.

What Tim does is write them down and deal with them first thing in the morning.

I do some of that, and it usually works.  But recently it seems like I have a whole zoo in my head.  Not doubts or worries per se - just reminders of things left undone.  And by things I mean full projects in some cases.

In this case I turn to the advice of David Allen - Getting Things Done.

The plan:

A massive data collection effort:

Top down data collection (Start with life purpose and drill all the way down).
Bottom up data collection (Start with all open items in my life - even something like papers on my desk - and work up to life purpose).

The prior two items can be done simultaneously.

Once I'm sure I have it all (and I'll know, because my mind will be empty) I will put the key plans through the Ziglar goals methodology.  Anything that makes the current cut will then get a full blown project plan.

The goal here is to not let current projects (which are fairly well mapped out) suffer, but to get everything else under control.  That's why the timing for this goal is longer than one might think.  I want to have it done by the start of 2017.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Take your Vlog to work day

Yesterday I did my Vlog from the office.  There were all kinds of quick snippets to grab.  The new surroundings gave me new and (hopefully) interesting ideas.

Tom has become a full time helper on the Vlog.  He helps me introduce and conclude each episode.  He enjoys it quite a bit.  So do I - because it's making memories.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The 16 item checklist

Today is the first day back in the office after two weeks on the road (one on business, one on vacation).

I looked at everything I had postponed until I got back to the office, plus the normal items on my task list.  There were 24 things to do.

That's not going to happen.

But...  I did leave 16 items on the list.

This is breaking a David Allen rule, because not all 16 have to be done today.  But it's also a challenge.  I will fit as many of them in as possible.  All of them have to be done soon, so I'm having a task-a-palozza day today.

The most important thing is this:  I'm fired up about it.  I'm going to enjoy doing it.

And as soon as I hit the publish button, I'm down to 15 needed to be done.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Banana milkshake recipe

1 to 1 1/2 ripe bananas, depending on size and ripeness.  You should not be able to taste any green.
2-3 scoops of low fat or fat free vanilla frozen yogurt.  We prefer Kroger frozen yogurt.
1 percent milk - as much as you want.  Banana milkshakes tend to be runny, so a little milk will do it.

Put it in the blender (we use a Nutri bullet) and blend.

It's "Peter Rabbit simple" as a former boss used to say - but a lot of my best recipes are.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Return to "normal"

I love Day Camp week.  The entire family pitches in - including our extended family.  We get up at 6am, move the lunches from the fridge to our cooler, pack anything else we need to take to camp, shower and dress, and head to camp.

At camp we are outside all day long - running the trading post (me), running the entire volunteer program (Beth), runnning water games (Kenny), citizenship (Joe), the cooking station (Kenny and his grandpa Kenny) or helping a den all week (Tommy).

We get to hang out with friends for the week.

10,000 steps are never a problem.

At the end of the day we pack up and come home.  We refill our supplies, go over to our in laws for dinner, cool off in their pool, finish up any prep work for the next day (including the lunch assembly line), and go to bed.

It's a fun week.

But I'm glad it's over.

Today I still got up early, but I read, enjoyed a cup of coffee, worked on my blog, my gratitude log and my scorecard.  I will also work on my book this morning.

It's a quiet morning.  Just what I needed.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Great Things - July 22, 2016 - Phil Barth


Oops I missed it again...

There clearly needs to be a better way to update the blog when I'm not doing the normal routine.  This week was Day Camp:  A week of vacation where we pretty much have our entire day scripted from wake up to crash and burn.

That said, there were options available to me:

1. Put the blog post out early and schedule it.
2. Make the blog part of the daily script.

Either of those would have been preferable to what happened.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Measure twice, cut once

"Measure twice, cut once".  It's a carpentry adage.  But it's so much more.

Before you speak - think twice about what you're going to say and how you will say it (or if you will say it at all).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What's up with the blog?

Clearly I am missing the blog every day goal.

There are a couple of reasons:

1. It's no longer new.  I'm now doing a Vlog, and that's new and shiny.
2. I don't have it as a daily goal on my task list... I do... But I don't.  The goal currently reads "Vlog and Blog".  That is two separate goals, and should be treated as such.

What do I do with the blog?

I don't stop because I missed a couple of days.  I might change up the format.  I might change the tool that I use for the site and the blog.  But I won't throw up my hands just because I missed two days.

In fact I might blog a few extra times to make up for it.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A random post about things I've learned recently

The Vlog is now 3 days old.  I've learned that video production on an iPad, even with iMovie, takes longer than expected.

I've also learned a lot about iMovie that has made it quicker each day.

Over the past year I've eaten a lot of hotel oatmeal, and I've learned that it must not always be easy to get it exactly right.  But the Hilton in Wilmington NC gets it right.  Every.  Single.  Time.

I've learned that blogger will get the job done but I need to look for a better web publishing tool.  I have a friend who can help me out on this - I need to meet with him.

I've also learned that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it...

Better yet, I've learned that it's a lot faster to tell a story and Vlog it than it is to type a story and blog it.  I'll add the YouTube link when I'm done.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

The future of the blog

This week I listened to the Tim Ferriss podcast (as I usually do).  Tim interviewed Shay Carl.  I had never heard of him - but many people have.  Shay is a Video blogger.  He has a YouTube channel that has over 2 billion views in total.  He challenged Tim to "Vlog" - video blog.

Tim of course accepted the challenge and will Vlog for 30 days starting sometime before August 1.

As I listened I thought "There is no reason I can't do that".  And so I will.

I thought about it for 2 days.  What would I Vlog?  Each day I came up with an answer.  On Friday we went to Kroger and bought 12 12 packs of YooHoo for Day Camp.  We had a kid from Wales loading it in our cart.  He had no idea what YooHoo was.

On Saturday we hiked 5 miles on the hike bike trail.  We went to the Lego Store in the Kenwood Town Center.

These things are perfect for a Vlog.

Other ideas:  A daily Vlog of the preparation for a speech contest.

When do I start?

Target date for first official post is tomorrow.  I'm starting on a one week business trip.  It's not that I worry about material, it's just that I don't want it to be a primary concern as I'm learning the tools (filming, editing and uploading).  Material will be plentiful if I start with a flight to Charleston SC tomorrow.

What about this blog?

It stays.  It may be text, it may be a link to the Vlog.  No reason I can't kill two birds with one stone.










Saturday, July 9, 2016

The thing about parenting...

Sometimes you get to be a friend... Sometimes you have to be a dad.

Friday, July 8, 2016

8 Track Flash Back

I've started a new practice on my indoor workouts:  8 Track Flash Back.

Basically I find an artist or album on Amazon Prime Music that I owned "back in the day" on 8 Track.  Something that I listened to (and probably wore out) while driving my car.

This serves 3 purposes:

1. It brings back memories from years ago.
2. It gives me a chance to reconnect with songs I had almost forgotten.
3. It makes the time go faster.  30 minutes on the stationary bike can be tough without music.  I can't count on ESPN to have a non-stop Cavs retrospective every day.

I find that number 2 works best for bands I haven't continuously listened to since the 8-track days like Aerosmith, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.  It works better with Boston, ELO, Foreigner and Journey.

The first group of bands (Aerosmith et al) are better for background music when I work.  They get me moving (or keep me moving) but don't really creep in to my conscious mind as much - I'm used to them.

Today's 8 track flash back?  Boston

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Gave them just what they wanted...

Recently my son and a fellow lifeguard decided to prank the "Catch someone doing a great thing at work" suggestion box at the YMCA.  Each wrote one for the other.  In each case they put something on that made it obvious they were joking.  (One said "He put sunscreen on my back before I went out to guard" the other said "He gave me a foot massage after a guard session").

The boss decided to post the forms on the wall, and write a big message about sexual harassment, etc.

And every guard who read it basically stopped at the reviews, and laughed out loud.

Now instead of being a small joke, the comments were turned in to a memorable moment, and the two boys were elevated to (anti) hero status among the guards.

Which begs the question:  What was the boss thinking? 

Or maybe it begs the question:  Was the boss thinking?

If he really wanted to stop the behavior, a pair of quick one on ones with feedback would have been more effective.  Give them they why - here's why we look to catch people being good, etc.

Moral: Think before you act.

NOTE:  I'm not saying I think they were right in putting in the suggestions.  I'm just saying that the boss was wrong in how he handled it.

Well, I'm also saying I thought it was funny as hell.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Running the day by the calendar

Yesterday was an "ease back from a 3 day weekend" kind of calendar.  There were a couple of meetings in the afternoon, one more in the evening.  But the morning was clear.

Just what I needed.  I arranged the tasks for the day to fit in the open space of the morning.  As is my custom I picked out the four key projects for the week (I may have blogged on this before, I certainly will blog on it later).  I then made sure the tasks I assigned to the day were related to the four key projects.

One quick example:  One of the key projects is "Diet and Exercise"  (I debate whether this is a project or not... Perhaps it would just be better to call the four areas above focus areas...  But at the end of the day, there is a goal related to Diet and Exercise and it has a due date, so I would say it's a project.  Not to get all PMP on it, but "Diet and Exercise" is the program or maybe even the portfolio... But I completely digress).

Given that Diet and Exercise was one of the areas - I made sure to block an hour on my day to exercise.  I also had a task early in the morning to plan my healthy eating for the day.

Around mid-morning I had completed all the assigned tasks for the day.  This is where the GTD methodology came in.  I was able to quickly look at the next actions available to me while I was in the office, see which ones tied to the four main goals of the week, and pick off a couple of them.


Today is a "don't put a lot on your task list day".  The schedule is crammed with meetings.  (Having said that it's important to note that one of the meetings is a trip to the fitness center to keep the diet and exercise goal on track).  Accordingly, there aren't many items on my task list.  One conference call looks to be a prime opportunity for multi-tasking.  Should that be the case I will again look for the next actions available to me - specifically the ones flagged "on a boring call" first.  It might be cleaning my office - it could use it...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The secret to ribs on a gas grill

Okay - I know - I'm not a purist.  I don't do ribs in a smoker or with charcoal.  I do have a smoker on my someday/maybe list.  But meanwhile, I have a gas grill.  And I have three sons that love ribs.  So I've learned a thing or two.  Here goes:

1. Don't put the sauce on while cooking.  It only messes with the rub.
2. Smoke them with mesquite.  When I do that my grill smells like Sticky Fingers.
3. Cumin - of all the spices I put on them - cumin is the most important (imho).
4. Brown sugar - a close second.
5. Wrap them in foil for a period of time.  Yesterday I did the small rack for 1 1/2 hours, and the large for over 2 hours.
6. Smoke them for as long as you can - yesterday was a little over 6 hours.
7. The rest of the rub:  Garlic, fresh ground pepper, cinnamon and coffee.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Why the 4th of July is a great day for our family

The Fourth of July is a great day for everyone in the U.S.  It celebrates our nation's birth.  It celebrates the implementation of a vision by some very smart and brave men 240 years ago.  It celebrates the birth of the greatest nation in the history of the world.  (I could be biased...)

But more importantly to our family - it celebrates the birth of our first son.  21 years ago Kenny was born on the 4th of July.

If you had to pick a holiday to be born on, Independence Day is a pretty good one.  Kenny gets fireworks for his birthday every year.  Most of his family is off to help him celebrate the birthday.

If you had to pick a really cool birthday, the 21st would also be a good one.  That's what I told Kenny when we had an IPA with lunch.  It wasn't his first rodeo... But it was his first as a 21 year old.

As a student he's not in school for his birthday.  This is nice, especially on the 21st birthday.  I remember (vaguely) taking a math test the day after I turned 21.  It wasn't a pleasant experience.  I considered the "B" I got one of my all time great academic achievements.  Or maybe dumb luck.

Kenny is not going to be as dumb as I was on my 21st birthday.  He has decided on one more beer at dinner, then is going out to a pool party / Kenny birthday party - hosted by a non-drinker.  Should things change he will call us for a ride home.

Happy birthday son.  It's been an awesome 21 years.  Can't wait to see what the next years hold for you!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A great day to be a dad

I woke up with all kinds of things on my plate.  A couple of them were family related, but it was – as usual – balanced between family and personal.

Then Kenny remembered he needed to get his license renewed.  And I needed to get the title transfer completed on Joe’s car.  So Kenny and I went to the Ohio BMV.

On the way back we stopped at McDonald’s to get breakfast.

After breakfast Beth and Tom started working on his pellet gun.  I wanted to help with that.  After we got it working we (safely) shot a few pellets into the woods.

Kenny and I started talking about the pedal board he wanted to build.  (Basic idea – Kenny has I don’t know how many different guitar foot pedals that do different things or effects.  He looked in to buying a board, but it was about $150.  He got $20 worth of paint and Velcro, and we built it together.  It was a lot of work – and a lot of fun.  We used spare wood from other projects I’ve had throughout the years (so it also cleaned up the basement and garage just a little).  Kenny did the blueprint, I threw out an idea or two, I cut he sanded, we put it together, and by the end of the day he had his pedal board.

Since I was on a woodworking roll, Tom and I built a backstop for his shooting range.  Again – Tom told me what he wanted, and we built it.  We then moved it out to the range.

When Joe got home from work we looked at the tire on his new car – it was really low.  I showed him the idiot light he needs to look for.  We inflated it to 30 psi and decided to see if it would hold the pressure.  Meanwhile, Joe took my car to a cookout last night.  Regardless of the tire - his tires need replacing.

Finally, Beth Tom and I went to Firehouse subs for dinner.  While we were there Tom and I watched SportsCenter and the highlights of The Chasedown.  We were both in awe once again.

A great day to be a dad, for sure.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ohio BMV - My office away from the office

I got in line for the BMV.  I was number 09.  They were currently serving number 80.

There were two things working in my favor:

- They had free wifi (limit 1 hour... So who knows?)
- I have an iPad with everything I need to be productive.

Truthfully they are fairly productive too so an hour was more than enough.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Why you fix the A/C on a car with 180,000 miles

The compressor on the air conditioner in Joe's car was out.  The estimate was $825.

He could have lived without it.  For many years lots of people did live without A/C.

But I said "Go ahead".  It's not because I want to spoil my son.  It's because this car is HIS.  And I wnat him to love it, value it, and take care of it.  If it has a major issue right away, he will never get there.  If we get the air running, he will hopefully love the car, and take care of it and maintain it.  If he gets in that habit right now, he will keep that habit throughout his life.