Monthly Archives: July 2013

Midweek Review: A Survival Guide for Life

Midweek Review

 

This post is apart of a series of reviews that will appear on Wednesdays. This review is apart of a blog tour with several other blogs.

I recently did a review on Mud, Sweat, and Tears by Bear Grylls. I really enjoyed the book so I was more than happy to give a review of Bear’s newest release when I was asked to participate in the blog tour from TLC Book Tours. tlc tour host

Bear’s newest work is A Survival Guide for Life and was released July 2, 2013.A Survival Guide for Life  Unlike Mud, Sweat, and Tears this is a self-help book. The tagline for the book is how to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity, and grow in character. The chapters of the book are only two or three pages on average and offer several nuggets of wisdom. The book has 75 chapters and the pages seem to turn quickly. What sets this book apart from most self-help books is that the information given is sequential. It begins with finding a goal for yourself, then building on the items you’ll need to make it happen and the mindset you need each day to reach it. Bear does an amazing job of not just regurgitating the same tired advice you can find other books. He ties it in with his own experiences and personal stories. And when you’ve lived a life like his, you definitely have some stories to tell.

Bear also does an amazing job of incorporating his faith into the book. He uses versus from the Bible where they are applicable to help drive his point further. A good example is in chapter 16: Worry Worries, where Bear says the follow:

“So where you can, drop the worries. Jesus talked about this, and this was a guy who had some serious reasons to worry. After all, he was about to be tortured to death on a cross, bearing the pain and burden of every bad deed and thought ever done by mankind. Now that is a proper-sized weight to carry! But yet he still said: ‘Cast your burdens on to me, for I care for you.’ That verse is a good thing to remember, and it has helped me so many times to over come some pretty big worries.”

As soon as I read this page I stopped and posted a picture of it on Instagram. It was refreshing to see a world-wide celebrity profess Jesus’s name in something more than an award speech. This source of inspiration combined with Bear’s other personal accounts make for some amazing motivation.

This all being said I have two points of criticism for the book. The first being I wish I would have read it as a daily read and not something I read at leisure, like I do most books. The chapters here are great, but require some time to process each and apply it to your life. I would read one or two chapters then just want to stop before I moved on to the next. It may sound a little corny but I really wanted to “reflect” on what I was reading. That doesn’t happen much for me and I’ve read a ton of self-help books on leadership, faith, and motivation.

My only other criticism is not one for the author but directed toward potential readers. I know a lot of people may not read this book BECAUSE of the author. They will look at the cover and think, “Isn’t that the crazy guy who eats bugs and drinks his own pee?” They’ll pass it up. It’s sad that many who could really use this book won’t consider the content it has because of the face on the cover.

It’s this reason I wanted to emphasize again how great this book really is. It is an amazing tool for motivation and growth. I will recommend this book to anyone I meet.

If you don’t follow Bear, you need to. Follow on Twitter, Like his Facebook page or visit his website.

See the full blog tour schedule here. Thanks again to TLC Book Tours for the amazing opportunity!

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Essentials for Every Toolbox

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Let me begin by saying I’m not a master craftsman. I work in a cubicle. I run a blog. But I’ve done my share of manual labor. I’ve pressure-washed chicken trucks (those trucks going down the interstate with cages full of chickens-somebody has to clean those-that was me). I’ve worked in auto-body repair and my parents have a farm. I’ve been around tools all my life. And I’ve done some handy projects around my own home as well. Here’s a post from a project I did previously.

We just moved into a new house and we are going about making the place our own. Mostly just little odd jobs. My wife has a knack for nice (read this as expensive) things so I do my best to avoid spending money by explaining I can just build whatever she likes. I’m currently converting some old shutters into a crafty-headboard, as seen here.

Among the short years of owning homes and a growing family I’ve had to rely on a variety of tools. I started thinking about all the things I’ve had to use the most.  There are tons of lists about necessary tools for every toolbox. Here’s a great one from Art of Manliness. Of course there is the standard hammer, pliers, & screwdriver set, but the more I thought about it, that’s not really what I needed. I realized that what was required was larger than anything that could fit into the palm of my hand. It was a mindset, a trait, and a person. Here’s my three.:

  • Perspective - There’s the old saying that the Titanic was built by experts and the Ark by an amateur. While the majority of the projects you’ll be doing are probably a little less inspired than constructing a vessel for God’s people, the sentiment is still accurate. Whenever you start a project it’s a good idea to realize your level of expertise. Knowing you have the ability to do a job before you begin can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Tackle any project you think you can do yourself but there’s no shame in calling an expert to check something out.
Before & After via

Before & After via 

  • Patience – When construction started in 1927, Gutzon Borglum had to know the process of carving into the face of a granite mountain wouldn’t go quickly, regardless of any tools he could use. In fact it was a project he never finished as he died before its completion and his son, Lincoln Borglum, took over construction. Whether it’s repairing the bathroom sink or building a dining room table it’s important to know any project you undertake is going to require some patience. This goes hand-in-hand with perspective. The fact that you are doing something yourself means it probably won’t go quickly and you occasionally may have start all over if a mistake is made along the way. Ask any handyman he’ll be quick to tell you about his own trial and error construction attempts. It happens to everyone and the more patient you can be the more you’ll learn for next time.

Clint

  • Partner -Unlike the other two “tools” this will require more than a state of mind. It could be a helping hand or an ear to bounce your ideas off of but having someone else will make any job easier. I’ve used neighbors, uncles, a brother-in-law and I’ve almost always consulted my father on any project. The advice they can offer is invaluable and an extra set of hands can go a long way. And what’s great is most people generally enjoy being sought out for advice. If there’s not someone in your family, try someone in your community. It could be the old guy down the street with the immaculate lawn. Even Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino was willing to lend his tools to the kid next door.  Hopefully your go-to is a little less crotchety and not as well armed.

Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang

Those are the tools I’ve found to be essential to any DIY project I’ve done. Perspective, patience, and a person to help can apply to pretty much everything. You can save them for your toolbox or carry them over to any aspect of life and I think they’ll be just as useful. 

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Hiding Behind the Door

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We recently moved into a new house. We are still getting settled and have a few boxes decorating the baseboards. This home is considerably bigger than our last. This combined with the fact that we sold a lot of our old furniture means our two boys have tons of free space to crawl and roll and run and jump. Their toys have slowly migrated from the designated playroom to the living room floor or sparsely left sitting in the middle of the hallway.

We are settling into our routines now. By the time we have our kids ready for bed my wife and I are usually exhausted. Each night it seems that we find ourselves lying on the floor while the boys crawl all over us pretending we are jungle-gyms. They jump on our backs and crawl up our legs. We are too tired to care so we just laugh and let them play. One night this week our youngest, who is nine months old, discovered the door stopper in his room. You could see the look of awe come across his face after he pulled the hardware and heard the vibration hum as it bounced back in place. To say he was amazed is an understatement. He went nuts over the thing. And his older brother, our 23 month old, soon followed.

So my wife and I were laughing, sitting on the bedroom floor, watching the two of them run back and forth between the two door stoppers in the room.

It was a great reminder that sometimes the simplest thing can bring you joy and that it’s usually from where you least expect it. It was the perfect way to end a hectic Monday.

To just sit down and watch our kids find happiness hiding behind the door.

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.” –William James

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You can find this quote and several others in A Few Thoughts: A Collection of Quotes now available on Amazon.

 

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Best Lookin’ Logos of the SEC

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We are full swing into SEC Media Days so I wanted to continue the theme of college football that started this weekend with College Football Questions: Inside the 50. But I didn’t feel like discussing the same stories you’ll read everywhere else; Will ‘Bama three-peat? Will Georgia finally make it past Atlanta? Will Johnny Football go through a sophomore slump? Who will have a catchy nickname this season?

So to break away from those tired topics, I decided to look at something pretty superficial – logos. We all love the pageantry of college football and logos are a cornerstone. They are instantly recognizable and either loved or hated on sight.

Here’s my ranking the best to worst. Some of these logos are still used and some are pulled from the past courtesy of SportsLogos.net. Let me begin by saying block letters are not a logo! Sorry, but I can’t stand them. Be creative people. I understand if you’ve had the same logo since leather helmets were safe, but make it a little modern. If Alabama can make the jump to a script A, anyone can. Here’s my list:

  1. OleMissRebOle Miss-Connotations of “Colonel Reb” aside, this guy is cool. Cane + 10 Gallon hat + nice suit + red, white, & blue + sweet stance=Classy. That’s math hard to beat.
  2. FloridaGatorFlorida-Have you ever put a sweater on an alligator? It’s not easy, but they pull it off nicely.
  3. AlabamaBlockAAlabama-Picture this beauty covering the back windshield of the ‘80s model pickup in front of you on the interstate. I know I said I hate block letters, but winning makes up for it. And when you have one the size of an elephant, that’s pretty good.
  4. LSUTigerLSU-Show me a better looking tiger with purple stripes and I’ll bump this one down. Especially when you put a dip in his mouth.
  5. AuburnTigerAuburn-Wait, I think I’ve seen this one somewhere before? I don’t know which came first and I don’t really care. Any chance to knock Auburn down a notch and I’m going to take. Roll Tide.
  6. TennesseeVolTennessee-We can all agree the BLOCK LETTER T is bad enough but paint it orange and you’ve got a mess. This old logo is way better. Sweet retro font and a mascot with a weapon is always a winner.
  7. VanderbiltCommVanderbilt-How do you make a block letter cool? Have a guy with a sword jump out of it! This old logo is way better than some Star-V that looks like it should be tattooed on the shoulder blade of a drummer in a metal band.
  8. GeorgiaBulldogGeorgia-The Dawgs (or Dwags as most fans spell it on their Gameday signs) unveiled the new logo this year. A little more aggressive but still keeps the cartoon-ish look for Uga.
  9. MissStateBellMississippi State-The block letter M or an already used Bulldog. Instead I like this logo. Nice color combo showcasing a home-field tradition that everyone else in the conference loathes.
  10. SCGamecockSouth Carolina-You’d be hard pressed to find a scarier looking chicken. This isn’t one I’d mess with. For that they get some props.
  11. ArkansasPigArkansas-It’s even harder to make a cartoon pig look mean. But it is still a cartoon pig. This logo is the best of them all and that’s still not saying much.
  12. MizzouTigerMissouri-Out of a conference with three tigers and a wildcat, this modern take on the logo looks pretty good. Too bad they put a neck on the thing to make it look like it’s peering around a corner. They must have felt like they really had a winner though to change the spelling of their own state.
  13. TexasAMstarTexas A&M-Nothing says the state of Texas like stars and state outlines. If you’re not from Texas (like me) you might think it’s pretty obnoxious (like me). At least this BLOCK LETTER has a little piece of flair.
  14. KentuckyWildcatKentucky-I tried Kentucky fans. I tried hard to find something better than this. It just isn’t out there. At least these BLOCK LETTERS have an animal jumping out of it. So what if it looks like something drawn by a high school senior and elected to go on the front of the school yearbook for the graduating class of ’84. It’s yours and you sport it proudly.

There it is folks. My rankings of the best looking logos of the Southeastern Conference. I’m sure there may be better logos that I missed. I tried to stick to official logos only. Save your hate mail and just post a comment below. Let’s get ready for another season of the South’s greatest export.

SECBestLogos2

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College Football Questions: Inside the 50

CFBQues

As of today we are 46 days away from the first kickoff of the college football season. SEC Media Days start next week. Then some other conferences will have something similar, just with less people and no real interest. Last year I spent the season asking a few questions about the game we all enjoy. Now the 2013 season approaches but before it gets in full swing, let’s check out a few questions from the off-season.

Well that’s all the question I have for now. Check back during the season for more or subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss anything.

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Midweek Review: The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide

Midweek ReviewThis post is apart of a series of reviews that will appear on Wednesdays.

It’s rare that authors are able to successfully combine hobbies in two separate genres. They are usually so one-sided that it’s difficult to read or just not even enjoyable. The majority of examples I’ve seen are really just kind of goofy, such as If Harry Potter Ran General Electric: Leadership Wisdom from the World of  the Wizards. I’ve not read that book but it doesn’t look appealing.

I say this because I just finished reading a book that did successfully combine two topics: Survival training & The Hunger Games.

I’ve followed this author for several years now through his website and blog Wildness Survivalso I was excited when I saw he came out with this book. Creek Stewart is survival expert and founder of Willow Haven Outdoor, a 21-acre survival training facility.  I’m also a fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy as I’ve discussed it in several posts such as My 19 of ’12 and The Future is Now…Hungry. In the Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide, Creek goes through basic survival techniques but introduces them by using moments in the book. He discusses different skills Katniss had to use to survive life in the Arena. The book is full of pictures, facts, references, and step-by-step instructions.

In the end the book isn’t as much about the Hunger Games as it is about survival techniques, training, and preparedness. By using the fictional series, it helps the book feel less like a text book, while still remaining full of great information. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games Trilogy and enjoy the great outdoors, you should give this book a read. Get the book on Amazon or directly from Willow Haven Outdoors for an autographed copy. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, or hungry.

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Well That Was Awkward

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Life is full of wonderfully amazing moments. Catching an early sunrise while sitting on the beach. Asking that special someone to spend the rest of their life with you. Meeting your child for the first time. Seeing a bald eagle graphic on the back windshield of a late ’90s model pickup. All great. Life has it’s awkward moments too.

Maybe it’s the universe or maybe it’s just me, but I usually find myself in awkward situations. There’s the time I went someone’s house to buy a puppy. I showed up at the wrong house but they were expecting a visitor of a completely different kind. I’ll have to tell that story in another post. Regardless, here’s a few situations I thought I’d share.

  • Aerosol Greetings-You are waiting patiently at the door of a public restroom. It’s the one room type. Only one seat at a time, so you wait your turn. You can’t help but overhear the activity on the other side of the door. The flush. The washing of hands. But just before you expect to hear the unlocking of the door you hear a faint hissing noise. It continues to grow louder and softer and you realize that’s the sound of an aerosol air freshener being sprayed about the tiny room. You see the knob turn. The door opens and you are starring straight into their eyes as they exit. Next you walk into a fog of summer scented sourness. Then comes the game of smelling it through your noise or the fear of tasting the air as you breath through your mouth.
  • Inapplicable Responses-You’ve purchased your movie tickets and hand your stub to the high school-er taking them up at the end of the lobby. He hands half the ticket back to you and says, “Enjoy the movie.” To which you so geniously respond, “Thanks, you too.” You walk away knowing he’s not going to see a movie and you look like an idiot.
  • Architectural Design Fail-You are visiting in someone else’s home. You get the urge and ask to use the restroom. You’d expect to be directed down a hallway or shown through another room. Instead you are shown a door directly adjacent to where you and others stand. You take a few steps and are expected to forget that the only thing that separates you and the group you are with is a few feet and an interior door. Turn on the faucet for encouragement and don’t forget the aerosol.
  • Uninvited Questions-I have a few photos on my desk at work. One day I was sitting with someone at my desk when they asked if that was my family. I said yes and they asked if that was my daughter and grandsons. I looked at the picture, then back at the inquisitor. “No, that’s my wife and sons.”
  • Yard Sale Shuffle-If you’ve ever hosted a yard sale chances are you’ve done this dance. You have a gently-used household item. It could be jewelry, clothes, appliances, or even furniture. You bought the item from the store, took care of it and now have it marked down to bare-bones price, like really low. And what do you hear, “Will you come down on this?” You try to hide the look of Are you kidding me? from your face as you say, “No that’s about as low as I can go.” They send the same look to you then put the item back and walk away. You won the battle, kept your pride, and in the end still left with the junk you had before.

So there’s a few awkward moments I’ve had. Maybe you’ve had the same one or others. One things for sure that no matter how many you’ve lived through there’s bound to be more to come.

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fiRReworks

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I’ve passed the sign on the top for almost a month now. It’s a banner for a local park. From the first time I saw it I noticed “fireworks” was spelled a little differently. What I really thought was funny was that as soon as I saw the typo, I thought of our 40th President.

Ronald Reagan has always personified the American Dream for me. From humble beginnings to celebrity, fame, and fortune. But what’s great about “Dutch”, is that he didn’t stop there. Where so many today get it wrong, he got it right. Instead of just hosting fundraising dinners or doing celebrity endorsements to support a popular candidate, he became one.

So for the Fourth of July I wanted to share a portion from a speech Reagan gave years ago. I first remembered reading his First Inaugural Address and thought it would be perfect for the Fourth. The speech is filled with his vision for our country and imagery of our Founding Fathers and fallen soldiers. If you haven’t read it, you need to.

But I found something I liked better. I looked through several other speeches and decided on a commencement speech titled Your America To Be Free, he gave in 1957 to his Alma Mater, Eureka College. Here he told a story of the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

Almost two centuries ago a group of disturbed men met in the small Pennsylvania State House [as] they gathered to decide on a course of action. Behind the locked and guarded doors they debated for hours whether or not to sign the Declaration which had been presented for their consideration. For hours the talk was treason and its price the headsman’s axe, the gallows and noose. The talk went on and decision was not forthcoming. Then, Jefferson writes, a voice was heard coming from the balcony:

They may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land. They may turn every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. They may pour our blood on a thousand scaffolds and yet from every drop that dyes the axe a new champion of freedom will spring into birth. The words of this declaration will live long after our bones are dust.

To the mechanic in his workshop they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom; but to the coward rulers, these words will speak in tones of warning they cannot help but hear. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck. Sign if the next minute this hall rings with the clash of falling axes! Sign by all your hopes in life or death, not only for yourselves but for all ages, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the bible of the rights of man forever.

Were my soul trembling on the verge of eternity, my hand freezing in death, I would still implore you to remember this truth God has given America to be free.

As he finished, the speaker sank back in his seat exhausted. Inspired by his eloquence the delegates rushed forward to sign the Declaration of Independence. When they turned to thank the speaker for his timely words he couldn’t be found and to this day no one knows who he was or how he entered or left the guarded room.

I can’t think of many today who would use this story in the way Reagan did and it is one of the reasons he will always be one of my favorite historical figures.

The incident could have been nothing or it could have been something. Divine intervention or a random occurrence. Just remember that when we say “God Bless America” we are not only asking for His favor upon us, but we are also asking for Him to walk alongside us. To confer and to continue to be with our great nation as it appears He has done from the beginning.

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