Saturday, June 06, 2009

Video Time: Michael McDonald

Doobies are some of my favorites

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Weirdness on the road

Our Vacation travels began about 11 hours earlier than we planned. Tuesday night we left around 7, instead of Wednesday morning. First stop was near Cleveland. Wednesday, we drove to Albany, New York and Thursday we arrived in Maine.

I'll write more about some of the people we have come across but first a couple of pictures we saw at a gas station in New Hampshire:

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bucket Lists

I'm on the road at the moment, on my way to Maine to attend my son's graduation. Josh is the first person on his father's side (me) to earn a college degree in as many generations as I can trace including my Dad and his Dad. (That would be Josh's Grandfather and Great-Grandpa Howards).

Each of the men in this family tree were successful. However Josh will have an extra piece of ammo that the rest of didn't when he receives his degree Saturday.

Which brings me to the question, what do you want to accomplish with your life? Here's some help:

The Art of Manliness

Getting It Done - A Guide To Creating a Proper Bucket List

Posted: 03 May 2009 07:48 PM PDT

tub Getting It Done   A Guide To Creating a Proper Bucket List

Run a marathon. Get a degree. Write a book. Build a house. Every man has goals. Sometimes our goals are lofty aspirations (make a difference, change the world…), sometimes they are simply tasks we need to achieve in order to function better (sleep more, quit smoking…). Too often in life we get caught up in our day to day business and time just slips right past us. At the end of each year, we habitually look back and sum up the events of that year, taking stock of what we really accomplished. Many of us could probably sum up 2008 in a few words, something along the lines of “worked a lot, made some money, spent some money, paid off some bills.” Now that is all well and good, but did you have childhood dreams about working a lot to pay off bills, and nothing more? No. If that was all you dreamed about as a kid, you probably had a lot of alone time at the playground to think about it. As kids we dreamed about doing something amazing, about having grand adventures. We dreamed about one day becoming men of action, who seized every day as our own and made the most of it. So what has changed? Age is just a number. Sure, you have more responsibility now than when you were a kid, but you also have far more capability. The things you once could only dream of are now within your reach; why not take hold of them?

No matter how grand or trivial our goals, it always feels good to achieve them, and there is a very simple tool that can help you do just that…the bucket list. It has been scientifically proven that if you write down your goals, you are far more likely to actually accomplish them. When you physically record your goals, your mind creates a sort of contract with itself, and nobody likes to let themselves down. Plus, having a physical list lying around that you see on a regular basis serves as a constant reminder of your aspirations, and keeps you goal oriented. So where to start?

The Materials Needed

To start off with, you are going to need a proper medium to record your list on. Don’t just scribble it down on a scrap of paper that’s going to get mixed up with old mail and thrown out. Make this something special, something that you will take care of and look back on years down the road, the roadmap of your success. Keep in mind that your list can potentially be fairly long, and will likely have many additions as you check off items and your priorities change. You also want to remember that for a bucket list to be effective, you need to be aware of it, so buying a bulky leather bound journal that looks like a ship’s log, as appealing as that may be, is really a poor choice since you’re unlikely to have it with you very often. You want something that you can keep in your pocket, or at your workspace, not something that will be gathering dust at the bottom of your bookshelf. While you may consider something like the Moleskine too pricey for your day to day pocket notebook, its durability makes it an excellent choice for storing your bucket list. You need something that will potentially last for decades. Finally, and this the next part goes without saying…write in pen. Don’t afford yourself the opportunity to erase a goal later just because it is proving too difficult to accomplish.

The List Itself

This is the simplest part of an already simple process. The contents of the list are totally up to you. The idea is to put to paper all the things you ever said you wanted to do. Then think ahead, to the end of your life, and imagine all the things you will be saying you wish you had done, and write those down too. Some argue that having too many things on your list makes you less likely to accomplish as many goals, but I couldn’t disagree more. If the goals you put on the list are truly important to you, as every goal that makes the cut should be, then it does not matter how many there are. Life is short, but not short enough that you can’t get a lot done before the final buzzer. Nothing is too insignificant, as we can take pleasure from even the smallest accomplishments, so don’t leave anything out that is important to you. Want to quit biting your nails? Put it in there. Entertaining the idea of losing a few pounds? Make it official.

That being said, this is not simply a checklist for the day to day aspects of your life you wish to improve upon. Include the big goals, the ones you dream about accomplishing. You know that house you have been dreaming about building? You know the one, with the wraparound porch and the big comfy man-cave in the basement? The first step in the building process is putting it on your bucket list. Tired of your job and considering pursuing a new career, or maybe going back to school? Jot it down. Once you’ve covered the small stuff like diets and the big stuff like building a house, move on to the outrageous stuff, because really, what’s to stop you from accomplishing your wildest dreams as well? Stop thinking about how great it would be to hike the Appalachian Trail in a single attempt and instead put it on your list, and then start training. Want to climb Everest? Not so many years ago there was an unassuming beekeeper who decided he wanted to do just that, and as the story goes, he “knocked the bastard off.” Why can’t you? Just remember, putting things on your bucket list is like signing a contract with yourself. Don’t put things on the list that you know you will never pursue in reality. Doing so just creates another reminder of how you aren’t living the life you wish you were. When something makes the list, it becomes a goal, and you should be working towards accomplishing it from the second you write it down.

Maintaining the List

Once you have compiled your initial list, start working towards checking off the items on it. While it is always rewarding to accomplish goals, bucket list or not, there is something truly special about drawing a line through the goal you have been reading every day for months or years on end. The sense of accomplishment is almost overwhelming, and it also serves as a sort of turbo-boost for your other goals, because you realize that if you can accomplish one, you can accomplish them all. If possible, keep your list with you at all times, or at least somewhere that you will notice it daily and can take a minute to flip through it. Make a ritual of scanning the items on your list, updating yourself on the progress you have made towards achieving each goal. Your list should be fluid, so don’t be afraid to add items to your list when inspiration strikes. Try to avoid erasing items from your list, unless the removal is based on a real change of heart, and not just because you feel you cannot accomplish something and do not want to look at it anymore. Remember, a major part of the reason for keeping a bucket list is to remind yourself of those hard to achieve dreams so that you will stay motivated to reach them.

We are less than half way through the year, with plenty of time left to do some amazing things. Nine months from now, what will you have to say about 2009? For me, it will be the year I earned my Master’s Degree, travelled to 3 different continents, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, went on photo safari in East Africa, and of course, became an official contributor to the Art of Manliness. What stories will you have to tell? After all, we are the writers of our own story. Make yours one worth telling.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the goals you have on it?

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Video Time: Big or Small?

This was featured on Kim Komando's video of the day last month:

Bathtub IV from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Texting vs Talking

When my kids would send me a text message, I would usually text back some gibberish and then call them.

When I'm negotiating with a client, via email, I'll stop and make a call and communicate more directly. Even better is a face to face.

What do you think about this advice from the Art of Manliness blog?

Ask Wayne: Man Apologizes to Wife In Text Message; Wife Responds With Snark

Posted: 27 May 2009 07:29 PM PDT



My wife and I got into an argument the other night about how many hours she has been working at her job. I would like her home more. I let things cool down a bit and did not speak with her again that night. The next day, I thought I would apologize to her for getting into an argument. But when I texted her, she responded with a snide remark. As hard as I tried to make things right, it just turned into another argument. It seems like no matter how hard I try, she is not willing to make up. Should we go to counseling?



Let’s talk about texting. I’ll get back to your marriage in a moment.

Call me old-fashioned (believe me, it won’t be the worse thing I’ve been called) but I just don’t believe that all of our problems can be solved with technology…or pharmaceuticals (something I’ve mentioned here in a previous column). Some things should be handled old school. In this case, we’re talking about…well, talking.

If you care about her, AND you’re dealing with a touchy topic, do not text, do not email, do not Twitter. Really, don’t you think your relationship deserves more than 140 characters?

If everything is just peachy, then sending an I love you is swell. But if you’re wanting to apologize, explain, plan, express feelings, offer support, debate or disagree, DO NOT do it electronically. If you must, pick up the phone. But this old guy’s advice is to do it face-to-face.

Relationships are complicated. Most men don’t do complicated very well. That’s why we need to keep it simple. Now-let me know if I’m going too fast for you-when we…talk…face-to-beautiful-face with our women, we can see them and they can see us. If they seem to be misunderstanding us, we can change our words, or adjust our eyebrows, to alter our message. When we talk in-person to those we care about, all of the complicated nuances of interpersonal communication happen naturally.

When we go electronic, all bets are off. Only the very talented can maintain any sense of nuance. And even then, both sides have to either still be in their honeymoon period, or know each other ridiculously well to avoid all possibility of confusion.

Let me give you a real-life example of how texting can foul up your intended meaning. For this column, I texted my 18-year-old son and asked him how he abbreviates a few phrases when he texts. He sent me a short message. I responded with great. He then responded with was that ok? I knew immediately that he thought my great was sarcastic, as if I was disappointed with what he gave me. But that was inaccurate. I thought it was awesome. I called him to verify my suspicion. And yes, he had inferred sarcasm when none had been implied. Now, that was between two men discussing nothing of any significance at all!

Cut to…you and your wife in the middle of an argument and your need to apologize, for being a jerk, via text.

One of the BetterMen Tools is “Don’t Argue,” (get a copy of my book to find out why I’m so adamant about not arguing) so I can see why you’d want to apologize. Now that you know to wait until you see her at home, let’s switch gears to the nature of your argument.

You’d like her home more. I don’t know what your financial situation is, but I assume you’d survive if she worked less. My suspicion is that you value what she does for you at home more than you value how her work makes her feel. I say this because the only reason you got into an argument with her was because you weren’t listening to her. What you wanted to communicate was more important to you than your wife.

Go back home, apologize for trying to apologize via text (oy, this is getting complicated) and then gently let her know that you miss her and wondered whether the two of you could discuss a new balance between work and home. You don’t need counseling to turn this around. You just need to care. Hope this helps. g2g c u l8r

Got a relationship question for Wayne? Email him @:

Wayne M. Levine, M.A., mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. See how you can become a better man at

©2009 BetterMen®

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Video Time: Ellen Common Cement

This Saturday, I get to watch something like this when my son graduates.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

What The World Needs is...

Men to be Men.

And Women to be Women.

And Kids to be Kids.

There are real differences in us that can be identified by our gender and if we live up to who we are, everything else goes a bit smoother.

When I proposed to my wife a few years ago, we were both previously married with kids, and I made an observation that I shared with her. I told her, "You're the type of woman who can do it all, but you don't want to have to do it all..."

She knew at that time that I really "got" her, and one of the sexiest things I can do in her eyes, is to take care of "manly things". Fixing stuff, pitching in without being asked etc.

In a few days, we will be traveling to Maine for my son's college graduation. We will be together for 7 days straight on a vacation, which is the longest we have done something like this. So, I have planned ahead with updates to this blog and the others that I write and edit. I've got things covered at my job, so I can enjoy this away time as we drive east.

I also want to share with you a blog that I often repost at this site. Tomorrow they are starting a 30 day series, but since I'll be on the road, you need to take the steps and sign up on their site to follow the plan. Here's the details:

Announcing the 30 Days to a Better Man Project

Posted: 29 May 2009 01:23 PM PDT


Starting June 1, The Art of Manliness will begin a month long series called “30 Days to a Better Man.” The goal of this project is simple: to encourage men to be better men in all areas of their lives. I’m sure all of us have made goals to improve ourselves. But often our goals become one of those well meaning intentions that we plan to do…. some day. And if you’re like me, some day never comes, and you’re stuck in the same place of mediocrity you were before.

Personally, I’m more likely to follow through with a goal if I have a specific plan, instead of just some ethereal intention. I’m also more likely to accomplish a goal if I have a group of people who are encouraging me and keeping me accountable.

The 30 Days to a Better Man Project is designed to provide a specific plan and accountability to help you become a better man. And guess what? It’s 100% free. Are you up for the challenge? If so, read on.

How it Works

The Roadmap. Each day in the month of June, we’ll be publishing an article that gives you a specific task to accomplish that day. The article will begin with a theory component in which we briefly explain the benefits of doing the task and how to go about accomplishing it. After that, you go out and do the task. The tasks will cover a variety of areas of a man’s life including relationships, health, career and money, and style. Even if you already do the things we assign, it’s always good to have a reminder to keep on doing it.

The Accountablity. In addition to the articles, I’ve created a 30 Days to a Better Man Group in the community section. Join the group and interact with other men who are taking part in the project. Hold yourself accountable to the group by sharing whether or not you completed the task. You can also swap tips and discuss how the day’s task went for you.

How to Participate

Sign up for updates. First, (if you haven’t already) sign up to get updates from The Art of Manliness. This will ensure that you’ll know when we’ve published a new task so you can get working on it right away.

We provide two ways for readers to get updates: Email or RSS.

If you want so get updates by email, just fill out the form below. You can remove yourself from the list at any time, and you have our promise that we’ll keep your information private.

Enter your email address:

For the more tech savy out there, you can always subscribe to our RSS feed.

As an added bonus for signing up, you’ll get a link for a free copy of our “Guide to Being a Gentleman.” It’s full of tips and advice on how to be a modern day gent.

Join the official 30 Days to a Better Man Group.
In order to join the 30 DBM Group, you’ll need to sign up for our community. After you’ve joined the group, check back in each day and post your success stories. Interact with other men who are participating and offer encouragement to each other.

Make a commitment. The first step to becoming a better man is deciding not be afraid of making commitments. While we hope each article in the 30 Days series will be interesting, they’re not designed as passive entertainment. The project requires you to put what you read into action. So make a commitment to yourself that you will do your very best each day to accomplish the recommend task.

I’m really looking forward to the 30 Days to a Better Man project and I hope you’ll join me. My hope is that by the end of the month, we’ll all be better men.

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