Saturday, May 07, 2011

Saturday Night Classic Music Video

Rod has longer hair than Ellen!

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Frugal Friday Part 1

A few days ago I found a blog post in my email from the Art of Manliness that listed 80 ways to be frugal.

I decided to break it up into 4 parts.

Let's start:

Win the War on Debt: 80 Ways to Be Frugal and Save Money

The manliness of frugality cannot be overstated. Frugality cultivates the manly qualities of independence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, simplicity, and minimalism. It keeps a man free from the enslaving chains of debt and gives him an sense of manly pride and satisfaction. Frugality build a man’s immunity to the siren call of “stuff,” helps him learn to make do with less, and adds pleasure and happiness to his life by providing opportunities to practice delayed gratification. Frugality also fosters the DIY spirit and inspires a man to create, instead of consume.

We could wax long and poetic about the manliness of frugality but let’s get down to the brass tacks: how does a man become frugal? Some men, inspired to jump on the frugality wagon, set a drastic course for themselves and turn theirs live inside out. But inevitably, this man ends up chafing at the extreme constrictions he has set for himself, burns out on the program, and sets off on a shopping spree to compensate for the months of rigid restraint. No, the better course is simply to make little changes throughout the different areas of your life. You will be surprised to see how fast these small changes can add up and leave you with extra moola in your pockets and in the bank. And you also might be surprised to find out how fun being frugal is–really! It becomes like a game where you’re always trying to figure out ways to cut costs.

We’ve created this list of 80 practical–and often pretty painless–ways to save money. Whether you’re looking to trim your debt, live more simply, start an emergency fund, or just need to find ways to offset the hole in your budget created by rising gas prices, there are guaranteed to be a few things here you can start implementing in your life right away. I recommend giving these ideas a look-0ver, making a list of ten of more things you can give a go, and putting them into practice as a new month begins.

Victory over debt is at hand!


1. Change your own oil.

2. Rotate your tires regularly. Tires are expensive. Make them last longer by rotating them regularly.

3. Buy your car used. And make sure you learn how to negotiate for one.

4. If you’re married, share a car with your wife. Kate and I have been sharing just one car since we’ve been married. Yeah, it can be a pain planning our schedules occasionally, but overall the experience hasn’t been bad at all and has become our normal. We’ve saved money on gas, maintenance, and insurance and the rides together provide us with time to talk and catch up with each other.

5. Pay auto insurance annually, instead of every six months. There’s usually a nice discount if you do this. Other ways to score discounts with car insurance include maintaining a safe driving record, shopping around for the best price, and staying with the same insurance company for an extended period of time.

6. Carpool. Dagwood does it. So can you.

7. Keep your tires properly inflated. Not only do properly inflated tires save you money on gas, they also cut down on tire wear and improve the handling and thus safety of your car.

8. Replace your car’s air filter regularly. It’s an easy car maintenance job you can do yourself, and it can save you money on gas.

9. Practice hypermiling. Hypermiling consists of using certain driving techniques to maximize your fuel efficiency. You do things like coast down hills in neutral and turn off your car when at a stop light.

10. Don’t speed. You use more gas when you do and you risk getting a costly ticket.

11. Plan trips where you have friends and family. During Kate and I’s poor college student days, this is how we were able to go on vacations. We’d hang out with Uncle Buzz in Vermont or go see Kate’s grandparents in Orlando.

12. Always negotiate for hotel rooms. Hotel rooms are like highly perishable food: if they’re not used that day, they’re wasted. You can almost always get a better deal just by asking. Anytime Kate and I are traveling by car and we’re ready to call it a day, we’ll Google nearby hotels on our phone as we approach the town we’re driving into and ask for their rates. Then we’ll start a bidding war between the different hotels: “Is that the absolute best price you can do? La Quinta has a room for $45 a night. Any chance you can go lower than that?” Using this tactic we had one hotel room go from $125 to $40. Boom.

13. When flying, bring your own snacks.

14. Skip on car rental insurance. Check your personal car insurance plan to see if they cover you for rental cars, too. Many plans do. Also, the credit card you use to rent the car probably offers rental insurance.

15. Travel after peak season. It might be hard if you have kids in school, but you can find some good deals on hotel rooms and flights if you travel during the off-season and time your trip for the middle of the week instead of on the weekend.

16. Camp. Kate and I went camping last week. Spent just $10 for the campground fee and $20 for food and supplies. But it felt like a true getaway. Just spending a day and a night in the outdoors completely refreshed us.

Dressing and Grooming

17. Shave with a safety razor. No more buying $20 multi-blade razors.

18. Better yet, shave with a straight razor. No more having to buy razors at all, for the rest of your life!

19. Best of all, grow a beard. No razors and no shaving cream either.

20. Extend the life of your safety razors by keeping them dry and stropping them on your arm. Dull blades are the result of imperfections in your blade. Water causes your blades to corrode, and consequently creates imperfections. So keep your blades dry. But a neat little hack to sharpen those blades up is to do to your disposable razors what you do with your straight razor: hone them. If you don’t have a leather strop handy, just use your forearm. Rub your razor on your forearm in the non-cutting direction for about 10 strokes. Disposable razor stropped and ready to go.

21. Wash and iron your own dress shirts. Even if your local dry cleaner charges the very inexpensive rate of $1 per shirt, at 20 shirts per month, you’re looking at spending $240 per year. This amount can easily balloon to $1000 if you’re paying anywhere near $4 to $6 a shirt. You can complete this easy chore yourself in just 15 minutes a week.

22. Get your current wardrobe altered if you lose/gain weight instead of buying a new wardrobe.

23. Buy your clothing at a thrift store.

24. Cut your own hair. I’m a big advocate of the barber shop, but many barbers are charging $15-$25 for a haircut these days. For me, what you get–a great haircut, a great experience, and the opportunity to take part in a manly tradition–makes going to the barber well worth the price. But if you’re really wanting to tighten the belt, give yourself a buzz cut.

I'll continue with part 2, next Friday.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Sports Solutions...

Rarely do I play sports.

Didn't get to as a kid due to some health issues, but I like to watch a good competition and I'll challenge you to a game of miniature golf.

I don't think Seth Godin is much of a sports guy either but it was on his mind a few days ago:

A game theory of NFL negotiations

Off topic here, a bonus post for those that might be interested:

When two sides are negotiating over something that spoils forever if it doesn't get shipped, there's a straightforward way to increase the value of a settlement. Think of it as the net present value of a stream of football...

Any Sunday the NFL doesn't play, the money is gone forever. You can't make up for it later by selling more football--that money is gone. The owners don't get it, the players don't get it, the networks don't get it, no one gets it.

The solution: While the lockout/strike/dispute is going on, keep playing. And put all the profit/pay in an escrow account. Week after week, the billions and billions of dollars pile up. The owners see it, the players see it, no one gets it until there's a deal.

Seeing and counting money you don't get to touch is a very different story than merely imagining the money you didn't get to touch, money that's gone forever... Change the story, change behavior.

The alternative (if you don't do this) is that down the road, instead of announcing a deal where everyone gets a windfall, you are forced to announce a deal where everyone already starts way behind where they would have been in the first place. That money is gone forever, no one gets it back. The problem with the game of chicken is that someone has to lose.

I'm not even a football fan, but this seems like a clear way to both maximize value and minimize the damage to all those involved. Especially players with short careers and those fans with nothing to do on Sunday afternoons.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011


In my occupation, one of the keys is to understand what motivates people.

It's something all of us should know and DLM wrote about it this week:

How to Identify the Needs that Motivate Others

Posted: 02 May 2011 12:53 PM PDT

We are all motivated by unique desires, expectations, and interests, but there are still overarching tendencies and values people possess that impact their motivation.

So, when it comes to motivating others, tapping into what they need and how they want to be treated is a key factor in making a connection and prompting action. Following the principle of “What’s in it for me?” offers a valuable approach to begin satisfying others needs and to spur lasting motivation.

From this perspective we are all motivated by personal interest, and want to see the value in what we are doing. Learning to treat and interact with people in the way they want to be treated offers valuable leverage to influence them in a positive manner.

Whether you want to enhance the level of motivation of co-workers, family members, or friends, consider what they would want. What is their personality like? What behavior tendencies do they have, and how do they usually express themselves?

By uncovering this information you can connect with others in the most effect way by treating them how they want to be treated. Almost anyone you’re dealing with should fit somewhere in the six needs below.
  1. The need for autonomy
    This is the need to have control and be a causal agent in our environment. Individuals with this need and personality trait are often self-reliant, self-motivated, and desire to work on their own schedule. You will notice these types of individuals tend to be independent, creative, and nonlinear thinkers. In order to really be motivated they need to have freedom to do things their way and on their time. If you are working with someone of this nature their motivation will be stifled if they are placed within strict boundaries.

  2. The need for power
    This need refers to the level of importance and influence someone desires. People with this need and personality trait would rather take charge of a situation and can effectively do so. They are often strong in expressing their opinions and reaching goals. When around people who tend to elicit control and take the lead it can be helpful to offer them an influential role in what they are doing. These people desire to be leaders and will not be motivated by a submissive and inhibited role.

  3. The need for achievement
    Many people are motivated by the successful completion of projects and activities. So, be aware that someone with a need for achievement is likely to have high aspirations and be ambitious, and just as the label implies are very achievement-oriented. If someone has a need for achievement, help them to apply their talents and strengths in order to accomplish goals and attain success. They will be motivated by seeing progress occur.

  4. The need for affiliation
    We are social creatures and want to be connected to others. Particularly, for more extroverted individuals, the need for affiliation is a major a factor in motivation. They derive energy from being a part of a group and interacting with others, and you can expect them to be very open and expressive. Realize the importance of relationships and socializing as a source of motivation for these people and make them a part of tasks or activities where they will be interacting with others.

  5. The need for esteem
    Many people need validation and confirmation about the quality of their work. This provides insight that they’re doing their work effectively and successfully. People who have a need for esteem can be motivated by being shown recognition and respect. These individuals want to feel that they are doing a good job and that they’re appreciated for their efforts. Offering public praise and positive reinforcement can really be effective to motive someone with this need.

  6. The need for equity
    Knowing we are being treated fairly can be a major factor in our emotional state and hence our level of motivation. Showing people there is mutual benefit and value from everyone’s contributions can be very effective in managing dynamics within teams and groups. When it seems others are getting much better treatment we can develop a negative perception that really dampens motivation. Making a concerted effort to treat people the same and not provide preferential treatment will serve you well in motivating almost anyone that believes in the virtue of equity.
Many people will fall somewhere in between these needs, though by being observant and aware of peoples’ behaviors and tendencies you can learn what makes them tick and begin to interact with them in the most effective way. If one area doesn’t seem to be that important to them try another approach until you find what their driving needs are. When you do so, you can be sure your interactions will be much more positive and productive.

Written on 5/2/2011 by Joe Wilner. Joe Wilner is a coaching and writer who manages, where he inspires and empowers people to live a full, meaningful, and thriving life. You can also follow him on Twitter at @shakethegrind.Photo Credit: Erin and Joe

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tech Tip Tuesday

Technically, this is not a technical tip. But it is possible due to technology.

I used to get slightly annoyed at my parents and their constant picture taking. When I was in my 20's and 30's it seemed like we always had to pose for pictures. I think it was the grandparent in them.

Back then, we didn't have digital cameras. We had film that you had to take somewhere and get developed. Walgreens got a lot of my mom's money back then. Of course she'd always get doubles for a dollar more per roll.

I even have pictures of me looking at pictures!

Times have changed.

All of us have a camera if we have a cellphone. And we don't have to pay to get them developed and see how they turned out.

Later this month, my daughter Tiffany and her husband Jon are going to have their first child.

I'm going to ask her to take one picture a day of Calvin and post it somewhere online.

Somewhere other than Facebook.

Imagine having a daily chronicle of your life from day 1.

Or at least once a week.

If they lived in town, I'd do it myself.

Must be getting the grandpa bug!

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I learned about this site from Chris Sanderson who created a video about this program which you can watch by clicking here.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

The Power of a List

My wife and I have a busy year going on right now.

Make that a VERY busy year.

Family is important to us, and right now it takes center stage.

My son Josh married on 10/10/10.

My daughter Rachael is getting married 5/28/11.

My step-daughter Abby is getting married 8/13/11.

But that's not all.

My youngest daughter Tiff and her husband Jon are expecting their first born this month, a few days before her sister gets married.

And Abby... well she graduates from Purdue this month too.

So our lives have been filled with wedding plans, showers, parties, and fortunately for me, most of what I had to do was play a supporting role.

But over the weekend Kathy and I noticed that we needed to create a To-Do list because with all of this activity along with work, our brains were ready to melt trying to remember what needed to be done when, etc.

DLM wrote about this recently too:

Using Your To-Do List as a Second Brain

Posted: 28 Apr 2011 08:19 AM PDT

Does this sound familiar? You’ve cleared your calendar for a day to spend time with friends and family. No work, just quality time.

But as you try to relax, an endless string of to-dos floods your mind. Soon, you’re no longer at the park with your family. Your body might still be there, but you are lost in thoughts about the email you need to send or the call you need to make.

I call this the must-remember-mind. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this state of consciousness. The must-remember-mind helps us nail deadlines and follow through on important tasks. But it also poses problems, both to our productivity at work and the quality of our life at home. Here are the two main dysfunctions of the must-remember-mind:
  • It Scatters our Attention – When lost in these mental to-dos, we become less efficient. Rather than devoting sustained attention to our current task, our mental energy is lost in a cycle of worry about what we didn’t do or need to do.

  • It Diminishes our Aliveness – The more we drop into the consciousness of the must-remember-mind, the more we distract ourselves from the experience of the present moment. If you’re walking through the woods and all you can think about is that email you forgot to write, you’re cut off from experiencing what’s here and now.
How do you break out of the must-remember-mind? How can you draw your attention away from endless mental to-dos to the experience of this moment?

The answer is – you need a second brain, a brain dedicated to holding on to all those emails, tasks, and calls you can’t stop thinking about.

Enter the to-do list. It’s a simple technology. But, if used properly, the to-do list works as an extension of consciousness. It allows us to outsource the worried thoughts of the must-remember-mind so that we can enjoy the experience of the present moment.

Here are three ways to maximize the benefits of this second brain:
  1. Don’t go anywhere without a list
    Wherever you go, be sure you have some way of jotting down the thoughts of the must-remember-mind. You could go old school and slip a piece of paper into your pocket. Or you could go high tech and use the “Notes” app on your iPhone (I’m also a big fan of the “Voice Memo” feature).

  2. Write out your to-dos as they arise
    You might not always be able to do this. You might be in the bathroom or swimming in the ocean when your next burning to-do comes to mind. But the sooner you off load your to-dos to your second brain, the sooner you can let go of the scattered thoughts of the must-remember-mind. So the next time a mental to-do arises, make a habit of jotting it down immediately. This 10-second detour can save you hours of worry.

  3. Set aside a time for to-doing
    This final step is crucial. If you simply have a list but no set time to carry out the tasks on it, you’ll worry about when you’re ever going to get these things done. So I recommend blocking out an hour or two or three (whatever you need) each day dedicated to following through on your list. You’ll be more focused during these periods because you won’t waste any mental energy trying to figure out if you’re missing anything. You’ll also find that the list keeps you on task. Rather than getting lost on Facebook, your second brain will remind you of your next task.
If you master the to-do list, you will not only experience gains in productivity. You’ll also experience the present moment more deeply and fully.

When you’re with your child at the park or strolling through your neighborhood, you will no longer need to worry about that email you forgot to send. It’s on the list. Your second brain has you covered.

Written on 4/28/2011 by Nate Klemp. Nate earned his PhD at Princeton and is a professor at Pepperdine University. He founded, a website dedicated to exploring philosophy as an art of living. You can follow him on Twitter @LifeBeyondLogic and on Facebook. Download a free copy of his new ebook, Finding Reality: Thoreau’s Lessons for Life in the Digital Age.Photo Credit: spierzchala

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Media Monday continues...
Yes, I used to work here, on the air. Seems like a lifetime ago. Click on Pic.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Focus & Energy

I'm really proud of something my wife did this week.

As the first born daughter in a large family, there were certain birth-order characteristics that fit her perfectly at times.

Like looking after her brothers & sisters and other friends & family who need to stand up on their own two feet, even fall down a few times and pick themselves up by themselves.

Firstborns, especially females often have this built in protective nature which makes it difficult to let someone repeatedly fall down even when they know better.

This week we took a trip to Indianapolis and she decided to help two family members reconnect by providing transportation that made it possible.

Then the next day, my wife set boundaries and reclaimed her space.

Kathy is the type of person who wants to make the world a better place, promote peace & harmony and if she was in the Miss America contest, she was probably the one who coined the answer, "I want to promote world peace".

But all of this takes energy.

Despite our best intentions, we do have some limitations.

What Kathy did this week was decide to focus her energy on the important in her life and stop fighting battles that were unwinnable. In this case it was to stop trying to help a family member make positive changes who really didn't want to change.

Now, she's not ending the relationship, but she has decided to refocus.

As you look forward to a new week and a new month, are there things you need to do to create more energy by refocusing?

More from the DLM Blog:

How to Save Your Energy for Things That Matter

Posted: 29 Apr 2011 07:06 AM PDT

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds to ever live, chose purposefully not to even memorize his own telephone number. He obviously had enough brain capacity to memorize a short series of numbers, but still, he chose not to. He viewed memorizing these digits as a waste of precious life energy.

Instead, he used this energy to memorize more important things, which lead to revolutionary accomplishments in the field of Physics.

The same principles of energy that Einstein acknowledged, apply to us. It is easiest to see the effects of this energy in extreme situations. If we are deprived of food for too long, our bodies won't have enough energy left to perform physical tasks. If we don't sleep for two days straight, we won't have enough energy to partake in a meaningful conversation. Not eating, or not sleeping will drain us of our energy reserves. We all understand this because it's common sense.

But there are also many other negative habits, which we simply aren't aware of - slowly robbing us of any extra energy we might have. These habits include: overeating, long hours in front of the TV, compulsive complaining, etc.

If you want to get something great done in your life, you must first be able to adopt habits that preserve your energy, and free yourself of habits that waste it.

The good news is that, there are simple practices that allow us to preserve this vital life energy inside of us.
  • Quieting the Mind
    Did you know that your brain uses the largest amount of energy compared to any other organ in your body? Some of our mental work is unavoidable and necessary for us to function. We don't want to get rid of all of it just because it would save us energy.

    But what about all the worrying, complaining, and resisting that we use our minds for? This, of course, is all pointless mental work that should be avoided as much as possible. When you notice your mind going in this direction. Stop. Take a deep breath, and observe your mind slowing down.

    Repeat this process for as long as you need to. (It wouldn't be a bad idea to make meditation into a daily practice either.)

  • Proper Nutrition
    By Proper Nutrition I don't mean eating enough to survive. All of us, who are fortunate enough to be able to read this post online, have access to all of the food we could ever dream of.

    What I mean by Proper Nutrition is eating the types of foods that are optimal for your body, the types of foods that keep us energized longer than a Big Mac can. The food you eat is supposed to energize you, not force you to take a 30-minute nap afterwards.

    There is plenty of good information available on nutrition, just be aware of the "Get Slim Quick Schemes". Begin moving towards a diet that gives you long-term health benefits. Just keep in mind, the diet that is the healthiest for your body will also be the most beneficial for your energy levels.

  • Take a Break
    The benefits of getting a good night's sleep are well known - so instead, I want to reintroduce an often overlooked idea, that offers similar benefits for managing your energy resources: the idea of taking breaks.

    Try to remember yourself as a kid in school. How energized did you feel, every single time, after you returned back inside from recess? You came back to class as a new kid, right? Are you taking breaks as a grown-up now that there's no one forcing you to? No, I bet not.

  • Jog, Walk, or Crawl
    The benefits of exercise are tremendous. Not only is exercise vital for good health, it's also important for staying energized throughout the day. It still continues to amaze me how much better I feel after any kind of physical exercise.

    If you can't jog, go for a walk. If you can't walk, go crawl. It does not matter what you do, just get your body moving.

  • Socialize
    Being alone, locked up in your apartment, is no way to live life. If you've been there you know what I mean.

    Meeting up with a friend or family member has an almost magical power of bringing you back to life. You feel invigorated and energized once again, and you begin wondering why you didn't arrange to meet up earlier.
To start out, I'd identify one energy preserving habit to integrate into your life, and one energy robbing activity to get rid of. Have fun reclaiming your precious life energy - and with this extra energy, please get something great done!

Written on 4/29/2011 by Juha. Juha is the author behind Ever Evolve, a blog on Simple and Effective Self Development. If you enjoyed this post you might also be interested in The Effective Readers Guide to Personal Development, which can be found on his blog.Photo Credit: Toms Bauń£is

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