Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
I decided to break it up into 4 parts. See if you can find some ideas to apply to your life:
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!
41. Cut the cable. Farewell Snooki.
42. Board games and like. Boggle. I love Boggle.
43. Matinee and Dollar movies. Movie theater experience without the movie theater prices. And in the case of matinees, without the interrupting teenagers.
44. Take advantage of your local college or university. Colleges often have free cultural events and lectures that are open to the public.
45. Trade and borrow with friends. If you need tools or other items to do a job around the house, instead of going out and buying them, check with your friends or neighbors to see if they have it and if you can borrow it. You can also do this with books, CDs, movies, and video games.
46. Use the library. Kate and I are total library hounds. We use it to score not only free books, but current CDs and DVDs as well. If you haven’t used the library in awhile, you really need to give it a try. With the Tulsa library system, you can look up a book online and no matter what library it is at in the city, you can request that it be delivered to the library closest to you. A few days letter, you saunter into the library down the road, and the books, CDs, and movies you wanted are waiting for you on the reserve shelf. It’s magical really.
47. Feed your mind online. The public library is not the only place you can get free mind-expanding materials. From university lectures from the country’s best professors to engrossing TED talks to classic books in the public domain, you can find enough free brain food on the internet to keep you occupied from here to eternity.
48. Keep an eye on subscription services. Netflix, magazine, and online subscriptions can add up fast if you’re not careful. Do a subscription audit to see if you’re using the service enough to warrant the cost and if you can find free alternatives to your current subscriptions. Did I mention the library?
49. Rethink your hobbies. Some hobbies cost a ton of money. Case in point: gun shooting. I’ve been getting into marksmanship and enjoy going to the range to pop off a few rounds with my Colt Python .357. But one of the things that surprised me about range shooting is how much ammo costs. Holy freaking cow! So I’m finding ways to make gun shooting cheaper, like practicing my dry firing at home. If you have a hobby that’s costing you a lot of money, find ways to make it cheaper. If you can’t do that, you might consider dropping it all together and finding a cheaper one, at least until your cash flow increases. Don’t know what to replace it with? Check out our list of manly hobbies.
50. Use free tools and software for all your computing needs. It’s amazing how many programs you can get these days that are completely free. Instead of forking over money for Microsoft Office, use OpenOffice or Google Docs. Wikipedia has a massive list of open source software that’s completely free. Check to see if there’s a free version of what you’re looking for before spending money.
51. Refill ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.
52. Print in draft mode. It uses less ink.
53. When you buy new computers or printers, keep the old cables. You never know when they’ll come in handy.
54. Buy refurbished. If you need a new computer, check the company’s website that you want to buy from to see if they have any deals on refurbished items. I know lots of Apple fanboys who can’t afford (or don’t want) to buy Apple products new, so they buy a gently used version of the product they’ve been lusting after.
We'll wrap this up next Friday!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Monday I posted an article about how to cut down on distractions which lead to a conversation on Twitter and now.... This Article!
The conversation got my mind thinking about the past and the world my parents grew up in along with my own changing world.
My Dad spent 25+ years working as a purchasing agent for 3 different companies.
He had a secretary. She took care of his correspondence, answered his phone or screened his calls and there was no voicemail. Dad was able to concentrate on what ever project he was working on because he was able to close the door to his office and have time to focus on one thing.
The next generation, mine, saw the dawn of word processors. These were not full fledged computers, but an upgrade from a typewriter.
They had a screen and you could save text on floppy discs. I was working as a radio commercial producer. I would interview business owners and the employees, create advertising campaigns, write scripts, voice and produce commercials. Before we had the word processors, my handwritten scripts were typed by a secretary. Word processors were less expensive than a real live person and it started the current multi-tasking culture we live in.
The other factor was economic. As computers where able to do more and more and we eliminated the need for extra people, those who were left wore multiple hats. Downsize to save money but the job (work) wasn't really eliminated, it was given to others.
Multi-tasking sounds like doing multiple tasks at once. And that is why I say multi-tasking isn't really what we do.
We Stop One Task and Start Another and repeat several times a day.
Now that my kids are in their 20's this is the work world they have always known, very different from their grandparents generation.
I was almost done with this article but I felt I left an important part out.
There really is what I would call true multi-tasking going on around us.
Just watch any Mom take care of more than one young one while preparing a meal and doing two or three other things at once.
It might be a biological and gender thing but I know it is real.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
A few of you saw this briefly last week:
Recently I visited a link via twitter: http://www.penmachine.com/2011/05/the-last-post
Here is a post written by a dying man who had been keeping a blog for 10 years who left a few words for those left behind.
This was not an old man. I've outlived him by 10 years. He was only 41. Cancer took his body and the sad part is he didn't realize that he is a soul, not a body.
He did not believe in life after death. He believed he was done... finished...over.
My beliefs and faith know better, but let me focus on what first struck me as I read his last post and the comments.
More people were getting to know him, or at least what he wrote after he was gone.
I hope that is not the direction my life or your life is heading.
I want to live by knowing people and building relationships.
Sharing ideas, challenging each other with our thoughts.
And laughter. Yes, laughter and a sense of humor is a key ingredient to my life.
What about you?
Are you up to the challenge of putting yourself out there, for others to discover, for others to learn from, for others to enjoy?
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
A hard reset.
10 years ago, I worked for a plastics company where I learned how to run a thermoformer.
A thermoformer was used to heat up roles of plastic to prepare them for shaping into various shapes depending on the molds that were used.
When I worked there we had a combination of old and new technology and we had a variety of computers and non-computer controls working and sometimes not-working.
When things stopped working, sometimes the best solution was a hard reset.
That's where you turn off the power and wait, sometimes up to a minute and then turn the machine back on.
This is one way of cleaning out the memory that has become clogged and bogged down with too many commands.
It may work on your computer too.
There are other ways to clear memory, or reset a program, but I would still recommend letting your computer have a little down time.
If you have a laptop, unplug it and also remove the battery every once in awhile. I do this about once a month.
This is not a solution to fixing problems, but it is more of a preventative measure that may help.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Posted: 03 May 2011 07:22 PM PDT
Have you ever been right in the middle of something – a complicated email, a tricky paragraph of a report, a hunt for some vital figures – only for your concentration to be shattered?
Maybe your work day seems to be a string of interruptions. Maybe your colleagues want to chat constantly, or people keep phoning with trivial issues, or your housemates can’t understand that you want to be left alone to work on a college assignment.
You’ll never be able to eliminate interruptions altogether – but you can do a lot to minimize them. Here’s how:
- Look Unavailable
If you have an office with a door, keep it shut when you don’t want interrupting. It’s a simple visual cue to would-be visitors – and you’ll also keep out any noise from passers-by. If you’re working at home, ask your family or flatmates to avoid interrupting you when the door is closed.
Of course, you might not have a whole room of your own to work in. Try wearing headphones (even if you don’t have any music playing) – this often makes people think twice about interrupting you. If you’ve got a hands-free headset, you could even pretend to be on the phone while working.
- Let People Know You’re Busy
I know this seems obvious, but how often do you actually tell people that you want some uninterrupted time? At home, this might mean explaining to your partner and/or kids that you’re going to be working on your novel for an hour.
At work, get in the habit of telling potential interrupters, “I’m right in the middle of something. Can I get back to you in fifteen minutes?” Chances are, they’ll be happy to wait – and they may well go and find some other solution which doesn’t involve waiting for you!
- Set an Example
If you want other people to respect your time, be respectful of theirs. Try not to interrupt colleagues – and when you do need to have a conversation with someone, start off with “Is this a good time?” If you can see their calender, heck, use that an schedule 30 minutes at some point later in the day. Don’t use work time to chat, unless you want your colleagues to assume that you’ll always be happy to stop what you’re doing to listen to the latest office gossip.
You might find that several colleagues (or other people in your household) are getting frustrated by interruptions. If so, look for some way to make things easier for everyone – perhaps by spending the mornings on focused work, and encouraging more discussion and collaboration in the afternoons.
- Don’t Answer Calls and Emails Straight Away
Most of the interruptions in your day probably don’t come from colleagues or housemates who drop by your desk. They come from people phoning or emailing.
Unless you work in a job which requires it, there’s no rule which says that you need to answer your phone as soon as it rings. Further, just because they call it "Instant Messaging", you don't have to respond this instant! You can let it go to voicemail and you can let your chat window blink for a bit. You can switch off your mobile, too.
The same goes for emails: you don’t have to leave your inbox constantly open. You’ll work much more efficiently if you process emails in batches, rather than trying to deal with them as soon as they come in.
- Work Early/Late in the Day
This is a bit of a radical step, but worth considering. Can you shift your working hours so that you avoid interruptions for at least part of the day?
If you get into the office at 7am, for instance, you’ll have at least an hour or two to work before most of your colleagues arrive. If you stay up late at home and write your essays after the kids are in bed, you’re much less likely to be interrupting than if you try to work on Saturday afternoons.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I just hope that we don't have to follow these instructions as she is due to give birth in the next 10 days.
A Man’s Guide to Pregnancy: How to Deliver a Baby in a Pinch
I'm sorry to report that this is not a step in the process.
As you count down to the arrival of your progeny, you may read some books on pregnancy or go to a childbirth class with your wife, and feel like you can picture in your head how the whole thing is going to transpire: your wife laboring in a hospital bed (or at home for you earthier types) and you holding her hand while the folks in the white coats take care of business and bring your baby into the world. And there’s a good chance that it will go something like that. But there’s also a small chance that your baby, precocious little kid that he is, will try to make his escape from Uterus-traz before you even get to the hospital. If that happens, are you prepared?
Yes, this really does happen to people, although it’s much more common in woman who have already had a baby. The cervix rapidly dilates, and the baby makes its exit all at once and is born (unexpectedly) at home. So it’s a good bit of knowledge to have locked in your brain canister. Even if your wife’s not pregnant, you might have to come to the aid of a lady giving birth in a taxi or elevator. We included a section on this in The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man, and I honestly reviewed it a couple times in the weeks before Kate’s due date (Hey, I was a Boy Scout–Be Prepared!). So give this short guide on how to deliver a baby a read, especially if you live a long way from the hospital.
How to Deliver a Baby in a Pinch
1. Don’t panic. Your wife is under a lot of stress right now. Standing there havy cavy or running around the house yelling like a little boy will not help her. Ease her stress by remaining completely calm.
2. Assess the situation. During labor your wife will experience contractions—the periodic tightening and relaxing of her uterine muscle. You’ll know your wife is experiencing one by the looks of discomfort on her face. If your wife’s contractions are less than two minutes apart, the baby is on its way, and you probably don’t have time to get to the doctor. If you can see the top of the baby’s head in the vagina, you definitely don’t have time.
3. Call for help. Just because you read something on the internet or watched Patches give birth to puppies when you were eight, does not make you an expert on delivering babies. Call an ambulance (or if you were planning on giving birth at home anyway, your midwife). Even if the baby comes before the ambulance gets there, someone can talk you through the process.
4. Get Mom comfortable. Because you’ve seen hundreds of television and movie births, your first reaction will probably be to have Mom lie on her back. This position isn’t actually the most comfortable or effective for delivery. If space is available, have her get on her hands and knees. This alleviates some of the pressure on her back. Some women also find it comfortable to stand or squat when giving birth, positions which allow gravity to aid in the birthing process. Just let nature dictate what she does. If Mom is in one of these vertical positions, keep an eye on the baby so he or she doesn’t squirm out into a free fall. If space isn’t available (say, in the back of a taxicab), the traditional on-the-back position will suffice.
5. Scrub up and prepare the birthing area. You don’t want to risk giving the baby or Mom an infection by handling them with your grubby paws. Wash your hands and arms with hot water and plenty of antibacterial soap. Birth is a messy process, so make sure you place clean sheets or a shower curtain under Mom. You’ll also need to have some clean towels handy to wipe off and wrap up the newly arrived bundle of joy. If you’re in a taxi, you can use your shirt.
6. Watch and guide. Nature is pretty dang amazing. For the most part the baby doesn’t need much assistance to make it into the world. Avoid barking instructions for your wife to push and breathe. You’ll just stress her out and cause her to possibly push when she shouldn’t. Let her push when it feels natural. When the head makes it out of the vagina, the baby will turn to one side. That’s completely normal. He or she is just trying to get in the best position to make an escape. Simply place your hand under the baby’s head and gently guide it downward. Don’t try to speed the process along by pulling on the baby. Just gently guide the shoulders out, one at a time. As the baby makes his entrance into the world, be ready to receive him; babies are slippery!
7. Rub the baby down. Take that clean towel and gently rub the baby down to clean off the fluid and blood. The rubbing will also help stimulate the baby so it starts breathing. Wipe any fluids out of its nose and mouth. If you have a straw, take it and suction out the fluids by inserting the straw into the nostril and then placing your finger on the open end. No need for holding it upside down and slapping its tush. That practice went away along with polio and celebratory cigars in the waiting room. Just place the baby, skin to skin, on Mom’s chest and cover the new arrival with a towel or shirt.
8. Don’t cut or tie the cord. Wait for a trained professional to do this.
9. Deliver the placenta. About fifteen to thirty minutes after the baby is delivered, Mom will expel the placenta, the sack that’s been nurturing your baby for the past five months. When you see the placenta start coming out, don’t pull on it to make it come out faster; just let it slip out naturally. If it’s not coming out right away, you can massage the mother’s abdomen to help it along.
10. Get medical attention ASAP. By now the ambulance should be there. If not, get Mom and new baby to the hospital as soon as possible so doctors can take care of the umbilical cord and examine the goods.
11. Bully for you! You’re a dad. And you didn’t even have to boil any water!
How to Deliver a Baby from a 1966 California State Police Education Film (NSFW)
Back in 1966, the California State Police created a film to educate officers on how to deliver a baby in a pinch. The film does a good job reviewing the basics we just went over, but then it goes one step further: it shows an actual live birth. The whole enchilada. The idea was to expose officers to a live birth via film so that if they ever encountered one in the real world, they wouldn’t panic or be grossed out.
The film stars real California policemen, so the acting is awesomely bad which makes it really funny to watch.
But again, the video features a gen-u-ine live birth, so please don’t watch it if you’re at work, in class, or if you generally find babies coming out vaginas offensive.
I do recommend watching this film if you want a nice recap on the steps to deliver a baby and if you’ve never seen a woman give birth before. If you’re a dad-to-be and are wondering what it looks like to have a baby come out of your wife, pop some popcorn and watch this film. Well, maybe skip the popcorn part.
Click here to view the film.