The power of “No, thanks.”

My college campus, like many across the country, is a battlefield of warring causes.  People stand outside by the sidewalks in support of different bandwagons, handing out 1/4 sheets of paper promoting events, promoting clubs, promoting social causes, and promoting products.  Their tactic is simple: obstruct the sidewalk so you either A) have to take whatever piece of paper they’re waving in your face, or B) have to look like a complete jerk by walking a big arc around them while avoiding all possible eye contact.  After all, when they stick that piece of paper out into the air toward you, you have to take it, right?  No.  No you don’t.

I have discovered the power of “No, thanks.”  When the promotion-peddlers try to pass me a flyer, I no longer run around avoiding them like they have a disease.  And I don’t politely take the piece of paper only to wastefully trash it right after taking it.  I simply look them in the eye, politely say “No, thanks,” and keep walking without skipping a beat.  I’m not rude about it.  I don’t stop and yell “NO I DON’T WANT TO SIT THROUGH A HISTORY CLUB MEETING FOR FREE PIZZA!”  It’s just, “No, thanks.”  Two simple words that stops a flood of wasteful clutter and unwanted, unpetitioned material from ever making its way into my hands.  The freedom is exhilarating.

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Filed under Clutter, My life, Personal Development

Mast Brothers Chocolate

The Scout has produced yet another stunningly beautiful video about some real craftsmen–the Mast Brothers, who are New York City’s only bean-to-bar chocolate factory, meaning they hand-make each batch of artisanal chocolate.

Watch the video on Vimeo here.

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Manpower on the Homefront

A cool video I found about the stateside war effort during World War II.  Poor acting aside, it gives a neat glimpse into the production mindset of our country at the time.

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Filed under Armed Forces, Automobiles and Machines, History, Industry Fabrication and Manufacturing, World War II

The path to self-improvement

I’ve never been strong.  I just haven’t.  I’ve always been tall and lanky.  My legs have been fairly strong, I suppose, because I am an avid mountain biker and, starting earlier this year, road biker.  In high school, I ran cross-country.  But when it comes to anything higher than my waist, I’m in pretty bad shape.

Speaking of shape, I’m in pretty bad shape overall as well.  Since high school, my physical activity levels have gone way down, except for mountain biking for fun.  And when winter comes along, even that goes out the window.  This summer, I went on a 1,000-mile bike ride which wound through several states from Georgia to Oklahoma, and that definitely got me into shape for a while, but after a trip that big, when I got home I gave up the bike for quite a while and just sat around.

So, I’ve decided I’m tired of being weak, both physically and mentally.  Often times I’ll try working out but will give up because of a lack of knowledge and motivation, which is a mental weakness, I think.  So today I start with a more focused plan to build strength and no longer be weak!

I am not interested in looking like a body-builder or in “putting on mass” for no reason.  I suspect I will always be tall and lanky, but my lankiness might as well have some strength to it.

I’m using several Web sites to help me design my plan, so that it will be more directed than my past attempts.  Every resource I’ve looked at says my goals should be realistic as well as measurable.  I’ve long struggled with setting measurable goals because I often don’t have the fitness experience to know what goals are good ones and what are bad ones.

This is the list of goals I’ve set up for myself so far.  Because I haven’t been active since I finished my bike trip more than a month ago, I’m not sure if these goals are good ones, but we’ll see.  For example, I think I already run an 8-minute mile, but until I go out and try I’m not sure.  I also am pretty sure I can do 10 pull-ups, but doing more than one set is where I’ll have trouble I think.

The Starting Strength and Strong Lifts 5×5 are two programs that come highly recommended for novices looking to start lifting, such as myself.  I have hardly any experience weight-lifting so these programs will help me set some measurable goals for myself.

Lastly, I have added some swimming to mix things up, and am following a nutrition plan.  I will continue to mountain bike, road bike, and boulder/rock-climb (I work at a climbing gym) to keep things fun, because I don’t want to bore myself until I end up quitting!

I’m doing these things to improve myself and work on discipline.  I will post some updates as I do this!  There is no one, single “challenge” nor an end-date for this plan, because the plan will evolve as I go and improve, and I’m hoping this dedication to fitness and strength will last a lifetime, meaning there is no set end-date!

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Aug. 6, 1945 – Never-before-seen photographs of destruction

This photograph of the mushroom cloud over the city of Hiroshima was taken Aug. 6, 1945 by the crew of the B-29 the Enola Gay, which dropped the bomb.  This photo is famous, and is in the public domain.  The photos linked below are from the LIFE Archives, and have never before been published.

On Aug. 6, 1945, an American B-29 named the Enola Gay dropped the 8,900-pound atomic bomb nicknamed Little Boy on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.  The bombing was the first of only two uses ever of atomic weapons during war, the other being the American bombing of the Japanese city Nagasaki on Aug. 9.

The bombing of Hiroshima unleashed a power the world had never seen, and helped bring about the end of World War II.  It also killed nearly 140,000 people within the first two months after the bombing.  Today we honor the American servicemen of World War II, and remember the Japanese dead.

These never-published photographs from LIFE illustrate the destruction the bombs left behind.

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Filed under Armed Forces, History, World War II

B-17 Flying Fortress

Inside a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber a radio operator & an engineer, clad in hi-altitude sheepskin clothing, goggles & oxygen masks, manning .50 cal. waist guns during bombing raid launched by US 8th Bomber Command fr. England. Photo by Margaret Bourke-White, Sept. 1942, from the LIFE Archives.

Over the past several days I’ve been watching World War II classic movies.  Films like “Dive Bomber,” “12 o’clock High,” “30 Seconds Over Tokyo,” and the 1970s classic “Tora! Tora! Tora!”

One of the things I like best about them is the planes and equipment.  Both of my grandfathers served during the war.  My dad’s dad, William, was a transport pilot who shuttled aircraft of all types from base to base, depending on the needs of the time.  My mom’s dad, Norman, was a radio operator and gunner in a B-17.  As such, the B-17 has always fascinated me.

Crewmen posing with B-17E Flying Fortress. Tampa, Fla., 1942. Photo by Frank Scherschel, from the LIFE Archives.

Four engines of raw, heavy bomber power, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was introduced in the 1930s and was used by American forces as well as Continue reading

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Filed under Armed Forces, Automobiles and Machines, History, Industry Fabrication and Manufacturing, Mindless nostalgia

Jeeps on my mind

Jeep Ride. April 1949.
Photo by Peter Stackpole, from the LIFE Archives

I’m on my fifth month of Jeep ownership.  Although my Jeep has had a few mechanical issues, I see them more as fun mechanical activities than pesky mechanical problems.  I’ve enjoyed working on it and I love to drive it!  I’ve been looking at pictures of old Jeeps, particularly around WWII.  Enjoy!

Jeep driver at Fort Benning. April 1942.
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer.  Library of Congress

New River, N.C.  The Marine Corps throws a lot of jobs to the jeeps.May 1942.
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer.  Library of Congress

Production. Jeep engines.  Cylinders being drilled into engine block. February 1942.
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Library of Congress

Production. Jeeps. Putting “shoes” on another hard-boiled recruit.  December 1941.
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer.  Library of Congress

Note: December 1941 is the month of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This is early in the war effort.

Rear view of jeep.  US 1941.
Photo by George Strock

Note: I’m a bit confused by this one.  Note the “Ford” emblem embossed on the back?  I did not know Ford made lower-case “jeeps” during this time or any other for that matter.  Can anyone tell me about this?

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Filed under Armed Forces, Automobiles and Machines, History, Industry Fabrication and Manufacturing