Category Archives: My life

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

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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Filed under My life

Shop Class

“Boys learning capentry work in Shop class.”
Photo by Bernard Hoffman, September 1949, LIFE Archives

It’s the smell of sawdust, piles of sheet metal shavings, spent sandpaper lying about.  It’s the whir of a wood lathe, the “neeeeeeeeiiiiiaaaaoooo” of a tabletop saw, or the crunch of a press brake.  It’s making grandfather clocks, toolboxes, pen sets or even just a trivet for your mother.  It’s shop class.

Long a staple of elementary and secondary education until around the 1980s and ’90s, shop class began to be thrown by the wayside in favor of computer education.  Drill presses and band saws were quieted while the cooling fans of a thirty-computer technology lab droned in their place.

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Filed under Items, My life, Uncategorized

In the woods

A friend and I went camping a few days ago.  We drove three and a half hours from where I live to a really dense forest in a wildlife management area and built a shelter to sleep in.

When I was in Boy Scouts, we went to this same forest for our “wilderness survival” campouts.  Every December, we would camp in the forest and build a shelter out of logs and rocks and things.

My friend and I did the same, sleeping in tents the first night, then spending the next Continue reading


Filed under My life, Outdoors