I quit smoking yesterday



Since I need to focus my attention elsewhere, I’m not sure if that means I will posting way more on this blog, or way less over the next few days. Only time will tell. All I know is that I hate it, and I really don’t get any pleasure out of it, and it will be a huge relief when it is all over.

The common wisdom is that you don’t tell anyone that you are quitting. I’ve tried the common wisdom thing many times with no positive results. So I figured, what the hell, I’ll blog it.

I was going to make this a New Year’s resolution – but I was inspired to quit and didn’t want to wait. The I was going to make it a Christmas present to Janelle, but I still didn’t want to wait, and I’m really doing for myself anyways.

My posts over the next several days may sound angry. Just forgive me and keep coming around!

Learning by DOING!

As I look back on all the ways that I have learned, all of the things that I now know, that I have learned it all by doing. When I wanted to paint, I just painted, When I wanted to learn how to play a song, I just listened to it, and attempted to eke it out on the piano or guitar. When I wanted to build something, I just started sawing and nailing.

My stuff is CRAP! Well, it started out crap. The stuff I liked to do, the stuff I stuck with, ended up getting more and more refined. And the more I learned how to do that stuff, I got better at other stuff, stuff I didn’t even know related. The more I learned about music, the better I got at painting. The more I learned about martial arts, the better I got at building, The more I learned about building, the better I got at music. Life is amazing.


I had a friend who had a teacher that told him “There is one art, the Continue reading “Learning by DOING!”

Train Yourself to React to Any Situation in 7 Steps

Photo courtesy of Tevaprapas (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tevaprapas)


Do you ever find yourself in a social situation where you’re not exactly sure how to react, and you don’t trust yourself to simply act naturally? This principal (old as the hills) can help you dispel your fears of any situation that comes along. All you have to do is take that one particular scene that currently makes you unsure of yourself, and decide specifically how you are going to react before the situation ever comes along. I call this a simple principal because this is how all training works.

Let’s take the police – they train for situations over and over again throughout their entire career because when it’s “crunch time” they don’t have time to think, all they have time to do is react. If they have been trained properly, their minds and bodies will do what they were trained to do. It’s not a situation where the authorities want guesswork. The police are trained according to the best methods available at the time (at least someone decided that they were the best methods). The basic principal here is that people react in the manner that they were trained to react. When fear sets in and people aren’t sure how or what to think, the training kicks in and they do things automatically. This isn’t always a physical training. The police go through verbal and situational scenarios as well as the physical aspects of training.

Courtesy of Chuangzu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Chuangzu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
I’m not saying that I always agree with the police and the way they do things, but they served as a really good example of how and why training works. And this applies to you. The training doesn’t have to come from someone else, or a book. The training can come from you. Your own training can come from what YOU have previously decided was the best course of action for YOUR GOALS in any given situation. It could be as variable as asking the girl at the bar for her number to getting yelled at by your boss in public.
Easy Steps:

1. Ask yourself which situations scare you, or at least make you worry that you won’t be prepared to handle if they ever come up. These are probably the scenarios that you should begin with in training yourself and your mind to deal with in the manner that you consider appropriate.

2. Play the situation in your head. This should be easy because if it gives you any fear at all, it probably plays out in your head often, which is actually causing you more fear.

3. Decide how your “best self” would handle the scenario if it ever occurred. Be as specific as possible, even go as far as writing down exactly what you want to say.

4. Allow the situation to play out in your head again, this time visualizing yourself reacting the way you want to react, they way you DECIDED to react.

5. Try to maintain the same response, or as close as possible to your original response. This will reinforce your training every time your mind wanders to the scenario at hand. The only time this would change is if you have changed your decision on how you want to react.

6. When the situation actually occurs, and you think you may freeze in panic, you will be surprised to find yourself reacting in exactly the way you want. Congrats!

7. Possibly keep a journal of all the situations that you have trained yourself for, and look through them once a week to reinforce your training or see if you have changed your mind about the way you want to react.
Keep in mind that you can use this to train yourself for hypothetical or generalized situations. You can just decide the manner in which you want to react in general, and every time you come up with a scenario in your head that is not exact or specific, you can decide on general guidelines that fit the mannerism you expect from yourself, the idea of yourself that you would like to project . (For more on composing your identity, see this article.)

This is definitely a part of “programming yourself” into who you want to be, so have fun coding your mind.

If you don’t care, I don’t care: The art of being.

young-woman-bored-11281332030yRqtRecently, I was at a conference and I heard a lecture. The who, what, when, where, and why don’t really matter.

What matter is the how.

One of the presenters simply read her paper as a presentation. Now, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this was a last-minute thing, maybe something changed, maybe she was told to do it that way. None of that alleviated my boredom. I was restless, begging for the clock to hurry up, and hoping for some kind of distraction like the fire alarm, so that I could graciously sneak out and find another lecture that would wake me back up.

Sadly, I cared about her topic. It had meaning to me. But I don’t go to lectures to hear the paper read to me. It would be much faster to just hand everyone a printed document and send us on our way. When I hear a speaker, I want to hear passion about the subject. She could have stumbled around with her words, poorly tried to make her point, but if could hear in her voice how much this meant to her, I would have appreciated it much more, and quite possibly learned something. I was looking to be entertained.

Traditionally, when we use the word entertain, we are talking about TV, or a live show, possibly a comedian. I now use the word in a stricter sense. You can entertain a thought. When you have guests at your house whom you feed and have conversation with, you are entertaining them. You don’t have to have a song and dance prepared for the occasion – you just have to occupy their minds with something that will keep them paying attention. Every interaction is entertainment, for good or ill.

People pay attention to other people, not so much to subjects. That’s how we begin to really like TV shows. We’re hooked by an interesting subject at first, but soon we don’t really care about the subject anymore, because we “fall in love” with the characters on the show. If the Fringe crew were to somehow come back as regular police investigating everyday crime, some people may complain just to complain, but they would get the same following that they had investigating Fringe events – because we’re paying attention to the characters, and their lives, and their interactions with each other.

This works the same way in real life. If you care about your subject, I’m interested in what you have to say, whether you are talking about quantum physics, ghosts, knitting, or carpentry. If you don’t care about your subject, you could be talking about everything that I have on my “list of interests”, and I still won’t be able to pay attention very long, because if you don’t care, I just don’t care. I want to know about you. Your passions, interests, hopes, dreams, plans, goals, thoughts, and more.

But if I ask you about these, and you pull out your bio and start reading it to me, I’m leaving.

Misconceptions in the Attic


In April, 2012, our plywood subflooring didn’t go all the way to the walls, the attic that was being turned into a new floor of our house yet unfinished, and the insulation where the walls and floor met was showing. I was cleaning up one day, and I found some cat poop.(Since our cats are perfect, I have to assume that they thought the blow-in insulation was a new kind of kitty litter.) Janelle had just gone away to IUP to work on her PhD, so we were texting each other and I said, “One of the cat’s pooped on the floors”

“Which one?”

“How the hell am i supposed to know that?”

“Take a picture and send it to me. I can identify which cat”

This was scary, to say the least. first, that my true love seems to be a gumshoe with the ability to find clues in cat feces. Second, the disturbing fact that at the beginning of our relationship we sent cute pictures of ourselves back and forth, and I eagerly anticipated each one. You know…

But then,eight months into the relationship, I was sending her a picture of insulated cat poop, and I was eagerly anticipating her answer, fully trusting that she would not just guess, but actually be able to tell me which of the two cats was using our bedroom/music-studio-to-be as a luxury toilet.

How things change…

I look good on paper, but…

photoIn the last two days, I have twice heard people comment that they look good on paper, but they feel as if there is a disconnect between that and how they feel in reality. These individuals have amazing credentials, but aren’t experiencing what they would would expect that someone with these credentials would be experiencing.

They are searching for something that doesn’t exist.

We expect to emotionally feel similar to the way that we look on paper, because deep down when we see how others look -on paper- we assume that they feel that way. The disconnect isn’t between how we appear and how we feel, the disconnect takes place due to our particular notions of certain people. If we look at someone we greatly admire, most of the time we expect that that person emotionally experiences what we are experiencing as we admire them. We have to keep in mind that they are not. They are living their own personal feelings completely disconnected from our expectations.

This is because the whole of a person is so much greater than the sum of everything that they can put forth in their image. I said in my “Creating Your Life’s Composition” post that a person’s life can’t really be categorized well, and never completely. In general, people who are successful or admired decide to put only the best stuff “out there for the world to see” (best stuff according to their standards), and hiding everything else, keeping it as private as possible. I want to emphasize that I use “best stuff” very, very loosely. Someone’s best stuff may possibly be publicly working out some of their “worst stuff”, and that can make them successful or admired. I suppose it would be better to use a phrase like “most interesting stuff”.

When we see how good we look on paper, any paper, but we don’t feel like that amazing person that we’re reading about, and there is a good reason – The paper isn’t complete. It isn’t the whole story, and we know the WHOLE story:

On paper, I’m a working musician, magician, and writer with a handful of books, albums, public appearances, lots of big and little kudos to throw out there for the world to see. I have a beautiful wife, a great family, a house, my own woods, ideas for making my homestead sustainable, a new car, a pickup truck, and the list goes on…If that was the whole of my existence, I would either be ignorant and exceptionally happy, or analytical and extremely bored. What is not on paper are all my personal issues, health problems, relationship issues, insecurities, and other baggage that I want to keep private or are simply not fit for public consumption. I want to list some of these things in detail, but I would do so at the risk of dominating this essay and obscuring the meaning. My point is that all that great stuff is not the sum of who I am.

Life would be much simpler if we decided to not expect to feel a certain way. Just live whatever you feel without setting yourself up for disappointment by unrealistic emotional expectations. Be proud of yourself on paper and everywhere else. And when you consider any other person, know that they don’t feel like they look on paper either. Because life is huge.

My secret to living forever: PROVEN


Basically, size dictates how fast our heart beats, and our lifespan is dictated by how many heartbeats we have. Whether mouse, elephant, or man, it’s all about our pulse. That being said, all I have to do is get my heartbeat to ZERO bpm, and I will live forever…

My Life in Jobs (you might live longer…)

“You might live longer, but you won’t outlive me.”

-Doug Stone

Society has been telling me for years that I need to have one, solid 40 hour a week job. Something that will provide for now, and for retirement. This is the same society that has been telling me that I can do anything I want to do, and be anything I want to be. I have rejected the first advice, and accepted the second. I imagine that no matter what happens, or how much money I have, I’m not going to retire, I’ll just work ‘til I’m gone.

I don’t mind writing for no personal credit, I don’t mind working on projects which put me in the background. I am living my life right now. I can’t see the advantage of waiting until I retire to travel the world and enjoy life. And what have I sacrificed? Just stuff, stuff that I don’t really need anyways. I could work my ass off, buy a $300,000 home that I cannot enjoy because I am not going to be spending any time there until retirement, or an amazing car that I just drive to work. These (and more) would be just social status icons that I wouldn’t really appreciate anyways.

I’m making my way doing more than simply existing. I still work, make enough money for my style. And I work on the beach. Or in my backyard. Or in another country. I do it anywhere. Anytime. While I travel, while I take care of things at home.  My house is full of guitars, keyboards, computers, books, cameras, paintings, things that keep me thinking in terms of creativity.

Don’t get caught in the American Dream. It’s a nightmare. Find what you love to do, and do it.

Here are the things that I have loved and hated until I got where I am today:

Mobile Mower Mender (Erie, PA) – Working at my dad’s business learning how to repair small engines and deal with customers.

Unnamed Rental Agency (Erie, PA)

McDonald’s (Erie, PA)- The one on Peninsula. Probably did this for about three months. I got chastised for dropping a bun. Never went back. Never looked back.

Giant Eagle (Erie, PA) – another short term. and my first union job.

Bello’s Food Mart (Erie, PA) – On West 8th. I got fired over a misunderstanding about paying for a can of soda before I drink it.

Festival Foods (Erie, PA) – The old Super Duper building. About 6 months?? I liked the job, but one of my friend’s wanted to go hang out one night, so he called in for me. He called in quit, not sick.

Cooper’s Kart and Engine (Erie, PA) – The old GoKart track where Lowes now stands on Asbury Rd.

Players (Erie, PA) – Barback

Lynch Music (Fairview, PA) – Started teaching piano when I was 19.

Fairview Hardware (Fairview, PA) – Mower repair, parts desk

Coyote Joe – My first professional band

Gerlach’s Garden Center (Erie, PA) – Mower repair, parts desk.

Sun TV (Erie, PA) – Where Best Buy is now on Peach

Sierra Rose – my next professional band

Rolling Fields Church (Jeffersonville, Indiana) – Worship Band Leader

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY) – Film Crew, temp job

Bigfoot Gas Station (Jeffersonville, IN. Sellersburg, IN. Georgetown, IN) – Station Attendant

GE (Louisville, KY) – Administrative/Data Entry

Maryhurst (Louisville, KY) – Youth Counselor

Bales Motor Co. (Jeffersonville, IN) – Car Sales, when I realized I was no good at this, Service Writer’s assistant (which I subsequently learned was ALSO a sales job)

Skip Jacks – (A seafood restaurant)

State Street Baptist Church (New Albany, IN) Worship Leader

UPS (Louisville, KY) – Load Crew

The Capital News (Corydon, IN) – Investigative Reporter

Contractor Assistant (Jeffersonville, IN)

Fort Knox (Fort Knox, KY) – Computer Operator, project

Dunbar Armored/Dunbar Global Logistics (Louisville, KY) – Driver/Guard, Dispatcher, Crew Chief. Quit when I moved to Erie.

Freelance Piano Teacher (Louisville, KY)

Street Team

Magician (Louisville, KY & Erie, PA & other places)

Tutor (Jeffersonville, IN & Erie, PA) – Tutoring college students

Unnamed Rental Agency (Erie, PA)

Website Designer (Louisville, KY & Erie, PA)

Small Town Revolution – Band

The Fox and Hound (Erie, PA) – Janitor, Food Prep

Freelance Writer

Various Online Endeavors.

So there is my list. 37 Jobs in 39 years. (Started my first job at 16, so actually 37 jobs in 23 years.) This is not a résumé. In fact, I will never create a résumé again. Our society would say that this is irresponsible. But it’s made me who I am today. I believe that listing everything I’ve learned at these jobs is worthy information to fill a few books.

Cool Runnings,