Category: Life

  • My Fellow Amer-Karens

    My Fellow Amer-Karens

    Thirty years ago I was hurling rocks with the zeal of a young Ken Griffey Jr. over the edge of a ravine. I’d pick up a rock, a flat one if I could find it, curl my index finger over the top of it, and then fling it as hard as I could into the abyss. I couldn’t see where the rocks landed. I just hurled and then listened. Over and over again.

    When you’re eight years old that’s fun for a while, but eventually the rhythmic reverb from the bottom of the ravine gets boring. Everything started to look and sound the same – the rock would sky toward the clouds disappearing over the horizon and then we’d hear a distant thud.

    We needed a new fix.

    My cousin was my partner-in-crime at the time. He was older than I was by a few years, smarter and wiser too. He had more time in the streets than I did and was a mature eleven year old. He easily presented as twelve in most crowds.

    So from where we stood, we knew that if we turned all the way around and faced the opposite direction, we’d be hurling stones toward the cabin. That wasn’t a good idea. If we chucked them down the road to our left, we might hit cars as they came around the bend. Foiled again. It didn’t occur to us to simply not throw rocks around people and property. So we turned up the hill to the right and started chucking the rocks again.

    We weren’t exactly sure what was over there, but we figured it’d probably make a new sound that we hadn’t heard before.

    We were right.

    The new sound was breaking glass.

    I’m not sure whose rock blew out the rear window of my Grandma’s Dodge 600 sedan that day. I’m really not. In my memory of the event we both released our tiny pieces of earth at the exact same moment.

    One fell gracefully to the ground, and the other created a hell of a mess – not just from the glass – our lives were in imminent danger too.

    And as quickly as oh shit passed through my brain, my Grandma and a few Aunts were out the screen door in pursuit that only a Bounty Hunter can truly appreciate.

    There wasn’t an opportunity for an escape plan. No one else was outside. The Golden Girls knew we were guilty. And even my barely-developed brain had enough logical connections to understand that running into the wilderness and being on the lam with no rations for the rest of my childhood, as tempting as it seemed in the moment, wasn’t going to work out.

    So I did the only thing I knew how to do.

    I lied through my teeth.

    I wasn’t going to snitch and try and rat out my older cousin. I knew the rules. But that didn’t stop me from trying to create an elaborate stream of bullshit consisting of something about the quickly changing evening temperatures and “maybe a colony of bats didn’t see the glass and flew into the rear window?! Seriously! Maybe?”

    Fun aside: “colony” is how you refer to a group of bats.

    But apparently my cousin didn’t live by the same set of rules because the second we were put on the spot he started to squeal.

    The tire tracks from the bus he threw me under are still present 30 years later.

    “I was an innocent bystander!” he said.

    I had no idea what the word bystander meant but had enough contextual clues to understand I was in deep shit.

    But before I could open my mouth to plead my case (I had seen several episodes of Matlock by now and knew the court was required to hear my side), my cousin was on the receiving end of a what I’d like to call a learning hurricane.

    A learning hurricane is an opportunity to pick up a life lesson in a way that you probably wouldn’t choose, but could serve you for a lifetime assuming you lived to see the other side. It was ugly, and I can still feel some of the wind burns on my face to this day, but on that cool fall day I learned what it means to be complicit.

    I don’t remember exactly what was said by Grandma Dart. But in the same way you’d never forget watching the roof get ripped off your neighbor’s house, I’ll never forget how clearly it was communicated that being complicit is no different than throwing the rock from one’s own hand.

    We can’t be complicit any longer

    I haven’t seen the video of George Floyd’s murder all the way through. 30 seconds was enough for my heart to break in two. I knew how it ended before I pushed play, and let me tell ya, worst. trailer. ever. A man took the life from George Floyd, and three other individuals who should have held their brother in blue accountable, looked the other way.

    They were complicit. Four men had their knees on George’s neck that day.

    And as I’ve watched and listened and felt the pain over the past several days, with riots and violence and rage and people truly doing anything they can to get attention and to be heard, I’ve felt an urge to amplify, to serve, to lift, and be a more meaningful contributor in some way.

    I don’t want this to be an isolated moment in time where I feel extra bad for a week from the pain I see, and then go back to life as usual, detached from the world around me when the spotlight inevitably fades away.

    And I want the place where my children grow up to be more tolerable and loving than the chaos we live in today.

    Hi, I’m Karen

    Karen (n): champions the HOA bylaw about shrubbery length and then enforces it while visiting neighbors to collect PTA dues.

    So as I sit with the sense of wanting to do more, and not allowing George Floyd’s death or the Black Lives Matter protests to become a flash-in-the-pan moment, I ask myself, what can I possibly due to make a difference?

    And in that moment of introspection, a YouTube clip of my life starts to play on loop. I’m the star of the clip, but I’m also the viewer. I’m standing outside of it and watching the replay in a very A Christmas Carol way.

    The man in the video looks down at his phone and sees a headline: Black Man murdered by local police during routine traffic stop. The man in the video clutches his pearls, briefly acknowledges how awful it is, and how “he can’t believe anyone would do such a thing! Especially a cop who should be a trusted community servant!”. And in the next breath he sets his Whole Foods groceries on the kitchen island, and quietly listens to a mix of smooth Jazz and NPR while tending his risotto with a glass of cab.

    And as I watch the video of my life scrub forward, I’m yelling at the jerk in the video. AREN’T YOU GOING TO DO SOMETHING ELSE? ANYTHING ELSE?!

    In that moment I sit with the uneasiness that I’m Karen. Or at least I share a lot of common DNA with Karen. I’m white, of course. That’s how I was born. But I also live in the suburbs with a nice home and 2.5 children, a minivan, and a dog. I’m a living breathing American Dream in most ways.

    And as much as I want to say “No, you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not racist. I love everyone. Truly.” I resist the defensive urge and acknowledge where I’m at in life. I recognize that in order to truly start looking for opportunities in the world to help, I have to be keenly aware of the privileges and blessings of my own life. That’s the true first step.

    To ignore my privilege would be complicit. I’d be a bystander, and not an innocent one.

    So today I’m starting with the acknowledgement that Karen and I are more alike than I’d like to admit. It makes me uncomfortable, but I can handle the discomfort if that’s my “price to pay”. I’ll deal.

    Here are some great places to start as you recognize, and then push out your inner Karen:

    Black Lives Matter.

  • The Local Citrus Scandal

    The Local Citrus Scandal

    I have a vice. Well, I have several but we’re going to focus on one today.

    I love soda.

    And right now in Utah there’s a fancy soda craze sweeping the region.

    These little soda shops are cropping up like black mold in a Louisiana swamp and the idea is that you take perfectly good soda, add a bunch of random trash to it, and then pay $4 for roughly 38 cents worth of product. AND YOU SMILE while doing it. It’s a complete racket and I personally refuse to participate but there’s one part of it that makes a lot of sense to me.

    The citrus squeeze.

    Whether you’re drinking water, soda, an iced tea, or literally any other beverage that’s intended to refresh, a little squeeze of lemon and/or lime can really brighten it up and bring everything together.

    I don’t want to get too political here but it’s important you know I’m a citrus squeeze advocate.

    Well, this fancy soda craze has trickled down into the everyman gas station here. The convenience store where I’m most frequently a patron has added a full soda syrup bar and sliced lemons and limes so that one can self-serve this flavor-punch accouterment. And for the most part, it’s a very nice addition.

    I see them clean the syrup pumps on a very regular schedule and at least weekly the entire syrup rack is removed for a deeper clean. Whoever is running sanitation over there should be applauded. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t run a black light through there, but by gas station standards they’re setting a high bar and I appreciate it.

    But there’s a dark side too. I have photographic proof that Big Citrus has been price-fixing the lemons and limes in a way that Bernie Madoff would find appalling.

    First of all, yes, the syrups are all complimentary. I’m glad you asked. It’s an important piece to the puzzle. I’m not sure what kind of socialist regime is at the heart of this operation but as someone who never partakes of the syrups, I still endorse the practice because I’ve seen the joy it puts on the faces of so many other people, including the roommate that I share a bed with.

    Second of all, no, the citrus is not complimentary. There’s an upcharge of 5 cents per slice which is the completely wrong way to price the citrus (we’ll get into that more in a moment). The only explanation I can come up with for why the fruit wedge is an additional fee is that Big Citrus is running an independent operation outside of the rest of the convenience store. Because if the gas station is giving away complimentary syrups, why, pray tell, would they be charging for lemons and limes?

    I understand that Utah is a food desert and we don’t have any local citrus. I understand that stocking it must have some associated cost, perhaps even a high one. So let’s assume for just a moment that charging more for for this little squeeze of sunshine is a fair practice. It’s in direct contradiction with the economic model of the syrup bar, but we’ll soldier forward.

    Even if I’m able to forgive the fruit fee, and I’m still not sure I am (in my heart, where it counts), the only possible explanation of the “per slice” pricing model is corruption.

    The pricing model is disgusting and I wouldn’t be surprised for a second to learn that it has organized crime ties.

    I present you with exhibit A:

    Varying lime wedge lengths from presumably the same lime.

    We don’t even need to get out calipers to show how wildly inconsistent the sizing is here. It’s like if Coach charging the same price for a Snakeskin Harmony Hobo and a Pop-Up Messenger Crossbody! CAN YOU IMAGINE??? (I had to google expensive purse companies and browse their catalogs to complete this paragraph).

    Even more, there have been many mornings when I’ve squeezed (squoze? squozen? squeezeth?) the limes and instead of their delicious and refreshing juices flowing into my cup, it’s been dust, moth balls, and sadness. If you remember that scene in Christmas Vacation when Kathleen cuts into the turkey you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    Charging the same fee for such a wildly variable product is, in fact, criminal. And it can’t stand any longer. The good news is, I know how to fix it.

    A scale is the answer here. I’d be totally comfortable weighing each wedge prior to adding it to my beverage and paying accordingly. Of course, all of the citrus would be handled with tongs and a small wax insert would be replaced on the scale between each citrus-weighing. And yes, the weight of the wax paper would be factored in and removed at the time of pricing. We live in a society, mostly. We would keep the prices consistent and fair with current market rates. Even further, all lemon and lime rinds would be removed by the staff prior to weighing, so that skin thickness isn’t unfairly skewing the juice to price ratios. Yes, labor costs for rind removal may increase the total fee slightly, but allowing guests to skin their own citrus could easily result in tampering, and that won’t stand.

    Have you seen similar little injustices where you live? Does my solution have any weaknesses? Where do you stand on the soda shop craze? I’d love to hear from you!

    Editor Note: This publication shares this solution freely and without licensing fees. All service stations are welcome to use this perfect plan without payment. We do ask for attribution in the form of placement of a small statue (84-96”) of Ryan at each store location. You’re free to use whatever materials you’d like to construct the statue after receiving written approval from the publication.

  • The Little Curiosities

    The Little Curiosities

    It took me 38 years to recognize all the little things that I realize.

    Put another way, it wasn’t until very recently that I realized how differently I see the world than almost everyone else.

    Like the time I could see the slow-motion internal dilemma of a fellow middle-aged man reaching for a copy of The Avengers and wondering if he could pull it off as a Mother’s Day gift.

    Or the time I was pitched a live stream trucking startup by a stranger and thought it sounded like a pretty great idea.

    Or the time I noticed the bakery by my house only made 4 crullers every morning when they should have been making way more.

    You get the idea.

    Most of the people I know in real life who read this blog will tell me how “funny” it is when they read it. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely dramatize and go out of my way to make folks laugh when the mood strikes. It’s a service I like to provide for one low monthly fee.

    Narrator: Ryan is under the impression he’s been charging $187 per month to read his blog for years and is still bewildered that he’s unable to account for the funds.

    But for me, that “funny” is the gift and/or curse that I live with every single day. It’s the noticing that’s truly different about who I am and the way I operate, not so much the ability to make jokes and tell funny stories from nothing.

    Life in High Definition

    Do you remember the time your family got a new flat screen TV that had high definition? Before makeup artists knew how to make adjustments for an HD camera?

    It was an incredible feat of technology and horrifying all at once. Like, the person talking to us through the panel on the wall looked like they could step through the frame at any time and join us in our living room. But there was also this harsh realization of wondering if the stunning and unblemished Matt Lauer had always looked like Skeletor with a receding hairline. And if he had, and this new technology brought it to the forefront, what would mere mortals like us look like on HDTV?!

    That’s the closest comparison I can make to what it’s like to live inside my brain and see the world through my eyes. I see the peculiar in the mundane.

    I was trying to explain this whole idea to a friend recently and told them about how I saw someone returning a fruitcake at a Costco and asked them how bad a fruitcake would have to be to wait in a line on a Saturday to return it.

    Their answer: “Huh, I’m not sure. That hadn’t ever occurred to me.”

    Well, dear reader, “It hadn’t occurred to me” has literally never occurred to me.


    I see everything in the sharpest and most vivid detail and apparently through a very special lens that was crafted for a small few. And I want to find more people who see the world like I do. Or at the very least who can appreciate the weird in the same way that I do.

    There’s a darker side to seeing the world this way that I’ll talk about some more another day, but today we’re all good vibes.

    Information Overload

    In the same way that it takes a lot of very large hard drives to store high-definition video, storing the constant stream of memes, news articles, and everyday life that’s flowing into my brain takes a lot of mental energy, and frankly, I don’t have many places to off board the stuff that I don’t need anymore. I have Twitter, my journal, and I have this blog. And a small number of friends who get my bizarre texts.

    I’d like to publicly apologize to them here.

    But everything else remains neatly tucked away under the luscious mane atop my slightly misshapen head (my great hair is one of the last things I’ve got so I’m gonna celebrate it, ok?). And my brain just works on this information, not ever knowing exactly what to do with it. It just processes endlessly until I work myself into a tizzy or write 10,000 words on how Robin Williams is the most special actor of a generation and then never publish it.

    Because of this bottleneck, I have an idea that I’m going to try that goes against common convention. Every blogging expert will tell you he right thing to do to “skyrocket your traffic” or “hack your search rankings” is to create a “niche” blog. Write about something incredibly specific in every possible way.

    • The ultimate guide to unlocking hotel thermostats
    • Are hotel thermostats really spy cameras for government agencies?
    • How to discipline your hotel thermostat when it’s stopped listening to you
    • Do you have enough hotel thermostats for retirement?

    Excuse me while I add Content Strategist and SEO Expert to my LinkedIn Profile. adjusts monocle

    The Little Curiosities

    Now as compelling as my hotel thermostat blog sounds (there’s a whole section called “hot takes”, get it?), I’ll be honest, it bores me.

    I’m a dynamic person with dynamic interests that range anywhere from 80s Pop Music to “After centuries of trading eggs and lumber I wonder who figured out they could just polish a rock really well, call it currency, and then have unlimited funds at their disposal overnight. And what’s the 2019 version of that look like?” (Short answer is that it’s Bitcoin but I’m stealing future topics from myself so I’ll stop here).

    You know, normal stuff.

    All this to say I’m shedding the pressure of writing about family, or comedy, or productivity, or tech, or cooking, or WordPress, or literally any other specific topic. I’ll probably write about all of those things in one way or another, but hopefully with a unique spin or at least in a way that highlights the high-definition life view that I carry.

    On a much more frequent basis I’ll be publishing here on what I’m calling Little Curiosities. Weird questions I ask myself, bizarre things I see, little things that make my life better, or creations that impress me that might fall outside the mainstream. They also might be very mainstream, but I’ll find a way to put a unique twist on them.

    And sometimes I’ll just let my brain run rampant and burn through compute cycles because I literally need it to keep this mind of mine healthy as I zoom toward 40.

    And as I put out more things like this, I do hope that a little community of weirdos grows here. I’d love to have a healthy comment section full of unique takes and points of view, and more importantly the people attached to those ideas. And I know that sounds very web circa 2008, but I’d love to see it make a roaring comeback in 2020 and beyond. Those were the “good old days” of the internet, and they don’t need to go away.

    Curious that we let the nerdiest guy at a University full of the biggest nerds in the world convince us Facebook was “cool”, right? Right.

    If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll follow along by subscribing to my email newsletter (there’s a box in the sidebar), or subscribing via RSS. You can follow me on Twitter too, but please consult with your physician prior to taking that extreme step.

    Thank you to any of you who read the things I put out into the world. I feel immensely grateful for that. And for the special members paying $187 per month, I’ll be updating my special private latest episode of the Little Curiosities podcast in just a bit.

    Narrator: Ryan has been uploading episodes of himself talking about shoe horns to a stranger’s SoundCloud account for four years now and no one has the heart to tell him.

    Photo by unsplash-logoDaniel Cheung on UnSplash

  • Have you ever been roasted by a 7-year-old​?

    Have you ever been roasted by a 7-year-old​?

    We all know what a Roast is, right?

    They started back in the mid-century 1900s with Dean Martin, I believe, and the idea is that someone brings together a group of people they really like and trust and the collective then proceeds to take personal shots until the guest of honor is either crying because they’re laughing so hard or because the jabs have become so deeply personal that their first step out the door is into a taxi cab on their way to a special hospital with padded rooms called “Woodlawn” or “Aspen Reserve” or something like that.

    Comedy Central’s had their flavor of roasts for quite a while now and they’re not really my speed because anymore it seems like the participants barely know each other and are only there because 1) they’re getting a paycheck and 2) they fill a really nice demographic that can be used for pitching advertisers.

    The CC roasts are also entirely about shock and awe which I find to be a particularly boring flavor of comedy.

    At any rate, as far as I know, no one in the last 60 years has had the intestinal fortitude to bring one of their own children on stage to speak real truth.

    And I know why. It’s because the guests of honor are genuinely terrified of what their children might say. Kids are ruthless and will say all the things that even make the Howard Sterns of the world squirm in their chairs a little bit. Kids have seen the behind-the-scenes that no one else has. And they have zero built-in filters to know when it may or may not be appropriate to share from their memory banks.

    Let me show you a quick example:

    (​Disclaimer​: I’m intentionally not identifying which of my children said these things to protect their privacy. I’ll use the name “Patrickus” as a proxy name)

    Working Out

    In an attempt to take better care of my body I’ve been exercising more. Still not a lot, but it’s enough of a shift that my kids have started to notice the habit. So I’m in our basement sweating away to Jock Jams or whatever and Patrickus enters the room.


    Me: I need … to… gasp I need to exercise buddy.

    Patrickus: Nah, you can stop.

    Me: Haha. I can come watch with you in a little bit but I need to finish this workout first. Just a few more minutes.

    (​Quick aside: Like I needed any extra motivation to quit that workout on the spot. I was dying to watch some Peppa Pig if it meant I didn’t have to do the next set of lunges, but I soldiered on​)


    Me: No really, bud. I’m too fat so I need to exercise more.

    Patrickus: ok

    Now let me paint a picture really quickly. Patrickus once spent an entire month, 30 seconds at a time, trying to convince me that his birthday was in August when it’s actually in February. And you know when they nagging stopped? When I threw him an impromptu “half birthday” because he clearly has a stronger will than I do.

    So for him to concede this quickly with my “I’m too fat” take means that he bought it immediately which is so incredibly hurtful but I also respect the honesty so much.

    Never in my entire life have I been owned by two syllables in the English language, or any language for that matter, the way I was that day. O followed by a K in the most understanding tone.


    And also HILARIOUS.

    So Patrick, err, I mean Patrickus… as of today you are formally uninvited from any future roasts. OK?

    What’s the most honest and honestly brutal thing that a child has ever said to you? Let’s feel the pain together (and celebrate how funny our can be).

  • Welcome to Mooseport

    Welcome to Mooseport

    We were already married when I found out you had been paying 10 cents for every single text that we sent back and forth the entire time we were dating.

    I started to do the mental math and my brain overheated because I knew how many late nights we spent furiously finger-typing until 2 am.

    All along I figured you must have had unlimited texting like I did, but it turns out only the coolest of the cool had such a luxury 😎

    But that’s how we’ve always done everything.

    You see, I never had any reason to assume that you had unlimited texting. A very basic question from me would have saved you full paychecks of digital bits that have since evaporated into the ether.

    But asking that question would have been “awkward”, and even though I’m sure you went into a cold sweat every time the T-Mobile bill arrived, on the surface you were always beyond cool.

    In your mind you were making an investment. In my mind, I probably would have encouraged you to change your plan, or honestly, the text messages would have slowed down a whole lot.

    And deep down I think you knew that. But you didn’t want the texts to stop.

    You knew how hard it was to get inside my brain, and more importantly inside my heart. And so now that you had found your way inside my thick outer shell, you weren’t going to risk letting that door close again, even if it meant picking up more shifts or starting another part-time job.

    Welcome to Mooseport

    Does anyone outside of our closest friends know that Ray Romano and Gene Hackman are who brought us together?

    That the feature film with a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 19 and a critic score of 13 was the catalyst for starting our family?

    And no, I don’t mean that in the literal sense. Jeez, perverts. Why’d you go and ruin a perfectly romantic post about how Jackie and I started dating?

    It’s not like Ray Romano was our Barry White. We wouldn’t put on Everybody Loves Raymond re-runs and listen to the smooth sounds of Ray yelling “MAAAAA WHY’D YA TELL DAD ABOUTIT?!” in order to get in the mood.

    No, that wasn’t it at all. BUT, sometimes a really awful movie is great reason to ignore the movie completely and get lost in each other. The movie is a decoy because there’s no cool way to invite a person to your shared dorm living room to talk about how much you care about them.

    I remember how nervous we both were. The idea of telling each other how much fun it had been to spend time together was terrifying to both of us.

    And for the longest time I gave myself credit for brining us together. Because technically I sent the text and rented the DVD, so that night that set the trajectory for the next fifteen years was all my doing.

    high fives self

    It took me longer than I’d ever like to admit that your efforts are the reason we’re together all these years later.

    I mean, technically, I did send the text and did spend the $4.18 at Hollywood Video, but I never would have had a chance if you weren’t there to begin with.

    You were always there, and not in a stalker-type way. As far as I know you’ve always had a clean criminal record.

    But it was like you knew we’d be together way before it was something I had even considered. Before it was a fleeting thought for me, it was a foregone conclusion for you.

    And if you hadn’t known that fifteen years later we’d still be together, we probably wouldn’t be together. Because I would have told you to save your money and stop texting. And Ray Romano would still be stuck in that demolished Hollywood Video.

    Happy Birthday Jac. Thank you for always seeing what matters most (and for showing me I’m worth the 10 cents per message).

  • Glue


    Brady would be mortified if he knew I were writing this so if you see him in the street, please keep this particular post on the down-low.

    He deserves all the attention that we could possibly ever give him, but the last thing he wants is the praise and limelight. I’m hoping he’ll appreciate this someday, but he’d die of embarrassment if he were to see it today.

    Brady is glue.

    He’s always quietly holding things together behind the scenes. He never asks for recognition, and would always prefer a quiet thank you over any kind of fanfare.

    Brady had his 11th birthday yesterday and I can’t let another day go by without expressing my gratitude for the amazing human that I get to call my son.

    So why exactly is Brady glue?

    I’m glad you asked. Because on the surface it probably feels a bit strange for a parent to compare their offspring to a household adhesive, but believe me, Brady is glue.

    Glues Allows the Bonding of Dissimilar Materials

    To understand one way that Brady is glue, you need to understand the dynamics of my family, at least a little bit. Brady has two brothers with autism, two neurotypical (mostly) parents, and a 140 pound Newfie Lab. We’re like the 2019 iteration of the Brady Bunch except for instead of blending two families, we’re blending a cocktail of complex behaviors and neuroses.

    You’re every-day-run-of-the-mill ten eleven-year-old is going to buckle under the pressure of the cement mixer of everyday life in this type of environment. I know I would have (I still do). But not only does Brady survive in the heat of the kiln, he somehow brings all of the pieces together and melds them into a beautiful sum of parts. He creates art from scrap.

    Brady is glue.

    Glue is Flexible

    Any good structural engineer will tell you that rigidity and brittleness are the enemy of sound structures. The earth moves every single day. An edifice with high tensile strength but no flexibility is going to buckle with even the slightest shift in its foundation.

    Lucky for me this family is held together with one of the most impressive materials ever conceived. Brady’s ability to “go with the flow” is astounding to me. I watch in awe as he accommodates the needs of everyone in the family at the expense of his own interests. And he does it all with a thumbs-up readily available and a Cowabunga attitude. It’s remarkable.

    And to be clear, we really go out of our way to give Brady the most “normal” childhood we know how. We try not to ask too much. He simply has a unique ability to sense when the structure is on the verge of collapse, and his flexibility will help us reset to fight another day.

    He’s done everything from canceling events we know he was looking forward to, volunteering to stay with his brothers while mom and dad take a much-needed five to refuel with Diet Coke, all the way up to volunteering his allowance money to pay for a treat when Collin is inconsolable.

    Brady is glue.

    Glue Becomes Stronger Under Heat and Pressure

    We all have hard days. And my definition of hard is different from your definition of hard. But we all have days where we feel the need to throw our hands in the air and give up.

    It’s in these moment’s that Brady’s strength becomes the most fierce.

    I’ll never forget the time that he turned down an iPhone because he was worried about how it might make his friends feel. At 10, had I been presented with one of the most impressive technological devices on the planet, my friends probably wouldn’t have ever seen me again.

    And I’ll also never forget about the time that Collin and Patrick were both completely distraught at the same time. Kicking, screaming, the works. None of us knew what to do or how to cope. And as I rounded the corner into the living room, I found our ten year old on his knees, supplicating to the Lord that “Collin and Patrick can be happy again.”

    In a moment where breaking down would have been totally understandable, and frankly, was how I reacted, Brady reached for the most powerful tool in his arsenal and brought us all back together in an instant.

    Brady is glue.

    Happy Birthday, Brady. I hope you read this someday. But not today. I just want you to be happy today. I love you, buddy.

  • Death by 1,000 Little TV Subscriptions

    Death by 1,000 Little TV Subscriptions

    With the internet we would finally get rid of the monopolistic stronghold from our Cable and Satellite providers! We were going to be Julie Andrews in a Swiss meadow of endless DRM-free on-demand content, and our only cost would be the pipe that would bring it directly into our living room set top box.

    It was a day that couch potatoes everywhere revered. 12,000 content buckets streaming 24/7. Never again were we going to ask “is anything good on?” We’d be deliberately ignoring our screaming children to choose which of all the incredible things we’d watch. We’d have to prioritize our content into formal queues.

    “No no, Emmy-award-winning show, I’ll get to you when I feel like it. You don’t tell me when you’re on. I summon you when I’m good and ready. In fact, I know it took you three years to make this TV show, but I’m still gonna watch every single episode in one night because I’m a monster and I can.”

    In many ways we’ve achieved this Xanadu fantasy status, but there’s a catch.

    Narrator: I’ve been saying all along there’d be a catch.

    Me: Dude, no one likes it when you’re smug, Mr. Narrator.

    Narrator: The year is 1992 and Ryan is alone in his Grandmother’s basement with an entire box of Twinkies…

    Me: OK WOW chill out, man. I’ll let the smugness go this time. Can we get back to the catch?

    So the catch is this — We’re slowly moving away from the two provider duopoly (sorry, Dish Network, you were never really a player) into the Wild West of internet streaming services.

    Instead of giving one financial offering to our content gods each month, we’re now at the mercy for a whole bevy of providers. No one really knows how much to charge for this stuff yet. It’s a mad dash for subscriber acquisition but you can rest assured that as the market matures and content farms grow their respective TV crop, the price on these services will inevitably go up over time.

    Breaking Down the Numbers

    DirectTV believes in very accurate pricing?

    If I sign up for DirecTV Premier+ today, I receive 330+ channels and every single Premium channel (HBO, Starz, Showtime, etc) for $139.99 per month. That sounds like a lot (and it is!) but for all intents and purposes this appears to be every English and Spanish channel available to consumers, and hey, they’ll throw in a massive DVR to record it all to watch at your leisure if you sign up today.

    Now let’s take a look at the streaming landscape. I’m going to include the no-Ad “upgrade” for every service because with a DVR and traditional TV, you can mostly recreate the ad-free experience by smashing your fast forward button.

    Author Note: All of these services love offering a free trial and hate telling you how much their service actually costs. Many of the links below were really tough to come by, so… you’re welcome.

    • Netflix – $15.99 per month
    • Disney+ (soon to be released) – $6.99 per month
    • Hulu (no Ads but they still show Ads) – $11.99 per month
    • CBS All-Access (commercial-free) – $9.99 per month
    • Peacock – They haven’t announced pricing for this yet but I had to include it because it’s clear they didn’t ask one person under the age of 40 about whether or not this was a good name for a streaming service.
    • HBO – $14.99 per month
    • Starz – $8.99 per month
    • Showtime – $10.99 per month
    • AppleTV+ – $4.99 per month
    • YouTubeTV – $49.99 per month – I figured you’d want at least one live streaming service with sports available.
    • Amazon Prime Video – $8.99 per month (also available with an annual Prime subscription with loads of other benefits for $119

    Drumroll please…. $143.90 per month

    And while streaming can be as much (or more expensive!) than traditional TV, there are some convenience benefits that might warrant that kind of trade-off. But we won’t get into that discussion today.

    And, of course, it’s much easier to cancel one of these services than it is your TV contract (godspeed if that’s something in your near future).

    The cost today isn’t what’s that interesting to me. The fact that we can easily be subject to a dozen different content providers is the part that’s equally interesting and terrifying to me.

    Like I said before, this is just the beginning. As media groups invest more and more in original content, their pricing for these services can’t be a race to the bottom. The prices for these services has to go up.

    So what’s our breaking point? Do we just continue to pay the digital content overlords their juice forever? Do we become one car families to support our media habits? Do we employ a judicious cancel/subscribe regimen based on the content we want to watch today? What say you?

    P.S. I’m making this a P.S. because very few people care about this but even if I pay $143.90 per month for streaming I still can’t watch my beloved Utah Jazz. Even with an NBATV subscription the games are subject to regional blackouts. The Jazz are locked into a pretty bad TV contract with Rocky Mountain Sports Net so literally the only way I can watch Jazz games on TV is by having a DirectTV package. So right now I’m stuck somewhere in limbo. Thank you for reading this P.S.

  • The Problem With Trying to Eat an Elephant

    The Problem With Trying to Eat an Elephant

    I don’t want to oversell it but it’s the first thing I’ve picked up from a book that I’m still thinking about almost hourly even 3 months after completing the book.

    The secret I learned is being reflected in my everyday outcomes to the point where my marriage is improved, my employer is complimenting me about the amount and quality of work that I’m able to complete, and I feel less anxiety. I’ll even go as far as to say I’m more present when I’m spending time with my kids.

    And the secret on its own isn’t particularly life-shattering. I think I’ve probably received the same advice in lots of different ways in the past, but the specific way that David Allen presented the concept in his book Getting Thing Done made it stick with me in a way that no other method or approach ever could before.

    How do you eat an elephant?

    First of all, please don’t eat elephants.

    Second of all, if you really must, the prevailing knowledge is that the only way to ever eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

    And we all remember my good friend, Bob Wiley of What About Bob? fame. And do you remember what a fan he was of Dr. Leo Marvin’s book, Baby Steps?


    And lastly, E.L. Doctorow shared the following:

    Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

    And I think the gist of what all these people are saying is roughly the same. “Don’t get overwhelmed. Take things one step or one day at a time.

    The problem is that there’s nothing actionable with any of those. To not do something (get overwhelmed) is pretty much impossible to execute, especially for someone who has a tendency of getting overwhelmed.

    It’s all passive. So instead of taking things in stride and being less overwhelmed because it’s all about “one moment or one day at a time”, what’s always happened for me in the past is that I ended up feeling even more overwhelmed by big projects or unknowns because not only was I not making progress on them, I was also feeling constantly overwhelmed because I “should just be taking this one day at a time.”

    Action-paralysis paired with guilt is a hell of a cocktail.

    The good, no, the great news is that David Allen put a similar process in an entirely different way that really clicked for me. Here’s what he said:

    You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it “done.”

    He has full chapters in his book about this and goes much deeper than I ever could, but my interpretation has been that rather than trying to build a detailed roadmap and trying to strategize if I should start at the trunk or the tail first, instead I ask myself a very simple question.

    “What’s the next physical action I can take to move this forward?”

    And sometimes it’s as simple as writing an outreach email.

    And other times the next action I can take is planning some research time.

    Putting the next action into practice

    Here’s a video of David talking about next actions, taking control, and creating space. It’s phenomal.

    Looking at almost everything in my life with this “next action” mindset has given me such a gift. It’s helped me feel a sense of control that I’ve been missing for a very long time.

    Let me show you how it works:

    Goal: I want to spend more time with Brady. I don’t want him to get lost in the shuffle.

    Next action: Text Jackie right now and tell her that you’ll take Brady home after his football game so the two of us can share an ice cream.

    That’s it. See how easy that is? And sure, on the surface that seems simple enough, and maybe even borderline obvious, but it isn’t.

    Let me show you another example:

    Goal: I want to run a 5K next Spring*

    Next action: Go to my calendar and block out three times I’ll go to the gym this week. Make it an appointment. Plan to alternate walking and jogging in 3 minute intervals.

    I didn’t have to download an app. I didn’t have to do hours of research on the best approach. I didn’t have to buy new running shoes or hire a personal trainer.

    All of those things would have 100% been my first steps/actions before, but what I’ve learned about myself is that those are all distractions or ways of deferring the work. I have a special talent for procrastination, and I’ve found that anything beyond moving forward is likely a way of me subconsciously keeping myself away from the actual work that needs to be done.

    Not to mention that this deferrment tactic compounds on itself. Let’s say I do buy the best app, buy the new running shoes, and hire that trainer. And then a month later when I decide to quit my training, not only do I feel bad about but I’m also out 300 bucks, so I beat myself up even more.

    And don’t get me wrong. I’ll nerd out on finding the best app to help me run a 5K*, but that can be a casual thing I do in parallel to the actual training later on. It’s not a thing that actually gets me closer to the end goal, ya know what I mean?

    I know I’ll need to write more about this later on. Because this Next Action concept has truly been a life changing (I really hesitate to use that phrasing because it’s so overdone but I sincerely mean that this philosophy has made my life and my mental health better in measurable ways) approach to help improve my relationships, my daily output, and to finally help quiet those voices in my head telling me that “elephant probably tastes terrible anyway, dude”.

    *I have no plans of a running a 5K

    **No elephants were harmed in the creation of this post.