Rule # COVID 19- Five Lessons From an Epidemic

Rule # COVID 19- Five Lessons From an Epidemic

I have been though the typical ups and down of life that we all experience. I have  failed a course, been fired multiple times, been divorced and lost at virtually every athletic endeavor possible. In short I’ve screwed up a lot.  But although I have failed a lot I have learned that with each failure I gain lessons in life. And if I pay attention to the failures I can avoid the same mistakes, and find entirely new ones to make.

With COVID-19 I know I made mistakes and have a few lessons I want to pass on to my children.

  1. Prepare for the unexpected– I would have thought with living on the water in a hurricane zone preparation for disaster would become second nature- it wasn’t. We have quickly caught up on stables and medical supplies, but we were not prepared for a 2 week + quarantine.  Going forward I don’t intend to horde or over buy- but I do intend to have at least 2 weeks worth of stables on hand all year round and not just during hurricane season.
  2. Limit my news watching – I’m a news junkie- watching from the most conservative to most liberal of shows to find different sides of the stories presented. But when crisis pushes this into a 24/7 multi-week event, the information becomes overload. Cable news makes us panic, and the internet makes us crazy. Things like hording toilet paper and eating fish tank cleaners of outcomes of a unlimited supply of rumors. I recommend no more than two hours of news updates even in the worse of crisis- more and the fear will become all that is left.
  3. When you don’t know what to do help someone- This has been a life’s mantra I have tried to teach my children, and one that I think is a cornerstone to life’s happiness.  During crisis we focus inward, and worry about our own well being and security. All that inward energy wraps us in a tight ball and crushes our souls- and the souls of people around us. It is the common kindnesses of helping someone who is housebound or alone, or just being more friendly to others in everyday exchanges that will eliminate fear and uncertainty in our lives. Kindness is more addictive than COVID-19, trying to be a positive force of kindness can make you feel connected, needed and safe. Even within a “shelter in place” world, technology allows us to reach out and connect with a kind word.
  4. Stress makes you an asshole, stop it- As the pressures of a sustained crisis grows from days to weeks to months it is easy to let stress make us assholes. We become short with people we love, and dismissive of others reaching out to us. Its human nature to respond to stress like this, but it is the worse part of being human. I remind myself that I am dealing with people I love and care about – and fostering arguments during periods of stress hurts them the most. I get that you are stressed, but its time to “suck it up buttercup” and put on a happy face for your loved ones.  At least once a day during this virus I have caught myself being an asshole – its a constant risk when under stress.
  5. Sweat the small stuff–  The cute expression of  ” Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it is all the stuff is small”  says a lot about the real importance of things we worry about in our lives. But, I ask you to ignore this and remember that its the small stuff during a crisis that matters. Its the board game that you dig out and play with your kids, its the “good” bottle of wine you open at dinner to toast your spouse, and the extra kiss good night or hug that gets us all through crisis. It isn’t the big stuff that matters, that sort of takes care of itself. What matters is the little things we remember about the each other when we are most up against it. It is within these seemly small interactions that we find we can not only survive a crisis but thrive in one.

Kids this will end, and a new crisis will be facing us soon – it always does. Remember two things always from your Dad – 1. You will get through this  2. You are loved. Remembering those two things is all you really need.

Love, Dad

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Rule #55- Nothing takes the Place of Persistence

Rule #55- Nothing takes the Place of Persistence

Nothing in the world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb”- Ray Kroc Founder of McDonald’s

As I write this rule we are in the 10th day of a nationwide shutdown caused by the COVID-19 Virus outbreak. It has been a challenging time for families, businesses and individuals- virtually no one is missing some impact of worldwide pandemic. I’ve thought about what advice I could give my kids that would give comfort and hope, and I keep coming back to the word “Persistence”.

It is persistence that has lead to virtually every personal and business success in my life. I knew early on that although I was bright, I was not the brightest in the room and that I lacked great looks and athletic talents to naturally find wins in life. But early on I realized that I was able to weather the storms in life and maintain focus better than most, and that with practice I could thrive in the mist of chaos. It isn’t the will to win that is the key, its the will to survive. To keep pushing for a positive outcome, accepting the realities of the situation but not having those realities set the course of my life. It is the grit to expect adversity, and use these times not to hide, but to move forward.

The world is dangerous wonderful place, and as I have said repeatedly in this blog ” life is hard”. Taking chances like taking a new job in North Carolina and moving your family, Moving to Hawaii with no help and getting the first Masters of the siblings, or moving to Ohio, Harrisburg or St Petersburg ( first) all took grit and I am proud of the persistence you have all shown. Some of your adversities have been huge, some small but no matter was thrown at you, you took it in stride and kept moving forward. Moving forward is very important, its when we stop pushing ourselves that we become scared, depressed and fail. Putting one step in front of another is the way to get through a life that is unfair, unpredictable and painful at times.

This COVID-19 is one of those adversities, and the way to approach it is focusing on persistence and moving forward. I’m not telling you that you won’t get sick, because no one can promise you that- just that whatever the world throws at you you can handle it. You have a ” stay at home order”- clean the house and reorganize the pantry ( you know that Rachel has already started this), read, plan and think. This is an opportunity not to stop, but to prepare to charge back into the fight. Adapting and moving forward is how we develop Persistence in our lives. COVID-19 is not a stop sign, its a Green light to become better, and use your persistence to move forward.

I’m not a conspiracy guy and generally think the simplest answer to a situation is the right one. So I’m not overthinking this one with thousands of what ifs and whys, we have a nasty virus that is highly contagious and we have to do safe things. Staying at home ( when possible or required), avoiding crowds, re-doubling hygiene routines including hand washing seem like simple solutions to a complex problem. As your Father I ask you to be careful, be thoughtful and work within the limits of law- but through it all keep moving. This soon will pass and become a story in your life and not an annoyance. Focus on the being Persistent in you relationships, work and development – the best is yet to come and you are headed in the right direction. Fuck COVID-19, you will be through this soon and your future is bright. KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

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Rule #177: Fear of Toilet Paper

Rule #177: Fear of Toilet Paper

As a rule fear is good. Fear keeps us from doing stupid things that will kill us. Things like alligators and Jehovah Wintesses visits on a Saturday are normal rational things to avoid and fear helps remind us of dangers around us. Fear helps us keep alive.

I’ve told my kids that if they get a creepy feeling for an area or person they should trust their judgement and avoid the place or person. Often fear is guiding us to make good decisions and protect us from harm. Trusting my judgement has kept me alive, and I know that I avoided situations which would have likely hurt me had it not been for fear.

But fear is complicated. Sometimes it is something that should be overcome with courage. I have spoken to many people that have been in the military in situations where their lives were gravely at risk, and yet because of honor and commitment they faced the fear and moved ahead with courage. They consistently say they were afraid, because only a crazy person or idiot would not have been, but found courage to move forward. Fear becomes a heighten state of awareness, it is the caffeine that hits our blood stream when we need it. These heroes have been able to digest it and use it, it can be very powerful.

Sometimes fear is irrational. It can make us do things that are just stupid. When I lived in the Northeast it was snow storms, every time a low front was developing in the south the Mother of all storms was going to destroy us all. In the South its Hurricanes, every Low off of Cuba looks like the end of our home and lives. What causes this is that fear, like sex, sells. The more afraid you can get a viewer base the more they watch TV, the more they horde stuff and the more crazy generally people start to act.

The mantra of James Carville ” Never let a good crisis go to waste” has be come the business strategy for our 24 hr news world. And I mean everyone in it from Fox, CNN, MSNBC and even the weather channel. Hell, when we catch weathermen standing in a hole to make the flooding look worse who can we trust. No one. The world has gone crazy.

The problem of this irrational fear is that sometimes the 2 ft snow storm hits, the hurricane makes land and the virus kills people. We just don’t know if its our turn to win the unlucky lottery. In these cases odds mean nothing. Regardless of its only a 10% of getting sick, and only a 3% of dying from the sickness, we feel certain that the numbers are lining up against us and we are all going to die. Its the same curiosity of the human condition that makes us think we will win $10,000 on the next scratch off that makes us think our lives are endanger. Our minds don’t measure risk very well, and when the news stations are intentionally lying how can you make a better one?

As I look at the empty shelves in the toilet paper aisle today I realize the first step is to breath. Keep calm we are not dying today. We have time to think and decide on what to do. We don’t have to grab all the chicken off the plate, we can leave some for others and we will all live. This hording mentality takes preparation from smart planning to crazy end of the world shit.
No one is going to run out of toilet paper unless some idiots fill up their mini-vans with 800 rolls of Charmin.

Living on the water in Florida I have a back up generator, stock up on 4 or 5 cases of water and some can goods every April, knowing the storms will come. Right now with the current crisis of coronavirus-19 I have made sure we are have our cabinets stocked and are careful about hand washing and face touching. I’m not hiding in my house and stocking up on ammo, I’m being prudent and breathing. Even as a 60 yr old man with an number of underlying conditions I likely will be alive come May. I think our families 36 rolls put us a competitive edge to living through this crisis.

Making rational, thoughtful decisions and not reacting to every piece of breaking news is the only way to survive in this crazy world. 1/2 the world is telling you to panic, the other 1/2 is telling you there is nothing to worry about. No, I am not booking any cruises at the moment ( but I know I will in the future) and no I am not traveling to Northern Italy this year. But I am going about my day pretty unaffected by the panic, and will be doing business travel where necessary. We all have to assess risk ourselves, but do it based on as many facts as possible and as few anchormen.

Remember breath, think, question everything and yes 36 rolls are enough for 14 days of quarantine.

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Rule# 313: purge ofter

Rule# 313: Purge often

When we moved to Florida in 2017 we tried to throw out everything we didn’t use or need. I filled up 2 loads of a 40 yard dumpsters, and thought I was going pretty well- combining it with a massive garage sale.

I didn’t even scratch the surface.

Problem was made more complex by moving into a 7200 sf house that didn’t force me into into hard decisions. I was able to hold on to life’s treasures…that will eventually become the burden of my children to dumping of all this crap when we die.

Fortunately we were able to accumulate a significant amount of valuable art and coins that will make it more like a treasure hunt through The junk, but it will still be yards and yards of useless stuff.

My divorce ( that purged most of my stuff 20yrs ago) and my move to Florida has taken me out of the “horders season 29 “ running, but still we accumulate a lot in this life that is an useful as an old cheese grater.

The real clutter isn’t in the stuff but in the emotional baggage we carry with us. We don’t force change upon our lives because frankly it’s just “too damn hard”. Its too easy to be comfortable, it’s why we keep the old dish towel and broken Halloween decorations. It’s why we accept lives that stop challenging us and changing us.

Florida was scary for me. At 57 I moved away from family and friends into the Jumanji game of snakes, roaches, cane toads and hurricanes. Yea I know it’s a beautiful home on the water- but it’s still is freaking Florida.

But Freaking Florida energized me, forced me to meet new friends and work to keep the old ones. It made me a better and more interesting person- yes I have regrets..but as Frank said they are “ too few to mention”.

Even as I enter my 60’s ( boy there are a lot of people losing money on that bet) I seek to purge my stuff, my emotions and take risks that could not in my 30’s because I was either too poor, too afraid or too focused on my kids. I want my 60’s to have far more challenges and change than my 40’s. I now reluctantly accept that I will one day die, and that gives me the freedom to put it all on black and laugh when it comes up red.. knowing the
True secret that living is so much more important than winning.

Remember the lessons of Stephens “4 spins to glory” experience on the roulette. Even if his all or nothing 4 bets would not have worked out he would have had one hell of a story for the rest of his life. ( trust me the stories last longer than the money)

My good friend Tim is leaving a job that he had the best results in the company, and is leaving not because he was failing, but because the ceiling was a bit higher elsewhere. Yes, he could fail- but just venturing into the great unknown he has given a big middle finger to death and chooses to be different. I admire that, even in the unlikely event he fails He would have won.

I’m not saying to jump out of every plane or to ignore risks- because you will have your families and Retirement to one day enjoy and kids to get through college.

Just fill up the dumpster once in a while and jump without looking every now and then. Its suppose to be scary, scary leads to the best stories.

And you all know how I love my stories..,

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Rule #54: Boys will be Boys

Rule #54: Boys will be Boys

As the father of 2 wonderful girls and the grandfather of the awesome Hailey  I am a strong supporter of the #metoo movement, and societal protections that give those who need it most a voice.  There is never an excuse for behavior which abuses, and using power to take advantage of others. I think the pendulum of fairness was way off, and this recent increase awareness has helped many people who where damage find strength, support and acceptance. It has been long overdue and needs to continue.

As the father of 4 wonderful boys I have been assessing what I have taught my boys, and if my approach would be modified in the light of this new awareness. I was bothered by a new PSA from the Joyful Heart foundation, which does good work in the areas of cultural change- it is a good organization that is positive force. Its latest PSA has male celebrities saying ” boys will be boys” and ends the the words ENOUGH and the call to change the culture.

I raised my boys with the words ” boys will be boys” used often. When they fought among themselves I did not intervene to settle arguments, but rather allowed them to work out their issues, sometimes physically, between themselves.

No, I did not throw a knife in the fight and encourage it, but rather taught them to learn to work as brothers and resolve issues. Sometimes that pushed each other and teased each other. I always tried to avoid things escalating too far, but I did let them resolve their own problems. My belief was that I would not be able to be there all the time, and that if I didn’t want them to be completely dependent on me I needed to give them room.

Andrew had a incident at the catholic grade school at age 10 which stands out. I had gotten a call from the Principal, a Sister of mercy, to tell me Andrew was in a fight in the school yard and she asked me to stop and see her. The Sister told me that she had watched Andrew be harassed by a smaller boy for several weeks, with the child teasing and poking at him. She said that a apparently the kid has taken a kick ball and hit Andrew in the back of the head, which Andrew responded by picking the kid up and slamming him hard against the fence screaming to leave him alone. The kid was scared and ran to the teachers for help. Which brought them to Sister.

I asked Sister what needed to be done. She told me Andrew was a good, kind kid and he needed to learn to stand up for himself. She told me she was punishing the other boy with detention, and letting Andrew go with a warning. She added that when the other kid complained she said ” I know what you are doing, and the next time I’m not going to help you”. She said ” boys will be boys”, and told me that this was a lesson for Andrew that he had to stand up to this type of abuse.

Was Sister wrong?  I don’t think so. Part of raising boys is to teach them to stand up for themselves and to defend others. Not raising boys to be bullies or violent but to raise them to be men who can survive what life throws at them.

The whole “boys will be boys’ thing has me thinking about Sister and what it means to be father of boys and the lessons you need to teach. The objective is not to take the boy out of the boy, but to find the man within the boy.

I think it comes down to really only three things that define a man’s character

First Responsibility.

A boy has to learn that they are responsible for their decisions and the consequences of their actions. That making good decisions lead to good consequences, and bad decisions lead to bad consequences.

When one of the boys had a problem in  school with missing home work, or failing a test I never intervened or appealed on their behalf unless the full story was not being told. Matthew will confirm dozens and dozens of detentions he endured for missing assignments, that I never appealed or argued with the school.  Even with Abby when she was given detention for chewing gum ( that I gave her for anxiety on test days) I told her to serve the detention because it was the rule. Yes, I told the school it was my fault but she accepted the consequences.

Learning you are responsible for your own actions and decisions is key part of character.

Second Respect.

In 2019 I find a decreasing amount of respect for everything. Respect of God, country, women and parents all seem to have become optional. Its an arrogance that children have that they are the center of the universe, and their happiness is the only thing that needs to be respected.

Its important that boys learn that their respect comes from the respect of others. Getting this “respect concept” into a boy’s mind is hard, and I think a lot of parents are just too busy to focus on it. Slowly the boys have learned that they can  talk to parents with an attitude of entitlement, that since there is no God there is no reason to think anyone is more important then they are, and that the country is run by fools. Its hard for the boy to accept that maybe they aren’t the most important thing on the planet unless a parent is there to say they are not.

Changing this comes by living by example. Talking about higher purpose in life, that its our obligation to serve others and not just ourselves. Simple things like opening the car door for a woman, or bringing the garbage can up for an elderly neighbor sends a message that our role in life is not always to be get the biggest piece of chicken on the table.

Its enforcing quick, and clear consequences for lack of respect. Talking back to a parent or defying a rule should be treated as serious issues which have punishments from grounding to loss of all screens ( very effective ). Boys, even the really good ones, are not born with the concept of respect it has to be learned by behavior and response. Excusing disrespect builds long term problems when authority, women and the country as a Boy tries to figure out a world with no rules.

My simple parenting rule was if the boy isn’t listening add more structure to his life. The simpler and clearer the rules, the clearer the need for respect will become.  This does not happen by accident a parent has to teach it, and if it is missed long term problems developed. I can’t help believe that if Max Weinstein had smacked young Harvey in the head and taken away his TV the first time he was rude to a woman he would have headed in a different course. Someone needed to teach him about appropriate behavior. He didn’t become the narcissistic rapist by himself, a lot of people ignored behavior to create this monster.

Finally the role of father.

I believe there is an critical role a boy should learn as head of the family. Not head in the concept of CEO or General, but head of the family as leader and protector. This seems very sexiest, but I think the lack of teaching this important role has lead to many of the problems that exist today.

The boy needs to learn that a Man solves problems, and that with his partner ( man or woman) sets rules and the course of the family through life. That as a father he has a moral responsibility to care for his partner and children. That the role of father is one that comes with it tremendous obligations, and for him to forego these will destroy the family.

If the boy doesn’t understand this role he will fail as a father. I look at things like Andrew making decisions about doing extra work to save for a vacation, as him having understood the role of father.  He understands he has moral obligation to protect and provide for Ashleigh and Hailey, and bucks stops with him, that he has keep his family focused.

This doesn’t mean that my daughter-in-law could not do this all herself,  she certainly has the intelligence and work ethic to do so. But the family works so much better with Man accepting his role as father. It allows Ashleigh to have a partner and not another child. Him succeeding as a father stands out as what I view as my most important contribution to the world.

I think the phrase “boys will be boys” in not insulting and that accepting that boys will be aggressive, stupid and clumsy at times is not bad. Accepting that the will make mistakes when they are small, be corrected and move on to being men is part of the process. Sister was right we need boys who can handle themselves in this world, that can be strong and have character.

Boys will be boys. But every father has the obligation to know that Boys will be Men, and we need them to be the best men possible.

The Me Too movement is right that we can do better. We need to raise better men, while not losing the boy.














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Rule #151: Respect Alcohol

Rule #151: Respect Alcohol

When I returned from a great trip to New Orleans last year I was amazed that everyone in that city isn’t a raging alcoholic and morbidly obese. As I sat at the Bourbon Street Oyster House Bar I realized that at 9 pm on a Sunday night I was the only sober person in the place. New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities and except for a repeat of the Eagles they are my choice for winning the Superbowl this year.

The trip made me think about my experiences with alcohol and what I have learned about its pluses or minus.

In full disclosure I have never been a big drinker, although have been drunk a couple times in  my life. My roommate in college, Phil, will quickly tell you of my 21st birthday party where a few  bottles of old English 800 ( I DO NOT RECOMMEND) had me promising him, the world and God that I would never, ever drink again if the room would stop spinning.

Unfortunately for the makers of OE800 developing both Barrett’s esophagus and Type 1 LADA diabetes has forced me to limit my drinking to the occasional drink. So I look at alcohol from the perspective of man forced to limit his consumption in order to achieve my end goal of immortality.

I think drinking can be a wonderful thing, and very occasionally drinking to excess can be fun as well.

As the saying goes no great story in life starts with a salad.

Drinking helps relax the nerves, and let down some of the inhibitions that limit us because of our fears. Drinking can be down right awesome if you know how to do it right. Do it wrong and you ruin your life and the lives of people around you, and take you from life of the party to party pooper in two tequila shots. Its dangerous dance, and like other dangerous things like firearms and motorcycles needs to be respected. Alcohol can and will kill you if you don’t use it in an intelligent way. Sadly alcohol does not improve your higher level reasoning skills so most of this has to be prep work and not spur of the moment reactions.

Step 1 is to no spontaneous drinking

If you go out for dinner or meet up with friends this is an “unplanned” event and requires you to either abstain from alcohol completely or stay with in a HARD limit of 1 or 2 drinks depending on your size. These spontaneous events should be treated consistently, no exceptions- you didn’t prepare you don’t drink.

Step 2 is to know your end game

How am I getting home? I know that there is going to be a chance that I should not drive and I need to prepare ahead of time so that driving isn’t even an option. Three clear choices work-  uber, reliable sober friend driving or plan to stay over at drinking site. These are not just options – they are the ONLY options. No other solutions ever work and don’t plan to use some other way. No driving and planning to use Uber if you drink, take the keys out of the equation and prepare as if you just sold your car that afternoon. Before you take the first sip this should be all decided.

Step 3 this is a marathon and not a sprint

The idea of binge drinking always seem stupid to me, a rookie mistake that screams to the world that you are an idiot. No one wants to be the first drunk person at a party, if you want to be the “entertainment” just put on floppy shoes and a  rubber nose and go all in for the look.  The sophisticated drinker keeps at a pace just a little slower than the room in general, sort of like hanging back in the marathon letting the inexperience ones burn themselves out first. This gives you the opportunity to make fun of the clowns when they show up and allows you to remain safe even when having too much to drink

Step 4 know the difference between buzzed and stupid

When your body is feeling the first effects of the drink its time to put on the brakes. The art, even on events that you plan to drink, is to avoid the hangovers and the praying to the porcelain gods.  You want all the good effects of drink without the negatives.

You will fail at this at least a couple times. When you do learn from it. Simple lessons like ” tequila is not my drink” and ” when I am slurring words its not a good sign” should be the hard lessons learned about this line. For Bobbi it was always when she started to curse like a sailor,  for me it is when I become overly talkative and my right eye droops. Everyone has tells…learn yours and stop when they start to appear.

Finding that nice paced buzz line will be a mark of maturity, it will be that James Bond sophistication  and not that Foster Brooks stumble ( google it kids).

Step 5 be with friends

Drinking is suppose to be enjoyed, and if its beyond that one or two night, it should be done with people that you like and trust. Think of it as a group that you would be cool with in boxers and tee shirt- people that enhance your life.

Never drink with the angry drunks, you all know who they are  ( because we all have one or two people in our lives that do this). They are the people that after the 3rd Bud lite hate their wife, their boss and life in general. They use drinking as an excuse for complaining, and seem to be looking for an argument or fight.  Drink with friends not assholes.

As the Eagles enter this years playoffs I wanted to remind my kids with the proper respect of alcohol they can process even more fun. Its all in the prep work.

GO ..E-A-G-L-E-S!!





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Rule # 2019: A Pirate looks at 59

Rule # 2019: A Pirate looks at 59

In the final days of the year I find myself not doing as much assessment of the last year as prep work for the year to come.
This will be my final year in my 50’s, the decade my father had always told me that it would be my best. He had given me insight not to fear my fifties but to embrace them as a years of success. That advice helped me look into the challenges of the decade and always see the clear sky ahead. It was simple “Don Hill’ wisdom but so accurate.

This blog was designed to be a map that plots the course to my children when they need advice and I am no longer around to dispense it. ( you know in 40 or 50 years)
As all good cartographers know the challenge is to take the information from the past and build a more accurate view of the seas, to build on what my Dad had given to me.

Yes, the 50’s are the best years so far but I think the decade especially good because its a decade that you final realize that you are a Pirate. Jimmy Buffett has the song a “Pirate looks at forty” that painted a sad look at the future when “The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder”. He was wrong, he wrote it when he was 40 and had no idea about what 50’s would be for him. ( I’m sorry Jimmy no one bats 1000)

To me being a Pirate is when you realize that the rules are there to be broken, and life is given to us as a gift to be seized. As a Pirate you realize that we all captain of our own fate and that every ship that approaches is an opportunity and every island a place to relax and bury some treasure and drink some rum. Pirates understand that life is fleeting and they may find themselves at the short end of a rope any day, so time is not to be wasted. It is powerful to understand that we are mortal and this will all end one day, it can give you a sense of dread and depression or inspire you to get the most of what life offers. I highly recommend the second choice.

And being a Pirate you get to swagger a bit in life. Not the drunken Captain Sparrow walk, but to walk through life as man that has seen a few battles and survived them in spite of the odds. Its confidence to know that things are going to be throw in you path daily to slow you down, but know most of them disappear with a stern stare and a loud ” Arrrgh” in their direction. And the few that don’t like bad hips give you the limp of character that defines a life that is truly lived.

I have been surprised by the joys of pirating. Yes there has been financial success, but more importantly great adventures. The move to Florida, the selling of the businesses, the starting of new ones, the joy of a new knee and the deepening of love of my family became part of the journey. Who knew how wonderful the feeling of talking to your 2 yr old (gifted) granddaughter would be, and how you would understand what it meant to have your “heart melt”.

As a Pirate you also quickly realize that you depend on you shipmates and sailing alone is neither fun or safe. You learn to value friends, and truly value the good ones because they are rare. You can’t be a good Pirate alone.

So as I embark on this journey that leads to my next decade I do it with the sails full, the sky clear and the perfect beautiful pirate wench at my side. 2019 is going to be we a hell of a year… Arrgh..

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Rule # 250: You need a “go to drink”

Rule #250: You need a “go to drink”

I’ve never been much of a drinker, I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I’ve over indulged.
It never made sense to me why people enjoyed the process of drinking until they could not remember what happened, maybe I have been fortunate enough not to have a lot of things I am trying to forget. I’ve always been happy with the gentle buzz of the third drink, and rarely felt the need to test my alcohol tolerance level. ( which is extremely low for a guy as big as me)

I’ve always respected the people that that have made a decision not not use alcohol or drugs, not because I felt it was a better choice, just that it was the harder choice. Socially and in business there is tremendous pressure to be part of the group. The art of remaining sober in a group of drinkers is a difficult one, being engaged without the rum and coke can be become a balancing act. Being in the group but not part of the group.

A simple technique is to avoid being pulled in to the drinking is by being the designated driver. People seem to accept that being responsible is both understandable and to be admired. But since the invention of Uber and Lyft the technique is getting more push back. The need for designated drivers have decreased and the opportunity to drink more increased.

So how do you manage this world of being buzzed and not blitzed?

I have found the secret lies in having a go to drink..something that is your regular ” I’m at a party” go to order.

If you have a go to, you have clearly experimented enough to know the drink will impact you. I have had learned this lesson the hard way drinking a new tequila based drink about 18 years ago, which led to me falling into a Christmas Tree. Its been roughly 6,600 days since that night and I can still taste that drink. I learned tequila was not my friend.

I made the conscious decision after that holiday fall to find a drink that would allow me to look engaged but in control. I experimented with dark liquors, but found them to give me headaches even with a small amount consumed – its a shame because I really like the thought of being a Glenlivet drinker into my 60’s appealed to me in that “Humphrey Bogart” sort of way. But alas my body did not cooperate with my will and the dream of nursing a good single malt evaporated.

I then thought wine. My mission was to become a student of wine and find a go to type, winery and vintage that you could depend on. Unfortunately for me wine has always been linked to food, I love good cab with a steak and developed favorite for different meals. But bellying up to the hotel bar and ordering a good Duckhorn never felt it fit the moment. I will still enjoy a good meal, and good wine with friends, but its more meal oriented.

Andrew has done a good job of finding a hobby to link to a drink, craft brewing. It allows him to enjoy a craft brew and discuss his hobby. To me that seemed like a good strategy, make the drink about more than a drink and you have both a go to drink and a story. Trust me we all need stories.
Only problem with Andrew’s strategy is that it takes too much work. He has found enjoyment in it and that is great, for me it required too much of a commitment to get good at it- but I admire the strategy.

Being an entrepreneur at heart I found a guy with a liquor who’s story I liked. When I found I found a great story and a great liquor. I love maraschino cherries and here a liquor made by a grandmother fell into my lap. For a few dollars I could have a drink, a good investment and a good story. I was on to something..

Which lead to the LSU Punch.

1 1/2 oz Oma’s
2 oz ginger beer
2 oz lemonade
garnish with cherry and lemon wedge

This allowed me to tell three stories…the original about Oma’s grand-mom creator, A link to my time in Bermuda ( ginger beer) and a story about our business and personal involvement in New Orleans. I was much more interested in the stories than the alcohol, and the fact that most of them were true and it was a good drink was just a bonus.

When the Ye Mystic Krewe of Neptune picked it as this year’s drink winner was just another bonus, and yet another story.
It took me nearly 60 years to get here but I found a drink.

What I urge you all to do is not to take drinking lightly. Find a responsible way to participate but with an intelligent choice. Yes you can indulge in the chocolate or key lime martini from time to time, because they are desserts. But they are not a go to drink.
You need to find something that tells something about you, a reason why its your drink. If you can’t find a good story make one up, everyone will be drinking they won’t notice.
If you can’t come up with good story, call me and we will make one up together.

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Rule #382: The Sisyphus Rule

Rule #382: The Sisyphus Rule

Life is hard.
Life is unfair.
Life is wonderful.

When Zeus enchanted the rock that King Sisyphus was pushing he knew that the King would be doomed to an eternity of frustration. He set an eternal existence which would leave the King in deep despair.

I think about Sisyphus a lot as I have gotten older. Much of what life is amounts to little more than boulder pushing – work, chores, eat, sleep …repeat. So much of what we deal with everyday becomes a process of existence and and not achievement. It is the mundane that fills most of our lives.

I see that boulder pushing become more obvious when our lives take us to be caregivers of love ones with diseases/ conditions that are in themselves constantly deteriorating and ultimately fatal. Life has set the unreasonable expectation of the caregiver to get to that to rock pushing everyday. Visits without improvement, slow roll backs every day. The hope of reaching the top of that hill every night being crushed as that stone rolls over it into the pit of despair. It can be a soul crushing Sisyphean existence.

I think about that King and having an eternity to think about what hes was doing.

And I think he was Happy.

Albert Camus thought about him too in the “Myth of Sisyphus”. He saw him as a happy man.

I think in dealing with a hopeless situation when all your actions by definition of a progress disease will end in failure it is possible to be a “Happy Sisphus”.

Insane you say? Maybe, but maybe there is more going on here than rock pushing.

Camus compared the situation to the famous lover Don Juan. He said “There is no noble love but that which recognizes itself to be both short-lived and exceptional.”

I love that quote and remember it now even 40 years after I first read it. To truly love someone requires an effort to be “exceptional”, which by the nature of it being exceptional is short lived. As I watch my wife and sister-in-law struggle with their mother’s Lewy Bodies, I see that type of noble love with each daily fight with that rock. Its about achieving in one’s existence through exceptional love. Oh, its hard. Its fucking hard. But the love that it demonstrates is exceptional. I saw it with my sister Donna in how she cared for my parents in their last struggles and the love that she developed and showed in the process defined her. It is something that in my opinion defines the best of what we are as human beings, loving beings.

I think the process is more about how it changes us than how it helps the impaired love one. It makes us better.

King Sisyphus was a SOB fighter. The Gods punished him with the rock pushing because he tried to stop death by putting death in chains. This pissed off both death and the Gods.

In a lot of ways I see caregivers as the SOBs ( certainly Sandy, Bobbi and Donna) trying to cheat death like our friend Sisyphus- they know that death will eventually escape ( it sort of has to, to make life work) but they are SOBs and going to chain up death for as long as they can.

That fight. That ” Rocky Balboa” fighter that fights knowing that he will eventually lose to Apollo is inspiring to the human spirit. I’m from Philly so I watched the movie 8,000 time, yet each time I watch is I’m emotionally cheering Rocky hoping that he will someone how win. He doesn’t. Yet I am not sad for Rocky. I think he was happy.

Like Rocky Sandy and Bobbi are fighting unwinnable fights against a damn big rock. They will lose, but in it they will win.

Their fights are against fear and things that take their mother’s dignity way. There fights are hopeless, yet noble and define the human spirit.

I write this blog as a map for my children to follow at times when they are lost. And I know with certainty that they will find themselves as caregivers against one of these rocks, hopefully it will not be me. But its critical to their emotional survival that they understand like Sisyphus that although it might not seem it on the darkest days there is nobility and honor in the process. And there is true love.

I love you both and am proud of you.

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Rule #177: The Santa Rule

Rule #177: The Santa Rule

I’m a fan of Santa. Not that I want the focus on Christmas to be gifts, I just love the concept of Santa.

The dude is a really cool guy. A toy shop, a race of Elves at his command, flying reindeer and magic powers- what’s not to like. The guy rocks. He is also a snappy dresser for us plus size guys.

What I liked best about the jolly guy is the power he gave me over my toddler children to influence their behavior. Just invoking his name anytime between Thanksgiving and New Years would reset behaviors of any child whining, expose any lies, and basically check any negative thing. It was truly magical.

I took full advantage of it! It was a season of easy disapline that made the holiday an especially happy one.

The only negative was that as my children grew they stopped believing. Imagine the power we would have over negative people if there were consequesnce dispensed by a chubby magical entity that could envoke as much fear as joy.

I encounter adult people during the year who say cruel things to each other, do evil things just to get personal gain and generally behave badly. Unfortunely these things aren’t illegal and they are basically just the function of people behaving badly. It is sad to say but some people just choose to be assholes. ( I tried to find a more polite word for it but asshole is the only one that really works)

Fortunately I am not completely powerless without St Nick. My kids have the fear of my death and me haunting them ( which I will do for any that are pissing me off ). As I get older and closer to death I intend to use this power more. Yes they may not even believe in God or an afterlife, but do they really want to take that chance? I would be a pretty pissed off ghost.

What we need is a Santa for Adults. Something that just by the envoking of his name behavior instantly changes

Imagine being able to simply yell out to the guy that cut you off in traffic  “ you better watch out” and have the behavior stop. Or say “ he sees you” to the woman that was rude to you at the grocery store and her instantly reflect on her behavior and apologize.  I generally think assholes know when they are being assholes, just without Santa in their lives there is no direct consequence. They need to lose things that they want.

It sad but the holiday seems to have the opposite effect on assholes , they seem to just love hurting other people- maybe because life hasn’t given them enough Barbie Princess Castles or Red Ryder B.B. guns. They are mad at life, have little hope and want to hurt others happiness. We need an Adult Santa to give them something to hope for , and something to take away from them when they are bad.

Yes we have heaven and hell- but assholes are pretty short- term thinkers. They need the immediate reinforcement of Adult Santa to keep in line.

I propose a kickstarter project to set up a second “North Pole Workshop” maybe at the South Pole using magical penguins to help deliver new BMWs and the like. I think with the right magical entity we may really be able to keep the adult assholes in line.

So.. “ you better watch out”…,


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