Monthly Archives: February 2013

New York Times Tips on Making a Pillow Fort

Here is an article that I came across in the NY Times on Pillow Forts. May the forts be with you. (Yes that was awful, get used to it).


Categories: Adventures, Parenting | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Book review: The 4 hour Work Week

At first I was skeptical about any book called the 4 Hour Work Week.  It evoked the same feeling that I got when someone from Amway asked me to come to a “meeting” or was invited to invest in some Florida swamp land.


The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

Let me start by saying what this book is not.  It is not about getting rich quick or a vague rah rah cheerleading session of principles that can’t be put into practice.
The author has actually put this method in to practice.  His methods are less business school knowledge and more of a hackers guide to building a beautiful life.
This book is really about living the life that you want to live and creating a system that can support that lifestyle.  It is not for the faint of heart.  The book challenges our traditional values of trading hours for dollars.
This book eschews the current paradigm of working for 30 or 40 years and then at the end of your life finally getting a chance to do the things that you want to do whether it’s travel, spend time with your children or write the Great American novel.
The author, Tim Ferriss gives examples of how to create a business and how to remove your involvement in that business so that it provides you with an income that can support a person even without them being involved with business on a day-to-day basis.
He gives an idea of how to remove some of the minutia in life and focus on what is important to us NOW.
NOW is the the operative word for the entire book.  Why put off the life that you want until you are too old to appreciate it.
Tim Ferriss gives the reader some great strategies on how to build a business that can work for you while you live the life the you want.
If you have ever wanted to explore the idea of owning your own time, being around for you children or traveling the world, this is a good read.
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Champion of Manliness: Clint Eastwood

Most people born after 1999 may not remember Clint Eastwood before The Bridges of Madison county.

For those of you that do remember Dirty Harry or his many westerns, feel free to watch one of his earlier movies to get an extra shot of manliness.

Here’s to this weeks champion of manliness…Clint friggin


Categories: Champions of Manliness | 1 Comment

Tactical diaper bag

So…we are expecting another baby later this year. In preparation for this joyous event, I am doing what every self respecting man does…shop for gear.

Here is my first item I am registering for:

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Best version of the Harlem Shake

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Inspiration For Manliness

Originally from G4TV.  I aspire to do this someday.Inspiration For Manliness

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Champion of Manliness: Ron Swanson

Enough said.

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Getting kids to help out

I learned a few things during our last group camping trip about getting kids to help out with chores.

The kids as usual took off to go play while the Dads set up their respective campsites. Everyone tried to get their kid to help set up. Most the time the kids would hangout for awhile, then lose interest.

Being the curious person that I am I wanted to know why it was so difficult for some dads to get their kids to help out. A sample of those conversations usually went:

Dad: can you stop playing around and help out!

Kid: Ok (then stands around looking for something to do)

Dad: Stop playing with the tent poles you’ll break them.

Kid: (looking puzzled loses interest goes off and finds something to do)

I saw this play out at every other campsite including my own.

I decided to change tactics. I broke down each large task and explained why I was doing them. I had my son tackle one small task at a time giving him positive feedback when each was completed.

An example of how I broke things down:

Instead of “help me set up the tent!” I said, “lets work as a team. I need you to spread out this ground cover so the bottom of our tent can stay dry.”

As the ground cover blew away I told him to find some big rocks to hold the corners down.

Then I put him in charge of putting the tent stakes in the places he thought they needed to go.

Lastly, I had him CAREFULLY put the tent poles together while I spread out the tent.

Before long we were all set up and as a reward I told him to go explore a bit while I got lunch ready.


The lesson I learned:

Often times we take for granted that people understand how to do a task when in reality they need help breaking down the tasks into smaller chunks so they can learn how to do something. For children, we have to make this as simple and positive as possible. I forget which ever movie I got it from but I often ask people to “explain it to me as if I were a 5 year old”

When I ask my son to help out, I try to be specific about each task until he learns each step and can do things independently. Checklists help until things become routine. Eventually, your kid learns to execute complex tasks and do them independently.

Try this yourself and share your results.

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Backpacking with kids

A few of you may have an aversion to camping. More than likely it was caused by the idea that camping has to be uncomfortable, unpleasant and boring.

If you put yourself in your child’s shoes camping means no video games, tv or Internet. Depending on the age of your child these might be deal breakers.

My son and I have been on several camping trips. Most of them car camping where we could bring our toys and comfort items with us.

Out last trip was his first introduction into backpacking. I saw this as my chance to show him how much fun this type of camping can be. At the time of this writing, he is 8 years old. At this age, he still wants to be like daddy, so I got him his own pack and made sure we had some comfort items and food that he liked. It added about 15lbs to my pack but it pretty much made the trip for him.


Before the trip I asked him to make a list of the things he wanted to do. Here was his list:

1. Fishing
2. Fishing
3. Fishing
4. Hiking
5. Hot chocolate party
6. S’mores

Did I forget to mention he likes fishing?

I made sure to bring my backpacking fishing rod, s’mores stuff and enough instant hot chocolate to give a Boy Scout troop diabetes. I also brought his favorite food…bacon. Its my secret weapon on my backpacking trips, yoders canned bacon.


I always made sure he had something to look forward to while we were camping and gave him space to explore. We even caught a fish and ate it which made his trip.


As he gets older, he will be responsible for his pack and comfort items that he decides to bring but it think this first trip planted the seeds for future great backpacking trips with my son.

– JD

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