I'm doing a digital declutter for 30 days to cut out distractions and get my focus and creativity back. And along the way, my happiness.
Category Archives: Life
Sometimes I get off track. This is what I need to do to get back on track:
I’m putting my daily drawing exercises on hold. They tax me more than I want in terms of both time and mental focus. Instead of a fun creative exercise, pushing through these at the end of long work days ends each day on a low note.
The NYTimes Magazine’s set of graphic stories (read: comics) they published last week are fantastic. Check them out: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/02/magazine/new-york-stories-introduction.html
Reminder for myself: Meditation is good. Every time I do it I feel better afterward. Doing it continually leads to longer periods of contentment and focus. I tend to not want to meditate when I’m having a tough time because it is easier to complain and shut down than it is to clear my mind and deal with the problems at hand. But I must turn to meditation, especially when things are tough. It helps every time.
Working outside this morning and enjoying a bowl of Cult’s Blood Red Moon from this month’s Tin Society box.
There is no right time to quit a job, have kids, or start something new. If you want something, you have to take the first step immediately and figure things out along the way. The right time will never come. Jump now.
This is the first post of a series that will focus on improvements I’ve made in my life that have led to advances in my productivity, effectiveness, or general well-being. I call these things big wins.
I have a policy when it comes to giving to people who come up to me in the street and ask for money to buy food or some basic necessity: I tell them that I do not carry cash (this is the truth, I do not carry cash), then offer to purchase for them what they say they need the money for. (I won’t purchase them alcohol, drugs, weapons, cigarettes, or things like that. But, who actually tells you they need those things?)
On December 24, 2011, at around 12:45 a.m., Amanda Kate Rubino and I got engaged.
This summer I had an internship with the Foundation for Economic Education. I was based out of Atlanta where I worked with the Programs branch of the organization. We did a total of 7 week-long seminars in 3 cities (Atlanta, Estes Park, CO, and Irvington, NY) with over 600 students in attendance during the 2010 summer seminar series.
On Friday morning, I started my trip down to Atlanta for my summer internship with the Foundation for Economic Education. I got to my grandparents’ house in Kingston, Tennessee in the early evening and stayed with them for two nights. I had a nice time staying with them, and they took me to a few neat places on Saturday. We went to Ozone Falls and Black Mountain. Here are a few photos of Ozone Falls:
(Click on the photos to view them at a larger size)
The last city I stayed in was Nice, a beautiful city in the on the French Riviera in south-eastern France. It is such a gorgeous place! David and I took an overnight train from Bordeaux and arrived around 8:30 in the morning. The train was an experience… we stayed in a couchette car with four other people and were woke up multiple times during the night by either a shaking train or children with asthema. Anyway, once we arrived we put our stuff at the hotel, freshened up, and bought some pastries and ate them on the edge of the Mediterranean. The rest of that day and the next were devoted to much exploring and eating, then I had to take another overnight train to Paris to fly home.
Finally, after a stressful week, I have a few hours before I have to start studying for finals.
After my short stay in Paris, I took a train a few hours south to Bordeaux, where my friend David lives. After a short nap at David’s apartment, we immediately went to the town of Arcachon, a small but beautiful place on the Atlantic (well, technically on Arcachon Bay, but we could see where the bay opened up to the Atlantic from the beach.) We were originally going to go there two days later, but the forecast was rain for that day, so we went right after arriving from Paris. Below are a few photos. As always, you can click on the photos to make them appear at a larger size.
I am finally getting around to posting some of my spring break photos from France! I won’t write the story of my trip on here… I would much prefer to tell you in person, so call me and ask me to hang out! (Or if you are too far away to do that, call me and we can talk!)
Sorry basketball fans. This blog post is talking about the March madness of Hillsdale and my life. Complete with photos!
Wow, it has been over a month since I last updated! It was so relaxing to not have to come up with a post every day that I came up with no posts at all. For those of you who used this blog as a window into my life, rest assured after you read this. I have not taken off to the wilderness of Alaska to live in seclusion from the social world. I just took a break from updating this blog. Below is the highlight of what has happened during that time.
As I stood in front of the fireplace this evening, I realized that I don’t remember a time when my family has not had one. Both of our houses have had one, and so has my grandmother’s house. It is so wonderful to come inside from a cold, snowy, windy day and warm up in front of the fire. It is also a wonderful place to sit in front of and read or think. As soon as the weather turns cool, I yearn for the smell of a wood fire in the air outside and the warmth inside that it provides. It is something I miss greatly in cold Hillsdale, MI.
I did a little thinking on New Year’s resolutions today, and they do not make much sense to me. Why resolve to do something that you think will better your life in some way starting at a future date? Whether what you are doing is trying to break a bad habit (smoking, drinking, overeating, procrastinating, etc.) or doing something positive (reading your Bible and praying more, saving money, becoming more disciplined, getting in shape, etc.), why not start as soon as it occurs to you to make a resolution for the upcoming year? January 1, 2010 is really not much different than December 31, 2009, or even December 10, 2009. If you have a change you want to make in your life, it is best to implement that change immediately. Waiting to make a change does not make much sense to me (with one exception, stated below.) If, for example, you want to lose weight but keep overeating until January 1, what have you accomplished? You have only made it more difficult for yourself. If you’ve waited until January 1, what is one more day? Pretty soon those “one more” days might add up… If you are going to do something, do it now.
This is my answer to the Friday the 13th calendar question my friend David posed to me on Monday:
Today was my last day of finals, and I finally got to come home! I am very excited to be home for a few weeks.
As I was looking through my photo library tonight, I realized that it was exactly a year ago yesterday that I saw Handel’s Messiah performed at Hillsdale. (If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, I went to see it performed in Detroit yesterday.) I saw the performances exactly a year apart! I thought that was pretty exciting.
Today, Amanda and I drove to Detroit to see Handel’s Messiah performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (I bought her tickets for her birthday). We had a wonderful time! The performance was excellent, we had great seats, and we ate good food afterwards at Union Street. Overall, today was a great day!
Let’s turn back the clock back a little bit to halloween (and no, I am not talking about retrodating this post…)
My grandparents on my Mom’s side moved to back to Tennessee 10 years ago after living in northern Ohio for over 40 years. I don’t get to see them as much as I would like, but whenever I do, my grandfather usually gets a guitar out and plays a little bit, especially if other musicians are around. My grandparents came to visit for Thanksgiving, and my grandfather and my cousins’ other grandfather got out their instruments and played for a little while.
I took this shot on Thanksgiving day, when a bunch of us went in my aunt’s basement to play pool after dinner. This is my Dad with the break:
My friend Richard Amos came home with me for Thanksgiving, and since it was his first time in Northern Ohio, I showed him around. After we took Aaron Mortier to the airport so he could fly to Virginia, we started exploring. First we went to Crocker Park, which was closed still since it was only 8 a.m. So, from there we drove along Lake Erie from Avon Lake to Amherst, stopping along the way. We stopped twice in Avon Lake, then at the Lorain pier and Black River Landing. Even though it was kind of chilly, it was a pretty nice day, and the lake was as smooth as glass. Luckily, the rain held off until late afternoon, so we had clear skies for our adventures.
First of all, today is Sean Nelson’s birthday. Happy Birthday Sean!
Dr. Wenzel, an economics professor here at Hillsdale, occasionally gives his students an atypical assignment: Do nothing for 15 minutes. Turn off the cell phone, computer, music, television, etc. Get rid of all distractions, even books. Just sit on the edge of your bed in silence and think for 15 minutes. That’s all.
Two more Halloween Photos:
Yesterday afternoon, I was pulled over by a Michigan State Trooper for a traffic violation. I received a citation for violating code 257.637: passing a vehicle on the right.
Today was the last day of Fall Break and my last day in Chicago. I celebrated by sleeping in, going to Eleven City Diner with Ryan and Carrie for lunch, then visiting the Art Institute. Shortly afterward, I made my way back to Hillsdale.
I had another great day today! We got a late start (slept until 11), but Ryan and I met Carrie at Jake Melnick’s for lunch, which was excellent. I had a beef brisket sandwich, and we got an order of the XXX wings. Those wings are the hottest, yet most flavorful wings I’ve ever had. They blow Quaker Steak’s atomic sauce out of the water. They were very good, but insanely hot. Even now, 7 hours later, I can still feel the dull burn in my stomach from those wings.
I had an excellent day today!
I finally got my paper finished, turned it in, then hopped in the vehicle and drive to visit Ryan in Chicago. Before I left, it was snowing in Hillsdale! It stopped after 10am, but there was definitely snow falling for a few hours. The ground was warm enough that it melted right away, though.
I looked out of my window while I was studying after dinner, and I saw this beautifully colored sky.
Last year, I managed to not get any sicker than a sore throat or sinus problems. Nothing I had to miss class over. I am not so fortunate this year. I caught a bug which managed to take me down. I slept 16 of the past 24 hours and missed 3 classes today. I went to one, thinking I would be okay to go to more, but I felt worse as the class progressed, so I went back to my dorm and slept more. I plan to go back to bed as soon as I am finished with this four hour shift I have sitting at a computer lab.
The fountain pens I ordered from xfountainpens.com arrived today! I’ve been practicing writing with them, and I hope to use them exclusively after I get used to them.
I got the chance to teach two classes today at the spur of the moment! I went to work this morning (at Amherst Steele High School), and found out the teacher that the district hired to teach two visual design courses quit the night before. Since it was the first day of school, there were two full classes of students who were without a teacher, and the classes started in a half-hour. The students were just going to have a long, boring study hall, so I volunteered to teach some basics of web design and photography to the two classes. I really enjoyed it, and I hope the students got something out of it. The rest of the day was hectic with lots of tech problems, but at least those 3 hours went well. Today was my last day of work. I am spending Wednesday packing, then I am going back to Hillsdale on Thursday.
On day 184, I posted about visiting Gatlinburg, TN for the day. During the course of the day, I got my photo taken on the Sky Lift, which runs up the side of the mountain. When my parents and I got home, I found out that I had my photo taken on the Sky Lift in 2002, too! (Also, my Dad has his photo from when he is on it in the 70s.)
I spent the evening at my Aunt and Uncle’s house tonight where my Dad and Uncle bottled some wine that my Uncle made. Here are some photos:
Today, my Dad’s side of the family had a party at my Grandma’s house. Amanda joined us! Here are a few quick shots:
I went kayaking on the Vermilion River after dinner today (or should I say half-kayaking and half-hiking?). The Vermilion River is too shallow, at least right now on the part I went on, to easily navigate with a kayak. I had to climb out and carry it around trees and across shallow areas countless times. I am not going back on that river unless we get a lot of rain!
Today, Amanda and I spent the day at Put in Bay. (For those of you not from the Ohio area, Put in Bay is South Bass Island out on Lake Erie, off of the Sandusky/Catawba area.) After canceling because of rain twice, we finally had a beautiful day to go and hang out on the island. Here are a few shots from our adventures there:
Early afternoon today, I went and shot four rounds of trap to try out the choke tubes I just bought and to continue breaking in my over & under for the shotgunning course I am taking when I get to Hillsdale in a month. Here are a few shots my Dad took while I was shooting:
This evening, my Mom’s friend and her son from Seattle came to visit. They are in town for a wedding, so they stopped by for the evening. My Mom and Terry have been friends for 28 years. I first met her son (his name is also Chuck) in 1998 and again in 2000. He has lived in Seattle, Vancouver, and around Australia, where he worked at an Apple store! He is studying to become a dentist. It was nice to see him again!
Tonight, Amanda came over for dinner with my parents and me, and I made muffalettas! The sandwiches had capicola, salami, pepperoni, provolone, and a freshly-made olive tapenade. They were delicious!
At 4:00 today, I met a friend of mine at the Amherst Townhall to take some photos. He is in an intro photography class, and he needed to use a SLR for this week’s assignment. After he finished the assignment, I let him try out all of the different lenses I have. To show to what extent a wide-angle lens distorts things, I let him take a photo of me holding out my hand in front of me:
“My goal is to confuse you at a higher level about more important things.” – Dr. Wenzel
I am having a wonderful time at the FEE Young Scholars Colloquium seminar at Northwood University. Here are some shots from today:
I am on my way to Midland, MI to Northwood University for FEE’s Young Scholars Colloquium. I will be back in Amherst on Saturday, July 18. This wonderful man, Dr. Birzer (pictured below) is speaking there tonight. (He was my history professor this last semester.) I am excited to see him!
I thought I would give you all a look into what I listen to. If I could take only 5 albums with me on a very long road trip, this is what I would take:
Today, my family and I went to Bass Pro Shops and the Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville, then through Gatlinburg, and part way through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
I bought a kayak today! My parents, Amanda, and I took it up the the Oberlin above-ground reservoir to try it out. Here are photos of Amanda, my Mom, my Dad, and me trying it out. As always, click on the photos to view them at a larger size.
Today was a day of cleaning for me. Amanda came over and helped me clean out my room and we took a few bags of trash out and reorganized things significantly. Then, after she left, I helped my parents take the cover off of the pool and start the cleaning process to get the big in-ground pool, which is up the street at my grandma’s house, ready for swimming. I estimate that by next weekend it will be ready! We usually open it up earlier than this, but the weather has been unusually cool for this time of year, so we held off.
Today, I worked in the morning, then went to visit David Wagner. We decided to go canoeing on the Huron River, which was quite an adventure. The weather was excellent when we started out, but by the time we got about a mile and a half up the river, a huge thunderstorm rolled in. Around that same time, the river was blocked by about 5 fallen trees, so we were out of the river searching for a way around when the lightning started, so we stayed on shore during the storm (which, lucky for us, passed quickly). We got soaked, but we managed to keep David’s camera dry, so there are a few photos of me below.
First of all, thank you Joe Teets (nonarchist) for doing my updates for the past two days on such short notice. I flew home from New York on Friday, come home for 20 minutes to repack, then drove south to Ohio University for the weekend for my cousin’s graduation. We stayed in a cabin, which I assumed was going to have internet access. On the way down, I found out it was not going to, so I called Joe and asked him if he could do two guest updates while I was gone. Thanks, Joe!
Today was my second day at FEE (but the first full day). The seminars have been great so far! A few of my friends from Hillsdale are here, so I have enjoyed catching up with them in between seminars. Here is a shot from the room that the seminars are in:
Tonight, Amanda and I ate at Fat Fish Blue in downtown Cleveland, and then went to the concert at the House of Blues that I won tickets for. (Pete Yorn and Ryan Humbert) The music was alright, but not something I would have paid for. Amanda liked it a lot, though, so that was good. Fat Fish Blue was definitely the best part of the evening. Our food was excellent, and we actually left the concert a little early so we could go back to FFB for dessert before it closed. We ate the famous Carpetbagger for dessert. For those who don’t know what it is, here is the description on the menu: “the amazing chocolate sack, loaded with sponge cake, fresh fruit and Godiva white chocolate mousse.” Excellent. Since I did not take my SLR with me, here is a shot of FFB from their website:
I have been posting lots of photos and thoughts lately, and I have neglected to post about what is going on in my life, so I will do that today.
I have been struggling with this question for quite some time, and it came up tonight, which rekindled my thinking on it:
How do you ask a man behind the counter for a soda when you don’t think there is a man there?
I went and shot a round of trap and a round of skeet this morning. The people at the Gun & Reel club on Middle Ridge Road are very nice and super friendly! I like shooting there.
I know that my blog frequently lacks interesting and quality photos, so here are my favorite photoblogs for you to check out:
For 2009, I decided to start posting more. I posted regularly last year until I went to college and all of my time went to reading, writing, calculating, and thinking. To get in the habit of putting time aside each day to update my blog or work on my website, I decided that in 2009 I will do a “Project 365”.
I apologize for not updating for a few weeks. Also, I have yet to take pictures of the campus. I have, however, taken football and volleyball photos, as well as photos for articles in The Collegian (the nationally acclaimed student-run newspaper on campus).
I spent the last week in Chautauqua, NY with my friend Brad Akin. I had a great time. We spent the week fishing, jetskiing (I was able to get the jetski up to 53mph!), kayaking, and loitering around searching the internet. Brad introduced me to Andriaccio’s Stuffed Olives Asiago which are quite possibly the tastiest appetizers I have eaten. In between eating lots of pizza and doing the above mentioned things, I had time to take some photos with my new Canon 40D.
…not so spectacular this year.
My trip to NY and two weeks of FEE seminars came to an end on Friday. I was originally scheduled to fly home at 7:30, but I managed to get a flight at 5:30 (which I was thankful for because LGA had a 2-hour backup for take-offs). I had a great time and learned a lot. I also had the privilege of seeing two TSA personnel harass a man for making a comment under his breath.
So last week and this coming week, I have been right outside of NYC attending seminars at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE, henceforth). The first week was Freedom University and next week is History & Liberty. FEE has brought in some great speakers for the week: Gene Callahan, Sheldon Richman, Paul Cwik, Ivan Pongracic, and Burt Folsom to name a few.
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