Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Review

QuatrefoilQuatrefoil by James Barr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic groundbreaking gay novel telling the story of a love in a place and time. It also includes the mandatory tragic ending slapped on without which it wouldn't have been published, making it also the telling of gay fiction in a place and a time.

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Book Review

The Outstretched Shadow (Obsidian Mountain, #1)The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Obsidian Trilogy is a wonderful tale of magic, warrior elves, sentient unicorns, and vengeful greedy demons. Best of all it's not a poor imitation of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, although it shares with those stories an unlikely hero. It's not without it's flaws. The Demon Prince, both son and lover to the Queen starts out in Book 1 as a deliciously evil, worthy heir, and threat that all good royal sons must be. But in Books 2 & 3 he's reduced to a sniveling mama's boy. And in Book 3 the Demon Army is suddenly marching towards the Golden City with no telling of how the Queen marshalled her feuding houses and summoned all of her forces to emerge from their subterranean kingdom and wage organized war. But the magic and the characters are diverse and unique. A worthy, enthralling tale.

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Book Review

All the President's MenAll the President's Men by Carl Bernstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this my Sophomore year(I think) in college for an English class. At the beginning of semester the teacher gave us the assignment of a paper on a book to be due at the end of the semester. My heart sank as he was giving the assignment knowing my seemingly overwhelming habit of procrastinating, knowing I wouldn't even pick out a book until the last minute, then have to read it and write the paper all in a sloppy rush making the whole thing a miserable experience. But then an amazing thing happened; two friends also in the class asked me after class to go to the bookstore with them right then. We walked over there on the spot and picked out our books. I don't think it took very long and I didn't stress over which book to get the way I do now, being already interested in this one and the actual events fresh in my mind. I read it throughput the semester, thoughtfully wrote the paper and turned it in on time, a rarity for me. It's too bad I don't still have it. Worse, I wish I could remember the names of those two nice people who were so nice and who didn't know the favor they did me that day.

The book is excellent. Possibly it should be required reading of all students. The story telling, by two top journalists at the top of their game, is gripping. The story itself needs no embellishment beyond the facts; they speak for themselves.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Chieftains

Irish music, Irish dancing with some American country music and ABBA thrown in for good measure. So much fun! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Keeping Kitties Company

I got to spend the weekend with Stella, Spanky, and Bubba while Steve and Craig were out of town.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dear Mr. Nadeau

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


E. B. White

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Coming Train

The Coming Train, 1880, oil on canvas by American artist Edward Lamson Henry (1841–1919).

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Dinner at Villa de Fanta

I went to Steve's for dinner. Craig joined us. Steve grilled steaks and afterwards fell asleep while Craig and I talked.

Friday, February 03, 2017

How Cold Showers And Tough Mudders Can Make You Better At Your Job

Purposefully making yourself uncomfortable can help you push beyond your limits and accomplish more.

STEPHANIE VOZZA 02.03.17 5:58 AM

Standing barefoot in the snow. Soaking in a tub of icy water. Taking a plunge in a cold lake. These things sound really uncomfortable and a little crazy, right? But investigative journalist Scott Carney says a regular habit of any of them can improve your health and reduce your stress.

Carney discovered the life-changing power of extreme environments in 2013 when he set out to debunk eccentric Dutch fitness guru Wim Hof’s claim that he could control his body temperature and immune system at will. Carney had just written about another so-called guru who had lost touch with reality in the pursuit of enlightenment, and he was pretty sure Hof was another charlatan.

Related: The Scientific Case For Cold Showers

"I thought perhaps he had genetic adaptations and others would die if they tried to emulate him," says Carney. "I was going to prove him wrong, and as it turned out that wasn’t the case. Within a week I was able to replicate the feat he could do."

"The problem is that technology has outpaced our body’s ability to adapt."

The experience prompted Carney to eventually climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro wearing nothing but shorts and hiking boots, and sit on the snowy banks of a river until the ice melted around him. He chronicles his limit-pushing adventures in his new book, What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength, and suggests that extreme activities (when done with a doctor’s approval) could improve your life, too.

"I’m not an adventure seeker; I’m not even an athlete," he says. "I happened to be pulled along and discovered these are innate human abilities."

The environment is an important but forgotten stimulus, says Carney. "We used to think health relied on diet and exercise," he says. "It is those things, but it’s also the space you inhabit. The problem is that technology has outpaced our body’s ability to adapt."

Our species has had 200,000 years of constant environmental changes and the evolutionary system had adapted to deal with it, while climate control has been around for just about 150 years, says Carney. "The drive for comfort was once something we could never achieve," he says. "But now comfort is available at flip of a switch, and that’s a terrible thing for our bodies."


Our body’s ability for handling the environment sits untapped, waiting to act. "The immune system is like a predator in the body, going around trying to kill bacteria, but its job has been compromised and it’s got nothing to do," says Carney. In some cases it turns against the body with autoimmune diseases. Using environmental stimuli gives the command structure something to do. It’s like giving that predator a chew toy."

"Comfort isn’t inherently bad, what’s bad is the worship of comfort."

Regular exposure to cold triggers a number of processes to warm up the body, and those adjustments will help regulate blood sugar, exercise the circulatory system, and heighten mental awareness, says Carney. Studies have shown cold exposure treatment can help with conditions such as Crohn’s and Parkinson’s disease and obesity.


Growth starts with a willingness to break yourself down, try new things that challenge you, and feel discomfort or even pain on the road to remaking yourself even better, says Sarah Robb O’Hagan, author of Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat. "Your greatest potential is not found in your comfort zone," she says. "We now have scientific research showing that getting outside of our comfort zone is what develops our personal growth. That’s why extreme fitness endeavors are now so popular."

"Your strength grows when you are trying something new and figuring out how to accomplish it."

Robb O’Hagan says the training for a Tough Mudder competition pushed her to examine her limits. "The thought of jumping into a dumpster of ice cubes is far from enticing, but once you do it you feel this huge sense of accomplishment and frankly newfound confidence because you survived it," she says. "There's no question that it leaves you feeling stronger than before you took on the challenge. Research shows that muscle and brain power act very similarly. Your strength grows when you are trying something new and figuring out how to accomplish it."


If mountain climbing and icy baths aren’t your thing, you can still find benefit from introducing some discomfort in your life. Carney suggests starting your day with a cold shower. "Once you do that, everything else feels easier," says Carney. "A cold shower will give you a little more resilience to get through day. It goes to your nervous system to a place where your body deals with environmental stress. Other stresses will not feel like as big a deal."

Or keep your thermostat at 63 degrees. "It’s right at a point where you might feel like you might need to shiver," he says. "And one of the things we do in the training is we suppress your natural shiver response to make your body find a different way to heat itself. And this is usually ramping up the metabolism. And by doing that, you'll burn more calories, you'll get thinner, but you'll also just be more adapted. You will use less energy in general, and that's a good thing.

Comfort isn’t inherently bad, says Kent Burns, president of Simply Driven, an executive search firm. "What’s bad is the worship of comfort," he says. "Candidly, most humans, especially Americans, literally make an idol of their own comfort. Comfort then becomes a master that we serve at the expense of other important things. To grow and realize our potential, we need an outside force, and events like Polar Plunges and Tough Mudders serve that purpose, forcing people to confront obstacles and their own limitations."

Carney admits climbing mountains and sitting on an icy snow bank are extreme tests, but he believes both are important examples of the body’s capabilities. "Don’t be afraid of a little bit of pain," he says. "I’m not suggesting that people get hurt, there’s a difference between damage and pain. Do whatever you can to give your body variation every day. It’s so easy to do; it’s just turning a knob."

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Solana Beach

I took these selfies this morning before heading home from Solana Beach. I helped Andreas clean his place yesterday and we didn't take time out to see the ocean so I did it really quick this morning.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Forever Broke: 15 Things Holding You Back From Becoming a Multi-Millionaire

Forever Broke: 15 Things Holding You Back From Becoming a Multi-Millionaire

As Mark Cuban once said, "Ideas are worthless until you do something with them."

By John Rampton



CREDIT: Getty Images



There's no surefire way to become a millionaire. But there are definitely things that are holding you back from achieving that elusive multi-millionaire status.

Over my 32 years of being alive (yes, I'm 32), I have been a millionaire three times, with over $1 million in my bank account after taxes. Seems pretty cool, right? Not really. I've lost everything twice in my life. Luckily, over the years, I've learned a few things.

Here are 15 habits and mistakes that took me from millionaire to being broke and prevented me from earning it back till I learned to fix them. Once I did, I was free to start saving and living the real life I wanted to live.

1. Living above your means.

"Ninety-five percent of the poor in my study did not save, and most accumulated debt to subsidize their standard of living," writes Tom Corley in Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. "Consequently, they have no money for retirement, for their kids' college, or for pursuing opportunities that present themselves."

And he adds, "Not saving and spending more than you make creates long-term poverty, with no hope of escape."

The wealthy, on the other hand, avoid overspending by living within their means and investing in the future. And they accomplish this by making their spending and budgeting a habit. The wealthy don't just spend their money, they spend it purposefully.

A great place to start is by following the 50/20/30 Guideline.

"The 50/20/30 guideline can be easy to follow because instead of telling you how to break down your budget across 20 or more different categories (who could possibly keep track of that?), it splits everything into three main categories," writes Laura Shin for LearnVest.

These categories include:

Fixed costs, like rent and utilities. It's suggested "that you aim to keep your monthly total no more than 50 percent of your take-home pay," Shin says.Financial goals, such as saving towards retirement or an emergency fund. Shin recommends that you put 20 percent of your take-home pay towards these contributions.Flexible spending, like grocery shopping, entertainment, and hobbies. You should budget no more than 30 percent towards flexible spending.

According to Shin, "The 50/20/30 guideline is just that--a guide. It can be a helpful benchmark when you're assessing where your money is going, but it can also be adjusted to your specific lifestyle and goals."

2. Lack of determination.

"Most people get stuck as soon as the first problems come up. They are not connected enough to the goal of becoming a millionaire and give up as soon as things get tough," says life coach, speaker, and author Lukas Schwekendiek. "But this determination comes in different forms. It is not as simple as to say that they do not want it bad enough, or that they aren't willing to work hard for it. Most of it boils down to the internal struggle."

And he adds, "Becoming a millionaire isn't about collecting $1 million from some place or through hard work. Becoming a millionaire means you go on a journey to change yourself into a person that can handle a million dollars."

3. Neglecting your health.

There's a reason why the wealthy make their health a priority. Being healthier makes you more successful.

Research has found that exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting a good night's rest can make you more productivedecreases stressboosts your memoryhelps you make smarter decisions more quickly, and prevents health concerns like heart disease and cancer. So instead of being tired, stressed, or constantly sick, you can put your energy towards building your wealth.

4. Purchasing a home.

"Let's say someone tells you to do this: Get all of your money, leverage it up 400 percent, put it all in one investment," writes author and entrepreneur James Altucher.

Do you get a dividend on that investment? No! The reverse. You have to pay money every year in maintenance and property taxes, both of which go up randomly.

Can you get out of the investment? Not really. It's hard.

And when you most need the money, it's impossible.

And that's the situation you're in when purchasing a home. He continues:

Instead of putting all of your money into a house, put a fraction of your money into rent each month and use the rest to figure out how to generate either your own business or (even better) multiple streams of income.

A home will destroy you right at the worst moment.

If you do want to become a homeowner, only do so if you have a stable job, aren't under a mountain of debt, have a good credit score, and have some money stashed away in a savings account.

5. Relying on one source of income.

Even if you have a six-figure salary, never rely on one stream of income. It's a practice that the wealthy have followed for years, because you never know when that cushy job could come to a halt. Additionally, having multiple streams of income allows you to pay off any debt faster and put more money into your investments and retirement.

Thanks to the freelancer generation, you can side-hustle whenever you want, like driving for Uber or Lyft on the weekends, or even start your own business from the comfort of your home.

6. Wasting valuable time.

As Corley says:

How much of your valuable time do you lose parked in front of a screen? Two-thirds of wealthy people watch less than an hour of TV a day and almost that many--63 percent--spend less than an hour a day on the internet unless it is job-related.

Instead, these successful people use their free time engaged in personal development, networking, volunteering, working side jobs or side businesses, or pursuing some goal that will lead to rewards down the road. But 77 percent of those struggling financially spend an hour or more a day watching TV, and 74 percent spend an hour or more a day using the internet recreationally.

7. Not acting on your ideas.

"It's one thing to come up with million-dollar ideas, but a completely different thing to act on them," says marketing expert Bruce Cross. "You will never get rich if you are more of a dreamer who never puts his money where his mouth is. In addition, millionaires do not sit around and watch others advance in life. Millionaires take action to help themselves reach their goals."

As Mark Cuban once said, "Ideas are worthless until you do something with them."

8. Not reading.

The rich are known for wanting to expand their knowledge, stay up-to-date on current events and industry trends, and learn lessons from inspirational figures. In fact, 88 percent of the wealthy read 30 minutes or more every day. As Will Lipovsky notes, reading also brings in various and opposing perspectives and points of view, motivates you to dream bigger, and inspires you to never give up.

9. Fear and negativity.

Emotions, particularly fear and negativity, are two of the biggest obstacles to overcome if you want to become a millionaire. And there's research that backs this up.

According to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, negative thoughts, like fear, narrow your mind and focus. Positive thoughts, however, are able to open your mind to more possibilities and options. Furthermore, positive emotions also enhance your ability to build skills, as well as develop resources you can use later in life.

Millionaires aren't afraid to step out of their comfort zone and take calculated risks. If they fail, they'll learn from that failure so that they won't repeat the same mistakes again.

10. Not setting goals.

"You cannot control the outcome of a wish, but you can control the outcome of a goal," says Corley.

"Every year, 70 percent of the wealthy pursue at least one major goal. Only 3 percent of those struggling to make ends meet do this," he adds.

Personally, I've found that setting daily goals first thing in the morning guides me in setting priorities and pushes me to achieve those goals.

11. Avoiding routine.

The most successful people in the world--including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, and Arianna Huffington--are known for sticking to a routine. Why? Because a routine eliminates energy draining tasks and decision fatigue.

"It's not about copying Richard Branson or Steve Jobs's daily routine, it's about creating and sticking to your own," says author Saul Kropman. "Wake up at 4 a.m. if you're capable of it, but most importantly, create a routine that is plausible and stick with it."

12. Not collecting assets.

"A job will never make you rich. Neither will saving all your cash in a coffee can," says Brandon Turner, vice president of growth at "So how can you build that wealth?"

Assets--such as a profitable business, growing stock portfolio, or investing in the right piece of real estate.

Remember, your car and all those shiny toys that you enjoy are "liabilities that are robbing you of future wealth," Turner says. So he recommends focusing on "collecting things that will make you money in the long term."

13. Spending time with toxic people.

"The toxic people in your life will drag you down. The good people in your life will love you and inspire you. It's push-pull. Let the good people win. Try to improve this every day," says Altucher.

"You can't become successful with toxic people pulling you down. This has nothing to do with your responsibilities in life. This has everything to do with saving your life," he adds. Replace those toxic people with individuals who are positive, supportive, and driven.

14. Failing to follow the 70/30 rule.

Jim Rohn, one of the county's leading authority figures in business, has a simple formula for accumulating wealth: "After you pay your fair share of taxes, learn to live on 70 percent of your after-tax income. These are the necessities and luxuries you spend money on."

Rohn goes on to say that it's then "important to look at how you allocate your remaining 30 percent."

He suggests giving a third to charity, a third toward capital investments, with the final third being placed in a savings account. You probably won't notice much in the beginning, but "let five years lapse and the differences become pronounced. At the end of 10 years, the differences are dramatic," he says.

15. Not having a mentor.

"Finding a mentor puts you on the fast track to wealth accumulation," Corley writes in Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.

"Success mentors do more than simply influence your life in some positive way," he continues. "They regularly and actively participate in your success by teaching you what to do and what not to do. They share with you valuable life lessons they learned either from their own mentors or from the school of hard knocks."

15 Things Holding You Back From Becoming a Multi-Millionaire