Reader L.P. asked me yesterday, “what is Project 47?” Basically, every year on my birthday I start a project on myself and my life. In July I turned 47-years-old and closed the book on Project 46 and began Project 47.
Some great things came out of Project 47:
A buncha other great stuff happened during Project 46 but this mini-blender was a pleasant surprise. As you know I have a very detailed and specific list of things I
demand ask for at Christmas, Father’s Day, and my birthday. This mini-blender wasn’t on that list, but my wife really hit a homerun despite going rogue and “off-list.”
This blender is one of those made-in-China products that comes with many different brands on the box. Mine is SupKitDin but that “company” doesn’t even have a website. It’s the type of product that I could put my name on (The Project 47 1-Minute Blender) if I became a health-coach, Podcaster, and wrote a book.
Point is …it’s GREAT and was a true highlight of Project 46. I use it 4-5 days a week. It can’t handle ice cubes and fully frozen fruit, but when I get feeling snacky* and like I want to raid our cookie drawer or quick toast myself a bagel and smear some peanut butter or cream cheese on it …I know it’s a “sugar” craving. With this mini-blender I can throw 10-12 blueberries, 1-2 strawberries, 1/3rd of a banana, a splash of OJ, and diced celery, cucumber, and leaf spinach into this thing with some water and supplements and …bam … I have a smoothie I can guzzle (I “guzzle” because it’s now about the flavor, it’s about putting some quick healthy sugar into my body to fight off the craving for anything with white flour or sugar like a cookie, bagel, candy bar, or bowl of chips).
I should post a video of me using it.
If you’re embarking on a Project You of some sort, this is a must-have. It’s cheap and I don’t anticipate it will last more than a year and when it dies, I’ll buy another one. For $20 (or less), this is nothing more than skipping 3-4 visits to my corner smoothie place and it’s paid for.
Viva la health.
* Feeling Snacky: the urge to microwave a bag of popcorn or run to Starbucks and get a coffee and a little snack in the middle of the morning or afternoon
I’m going to interview Chris, the topic of this Blog, in a future Blog entry and ask what clicked inside him two years ago that he started creating fabulous works of art in his basement.
Often, my Blog is about me and random stuff that excites me, and I guess this is too. I’m excited to see a guy who is supposed-to-be calmly drifting into middle-age but instead decides there’s more to him. Personally, it inspires me, because many, many times I feel like throwing in the towel on writing (and trying to finish my book) because my brain asks me, “who cares?”
Chris Dragan reminds me that someone cares. Or, as long as he cares and is inspired, that’s all that matters.
I love his stuff. I think any male currently between the age of 40 and 50 years old will love his stuff. Go to his Instagram page and start scrolling. I dare you to stop.
It’s 70s, 80s, and 90s pop-culture (OK, not everything is, but most of it is) and his work makes me nostalgic for a more simple era. I believe his art has real potential to ride a wave of that nostalgia, the nostalgia that currently has Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” screamed at college football stadiums, and has the documentary “High Score” in the top-10 on Netflix (as of the writing of this Blog).
Again, I love Chris’ work. I’ve purchased a piece (Green Day tiles), missed out on another, and wish I had more money to buy more pieces. What I love more than the art itself is that he’s doing it at all. He loves creating. It makes him happy. It makes his friends happy. Mark my words, it will make many people happy. When I look at some of his work it’s as if I’m looking back in time. When I see his recreation of Nintendo’s Zelda game cartridge hanging on the wall next to a Mario and scenes from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, I suddenly remember my 1987 bedroom, the orange carpet, my freshman year of high-school, and index cards taped together creating the Zelda kingdom so I could easily find my way around and back to the pond with the magic fairy with the magic flute that allowed you to transport to another part of the kingdom rather than going cell by cell (if that sentence makes sense to you …buy something from Dragan Pop Art). I remember my parents let me have a 13″ color TV in my bedroom (it wasn’t an easy thing for me to convince them I should have one) and I would watch Monday Night Football until I fell asleep and somewhere in the night my Mom must’ve come into my room and turned off the TV. But mostly I wanted a TV in my room so I could play video games and be left alone. Oh, I played hours upon hours of Nintendo. I had amazing grades in middle-school and high-school because I could only play Nintendo non-stop if my grades were good. Looking at the Zelda cartridge, I can hear the music and I can remember the two guys in my chemistry class that I’d talk to about Zelda – we’d even exchange notes and tips about Zelda …not about chemistry.
Nerdy? Yes. But I wasn’t alone. Don’t even pretend you didn’t have a favorite game (Tecmo Bowl? Super Mario? Tetris?). Or you knew someone who you thought spent-way-too-much-time with Nintendo.
I’ve never been a big “art guy” but envied people who were? I envied how they could look at something for such a long time and just stand there in awe.
Now I get it.
Chris Dragan’s Dragan Pop Art pieces will be on display at the Detroit Shipping Company at least until mid-September.
DETROIT SHIPPING COMPANY
474 Peterboro Street
Detroit, MI 48201
Please, if you’re looking for something to do, go see his work. I don’t know how an artist sells their art (because once it’s sold, the artist never knows what happens to it …it is in a man cave? A living room? A bedroom? A garage) …it must be bittersweet. But if you’re inspired, buy something. Definitely snap a picture, post to social media (Instagram preferably), and tag @DraganPopArt.
But mostly, be inspired. Follow your heart. Follow your dreams. Don’t stop believin’.
Like all other decisions in my life, the decision of my “next water bottle” has taken a good, solid six months of research, hemming and hawing, denial, and finally … pouncing on a great deal.
This thing is perfect. I don’t care how much my wife and daughters laugh and say, “you got a tiny water bottle because you’re a tiny person.” At the moment, I like this water bottle more than I like them. No. I love this water bottle. I tolerate them. Harumph.
I had a Swell bottle, but it was too tall for the water dispenser on my fridge and those Swell bottles are really only for cold beverages. I had a clear plastic bottle, but even the nicest plastic breaks down.
Enter the Zojirushi SM-KHE48 16 oz. stainless mug (which for me is a bottle). And it’s perfect because…
Again, the wifey and the oldest daughter laughed, but it holds SIXTEEN OUNCES. Looks are deceiving. Even I didn’t believe it so I measured out sixteen ounces of water and poured it in and I’ll be damned …it holds sixteen ounces.
“Don,” you ask? “Did it really take you six months to pick out a water bottle?”
Yes. Yes it did. At first I thought, “Yeti,” and that would be that. But I didn’t like their shape or their cost. Then I thought, “TJ Maxx,” and if I’m patient, eventually I’ll find exactly what I’m looking for and I’ll be done. But TJ Maxx never ended up having what I was looking for. Then I thought, “are you really going to spend more than $20 on a bottle that holds water and don’t you have drinking glasses all over your house, and don’t you stay inside your house all day and night?”
Then my Dad gave me a gift card for my birthday (um, yes, I’m 47 and he still gives me a little birthday money and …so what!?!?!) and I finally pulled the trigger.
Now, I know in my heart that all stainless steel water bottles are made in the same place and every company just buys the same bottles and slaps their brand on those bottles. I know there’s only about 100 different designs. But I like to think there’s a design team at Zojirushi and this “Business Traveler” or “Middle Aged Hiker” design was the result of 100 engineers and 50 market research people locking themselves in a room and writing on the white board things like, “trail hiking,” and, “airports.” And they said things like, “it needs to be perfect for a carry-on and for the outdoor enthusiast who wants to keep carrying-on.” Multiple engineers were fired when they came up with a design that was, “good enough.” And you know how they have those big stadium events with cheering fans when they announce a new iPhone? I want to believe when they announced the Zojirush SM-KHE48, the CEO came dancing onto stage amidst fireworks and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and everyone went ballistic when he revealed the latest in their line of stainless steel mugs and drinking bottles.
My water bottle arrived. It’s perfect. It’s actually more than perfect. So if you want your water drinking life (and maybe your mobile coffee drinking life) to be perfect, you might really like the Zojirushi (once you wash off the China virus …did I just say that …shame on me).
Best. Ranch. Ever. #BestRanchDressing. Best ranch dressing. #RanchDressingRules
Sorry. I’m trying to go viral because after a lifetime obsessing about ranch dressing (if “lifetime” can be defined by “since college”), I’ve found ranch nirvana.
#RanchNirvana (hashtags will get me famous).
It’s pretty simple really. Get this ranch base from Penzeys Spices. Put a heaping tablespoon in with 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup mayonnaise. Mix with excitement. Done.
I’m not alone in my obsession. I think obese America is obsessed with ranch dressing. Sometimes I can’t believe, prior to 1992, that I dipped french fries in ketchup and dipped my breadsticks or mozzarella sticks in marinara sauce. Oh, what a hopeless fool I was.
My new thing is being plant-based and avoiding added, unnecessary chemicals in food. ALL store-bought ranch has chemicals. Even the brands with very little still have ’em. Ranch done right is mayo, buttermilk, and spices for flavor. That’s it. I’ve tried some homemade recipes and my own mix of spices, but never got that right flavor. Now, with Penzeys Spices ranch base …I’ve nailed it. Well, they’ve nailed it.
Even my teenage daughter, known for never liking anything her Dad does, is on board with the best ranch ever.
For my family, the gold-standard ranch is whatever ranch they use at Jet’s Pizza (which I was told is Marzetti’s, but we don’t believe it). Following Jet’s ranch is the ranch my Aunt Denise makes with Hidden Valley’s seasoning packet (it has quite a few chemical preservatives I don’t need). Then there’s the ranch they have at Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth followed by store-bought Marzetti’s in a jar.
That’s it. That’s the list. You’d think this is a pretty simple mission. Eat the best ranch. But oh no. For too long we’ve opted for ease and convenience of whatever bottle of ranch is cheapest at the store (usually the Kroger brand which is serviceable at best).
Plus, the math works out in my favor. A 16oz bottle Kroger brand ranch is, like, $2.99. My family goes through a bottle of ranch a week (should I be admitting that?). $12 per month. The small Penzeys Spices jar is $4.69. One bottle of buttermilk is $1.99 (3 cups). Mayonnaise is $1.99. Total $8.69 and I can make the recipe three times and . . . I won’t show you my notepad and the complex math, but it works out to $11.58 per month, which isn’t a huge savings, but what is the price of my happiness and the price of less (zero) added chemicals in my ranch?
I know ranch isn’t good for you in any shape and form. Mayonnaise and buttermilk are, well, fat (and not plant-based …I get it …I’m a hypocrite …but I’m going to try a version of this with vegan mayo and buttermilk alternative and then my teen daughter will roll her eyes at me and report back). But my family eats healthy. I eat lots of salads. I make cauliflower hot wings and vegan zucchini poppers, for goodness sake. Let me have my ranch to dip things in!
For now, this is my public service to the world. If you’re going to have ranch, why not make it count? Like coffee? If I’m going to have 2 cups a day, what’s the price of getting a can of Maxwell house and hating every sip? I pay a little more for fresh, locally roasted beans. Now my ranch is local, chemical-free, and every bite of my salad makes me happier. If you love ranch and this Blog post has attracted the thousands of readers I’d hoped it would, join my revolution. #ranchRevolution
As the Partridge Family once said, “come on get happy.” Viva la ranch.
August has been a rough month. I had tickets to Hellamega, a concert with Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Weezer. I was going with one of my best friends, my 16-year-old son, and he was gonna bring a friend.
Wanna know my Top-5 favorite (instrument) bands?
Green Day is definitely Top-10 (my younger sister bought me a CD for Christmas in the early ’90s and I was like, “oh …thanks …a band I’ve never heard of …um …OK.” . . . and then I fell in love with those British punk rockers . . . and then I learned they weren’t British).
You can see from my list, when a concert featuring THREE of my own, personal favorite bands gets cancelled, it’s very difficult emotionally.
Oh. Right. And time with my friend and son. That sucks, too.
Where was I? Oh, Rivers Cuomo (the founder and leader singer or Weezer, which you knew, and if you didn’t, you’re banned from my Blog) knows how hard it is for his fans, so all summer he’s been dropping love-letters (aka “songs”) for us Weezer-less superfans and here’s another. A song off the upcoming Bill & Ted movie soundtrack.
Enjoy. Hope it helps with whatever canceled-concert-sadness you have.
Today marks a new chapter in my life, and when I say “new chapter,” I mean NEWCHAPTER Every Man™’s One Daily 40+ Multivitamin. What’s more, I didn’t even spend countless hours researching vitamins, asking friends and doctors, and losing sleep over picking a new vitamin. This happened because my Trader Joe’s stopped carrying my trusted Men’s Once Daily Multivitamin.
Crazy move on Trader Joe’s part. I was so loyal.
Trader Joe’s, I ain’t ashamed to say, is only my 2nd-favorite food store. My favorite food store is Better Health, so when they told me they were no longer making my multivitamin, I stormed angrily out of Trader Joe’s and beelined it to Better Health (that is, if a bee drives six miles and takes a few Michigan-lefts and cuts through a neighborhood and “storm angrily” means I finished shopping and bought some other stuff).
My multivitamin and supplements are a bit of an obsession. Who am I kidding? Everything I do is an “obsession.”
What I Like
NEWCHAPTER boasts the vitamins can be taken on an empty stomach. I did that once (half a vitamin). The labeling proved correct. I don’t take an entire multivitamin at once. I break it in half and take half with breakfast and half with dinner. I was using a pill cutter on the Men’s Health brand. These have a line and can be broken exactly in half without a pill cutter and with my hands only. That’s cool. Why do I not take an entire multivitamin? Because I read somewhere the reason your pee-pee gets super yellow after you take a multivitamin is because most of the nutrients gets washed right through you.
I also like this vitamin because it’s formulated for Men 40+ and has some of that other important stuff I’m always reading about in Men’s Health.
Lastly, I noticed something, a difference, almost immediately. Maybe it’s placebo effect or all in-my-head, but without the stomach stuff, and maybe because it has a “stress and energy support blend”, I felt somewhat of a calmness and I swear my sleep was deeper.
It’s also not too expensive. $20 for a bottle of 24 (my wife did frown because Trader Joe’s is 60 pills for $14.99).
It’s been a week. Today and tomorrow I’ll be intermittent fasting and not taking this multivitamin, so it’ll be interesting to see how I feel without it, and then when adding it back in. Interesting, I say! Oh, you’re interested. Admit it.
Yep. You’re gonna notice a whole buncha posts around this Blog and you’ll think to yourself, “why does Don think I care about any of this crap?”
You’ll see. You’ll see. You care. Or, should I say, I’m out to prove someone cares.
Oh, and these vitamins even have their own video . . . so you know they’ve got to be good.
I’ll consider myself a successful father if I teach my kids the following.
We’re in an election year. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. A pandemic that impacted the entire world has, somehow, become a “political issue.” Think how bizarre that is? Imagine if the common cold or Cancer could pit neighbor against neighbor?
“Hi, Friend-I-Don’t-Talk-To-Often, how’s your Mom?”
“My Mom got Cancer late last year and she died from liver Cancer in January.”
“I don’t believe in Cancer. It was probably something else.”
“What the f…?”
“Do you really think as many people die of Cancer as is reported?”
“Dude, you should really stop talking…”
“Read between the lines …all that money raised for Cancer research by Cancer charitities to pay all those salaries, and all those Cancer drugs and treatments and doctors who make their living off treating Cancer. You think any of them want to cure Cancer? Wake up and smell the chemo!”
“I’m going to throw my drink at you.”
“Think about it. We used to cure things like Polio and Measles. Yet somehow we can’t cure Cancer. It’s population control on top of money-making.”
“I hate you.”
This is where we are. We’ve collectively known about COVID-19 for (I’ll be generous) 7 months and in those 7 months, we’ve all become bonafide, irrefutable experts. And all our expert opinions are wildly different.
Nowadays, we argue about everything. A meteor could be headed toward Earth and I’m pretty sure we’d argue about who’s fault it was (even though I think we’d all know exactly who to blame . . . lookin’ at you, Lex Luthor).
I’m not an expert. I never studied infectious diseases. Well, not until 5 months ago and I started spending about 2 hours a day reading headlines, scrolling through Twitter, and watching 15-second news clips and quotes. So, I guess I take that back … I am an expert.
Kidding. I’m not an expert. Nobody is and certainly not Politicians and pundits on TV. If you (or anyone) claim to have all the answers, you had better also tell me you came from the future in a time machine.
This is what I’m trying to teach my kids. Watch. Read. Listen. Learn. Repeat. Maybe take notes. Look at data – but not from one source. This applies to the current pandemic, any future medical condition you might have, your mortgage, investing, or anything that really matters to you.
Watch. Read. Listen. Learn. Repeat.
I feel that both political rallies and massive protests spread the virus. I feel masks aren’t perfect, but they must help a little and wish everyone would wear them. I wish someone would honestly tell me what Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California did wrong over the past 30 days to make hospitals fill-up and have a shortage of supplies. Or are the hospitals just fine?
Or is there really nothing we can do because this is, essentially, a “meteor-headed-toward-Earth” and it’s not something we can do much about – like Cancer, volcanoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes?
When I tell people this, they think I’m a masochist. I watch MSNBC, Fox News, listen to Rush Limbaugh, I read the headlines on Drudge, CNN.com, MLive, DetNews.com and Freep.com. I watch Stephen Colbert every night, Jon Oliver’s Last Week Tonight every week, and I occasionally watch Hannity on Fox. I watch the PBS News Hour every night at 6 o’clock. But more important than all of that, I check the following sites every few days and try to decide what the numbers are telling me (kinda like a Freakonomics thing).
In summary. I won’t argue with you and your point of view. I want to hear it and I want to hear how you came to your conclusions. I hope you want to listen to how I came into my way of thinking. I reserve the right to change my mind 2-weeks from now and so do you, based on new information, more discussion, and data. We should talk, again. Keyword being “talk.” I hope you’ll wear a mask, wash your hands, and be respectful of rules for a couple of months . . . just to see if we can impact the numbers. If we don’t change the trajectory, we can “talk” again.
Go ahead. Comment about how wishy-washy I am or tell me I’m brilliant and align with how you think. We can do this. And by “this” I mean work together and figure out a way out of this mess.
This is how I think Ward Cleaver, Michael Keaton, and other legendary TV-dads would handle this with their kids.
Love you all. Thanks for reading.
Everyone talks about how the pandemic and shelter-in-place has impacted the family dog and I’m here to tell you, after analyzing a control group of one dog (my dog) . . . it’s true.
I worked-from-home for almost two years. Now the entire family’s been home since mid-March. So the dog is done with the cage. That doesn’t work for us (or the dog). She spent 7 years as a crate trained dog so she has no idea what to do if we leave her out to wander when we leave or at night.
The dog was perfectly crate trained. Not everyone agrees with crate training a dog, but for our dog(s) – it made sense. The current dog, when we rescued her, pee’d everywhere. If we turned our backs for 5-minutes, she’d run off and find a place to pee. But she would never pee in her cage. She liked her crate. She’d often just go and nap in her crate in the middle of the day. At night, when we went to bed at 11 o’clock, we’d say, “go pen,” and she’d skip to her crate, curl up in a ball, and wouldn’t make a peep until 6 a.m. when we let her out.
We’d go to Church. She’d go in her pen.
We’d go to something like a soccer game, show, or party at someone’s house. She’d go in her pen.
If she went to my Dad’s house when he kindly said he would watch her while we’re on vacation. She’d go in her pen.
It was a beautiful thing. Now? It ain’t so beautiful. She still goes to her pen on command, but she sit there, shakes, drools, and acts as if we’re never, ever letting her out.
Re- crate training the dog has become quite the issue in our house. 80% of the household members think we should forget the crate and focus on making her well-behaved without a crate. They say we should close the doors upstairs, gate off the basement (where there’s carpet she can pee on), and let her roam. The argument is, “she’ll just hop up a chair or couch and sleep as-if she’s in her crate.” She’s not allowed on furniture, but she hops up onto the furniture whenever we’re not looking. This group of people also think she needs anxiety treats or CBD oil to cope.
20% of the people in my house say (a) she’s a dog, (b) she was crate trained once and she can be crate trained again, and (c) he wants to prove that dogs can be trained to do anything. Dogs are animals designed for behavior modification and it takes patience and consistency. 20% of the people in my house (OK …that’s me if you haven’t figured out the math, by now) know that a dog can be trained to go-get-the-paper or trained to sit-and-stay in one spot for a loooooong time while the master eats. What I’m saying is . . . with some work and patience, she can be a crate dog, again.
Keep visiting my Blog for updates. That will be my Christmas present to myself …a dog that stays calm in her crate (like the old days), although it might be needed before Christmas if everyone goes back to school and work.
For my 47th birthday, I’m starting a “thing.” Regular readers know I’m big on people having “things.” Some people do their “thing” accidentally, but some others invent them. Some of my things include making coffee with Aeropress, my lawn, and Twitter. Sorry (not sorry). I love Twitter.
I have a new thing?
You may remember Project 44 and Project 46? No? Of course you don’t remember those. It’s OK. But if you want to know what Project 47 is (and how it relates to Project 44 and Project 46), let me explain.
Project 47: Build a series of new habits rooted in the number 47. Why? Why not!?!?!
“47” because I’m about to turn 47-years-old. Project 47 is nothing more than some new goal-setting. I call them Mid-Year Resolutions (luckily my July 11th birthday falls at the mid-point of the year, but if you’ve ever made New Year’s Resolutions, take this opportunity to review your year and set yourself up for an amazing second-half of the year . . . not that 2020 needs that’s – sarcasm).
Maybe you laugh at the idea and maybe you’re the type of person that gets something in your mind and you just do it. Good for you. But most people, I’ve found, like to identify a starting point. Like New Year’s Resolutions. Their birthday. Right after Labor Day. When we get Back to School and summer’s over. The start of each quarter or month.
I also think success is a percentages game. Plan many things. Make yourself promise after promise. You’ll fail on some. You’ll change your mind on some. But some of the things will stick and you’ll be pretty happy with what you accomplish.
My Project 47:
And I’ll be adding to it. Make your own Project. Maybe use “2020” as a theme. Make habits that coincide with the months of the year (ie “in July, the 7th month of the year, I’m doing to do __________ 7 times”).
Good luck and I hope you’ll play along with me.