If I’m going to be a Podcast star, an author, public speaker, and a screenwriter, I really need to up my Website and Blog game.
I’m into coffee. Very specific coffee beans and very specific techniques. I don’t even have a drip coffee maker. I know. Freegin’ crazy.
I’m into my Jeep.
I’m into social media.
I co-host and listen to some great Podcasts.
I’m currently doing a burger tour with my son, my drinkin’ buddy, and my drinkin’ buddy’s son.
I’m obsessed with headphones.
And, above all, I want to be a writer. I want people to read the things I write. So if someone happens to stumble on something I’ve written and want to read more of my stuff, I really need to get my act together.
For years I’ve laughed at people in sales who’ll come in on a Monday and say something like, “today, I get organized, and clean up my desk and my files, and throw away a buncha shit, and tomorrow I’ll get to selling, and cold-calling, and setting meetings.”
I laugh and think, “you’re just kicking the can down the road. If you want to sell, just pick up the phone and call someone and say, ‘hi, I want to sell you something and it starts with a meeting where I ask you a bunch of questions about your business, dazzle you with how much I already know about your business, gain your trust, wow you with a creative idea, and then you buy something from me.”
The people on the other end of the phone don’t know how clean or organized your desk is.
What does this have to do with me and cleaning up my Blog and Website? Isn’t that the same as cleaning and organizing one’s desk? No. It’s essential for a writer, Podcaster, and someone who wants to be a brand unto themselves …which is what I want to be.
So, over the next week, I’m going to make sure when you come to my Website, you’ll gonna know exactly what Don Kowalewski does.
My drinkin’ buddy and I have 15-year-old sons and we thought of a great idea. The kinda idea that only drinkin’ buddies can come up with. Is this idea to take our sons to art museums? To teach them how to change the oil in their car or grill meat? No. Our idea is to tour southeast Michigan, and maybe beyond, for the best burgers. The classic burgers. The classic burger joints.
Sometimes a burger is genuinely unique because of the preparation and special sauce (ie Duggan’s or Red Coat). Sometimes a burger is legendary because, well, the restaurant itself is legendary (ie Nemo’s or Miller’s). And sometimes a person can’t even put their finger on why a burger is sooooooo good (ie Brady’s or Detroit Burger Bar), but it just is.
Here’s our list. Leave a comment if we’re missing a can’t-miss burger joint, burger shack, or burger bar (I think those are three distinctive categories).
…and this list will keep growing. I’ll review our experience, but not in a snobby food critic type-o-way …a food critic wouldn’t give Big Boy the time of day, but that critic is missing out. A classic Big Boy is an original and I will not hear otherwise.
The snow came early in Michigan, and so too will my Christmas list.
Let’s get one thing straight …I don’t do this for me. I do it for you. I also do it because it annoys (and amuses) my wife. It helps my wife get me the perfect gift (I know how she likely stresses over that). My Christmas wish-list celebrates the holiday spirit of giving, and I know how hard it can be sometimes to know exactly what to give others. I make it easy.
What do you get for the man who has everything? I don’t know. I ain’t that man.
We’re living in a material world, and I am a material man.
Rest assured, none of the products below sponsor me or this Blog, so my list is completely non-biased. Items like the Sorel boots are born of a loyalty for a product that lasted forever and always kept my feet dry and warm. The blue light blocking glasses by TrueDark are well researched and considered the best on the market.
So, without further ado, the tradition continues and I give you my 2019 Christmas Wish-List…
Hollar if you need my shipping address.
It’s time for everyone’s favorite new game show (queue snappy 70s disco music) …
Snow-Day or No-Snow-Day!!!
You all know how to play, but for those playing at home, here are the rules…
First, you start to get texts from friends and co-Teachers (I’m married to a teacher, and teachers take this Snow-Day shit way more serious than kids) saying, “have you seen the weather.” Then, you open your Weather.com App and compare it to the Accuweather App, and then you keep texting back-and-forth to make sure what you’re seeing on your App is what everyone else is seeing. You start to check the local TV station websites for up to the minute school-closing lists and for some weatherman to tell you what you already saw on your weather App.
I do none of this because I have a job where they don’t give us snow-days and I take a little delight in telling my entire family that I don’t think they’ll have a snow day. I’m a jerk.
Then, if you’re not bitter and not me, you start hoping for that phone to ring and the automated voice to tell you, “due to inclement weather, School-You-Go-To is closed,” and you wait …and wait, and wait.
Side note …I mean, it’s great that schools can robocall their entire staff and student body, but when a Principal can, essentially, play God and cancel school, he or she should really have some fun with it. I think the Principal should first make a fake-call and say something like, “hi, this is your Principal, and the weather looks grim so, for tomorrow, School-You-Go-To might be closed. Stay close to your phone and put those pajamas on backward. And now, here’s my favorite passage from Old Man and the Sea … everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”
Add a little flare, right?
That robocall-thing is a cool modern aspect of the Snow-Day or No-Snow-Day game show. In my day, we didn’t get phone calls. We listened to the News radio station and watched TV. The only time the phone rang was when another Mom would hear from a teacher who heard from the neighbor of the Superintendent that school was officially canceled.
Another modern snow-day tracking thing is the Snow Day Calculator App which allows you to enter your zip code, school, city, and the level at which you believe in a higher power, and the App will spit out the mathematical likelihood that you’ll have a Snow-Day. At the time I write this Blog, there’re 7-inches of snow on the ground in suburban Detroit and another 2 inches will fall by midnight, and Snow Day Calculator says there’s an 80% chance my kids (and wife) will not have school.
Oh, and your school will always be the last one cancelled and as you see schools and districts around you canceling school and you’re still open, you’ll badmouth that school and those people in that city as being soft and weak until your school gets canceled and only then will you concede the storm is actually bad enough that it could jeopardize safety …before that moment, everyone else was overly precautious.
When school is finally canceled, there is joy, dancing, screaming, and drinking (hot cocoa for my kids, wine for my wife). Even though everyone knows all at once, all at the same time, and every phone in our house, including the landline we forgot we had, all ring to robocall the good news, every kid and teacher-wife need to text all their friends and co-teachers to confirm it’s really, really true.
And then everyone immediately begins tracking the likelihood that the next day will be canceled, too.
Oh, another part of this is old-guys like me, and often grandparents and people without kids, will all reminisce about how kids-these-days are snowflakes and wimpy and, “in my day they never canceled school,” and maybe that’s true, but don’t all old-people and parents want a better life for their children and grandchildren than they had? Well, more snow-days for lesser-reasons is that better-life you wished for.
Stop complaining. Build a snowman. Go see a movie. Because you’re the next contestant on . . .
Snow-Day or No-Snow-Day!
Stay tuned tomorrow for how I didn’t rake or bag a single leaf this fall.
I’m right-handed, but starting today, I’m going to do everything left-handed.
Why? To see if it can be done and if I can make myself ambidextrous. I did it once before, with my computer mouse, when carpal tunnel made my right-hand go numb. It was quite the experiment, but I was amazed. I’m now equally adept at using my computer mouse left- or right-handed. I know, I know …brag much. And at one point in my life I taught myself to kick a soccer ball with my left foot – and if you can believe it, I eventually was better with my left on corner-kicks and free-kicks. Never would’ve expected that.
Great thing about the Internet is that I’m not the first one to do this. I’m able to see the benefits or the harm that can be done. Really? It can harm me?
“Although teaching people to become ambidextrous has been popular for centuries, this practice does not appear to improve brain function, and it may even harm our neural development.” -Michael Corballis, professor of cognitive neuroscience and psychology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand
My goal isn’t to learn to write, but simply to give my carpal tunnel’d right-hand a break and experiment. Simple things …use my computer mouse, hold a glass, brush my teeth, one-handed thumb-type on my iPhone. Ya know …important stuff.
This is day-1 of me Resolution-A-Day reboot. More to come.
A category-5 hurricane has winds of 156 m.p.h. and up.
My leafblower boasts 260 m.p.h power.
I used to have a leaf blower I got at a garage sale and I don’t know how powerful that one was, but I can tell you …it ain’t a brand-new Toro Ultra Electric Blower (and vacuum and mulcher).
It’s electric. It’s badass.
I didn’t know what I was missing with my old one. I liked that one. But this one? Whoa. I used to have to put the leaf blower about a foot from the leaves and it would blow them about a foot. It was perfect for blowing grass clippings off my driveway or leaves out of the flower bed, but when it came to heavy leaves, I often opted for a rake because I could get more done.
My new Toro Ultra Electric Blower will pretty much allow me to blow leaves into my neighbor’s yard and into the road and not bag anything.
I stood in one spot and blew every leaf off my 20×20 deck. This evening I got up on the roof and blew all the leaves out of the gutters like the leaves were flower petals.
Leaf clean-up used to be a chore. This year, it’s an adventure. Used to be a battle. Now, it’ll be a triumph.
Exciting times around here.
As I walked out of the grocery store tonight, something strange happened. A man was lying on the pavement of the parking lot, halfway under my car, looking at the underside of my car. It was daylight. Tons of people were around. So I wasn’t scared.
I said, “hello,” and he jumped up and asked, “this your Jeep?”
I said, “yes.”
He said, “man, you know that engine? It’s an AMC. You’ll have this thing forever. What engine is it?”
I told him it was the 2.5L 4-cylinder.
He continued, “oh, that’s great. Easy to work on. Actually makes this Jeep about 400 pounds lighter. And,” he went on, “you’ve got the ultimate theft protection,” and laughed.
“What,” I asked?
“Right there in the dash.”
He laughed some more, and I picked up on the fact he thinks most people in 2019 would never want a stick shift. Actually, that’s true.
“And, you saved yourself about $4,000 in repairs because eventually, every automatic transition is gonna fail.”
I added, “and it doesn’t have A/C.”
“Really!??!?! Smart, smart, smart. Another thing that can’t go wrong. And you got those half-panel doors. Why do you have those in? On a night like this? I mean, if it ain’t rainin’, you should have those out. Those are rare.”
“Are you interested in selling this?”
My wife won’t like this, but I quickly said, “no, I’ve only had it a few months.”
“Oh,” he said. “So you’re not the original owner? I should give you my phone number in case you change your mind.”
I didn’t take his number. Again, my wife doesn’t “get” me.
He continued to tell me it was a shame they didn’t make the frame and parts out of nickel, because it will get rusty, but he told me about a product to fix and stop the rust underneat and then said, “if you ever need brakes, write this down …NiCopp. N-I-C-O-P-P.”
“I’ll remember. I don’t have a pen.”
He insisted, “I have a pen in my car, want me to get it and write it down.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “Ni Bopp.”
“Niiiiii. Cop,” he said. “Like a police officer. A ‘cop’. Sure you don’t want me to write it down?”
By this time, I was climbing in my Jeep ready to leave. I thanked him for convincing me I made a good purchase, and I think he really wanted to write down “NiCopp” and his phone number in case I ever wanted to sell it. I waved good-bye. He watched me drive away like I was headed off to war and I swore I saw a tear roll down his cheek.
I’m ready to go public with this. I have a Jeep. I’m embarrassed about it. I feel like everyone who sees me driving it …and washing it on the weekend …and detailing it …and ‘Liking’ and Saving Jeep YouTube videos …I think they’re all thinking, “oh, Don’s having a total midlife crisis.”
It’s not like that at all. Or maybe it is.
I’ve had a Jeep for a couple of months, and I really like it. It wasn’t supposed to be for me. I wasn’t looking for a Jeep. Wasn’t shopping for a Jeep. I was looking for a reliable, practical, used-car for my 16-year-old with low mileage and good reviews in Consumer Reports that all my kids could share throughout their high-school years and maybe use it for college. Nothing fancy. Just reliable. And then quite randomly I drove by this black, soft-top, 2-door, stick-shift, clean, good-looking Jeep that was priced well below what any similar Jeep I could find online, and I bought it on impulse.
My teenager refused to learn stick shift (I really thought the idea of driving a Jeep would incentivize her to learn) so now the Jeep is mine.
I’ve wanted a Jeep since I was in college and a frat brother had one and often let me borrow and drive it. Owning a Jeep never seemed like a smart purchase. I’m 46-years-old. I don’t have a “Jeep” lifestyle of mountain biking, off-roading, 4-wheeling, surfing, camping, or anything like that. I’m not a car-buff who enjoys working on cars (although I keep my cars very, very clean and detail them once a month, at least).
Yet, even before owning my first Jeep, I had hard, fast rules.
The order changes, but I always said, “if I ever get a Jeep, my Jeep will be…”
Now. I’m obsessed. I like the “Jeep wave.” I have a long list of tweaks and enhancements I want to make to it. I know what my “next Jeep” will be (a purchase that seems inevitable because, while my daughter didn’t want to learn to drive the Jeep …my son …he will learn …that I can already tell).
Plastidip. Black rims. 2-inch lift kit. Slightly bigger tires. Running boards. A hitch for a bike rack or shelf. A better stereo, better speakers, and a subwoofer.
I don’t know what the lesson is, here. Maybe there isn’t one. Or maybe, if you wait, patiently, and don’t impulsively buy everything you want right when you want it, or don’t put yourself into debt with an impractical purchase, or just take a deep breath and count to ten (or count to 26 …the number of years since I first decided that someday I would have a Jeep), you’ll get to a point where you truly know what makes you happy, and you’ll be happy when you get it.
It’s possible I would’ve grown out of my I-Want-A-Jeep phase. Maybe I would’ve decided a car isn’t anything I care about. But now, at 46-years-old, and after seeing grown-men, year after year at the Dream Cruise, fawning over cars, day after day …I get it.
Is it a midlife crisis? Is it my attempt to buy my son’s love? Is it me annoying my wife?
I don’t know. I guess it’s a Jeep thing.
OK. Here’s thinking outside the box. You have a garden. Like many of my friends with gardens, you might have too much stuff.
So, how about you bring some of that stuff and let me make Donnie Jalapeno Salsa with produce from your garden.
I’m not even worried that you know these things are in my salsa …I’ll keep the ratio and the spices a secret.
Bring me all of this, or some of this, and I’ll fill in what’s missing and you’ll be all set.
Below is a Ted Talk that punched me in the gut. No. Hit me in the head. No. Woke me up (can I say “I’m woke?”). Benjamin Hardy says alotta stuff, but what I hear is stop doing 30-day fasts, or Whole30, or cleanses, or P90X and just become whatever it is I want to say I am. He calls it the 100 Percent Rule.
Don is a healthy guy and always eats healthy food.
It’s that simple. If you think about it, it is. In the video below, I identify with the guy he talks about who decided one day he wasn’t going to be a fat guy, and when a child pointed at him in a store and said, “look at that fat guy,” …because he decided he wasn’t a fat guy anymore, he had to remind himself, oh, right, that’s me. But he was well on his journey to looking like the fit, healthy person he already was in his head.
It’s not about New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not about starting something “right after Thanksgiving” or “right after Christmas” or “losing 30 pounds by the end of summer.”
It’s about when you decide something, do it 100% or don’t do it at all.
Can it be that easy? I’m 100% committed to this entire list. Or I’m not.
For me, it makes sense and keeps me centered and focused.