Things I Love: More Coffee and Good Friends

By the power of my blog, I convinced my friend Matt to order himself an AeroPress. I hope he ordered it via a link on spunkybean so I get, like, 13-cents …but either way, I convinced him. Matt is like me …a curious sort of chap who loves coffee and loves interesting things. If I had one friend who would see my whacky coffee making contraption and want one, I would’ve guessed it would’ve been Matt. (he has two grills – one charcoal and one gas that he uses depending on the cuisine needing grilling, and he and his wife cook elaborate meals for their company and house guests, and food prep typically takes hours while everyone enjoys wine, good conversation, and gets perfectly hungry to enjoy his amazing meals …I tell you all this because an AeroPress is right up his alley).

He was so intrigued, it turns out, he ordered one and paid the extra/rush shipping so that it would arrive while he was on vacation. That’s dedication to good coffee. Be impressed.

Anyway, upon his return from vacation he agreed a single-cup of AeroPress coffee is about the best he’s ever had, but he said he had some challenges when brewing a full AeroPress and trying to figure out how to make coffee for more than one person and more than one cup.  I’m going to show him how. What follows is a quick video tutorial on how I make 8 ounces of strong espresso and cut with water to make 2 8 oz cups of perfect coffee. I employ the upside-down AeroPress technique when making multiple cups.

And, yes …in the background you’ll hear my 4-year-old waiting for her cup of coffee and asking for milk. I’d laugh in your face if you were an adult looking to defile a cup of perfect coffee with “milk” …but she’s 4 …so I let it slide. When she’s six …she’ll only be allowed to drink her coffee black.

Why does an AeroPress cup of coffee taste so good? CoffeeGeek .com explains it this way:

  •  Total immersion of the grounds in the water results in rapid yet robust extraction of flavor.
  •  Total immersion permits extraction at a moderate temperature, resulting in a smoother brew.
  •  Air pressure shortens filtering time to 20 seconds. This avoids the bitterness of long
    processes such as drip brewing.
  •  The air pressure also gently squeezes the last goodness from the grounds, further enriching the flavor.
  •  Because of the lower temperature and short brew time, the acid level of the brew is much lower than conventional brewers. Laboratory pH testing measured AEROPRESS brew’s acid as less than one fifth that of regular drip brew. The low acid is confirmed by coffee lovers who report that AEROPRESS brew is
    friendlier to their stomachs.

For more analysis and quotes from coffee experts, visit this article at CoffeeGeek.

Am I blogging for one person? Perhaps I am. Or maybe you’re getting closer and closer to buying your own AeroPress and living the high life. I hope you do. See you tomorrow.

Things I Did: Vacation Videos as DVD (Home Movie Tips)

My trusty Handycam

In the brief history of Kaleidoscopic Raygun, I’ve dedicated the majority of entries to discussing coffee and shooting home movies. I know how to make a great cup of coffee. Conversely, I am less than pleased at my ability to make good home movies. I suck at narration and I never seem to remember to HOLD THE CAMERA STILL. I shake and pan wildly back and forth …I give myself sea-sickness watching my own movies back.

However, one thing I’m getting better at is taking lots and lots of video. My approach is this – shoot enough video and by golly, something will turn out. With the annual Torch Lake vacation, I tried to roll video just about every single day. In the process I shot almost 2 hours of video (which is quite a bit). Some of it …well, I’ll be embarrassed I shot it at all. But some other stuff really captured some good memories.

Last night I successfully created a DVD from the video footage. It has a cool opening page with cool background music and 43 Chapters worth of video, and each Chapter on the DVD is labelled. This is the first time I’ve made a DVD from my home video files.

I’m kicking myself, however, because the other vacation I took this year was Disney, and I woke up this morning all geeked to put footage from that trip onto a DVD and it turns out I have less than 20-minutes worth of stuff video taped from that trip. Drat …drat …drat. Blast you, mad cat!

So the lesson here on shooting home movies is the same lesson as I hope to pass along to my kids and that I hope to live out during the rest of my time on this earth.  You will regret the things you DON’T DO far more than you’ll regret the things you do. Similarly, you will regret the things you DON’T VIDEO TAPE far more than you’ll regret the things you do video tape.

Below is a little more classic footage from our annual Torch Lake tradition of driving into Elk Rapids and visiting the Elk Rapids Bakery for their famed Cherry Pockets. Prepare to feel dizzy as you watch some very poorly shot video. I promise …I’m going to get better. There’s gotta be a book on this topic, right?

Any ideas for better home movies? I Google’d the topic a little and found these…

1. Shoot shorter clips, but shoot more shorter clips v. long 10- or 15- minute segments.

2. Move the camera alot to capture different angles

3. Shoot often and bring your camera around family often so they act more natural around you and your pesky camera

4. When narrating, describe the who, where, and what of the scene you are shooting.

5. Stay on your subject for a minimum of 7-seconds

6. Think of each shot as if it were a still-shot

Leave some comments on what you do and how you made the home movies you’re most proud of. Thanks. Here’s to good shooting.

Things I Love: A Fresh Perspective

Me enjoying an Easy Mary at Pearl's in Elk Rapids
Me enjoying an Easy Mary at Pearl's in Elk Rapids

Whilst on vacation, I captured lots and lots of video. Usually I video tape (“digitally capture” is what it should be called these days, I guess) very little. So what, you ask? Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before, but when my Mom passed away at 58-years-old, it was fun looking through old pictures of her. What was even better was catching a rare glimpse of her on some of the home movies my Dad used to make. She HATED being on camera – still images or otherwise.

My Dad got some good home movies back in the day, but not enough. And all of them without sound. You’d think when the 1970s gave way to the 1980s and the 1990s, Dad would’ve had a video camera and continued taking video. Well, he did, but not much, and we don’t have much video of my Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, or any other relatives who’ve passed on. I wish we did. I wish I could fire up a DVD or an old VHS and watch my Dad annoy my Mom and insist on video taping her making her apple pie, or blond brownies, or anything else she was famous for baking. I wish there was video of my Mom sitting on the shore of Torch Lake enjoying a drink and reading a good book, and I wish someone would’ve shot some video of her doing it, even though she would’ve been very annoyed.

In those moments, video like that would probably seem silly, right? Who wants a video of their mother cooking and/or reading a book? My guess is …everyone.

Flash forward to my vacations and my videos. Recently, my kids asked me to show them movies from when they were babies and luckily I have some footage …not much, but some. And ya know what? Even the limited footage I have, the kids want to watch it …over and over and over again. Show me a rainy or snowy Saturday morning and give my kids the choice between watching a Phineas & Ferb marathon or home movies, they’ll always pick home movies. They have a thing for nostalgia, just like me.

While on this recent vacation I shot lots and lots of video, but the best stuff was shot by my kids, actually. Or at least I think so. Which gives me a new idea and a fresh perspective. One …give your kids your video camera and let them shoot some video. You’ll love it because it’s different. Two …make ’em wear the wrist strap but don’t mention the camera is worth $200 or $1,000, otherwise you’ll stress them out and they won’t have any fun. Three …shoot alotta video and capture alotta memories.

*** Note: I’m not a licensed videographer. My son is not a licensed videographer.

Here’s my son on vacation interviewing everyone after an another amazing meal at Pearl’s in Elk Rapids. See what I mean? It’s our vacation from his perspective. And someday, many years down the road, I’m guessing it’ll give me a different perspective.

*** Note: My angry face and growling at the end was a result of 8-years as a parent and my 8-yr-old was about to rip the camera from my 6-yr-old causing (a) a fight, (b) crying by someone, or (c) a fight with crying by everyone. I nipped that in the bud.

Things I Wonder: Is it Really Thursday, Already?

Why does my HP Mini laptop have a power chord with three prongs and the cord is thicker and more industrial looking than most of the cords on my power tools?

How did it get to be Thursday, already. I had many goals for this week, and wondering about how passage of time works wasn’t one of those goals.

What do you think would be a good name for my salsa and/or salsa company? Right now, the only thing I can come up with is Donnie Jalapeno Super Salsa.

Why do people say they “hate the Woodward Dream Cruise?” Especially Detroiters? They site traffic, exhaust fumes, and too many people all jamming around an 11-mile stretch of road and making things crazy for 4 or 5 days. I think even the haters, deep down, love the Dream Cruise just like I do. It’s such a celebration of Detroit and our nickname, “The Motor City.” Way back when, we proud Detroiters had the hardest working people building cars for the world. And we had the smartest marketers telling the world, oh, you need cars. In fact, they said, you need two cars. Further, do you know your car defines you and tells the world who you are? Yes …think about it. Somehow in a world without highways, expressways, and sprawling suburbs, auto and ad executives convinced people life would be better with a car and a car payment, and the added expense of gas and maintenance, not to mention adding one more thing to a long list of things that could kill you.

Once we wanted cars. Now we NEED cars.

So, that’s just something that makes me scratch my head. People hate the Dream Cruise. They mock it. They act as if it so negatively impacts their life, it should be cancelled.

Do these haters realize you can drive less than a 1/2-mile east or west of Woodward and barely know it’s even happening?


Why can’t people relax? Don’t watch the news channels …nobody ever relaxes there.

What were those firecracker/explosion noises that woke me up at 1:30am, last nigh?

Who is reading this blog entry?

And, really …I need ideas for names for my salsa. Help.

Do you get rubber in all four gears?

Things I Love: Vacation, Blurry Memories

I’ll be brief here, folks …I’m angry. And dumb. And being dumb and angry is no way to go through life. I’m angry because the video you are about to see looks like I’m still taking pictures with my 2.0 Megapixel  CoDack (correct, an unknown brand, but it was cheap). I’m angry at Nero for selling me video editing software without directions. I’m angry because after all this time I’ve never gone to Nero’s website and watched any sort of tutorials. I’m angry because Nero made software that looks like I want it to look, but doesn’t really perform the tasks I want it to.

I’m dumb for all the same reasons.

I spent many hours this weekend pouring over this silly little slideshow, and given my past productions (The 50th Anniversay Slide Show) …I know I possess the brilliance to make a simple slideshow with music. I feel like Tiger Woods. Not because I have 28 mistresses, but because I know somewhere buried inside me I have at least a little computer literacy (as Tiger has golf ability) and I’m struggling.

And I don’t have $2,000 for an iMac.

But because I want the 5 or 6 people who read my blog to keep reading (actually, I’m up to almost 38 unique visitors and 12 subscribers), I’m going to post this video anyway. It also sets me up for a future post when I re-cut this thing. I’ll call it Vacation Memories Remastered.

Does anyone have a suggestion on better video editing software for a Toshiba laptop?

The music used for this slideshow may seem odd. And lyrically …I agree. However, my good friend Jeff gave me a CD of the Spartan Dischords and my kids LOVE it. It’s an a capella vocal group at Michigan State University, and Jeff’s son Chris is a member. Great CD and if you like a capella singing, even a little, go to the Spartan Dischords site and buy “Better than Nothing.” This particular track is Track #19 and includes outtakes. I say again …outtakes. Because if you listen to this and nothing else, you might come away thinking, “wow …those Spartan Dischords aren’t very good.” Trust me …they are GREAT. Listen through to the end and their recreation of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme song. My kids love that part and the other funny stuff in this track leading up to it.

My only regret is how nice the audio is …I had hoped I could get it to sound like an old record player to go along with the pixelized photos.

Much more to come all week including “name Don’s salsa company” contest, Don writes other stuff, new blogroll friends, and all the great content you’ve come to love about Kaleidoscopic Raygun.

Follow @donkowalewski on Twitter and ‘Like’ Kaleidoscopic Raygun on Facebook.

Things I Love: Coffee and Especially Local Coffee Shops

I want to shout from the rooftops of Birmingham, Michigan that Commonwealth, a hip little coffee shop, makes one of the best cups of coffee in the Detroit area, or anywhere. And then I hope nobody shows up (at least not when I’m there) so I can continue to feel like it’s “my little secret.”

My passing interest on the topics of “buy local”, coffee, and coffee and tea shops is suddenly evolving into some sort of obsession. I feel as if I’m dancing dangerously close to a line that separates normal, average patrons from obsessed superfans who are one inappropriate comment from being kicked out of someplace or being issued a restraining order. Waiters and waitresses know what I’m talking about. Show me an Applebee’s, Chili’s, or Max & Erma’s, and I’ll show you a socially awkward adult with bad skin who thinks the polite waitress or bartender is his friend, stays too long, scares the other customers, drinks mostly Coke and water instead of cocktails, doesn’t tip, and talks too much about whatever topic might be on his mind on any such particular night. And he or she is there probably 5 nights a week. If this awkward adult is a “she”, she probably brings her knitting.

I like to think I’m a sophisticated coffee drinker with a sensitive pallet and these locally owned coffee shops appreciate my passion for great coffee. I like to think I am to coffee what a sommelier is to wine and vineyards, or an art lover is to paintings, sculptures, and a gallery. Until I see horrified looks on the faces of customers at Commonwealth, well, I’ll just keep thinking I’m the all-star customer, opinion leader, and early-adopter a 9-month old coffee shop like Commonwealth needs in order to succeed.

Commowealth’s vibe is the vibe and mood we thought was drawing us to places like Starbucks and Caribou for all these years. We let Starbucks paint a picture of a simple coffee shop interested only in roasting tasty beans and we flocked to it. We flocked, you flocked, they flocked, we bought mugs and beans and we’ve been clinging to this idea of a “coffee shop on the corner” for well over a decade. But now, many of us are waking up and realizing, “hey …Starbucks beans taste burnt – sometimes. And good – sometimes. And, wait, they don’t even really care about their coffee; they only care about their specialty drinks, merchandise sales, and how many people they can pass through their doors as quickly as possible.” Starbucks is to a cup of coffee what McDonald’s is to a hamburger. Starbucks hires kids who look like coffee hippies, but they are no more coffee hippies than similar kids working around the corner at the massive movie chain complex.

Today, at Commonwealth, I met their roaster …Josh? He introduced himself to me. He talked about their Ethiopian beans and mentioned fair trade and well-payed farmers. He mentioned being part of a mission that traveled to Honduras and this fall they’ll be featuring and roasting yet another bean from this handpicked farm in South America. And even if I’m only accurately remembering 50% of what he said, it’s still pretty awesome.

Do you want to serve coffee at your next dinner party that came with a book or with a Tori Amos Sings ’80s Standards CD in a paper CD case? Or do you want your beans, like wine, to have a story behind it?

Come to think of it, Commonwealth’s roaster had tattoos, an earing, and a chin beard – might’ve been a goatee. Either way …it was cool. I want to meet you for coffee. Name the date and time – I know the perfect place.

Follow @donkowalewski or his alter-ego @spunkybean where he writes about Bachelor Pad, American Idol, and much, much more.

Things I Do: Write, Waterski, and Why a Blogroll

One of the best things I’ve done recently was join Detroit Bloggers. Technically, it wasn’t something I was putting off. The group only started last month. But …in the past, I’ve blown off cool things like that and then wondered why great things never happen to me. I can’t say joining Detroit Bloggers will automatically make great things happen to me, but I feel great having met a buncha fun, passionate writers. As I’ve said in the past …anyone can Facebook and Twitter, but to run a blog and create content – that takes a different D.N.A.

“But, Don? You just write about your near-death experiences and coffee? Are you sure those bloggers aren’t just being nice to you and secretly laughing at you behind your back?”

“Um …no. No …they …are …not. Remember …I have spunkybean. That’s …like, legit blogging.”

Because you’re reading this, you know I launched a new blog. One things bloggers MUST do is keep their blogroll tidy and up-to-date. A blogroll is a sidebar on your blog where you link all the other great bloggers you read, you admire, and whom inspire you. It’s like a “Follow Friday” that never goes away. It serves a few other purposes. (1) If people frequently visit your site, and remember you talk about this great person who writes a great vegetarian blog for example, but maybe they forgot to bookmark it, they can find that vegetarian blogger easily by going back to your blog. (2) Bloggers on your blogroll might put your blog on their blogroll. Bloggers are the friendliest people on earth. In a bloggers mind, they will be as happy if your blog succeeds as they will be if their own blog succeeds. It’s true. Bloggers never say, “but Don is an idiot …how come he has so many readers and I don’t? I hate him.” No …bloggers say, “high-five, dude. How’d you do it?” And then we bloggers all try harder and smarter to be the next big blog in the blogosphere. (3) A blogroll reminds you, the blogger, to keep checking certain blogs and sites. Let’s face it …despite how we all self-market using Facebook and Twitter, some fans, readers, and fellow bloggers are bound to miss a few Tweets or status updates every now and then. Having your favorite blogs on your blogroll gives you a spot for important people you want to support and whom you like reading.

Here’s five new blog friends and their blogs – which I’ve recently added to my blogroll at the right. It’s been great getting to know the people (in person) and through their writing.

spunkybean – OK. This is my blog. It’s about pop-culture and our favorite TV shows. Me and my fellow writers love watching TV so, well, why not write about it? We keep it light and fun. Two great pieces we wrote recently inlclude Kickstart’s KNOWBODYS – The Matt Maiellaro Interview and TV’s Greatest Bands – A Handy Guide. The first is a look at the upstart Kickstart Comics, the second a tribute to the best fake TV bands of all time.

Mommy Is In Timeout – This lady founded (one of three founders, actually) Detroit Bloggers. I’m not a Mom (I’m a Dad) and technically I shouldn’t “get” what the heck she’s blogging about, but she’s totally funny. Her blog entries echo some of the words I hear from my wife. And her videos are inspired. Music …pictures …improv. What editing software is she using?

Real Life Husband/Dad/WannaBe Rockstar – I envy him because he’s a little (OK, alot) more focused than I am. He writes about being a middle-aged Dad who refuses to give up the dream. That’s just like me. His blog is cool. He’s right …dudes …don’t stop dreaming. No, your NFL career is over, but playing guitar …trying stand-up comedy …running a marathon. Keep dreamin’.

The Vegan Vibe – Another busy, stressed out Mom who started a blog about being a vegetarian in a non-veggie world and non-veggie household (she has a husband and two sons who like hamburgers and she ain’t stoppin’ ’em). She’s new to blogging and vegetarianism but aren’t we all before we’re not so new, anymore? Yes. Thinking about it – blogging or being vegetarian? Read her blog. Take the journey with her.

On the Road Again – I met her at the first Detroit Bloggers meeting and I was smitten (with her story, and now her blog). She’s funny. She’s casual. She eats Cold Stone Creamery and makes no apologies for it …she’ll just add another 1/2-mile to her next run. Or she won’t. Leave her alone. Anyway …are you a runner but not one of those zero-percent body-fat running-triathlon animals? You’ll like this blog.

Essential Elements – She’s another founder of Detroit Bloggers (I’m 99% sure …I’m so bad with names, details, and …um ….something else). She’s very nice. Her kind spirit and enthusiasm for niceness and happiness, combined with her belief in essential life elements like creativity, happiness, love, passion, success, motivation, inspiration, and so on …well, it’s a nice break from this debt ceiling, Obama birthers, England riots, and stock market crashing world.

The Literary World of Sylvia Hubbard – Question? Have you been meaning to write a book? Perfect. Like me, have you often wondered, well, if I write it …then what? Chances are, Sylvia knows. Sylvia is connected and in-the-know. She’s so informed, I’m not actually sure entirely how to summarize what a resource she is. Just …um, make sure you hit the next Detroit Bloggers meeting and shake her hand. Cool.

This is just a taste. My new blog is, well, new. Many more awesome bloggers will be added to my blog roll. I hope you’ll check ’em out. You’re bound to like one of ’em.

And, finally …really …I’m going go get to my vacation recap. Let’s just say …when I wasn’t trying stupid shallow-water somersaults, I did some waterskiing. And lucky for you (me), my wife captured my waterskiing magic.

Things I Love: Coffee, Upside Down AeroPress Technique

I’ve talked about, read about, and learned more about coffee in the past couple months than in the previous 20 years combined. For most of my life, coffee was Maxwell House from a can, scooped into a filter, brewed and percolated, and 15 minutes later, I was likely sharing part of a pot of coffee with someone. I liked coffee, even back then. I was so young …so naive.

Flash forward 20 years, and I’m borderline obsessive about my coffee. I can’t remember the last time (outside of a highway gas station when a “caffeine fix” was the end game) I had a drip brew cup of coffee. It’s not like I choke and gag when I drink a drip brew, but I’ve come too far with the AeroPress, French Presses, and Americanos at my local coffee houses. I can’t go back to the old way. I learned, like a wine lover who wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a glass of Woodbridge Cabernet from a gallon-sized bottle, I like coffee not just for the caffeine fix, but for the flavor, texture, and taste.

I’ve learned about the brewing processes and determined the AeroPress is the one for me. Now, I’m on a quest for the perfect bean (and the Tanzanian Peaberry from Chazzano in Ferndale, MI is about the best I’ve found).

I talk alot about the AeroPress. I learned of the AeroPress from my cousin Scott. His Dad, whom I call Uncle Jerry, is a curious sort of person and when someone like me talks incessantly about something, he’s apt to Google the topic and learn more about it. I’m not the type of guy to “learn” …I just boldly dive head first into things and hope for the best. Turns out, there are AeroPress Championships and there’s an even better technique than the standard AeroPress technique for brewing an amazing cup of coffee. It’s the Upside Down AeroPress. So I tried it. My first attempt didn’t yield a cup of coffee so brilliant I’m ready to brew upside down and only upside down, but it was pretty good. And I could see this technique being used when making coffee for multiple people. However, it was good. And as is probably the main reason I do anything, it’s something to talk about.

If I have you over for dinner …trust me. You’re having a cup of coffee, you’re going to hear about where I bought the beans and why I like the beans, and you’re going to hear why and how I make my coffee the way I make my coffee.What? You’d rather talk politics, debt ceiling, or the U.S. credit rating? No …thank …you.

Here’s the upside down AeroPress technique. Try it. I expected some mess. There was no mess. It’s pretty much the same process – but with flair. Yet another vacation memory, and I haven’t even talked about the really good parts of vacation. I’ve only touched on the nearly horrible neck injury I almost had, and now the coffee. More to come. Thanks for reading.

Oh, and if you want to read more and perhaps ORDER AN AEROPRESS, click here and follow the links.

Things I Love: Vacation, Injury Free

My 9-day vacation holds many memories, but the thing I’m freaked out about was the second to last day and how I nearly broke my neck – and I’m not even kidding. I Tweeted about this briefly, but I keep replaying the moment back in my mind and …phew …it could’ve been really, really bad. I felt and heard my neck crack and fold backwards.

How, you ask?

My daughter and I were on the sandbar, in less than 3 feet of water. Do you see where this is going? She was doing underwater somersaults. An 8-year-old can easily do an underwater somersault in 3-feet of water because an 8-year-old girl weighs next to nothing and can gently roll forward or backward and flip around in the water. I, however, am 38 years old and even with my short 5’4″ frame, in 3-feet of water (it might’ve been less), there’s not much room for error. Plus, as a 38-year-old, I don’t do many underwater somersaults anymore, so I tried to give myself a little jump start and sorta half-dove into what would’ve been a pretty nice somersault …had I been in 5 feet of water. In 3-feet of water, this half-dive resembles an ACTUAL dive and I essentially jammed myself face (head) first into the sand and ate a mouthful of sand as the rest of my body kept going in the general direction of a somersault …but my head was planted in the sand.

It all happened in an instant and as I sit here, 72 hours later, I feel like I dodged a bullet and my neck feels like I was in a pretty bad car accident.

It might seem odd to start the first blog entry following my vacation as a message about a near life-altering mistake that’s tormenting me, and I always come back from vacations with thoughts of changing my life and using it as a new jumping off point, but all these years later and all these vacations later, nothing’s changed.

Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but this is a vacation-lesson that will stick with me (at least the neck soreness will still linger for a few days). I’m reading “4-Hour Workweek” and doing “4-Hour Body.” I’m in the process of convincing myself I can have a career and then 2 or 3 passive sources of income, and that I can have six-pack abs. I will stop taking unnecessary risks with few rewards (like diving off the ends of docks or doing underwater somersaults in shallow water). How many times can I expect to do dumb stuff and avoid catastrophe? I need to eat better. Sleep more. Stop thinking about what I might, could, and should do …and start doing it.

I can’t do underwater stunts. With my lung thing, I shouldn’t ever really do more than a 5K and I should just enjoy the running (versus pushing myself to the brink of collapse just so I can boast I can run a mile in under 8-minutes …which is a weak thing to boast, anyway).

Anyway …that’s the biggest thing that happened to me on my vacation. I’ll have lots of pictures of sandcastles and whatnot, and I’ll try and journal the wonderful week and talk about making home movies and making memories. But for a moment, my vacation has given me reason to reflect …and refocus. May it not take a near tragic neck injury the next time.


Things I Love: Vacation

My D.N.A. is such that the sole reason I work is so that I can take long breaks from working. I kinda like my job(s) believe it or not, but I love taking a vacation from it.

Earth shattering blogging, I know.

I’ve spent these last 9 days renting a small cabin with my family, with more of my family renting cabins nearby, and it’s sad that today’s my last day. I had intended on getting up bright and early every day and blogging a little, so I could pretty much journal the entire vacation, but the bed was too cozy, the guilt-free ability to stare at Twitter and Facebook for an hour was too tempting, and my motivation and creativity was lacking. I had intended on writing a little of my sales book. I thought I’d continue exercising so I could justify the massive consumption of calories, sugary treats, and beer. But like the John Lennon lyric says … life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” -John Lennon

Instead, I figured out a way to simply enjoy relaxing. I barely checked my Blackberry but once or twice a day (you can’t expect me to go totally cold-turkey). I didn’t once check-in at the office. I swam in the water with my kids for hours and hours (something rare, I noticed …most adults do NOT swim with their kids, but simply sit on shore or a dock and watch their kids swim …why?). I built sand castles (which is suddenly becoming my vacation thing to do). I went tubing and water skiing. I went to the sand bar twice (thrice if you count this other little lagoon as a “sand bar.”) I hadn’t planned on it, but I rented a paddle board for a day and the kids loved it.

I should’ve had plans of having no plan – I would’ve felt more accomplished.

My 8-year-old said yesterday she was sorta glad to be going home because she misses her bed and her toys, so that means 8 or 9 days is a perfect vacation length. I kinda agree. I mean …I agree until 12 noon tomorrow when I’m still filtering through the 500 emails that wait for me in my office in-box, and until I’m bothered by my long-sleeve dress shirt and wool dress pants that will replace my bathing suit and t-shirt (or no t-shirt) that was my vacation wardrobe.

I guess vacation isn’t “vacation” unless you have something to take a vacation from, so I’ll look forward and work and work until the next one. Profound? No. See why I didn’t do much blogging?

It’s time to pack up. Soon we’ll hit the road and head back into the city. I’ll trade a view of a crystal blue lake for a dry, yellow lawn. I’ll trade sandcastle building for negotiating and sitting in traffic. But I wouldn’t trade any of it.