Tag Archives: life

Non-Fiction

Stranger than Fiction

A man fails as an actor, then goes to Alaska to live with grizzly bears? No way you say. Yep. The only question is, will the bears eat him?

A church founded by a science-fiction writer gains worldwide power? Yep, true. Watch out for Scientology.

Better than Fiction

A dolphin loses its tail, then becomes an inspiration to human amputees. Check it out! Straight out of Clearwater, Florida.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

That is the question.

In this my third year of “blogging,” I have decided that it’s time to discuss “blogging” itself. I have had a website since summer 2013 when my friend Biff showed me how easy it is to do. Most of you have probably not ever blogged and view bloggers as self-absorbed blabber-mouths with an inflated sense of their own importance. Well, actually, maybe you don’t–but that’s how I felt, and so I assumed that others felt that way, and that is where I will start, or rather, that is where I started two and a half years ago…

When I wrote my first post, I can remember clicking the little “Publish” button and waiting for this imaginary something to happen because I had simultaneously spoken to the entire world all at once. I felt like the collective criticism of the world was going to descend upon me and laugh me off the face of the earth. I called my brother and some friends to look at my post just to get some feedback because the anticipation was killing me. Instead of something cataclysmic, nothing happened. I found that not only had I not spoken to the entire world all at once, but hardly anyone noticed. This is bad for someone trying to get hits on his website, but for me, I was relieved, and as time went by, I found that I felt more and more free to write what I want and click that “Publish” button. I have come to the point where I enjoy having my website and it has proven very useful. To take it one step further, I will go so far as to say that if you use the internet, you too should blog!–or at least dabble in blogging, or at least have a simple site. The following is why.

  1. A website is an extremely efficient way to communicate and organize. I used my site for an event over Thanksgiving, and it worked great. Facebook works too, and so does group e-mail, but a website has an advantage over each. With a site, you can adjust it after sending the link, which you can’t do with a group e-mail. Some people do not have Facebook, and you can reach those people as well. You definitely want to be able to reach the Facebook hold-outs, they are the coolest people out there. Just ask them!
  2. A website gives you elbow room on the internet. Let’s face it, these days we all spend some time on the internet. Even those stubborn technophobic Facebook hold-outs who just got a smart phone use the internet. So wouldn’t it be nice to have some of your own space here? “It’s just virtual space!” you say. Yes. Correct. It’s just a virtual internet too, but you’re on it. It must have some value. Own, don’t be a lifetime renter. Having your own personal space, that elbow room, allows you to direct your information seeking efforts so you don’t get lost in the black hole that leads to the end of the internets. If nothing else, you can set up a page with a list of your favorite links as a starting point when getting your news from the internet. Click the link. I do just that with my website.
  3. Having a website gives you a behind-the-scenes perspective on the internet. Ever watch the behind-the-scenes of the making of a movie? It changes how you see that movie and you understand it better. Do you get your news on the internet? Does the person writing the news know more than you know? Maybe he should actually be reading what you have to say. The main difference between him and you is that he has a website, or access to one, and you don’t. Admittedly, that is a little oversimplified. He may be a professional. As an on-site journalist, he may have first-hand information that you can’t have because you’re not there. However, there is a whole bunch of junk information out there and you are much better equipped at recognizing it if you supply some of the junk yourself! I do. Click the link and buy something, dang it!
  4. Blogging gives you a voice. Have you ever played a game where you aren’t allowed to speak for an extended period of time? It’s frustrating, right? Have you ever been frustrated by the stupid things people say in public forums? “I heard so-and-so said such-and-such on Twitter. What an idiot!” Twitter user or not, you’ve seen tweets. You can’t stop them. Twitter is free. You can’t escape them. Tweets are part of the news these days. Don’t fall into the trap of helpless frustration! Believe me, no matter how many followers one has, they are frustrated too. Dear Twitter Idiot, a million people may have read your tweet, but it still only took those million people 10 seconds to read your 140 characters, and they moved on to the next tweet with little more than a nagging feeling of neglect that you didn’t even bother to use punctuation when speaking to millions of people. Dear Frustrated Mute Listener, find your voice! Blabber on! Look no further for an example. This is me blabbering right here! Look! An excessive exclamation point! Where? Right there! You can too. If you are my friend, I will even go out of my way to read and promote your unlimited characters, but you have to take that first step.
  5. Last and certainly not least, blogging is a journal. Maybe you want to sit down for a few minutes each day / week / month and reflect. Journaling is a timeless activity. I argue that blogging is an improvement on journaling. Journaling is for hermits. In a journal, you may write some of your deepest secrets feeling the security that nobody will ever read it. How do we know that people write secrets in their journal? Because they wrote them down and somebody found their journal and read them, duh! With blogging, hopefully you’re smart enough not to publish your deepest secrets (I don’t recommend drinking and blogging, bad idea). Blogging is journaling with 3.26 billion of your closest friends keeping you honest. There is an imaginary force of motivation knowing that someone might be reading that keeps you to your routine of a few minutes of writing. So thanks for keeping me honest. The best is when somebody in real life tells you he has read your blog and makes some comment on it. It’s kind of a rush. It’s like a tiny piece of that tidal wave of criticism that you felt on day one–but not criticism at all–and you become a little less self-conscious, and a little more bold each time.

To blog! That is the answer.

Thanks, but No Thanks

Dear Federal Government,

This just doesn’t feel right. I’ve seen your balance sheet and you can’t afford to send me this “disability” check. I’m not cashing it.

If I’m not taking the money, then why did I submit a claim? I submitted a claim because it is the only way to not be forced to pay for medical coverage that is falsely expensive because of your, the government’s, involvement.

For the record, I did not lie on my claim. I listed all my aches and pains–which thankfully are minor–and let the system decide. I got 10%. I really don’t know all the politics behind this issue, and I’m not a health care professional, but there is no way that I should be receiving free money.

I will be at my first annual check-up at the VA medical center, where the nurses and doctors have been very accommodating and professional, on the 16th because that is what I need. I will continue to live a healthy lifestyle for myself, and to fulfill my responsibility to not be a drain on the system.

I will continue to save my money when I can. I hope you can do the same. You can start with my two hundred some dollars a month. It would be nice to cash the check and throw it on the giant pile that I’ve saved by not buying into the American consumer society that you’ve promoted, but I really don’t need it.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Nate’s Favorite Things 2015

Oprah has 87 favorite things this year. For her favorite things, click her picture.

Oprah Christmas
Click the picture for Oprah’s favorite things.

Notice she has teamed up with Amazon this year! She must have stolen that idea from me, since I have been doing that right here on my website since March 2014. Oprah is rich and trendy. Her favorite things are expensive and trendy. My favorite things are just awesome. See below.

1. GE LED Light Bulbs

Technology has finally produced a bulb to truly replace the incandescent light bulb. These have all of the advantages of the incandescent bulb with none of the drawbacks of compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), and use less energy than CFLs. They even look just like regular light bulbs. Perfect for that guy on your list who just wants cash. One 60W equivalent that costs less than $6 saves more than $100 in electricity over the 22 year life of the bulb!

40 Watt Equivalent

60 Watt Equivalent

I have not bought anything more than a 60 watt. Maybe next year.

2. Simple Kneads Gluten-free Bread

Brand new product available to order only since last week! The best gluten-free bread available. Get it while it’s hot! My favorite is the sourdough.

3. The Best Phone Charger You Can Buy

Ever notice that some chargers charge your phone fast and some take a long time? That is because of the current rating of the charger. This thing puts out enough power to light that 40 watt (equivalent) bulb above! It also has a long cable with a little light on the end and a USB port so you can remove the cable.

4. The Best Car Charger You Can Buy

Same as above, but for your car.

5. Supplemental Battery

This will run any phone (even smart phones) for several days on a charge. I used it while traveling on my bike for days at a time.

6. Trailer Hitch Bike Rack

While not as beefy or secure as its name-brand $450 counterparts, it gets the job done for 130 bucks. It is certainly heavy-duty enough that the bikes will not come off on the highway. You can get it stolen twice and still spend the same as for the name-brand!

7. Go Buckeyes!

8. At a Glance Phrasebooks by Barron’s

For whatever language, At a Glance phrasebooks are the best you can buy. They have the usual phrases, as well as pronunciation, and a handy dictionary in the back. I have personally used the Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese. Good pocket size and sturdy cover. Only one fits in your pocket. This is the best one.

9. The Best Pens

How many different types of pens are out there? Way more than there should be. This should be the only type. They are the best.

10. Kindle Paperwhite and Carrying Case

The Kindle Paperwhite is the best e-reader out there. I haven’t used the other e-readers, so how do I know? Because you can’t improve on perfect. The screen looks like paper, the pages flip fast, and it has a built-in back light for reading at night. You’ll want to be able to carry it without scratching the screen and this case is just that. Nothing fancy, just a well-fitting cover.

11. Jump Rope

A great product for a great exercise. It has ball bearings, adjustable length, and what else do you need in a rope?

 

Turkey Trot 2015!

Who: you

What: Turkey Trot Thanksgiving Day 10K, 5K, or around-the-lake walk

When: meet at 845, start at 9AM Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, 26 November 2015 (tomorrow)

Where: start at Antrim Park

Why: to feel good about all that turkey and stuffing we are going to eat, save $45 compared to the corporate-sponsored Turkey Trot, and because it’s too cold to run and it’s our only day off.

Around the Lake Walk

Around the Lake = 1.2 miles / 2K
Around the Lake = 1.2 miles / 2K

 

Your Standard 5K

Around the lake, east on 161, turn around in front of TWHS = 3.1miles / 5K
Around the lake, east on 161, turn around in front of TWHS = 3.1miles / 5K

10K

Around the lake, just past the tennis courts and back = 10K
Around the lake, just past the tennis courts and back = 10K

Book Report: The Bible

This is a work in progress, but that’s the point! Download the template, fill it out for your favorite book of the bible, then let’s discuss and I will post! I started with Judges, so you can use it as an example.

0. Blank Template

7. The Book of Judges by Nathan, Spring 2013

07 Judges Image

 

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. -Romans 15:4

Nielsen Survey

I was recently solicited to participate in a Nielsen household TV survey. They have a unique way of enticing participation. The first envelope has a lot of explanatory material and a request to participate, as well as–without explanation–$5 cash, a single five-dollar bill. I agreed to participate, so after a few weeks they sent me a second envelope with a “TV Viewing Diary” to be filled out in detail for two weeks; and again the cash–this time the envelope contained six five-dollar bills, $30 cash! I spent the fives on groceries, filled out the TV viewing diary (blank because I don’t watch), and took their TV survey. Now, like Pavlov’s dogs, I am expecting a thank you letter with more cash. I can’t wait to hear from Nielsen again!

At the end of the diary, Nielsen leaves space and asks you to “comment on TV in general.” This is my response:

Except for about two years in the middle, I haven’t had TV in my house since 2003 (for two years my roommates had one). At first I felt like I was missing something and like I didn’t know what was going on. After a few months, I no longer missed it and I gathered from conversations at work and with friends what was in the news and what was going on in various shows. After a few years, I started having the opinion that TV actually prevents people from really knowing what’s going on. I hear conversations about current shows and it’s all sensationalized fantasy.  People’s world view from the news is this chaotic, scary place, when really the world, for the most part, is fairly well-off, happy, and stable. When I see TV now, much of it is shocking and some of it is offensive. I do miss sports and ESPN. I watch ESPN
whenever I can! -Nathan Ruffing

Words to Live By

These are my favorite quotes. Some are famous, some are my own, and some are things I’ve heard friends say. Feel free to suggest some more.

Famous:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
-A summation of Aristotle’s ideas by Will Durant

“The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

-John Adams

Friends’ Quotes:

“You don’t have to explain doing the right thing to me.”
-Sergeant Brad Johnson to my brother, at a party during college, when my brother was explaining why he had to leave the party to study. I prefer this variation,
“Never explain doing the right thing to anybody. Let them figure it out.”

“I strive to be a value, not a success.”
-Staff Sergeant Brandon Hayes during fitness report debrief. It is a variation of an Albert Einstein quote.

“The first one with a power point wins.”
-Major “IKE” Rossman to the company grade officers, meaning be the first to come up with a plan and it will become the plan.

My Own:

“Prepare: today is not over until you are ready for tomorrow.”

“Enjoy your meals. Work to eat. Don’t eat to work.”
-A variation of, “Work to live. Don’t live to work.”

My Favorite Things

Oprah and I have a few things in common. For one, we both have favorite things. If you want to see her favorite things, click her picture. If you would rather see my favorite things, read on.

OPR120113_000

Check out the Amazon Affiliate program for an explanation of why I made this post.

If you have never read your e-mails, browsed Facebook, Netflix, or YouTube from your couch, then you are missing out, trust me. With this on my lap, my wireless roller ball mouse in one hand and the King of Beers in the other, I am king of my domain (my domain being my living room).


Borderline sadistic, this product makes you want there to be more flies to kill. For an extra $10, there is also a PRO version for those man-eating horse flies.

This flashlight got me through many aircraft pre-flights in Afghanistan with the white light, then switched colors to green for the flight. Single AA battery, durable metal, bright enough. Must-have flashlight.

Favorite movie, hands down.

Seriously? They sell Snickers bars on Amazon? It is my favorite candy bar, but I actually don’t recommend buying 48 at a time…

Financial Tools

I have a monthly budget. This makes my life 1000% easier than people who don’t because I am financially ahead. I want you to be ahead also and your life to be easier. Here is a great spreadsheet:

Cash Flow and Potential Savings v1.2

Change the yellow boxes. Other boxes have formulas. Use this spreadsheet to identify financial changes, challenges, and opportunities with an upcoming life change. Enter your monthly income and expenses for your current situation, then enter the same information for the future and quickly see the changes. Finally, see how much you will save over time with a monthly savings allocation.