Pretty Excited About This Eurolux Stainless Steel Cool Touch Electric Kettle

Do you know how you know when you’re old? It’s when you order a quick-boil electric kettle on eBay and you want to high-five someone. Or, you know you’re old when you talk about the quality of a chair because you can sit in it for a long period of time and when you stand up, your back doesn’t hurt. Or, another sign you’re old is when you start driving about 2 m.p.h. under the speed limit because you’re really not in that much of a hurry, and driving conservatively saves gas and will prolong the lifespan of your engine.

Yup. I’m old. But I’m excited, especially about the 6 temperature settings.

  • 160°F- Delicate Teas
  • 175°F- Green Tea
  • 185°F- White Tea
  • 190°F- Oolong Tea
  • 200°F- French Press Coffee
  • 212°F- Black Tea

And it gets many, many 5-star Amazon reviews.

I also ordered socks for the legs of my chairs to protect my new hardwood floors. Oh, yes. I party on Monday night’s like a mutha!

Keep checking back to my blog as I will be building shelves for my laundry room to custom fit into an odd shaped area. It will either be the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done, or it will make me look like the guy in A Beautiful Mind and while my brain tells me I’m brilliant and saving the world, my wife will be asking me to sit and talk with a counselor.

It ain’t like I’m bragging, but I will have a badass (and organized) laundry room.

Just in case I forget to blog about every last detail, follow me at the following places.

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Good Habits. Bad Habits.

Our lives change when our habits change. It’s time to start good habits that will take the place of, and push out, the bad habits out of my life. At least, that’s what Best Lent Ever suggests, today.

Each day, Best Lent Ever offers some guidance and reflection, but this “habit” concept was a bit of a departure from many of his thoughts and lessons. This Lent, thanks to my son, I’ve truly made prayer a part of my daily routine. He and I pray the Rosary (a decade) every night at bedtime and we dedicate the 6 or 7 minutes of prayer to someone or some thing. We’ve only missed a few nights (I worked late, he had a sleepover, etc). It’s been enlightening. It’s a good habit that has pushed out some “bad” habits.

Over the years I’ve blogged alot about time, time management, and lamented about how short life is, but also how long it is and how much time we actually have when we think about it.

Currently, and for much of the past four years, I’ve let bad habits (and bad thoughts) take up too much time in my brain and life. As these “bad” things take up more and more time and space, they’ve pushed the “good” out.

Let me be clear, the “bad” habits aren’t things like smoking or drugs, but they are things like sloth, procrastination, self-pity, laziness, and more things like that. Every time I make time to watch my favorite show, and then another favorite show, or hit the snooze bar once, twice, or four times, and each time I don’t exercise or work on my writing ideas, I let more “bad” into my life and I don’t let “good” take over.

I’m sitting here and imagining my day and what it would look like if I had sprung outta bed at 5:00 a.m. when my alarm first went off, instead of 5:36 a.m. after three snoozes and strong contemplating re-setting my alarm for 6:20 a.m. (which would give me just enough time to take my dog on a short walk so she could pee and poop). At 5:00 a.m., I would’ve been back from a vigorous walk and drinking coffee by 5:25 a.m. I would’ve been sitting at my computer by 5:30 a.m. with a full hour ahead of my to write, check my Facebook, organize my personal email, and much more.

I would’ve been attacking and owning the say, versus scrambling a bit, beating myself up for hitting the snooze three times, and sitting down to write at 6:05 a.m. and realizing I only have about 25-minutes.

Today, when I see a “bad” taking over (it’s like eating a cheeseburger and fries …it makes me feel sooooo good when I’m eating it but I feel like crap a half-hour later), I’m going to find and do more good.

Random Awesome Stuff

On Facebook this week, I asked a random question about my in-home Internet speed and would my son’s PS4 gaming effect the rest of us and our iPhone, laptop, and iPad stuff and I pretty much determined the answer was, “yes.” Then many friends started texting me advice, emailing me “buy this” links of products they swear by, and almost everyone said, “go with Comcast and cable Internet.” One suggestion were two Apps called Oolka’s Speedtest app and Wifi Analyzer, and both revealed I have Internet download speeds slower than my cell phone. Soooooo …I made the switch. The guy I finally talked with at AT&T seemed to almost be apologizing for the terrible DSL they have for me (because U-Verse can’t be hooked up at my address) and even he suggested I talk with Xfinity/Comcast (I hope that phone call wasn’t recorded because today he’ll be fired). The guy I talked with at Comcast was incredibly cool and knowledgable and tried mightily to bundle me up with home phone, Internet, and dropping my DirecTV, but in the end, he gave me Internet and home phone (I get to keep my #) for 40% less than what I’m paying AT&T.

Like Ice Cube might say …today was  good day.

Next up, I re-purposed a pair of suit pants to be stand alone pants. The suit coat they were paired with was big, had shoulder pads, and looked every bit of 10-years-old …but the pants are in fine shape. I’m wearing them today. I think they look good. Co-worker A.B. will certainly tell me if they look “good”, “OK”, or, “no, Don, go change immediately you look like an unfashionable old man.”

I have a new kitchen. I haven’t really blogged about this because it seems a bit braggy, but on January 19th we pretty much demolished our entire first floor, right down to the studs, and rebuilt the kitchn as one, big giant kitchen that takes up the space our kitchen, dining room, dining area, and living room used to occupy. We’re back in the house and there’s just a little bit of painting to be done, and I gotta say …I don’t feel like it’s my house. It’s going to take some getting used to. But boy oh boy, is this a life changer. “Really, Don? Your life is changed because of a new kitchen? Isn’t that a bit overdramatic?” No. It’s not overdramatic at all.

My Buick has a timer as a dashboard feature. I’m timing my daily commute and logging in a spreadsheet. My average commute is 23:07. It’s a nice stat, but I think I need to add Departure Time and start to analyze how that impacts the commute time. Talk about begging you to come back to my blog often …I know …teasing you with the ongoing analysis of my daily commute is like pandering. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone contacts me about making that into a movie.

Two big announcements!  One, I’m going to repair, clean, and paint my old aluminum siding this spring. With massive big-foot homes going up in my neighborhood, when a home is even “a little junk looking”, it really stands out. And I’m noticing my aging siding every day. It’s not all that damaged, but it’s fading a little and dirty. But it’s aluminum and I know it can be fixed up and made to look like knew. Second “big announcement” is I’m going to overhaul my garage, storage systems, repair and paint some walls, and make a “drop zone” for my family’s boots, bags, coats, and shoes because the new kitchen doesn’t have a mud room or drop zone where I want dirty boots and shoes. Oh, you thought the dashboard timer was exciting, wait until I start posted before/during/after pictures of the garage makeover. One question …hooks on drywall, or pegboard?

Update on Lent. If it weren’t for my incredibly disciplined 12-year-old son, I wouldn’t be doing Lent very well. But that kid is soooooo dilligent about his daily 40/40/40 exercise routine and his nightly Rosary (which I do along with him), I’m having a successful Lent because I have him as my son.

And finally, back to the kitchen. It’s fascinating that I know my kitchen is bigger and I have much more cabinet and storage space, but I’ll be damned if we can’t find places for everything. How could this be? I think my wife and I need to stuff everything into every nook  and cranny and drawer and cabinet and work backwards, because this slow and steady has the kitchen cabinets and drawers filling up and yet, the basement where we put all our stuff during the remodel …it’s still overwhelming and has nowhere to go.

Been a long time since I blogged about nothing. Feels good.

Follow me at these places if you don’t already. It’s the only way I’m going to become semi-famous.

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A Too Long Lent Post

About this time of year, there’s never a shortage of Blogs about Lent. Like this one, detailing nineteen things you can give up for Lent that “aren’t chocolate.” I’m going to review the list daily throughout Lent, and then a buncha other stuff.

For example, I’m going to follow along with Dynamic Catholic‘s Best Lent Ever program to be my guide. And below all of this, you’ll see my own personal list.

But what really has me inspired this Lent is, well, my son. He’s twelve, and my family was sitting around talking about what we’re doing for Lent and most of us had the typical stuff. My girls were giving up candy and pop, and my older daughter actually had some pretty lofty and inspired goals, and I was listing off way-t00-many things, as I’m known to do, and my thought is always this: if I stick to 50% of the things on my list, well, I’m good.

But my son had thought hard about it. He said, “Dad …remember your #Project44 thing, well I want to do that around the number ’40’ for Lent’s 40-days. I want to do 40 push-ups, 40 sit-ups, and some other stuff every day, and at night you and I should say a decade of the Rosary before I got to bed.”

Let’s just say, when he was done with his Lent list, all I could think was, “oh, snap, Lent just got real!”

What happened next was completely about my unworthiness and how a lifetime of spiritual and moral neglect might be weighing me down. “But Don,” you say. “I know you. You’re a good guy.”

How ’bout we dig into that?

The conversation turned toward Confession and I threw the random thought out there, “maybe I should go to Confession during Lent,” kinda with the same conviction I might say, “I should start flossing every day,” or, “I’ll switch to decaf.” Sounds good, but let’s face it, I ain’t flossing every day and I love my caffeine.

“Maybe I should go to Confession,” I said, and my kids all said, “we’re going to Confession Friday.” I told them I thought that was “great” and also was filled with pride about the decision to send my kids to Catholic schools. Hey, world, look at my kids. They are good and decent human beings. They will make the world a better place. And then it was like a needle was pulled across a record album and my indignation, self-satisfaction, and arrogance was ripped into pieces.

“Hey, Dad, when is the last time you went to Confession?”

I broke into a cold sweat. I panicked. I put a fork full of food in my mouth hoping the topic of conversation would change before I swallowed. What is this?!?!?! The Spanish Inquisition? I’m not on trial. You kids are like the FAKE NEWS with your gotcha questions. Everyone! Go to bed! How dare you?!?!?

Instead, three sets of eyeballs were staring at me waiting for an answer (the fourth set of eyeballs, my wife’s, was looking away, out the window, as if trying to pretend she was distracted and not part of the conversation …clever …why weren’t the kids asking her?!!?!?

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Chew. Chew. Chew. Swallow.

“Oh, um. Let me think about that. I’m sure it wasn’t that long. Um. Let’s see here. I guess it was, oh, well . . .”

My brain was begging for a large tree to fall through the roof of my house. Or a power outage. Or a ninja to fly in through the window forcing me to fight said ninja off with my fork and knife. But no such distraction came. Only three sets of eyeballs, belonging to a 10, 12, and 14 year old, were looking at me waiting for an answer.

“I guess it’s been, well, when I was 14 years old.”

“Dad,” they gasped in shocked awe. Oh, for your Catholics, it gets worse. Trust me, not for a minute did they think I was without sin in 30 years.

“Dad! You should go,” said one.

“I bet you’ve sinned alot,” said another.

“I’ll go with you so you won’t be scared,” said another child.

“Well,” I said, “it’s not like I’m really a bad person. I don’t even know what I would confess,” I continued, even though “bold face lie” to my children might be a good starting point.

My son asked, “have you broken any Commandments?”

“Probably. Maybe. Only a few, I’m sure,” I replied.

My daughter said, “well, let’s go through them.”

Suddenly I was regretting sending them to a Catholic school and regretting ever trying to be a good, Holy, and devout Catholic. Who am I kidding? I’m highly flawed. So flawed, in fact, my 30 years of avoiding Confession might be because I think I’m a lost soul and if a Priest heard my sins, he might just point at the exit sign.

“Have you lied,” my daughter asked?

“Yes. Wait. Which Commandment is that,” I asked. “Oh, right. ‘Bear false witness’ is lying.”

The kids pressed further and it was revealed I’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain, I’ve coveted neighbor’s things, I’ve skipped Church (which is how Catholics “keep holy the Sabbath” at a minimum), and I’ve dishonored my mother and father. Crap! I’ve stolen a thing or two in my day (my much younger days, I promise) and when I was all confident in that I’ve never worshiped false Gods, my son pointed out I’ve skipped Church to watch football and basketball games and, technically, that was putting Michigan State sports above God and that falls under the “false Gods” thing. My son’s kind of a jerk, don’t you think? Hey. There isn’t a Commandment about honoring your children, so get off my back.

For those keeping score, let’s just say my kids think I’m guilty of 7 out of 10, but let’s face it, if I’m guilty of coveting my neighbor’s oxen (the man has a damn fine ox), you and I both know I’d be lying if not even once in all these years I’ve never coveted something else.

But let’s just go with seven. Seven. Commandments. Broken.

Zero. Confessions. Attended.

If you throw in the seven deadly sins (pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth) on top of the broken Commandments, I’ve got my work cut out for me. But it’s work I need to do, and should do, and will better for doing. Did my oldest daughter come home from school the next day and inform me I shouldn’t be taking Communion each week in my current state? Oh, yes. That happened. Nice.

Consider this Part 1 of my Lenten journey. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem.

So, during Lent, I’m going to use the six Saturday’s to attend Confession and work on forgiving myself, being forgiven, and making sure I’m a better person, now and for good.

Here’s my Lent scratch pad. I’m sure right now you’re thinking I’m a horrible person. I’m not. I just need some fixing and Lent’s a perfect time for that. Stay tuned and I’ll pray for you if you comment and if you’re working on a great Lent, too.

No Regrets

I don’t know what’s more powerful. Fear? Or regret? Or fear of regret (if that’s a thing).

It actually all kinda works together. For me, I regret some things I’ve done, but more and more, I’m regretting the things I haven’t done.

I regret every time I made my mother cry and regret I never had a chance to apologize for that, as she passed away 12 years ago. Which makes me regret not telling my Dad “thank you” for not giving up on me when I was a real asshole for a few years there. And I don’t want to regret not telling him how much I appreciate him and how lucky I am that he’s my Dad.

I regret that I haven’t been to Confession since I was 14 years old, and I walk around calling myself a good Catholic.

I regret every time I fight with my wife.

I regret I never really went all-in on my salsa business. Or my writing. Or my website, spunkybean, and that I really dropped the ball and let down the talented Myndi and EJ.

I regret that I can’t ever seem to actually stick to a diet. And not necessarily a “diet” but avoiding splurging and gorging on fast food and cookies.

I don’t want to regret telling someone I love very much that he should change his ways immediately or he’ll die too soon.

I regret that I don’t get enough sleep. I regret that I only give it about 75% effort at work. I regret that I don’t exercise and that if I don’t exercise, I’ll never play soccer again (because my lungs will never be strong enough).

And this is a problem. Because some day I’m going to regret that I never wrote the screenplay that’s in my brain and I’ll never know if it was as brilliant as I think it is, or not. I won’t ever have the book I know I can write and while it may not ever be a New York Times best-seller, it will be loved by my family.

We’re about to go into Lent, again, and I’m vowing here and now to make …it …count! I’m going to use Lent to right all the regrets I have. It’s going to be great and I can’t wait to start living life without regrets.

Need to Simplify

For the past 5 weeks, I’ve been displaced from my home. Nothing bad, don’t worry. We’re remodeling our kitchen and it’s a pretty major project, so major that our family-of-five had to move out. Blessing of blessings, my Aunt, who lives 1.9 miles away from us, was spending January and February in Florida and we’ve been able to live at her home.

Because her house is only 1.9 miles away, we pretty much were able to move out of our house in a matter of hours (my wife might argue otherwise, but trust me, compared to many doing major renovations, we had it easy). My Aunt’s house is fully furnished. We grabbed enough clothes to last us a week, loaded it into a suitcase, and we were out. I think we brought some pillows, some food essentials from our fridge to her fridge, and that was it.

Again, my wife would argue it was much more complicated, but for the point of this Blog entry and the point I’m trying to make, I’ve lived the last 5 or 6-weeks with much, much less than what I have at home. I have 5 wash-n-wear dress shirts. I have 5-shirts. I have one pair of athletic pants. A couple sweatshirts. Some socks and underwear. Pretty much, I have about 25% of my wardrobe with me, and it’s been more than enough.

I think I’m learning I …have …too …much …stuff. I’m American. We’re consumers. Having “too much” is very much our way of life. We work to make money to buy stuff. As George Carlin famously said, “we buy houses to put stuff in it.” And then we buy bigger houses when we eventually have too much stuff in our smaller houses.

Please don’t scroll back through my Blog and see the many, many entries with my Christmas and birthday wish-list, because, um, well, my life has been about acquiring “stuff.”

In six weeks, living out of a suitcase and cardboard box, I’ m rethinking what I need to live moving forward.

Like, what if I donated everything that I didn’t bring with me to my Aunt’s house during the renovation? I’ll bet I’d be fine. I can donate things to people in need. I can sell some things. I’ll have less things to take to the dry-cleaners and less things to clean around. I’ll feel more calm because I’ll have less clutter to contend with.

Things will be simple. Simpler. Here goes another 2017 initiative.

Betcha wonder how #Project44 is going? More on that, tomorrow. But “simplifying” is going to be added to that. Thinking, “44 items of clothes.” Something like that. More on this as the year moves along.

Beginning Again

I’ve let some things slide. I don’t make and sell my Donnie Jalapeno Salsa, anymore. It’s the best salsa that anyone has ever made, anywhere, and I owe the world my salsa (did that sound dirty?).

I don’t write, anymore. I used to write for myself, for, for clients, and other random stuff. I wrote random articles on a variety of topics through a site looking for website content. I wrote two books. Two. Books. Dammit. I’m not the best writer in the world, but if you give me an hour, I’ll churn something out.

I miss the “old me” who would get home from bowling on a Thursday night and then make 30 or 40 containers of salsa and sell it all weekend. It gave me some nice walking-around cash. I miss creating and telling stories.

I think my happiness level would increase if I got back to doing some of these other things.

Oh, and I used to run 5Ks and train for triathlons. Really. I did stuff like that. Now, I do nothing like that.

Sure. I coach two of my children’s soccer teams, and the three kids and their activities keep me busier than I was 4 or 5 years ago, but I still feel like I’m making excuses when I don’t do my “side hustle.”

What’s a “side hustle?” It’s something the great Gary Vaynerchuk talks about when you have a full time job and a dream. The “dream” is your “side hustle.” He also has great thoughts about actual “hustle.”  I can’t find his definitive blog post on “side hustle”, but essentially it’s respecting that 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., but your “side hustle” is that passion project you do from 5:00 p.m. until midnight when you can’t go on another minute, and then you go to sleep for 6.5 hours, wake up, and start the “hustle” over again.

So? The question for myself, and maybe you, is what is that thing you always dreamed about?

For me, it’s . . .

  1. Write my memoir (don’t laugh, it’s actually more than a memoir)
  2. Establish a Donnie Jalapeno business model
  3. Write again for money

Now. How to fit that into my world. Give me #44 days.