Adventure #2 The Unexpected

A random Saturday Morning.
Dreamgirl works from 9-12:30.

Dreamgirl: I’m off work early today. What do you want to do?
Me: Wanna go to Hocking Hills? I think there’s enough time. We can’t do a lot, but we’d at least see where things are if we want to spend more time later.
Dreamgirl: Ok, let’s do it.

Just like that we decided to ditch our many variations on the known and comfortable and drive two hours to a state park we’d never seen.

Apparently that’s how quickly things can change if you let them. We spent a day living on the edge (literally, check out the cliffs…) and establishing brand new boundaries for ourselves and our family.

At the start of our hike to the Rockhouse my kiddos turned to me on the trail and said “Daddy, this can be one of our adventures!”

And so it was…

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I’ve heard that expectations are planned disappointments.
I think Saturday demonstrated that the opposite may also be true:

The lack of expectations is a plan for delight.


Walking the Footpath

I lift thee and thee lift me and we’ll ascend together.
-Quaker Proverb

I saw this couple at the park. Walking, arm in arm.

I followed them along the footpath for a while.
Who’s leaning on whom?

I could not tell and cannot still.


They paused on the bridge for a time, faces suffused with contentment.

I’m sure they’ve done it right.


Set Your Angel Free

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
-Michelangelo Buonnarroti

Today I found myself ramming through a blog post in order to keep my schedule.

I believe in shipping without regard to “perfection” but I was murdering an insight.
I found myself in the period of creation where disparate influences need time to coalesce; a process that cannot be forced or rushed.

The cause?
I’ve allowed some new and exciting possibilities in my life that are impinging upon my time to write.

The solution?
Choose what things I’m doing don’t matter and pare them away.

You are Michelangelo chipping away at the block of marble that is your life.
Set your angel free.

March Goal Review

I’m feeling non-committal about the monthly goal update. For anyone familiar with the goals a recap has to be desperately boring. On the other hand, anyone not familiar is going to wonder what the heck I’m talking about if I don’t include any background.

Perhaps later in the year I’ll come up with a middle ground. In the mean-time these posts are my accountability check and I’m not going to stop.

Without further ado, the March Goal Review:

1. Build the Boat – Launch the 17′ Herreshoff Rowboat.

Man! When I get 4 solid weekends of work in a month I am going to make huge progress on this boat.

Once again I only got two weekends to work. I was able to hang one plank. I’m working 2 or 3 times faster, and more accurately than in the past. As I improve my skills old flaws jump out at me with greater clarity. I guess higher standards are the downside to improvement.

One problem that cropped up is the discovery that I don’t have enough material. I thought I might have enough to finish, but the last plank I cut made it clear that I will run short.

The closest marine grade plywood is a 4-5 hour drive from here. I won’t be able to make the trip until at least the third week of March, so I’m going to have a significant lull in my construction progress. In addition, I will have to use one of my work days to make the drive. So much for productivity. 😦

Because of the length of the drive I’m considering purchasing the plywood for my next boat at the same time. 4 more sheets? Ouch, pricy!

Nevertheless, it’s really starting to look like a boat.

I’m so freakin’ excited!

2. Post to – Use the blog to clarify ideas and direction.

I’m journaling and writing more in 2012 than ever before. I’m overrun by ideas and that’s a lot of fun.

I’m getting much more clear on how I can help people. That improved focus makes the work much simpler and really adds energy to my life. I keep waking up in the middle of the night ready to work on business ideas or work on the boat. That’s fun!

3. 34 to 31 – Change how I eat and how I exercise to drop 3″ off my waist.

I moved down a notch on my belt!

I’m still having smoothies for breakfast every day and (inconsistently) working on the Angry Birds Workout.

The workout includes 4 exercises:

  1. Body weight squats – I’m able to do my 100 squats without days of soreness, but I still think I have room to progress before moving up a level.
  2. Pull-ups – I decided to do as many pull-ups as I can each time I put the dog out. I’ve done as many as four five, though three is more typical. One thing is certain…the dog wants out waaaay too often.
  3. Push-ups – I’m doing so much upper body work with the pull-ups that I’m not improving my pushups at all.
  4. Planks – Do you know how hard it is to hold a plank while a 2 year old climbs on you? This one’s not pretty.

While that’s mostly good news, I haven’t really established this as a habit yet. Maybe February  March will bring consistency.

Did I mention I moved down a notch on my belt?

4. Monetize a side business – Make $500 on a side business.

I’m working on logistics/business planning for a couple of ideas and I made a prototype of a product design. I’m excited about both of these projects, but they are long term.

Was this a crazy idea? I don’t have any short-term prospects. $500 seemed ridiculously small when I was cooking up my crazyawesomehellyeah projects for 2012 but now it seems a long way away.

Does it count to get head shots and start auditioning? That’s honestly my best idea for short-term payoff right now.

I knew this goal would be back-burnered while I focused on the boat, but I feel like it’s just sitting out there. Mocking me.

5. Adventures – Go on Adventures.

No adventures in February.

Tonight at dinner Grace told me we should have an adventure to Hanoi. She’s heard they have houseboats with sails called “junks”.

I can’t spring for the airfare right now, but I think they have houseboats and junk on Lake Cumberland. Maybe we’ll compromise there this summer.

February lacked some of January’s excitement.

That’s when people quit, right?
The excitement wears off and we start to see the real work that our plans require.
We ditch the gym, or the diet, or whatever.
Life happens and we lose our momentum.

Not. This. Year.

What are you working on?
Tell me in the comments.

The Dip – Seth Godin

I just finished reading “The Dip” by Seth Godin.

It’s about deciding what to work on and what to skip. Godin’s litmus test for whether to bother doing something is “Are you willing and able to do the work to be the best in the world?”.

I get it. Organizations should get out of markets where they cannot be world class in order to reallocate resources to areas where they can. In business, and maybe in a career, it works.


When you apply it to your personal life; to dreams, ambitions, and possibilities, it becomes terrible advice. The “best in the world or don’t even try” attitude is a dangerously false dichotomy when applied to living and loving your life.

Imagine if you will…

I’d like speak French, but since I’ll never speak as well as a native born diplomat I’ll just watch TV instead.
I’d like to snowboard, but Shawn White seems to have cornered the market so I’ll just hang at the lodge and drink.
I think it would be fun to play bassoon in my local orchestra, but since I’ll never make it to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra I won’t even try.

…or things that can’t be quantified…

Who is the “best” traveler?
Who appreciates art the most?
Who is healthiest?

If a thing is worth doing it’s worth doing terribly.

I wonder if Mr. Godin has hobbies?
Where is he in the dip?

Does it really matter?



34 to 31

34 to 31 is my plan to lose 3″ off my waistline in 2012.
As you may have guessed I currently measure 34″.

I hate shopping for pants, but when 34 to 31 succeeds I’ll have to.

I don’t really care about my waist size (34″ works fine for me). Plus, like I said, I hate the shopping.
You’d think I could leave well enough alone.

I do care about running though, and hiking, and yoga, and all sorts of other things. I don’t have the mental stamina to track all these separately as goals. Besides, individual plans would drive me crazy with scheduling and I’d feel guilty if I didn’t get to them all each week.

Faced with this dilemma I thought about the results. If I could find a common thread in the effects could I focus on and track the effect rather than the activities? I know that’s backwards from the goal setting literature but it seemed to be a fit for this scenario. (Do you think it will work?).

I spent a lot of time trying to find a through-line: Strength training would make my weight go up, eating more vegetables would tend to make it go down. Running would make my muscles stiff and tight, yoga would make them flexible.

Eventually I realized that each of them would trend me towards a smaller waist. When I figured that out I arrived at 34 to 31.

On the way to 31 I may make some of the following lifestyle changes:

PR a 10K
Run another 1/2 Marathon
Do 30 consecutive days of yoga
Do 100 pushups
Ditch soda
Go to sleep earlier
Eat more vegetables
Start swimming again
Start cycling to work again
Stop with the cookies

Or I may not.

I may make other changes instead. I hope the framework of the waist size goal will drive what kinds of habits I start while leaving me flexibility and spontaneity when deciding specific projects to begin.
When I execute on these ideas my waist size will drop.

Then I’ll have to buy new pants.


February Goal Review

My apologies for the delay in getting this update out.
I published the recap to Adventure #1 last week when I returned from Florida and I’m behind schedule on this one.

Here’s a brief run-down of my 2012 goals and the progress I’ve made on each.

1. Build the Boat

You would think that the person who books plane tickets and hotel stays wouldn’t lose track of the fact that he’d be traveling for two weekends of the month.

You’d be wrong.

I forgot the January travel schedule. I wanted to make huge progress and didn’t really get as much done as I wanted. But, I fixed a significant error from December, I hung a plank, and spiled another.

Hanging a plank means to attach it to the rest of the boat.
Spiling is transferring the shape of a plank from the boat/building frame to a pattern.

Not bad for two partial weekends of work.

What’s really great is that I am improving my knowledge and skills as I go, so each step should be faster/easier than the prior one.

I’m excited about the progress and eager to get back to work.
I only have two free weekends in February, but if I can re-produce January’s progress I’ll be in pretty good shape.

2. Post to

Posting to Cultivating Eccentricity is a simple goal, and I’ve been able to keep up with my (not very strenuous) twice a month plan. The bigger picture of this goal is that it keeps me thinking about what is important to me and about how I can help people. I committed to this goal because I thought that a regular writing schedule would provide insight to what’s really important to me and how I might be able to help people. I’m very pleased with my results so far.

3. 34 to 31

34 to 31 is my Fitness and Weight-loss goal for 2012. When the year is over I’ll have dropped 3 inches from my waist and my BMI will be firmly centered in the healthy range.

In January I made one solid and consistent change that has now become a habit.
I read a post at NoMeatAthlete on how to make a good smoothie. I took Matt’s recipe and started making a smoothie every morning. I’ve replaced my typical breakfast of cereal and milk with fruits and vegetables.

I tweaked Matt’s system a little by adding three handfuls of chopped kale.

I have three good results to report:

1. I like breakfast better when I have smoothies instead of cereal.
2. I don’t get as hungry through the middle of the day.
3. I feel lighter, like somebody lifted a weight off my stomach.

I also started doing the Angry Birds Workout from Nerd Fitness. You should read Steve’s full post for details, but it’s all about short body-weight workouts. In the time most people would play a level of Angry Birds you can do mini workouts to gradually build functional strength. In addition, Steve created a series of tiers so you can level up your workout from time to time.

My squats have moved from level 2 to 4 and I can do 10 more pushups than when I started. My right shoulder doesn’t hurt any more either.

While that’s all good news, I haven’t really established this as a habit yet. Maybe February will bring consistency.

I think it’s too early for another waist measurement, but my pants feel a little loose.

4. Monetize a side business.

I haven’t done anything. I’ve thought a lot, but no action.

5. Adventures

I experimented with minimalish travel with my family and had a great trip. I think we’ve cleared every hurdle we had to travel (except $). I can take my wife and kids anywhere we want to go and that’s a great feeling. For more details see Adventure #1 and my followup post.

I’m ahead of schedule on the adventure goal. I need to complete one every three months, so knocking one out in January puts me in good shape. I’ve completed some planning steps for the spring and summer adventures but nothing’s concrete yet. More details as things firm up.


January was awesome!
The whole month was jam-packed with living intentionally instead of sleepwalking through my existence.
I had a great month and I’m really excited about the clear progress I’ve made on my goals. I’m pumped up about February and everything I get to do in the next several weeks.

Bring it on!