Malaysia #2: When in Melaka…

When in doubt, turn left.

Family Travel Stories
This rule isn’t original to me. I stole it from Lawrence Block, the award-winning and multiple best-selling crime author. Not hisownself – he doesn’t know me from Adam – but his character Bernie Rhodenbarr always takes the choice on the left when faced with two equal options. He doesn’t agonize over the decision. He doesn’t complain that it’s hard. He just takes the one on the left and moves on.

It’s not original to Uncle Larry, either. I’m sure Robert Frost had something to do with it, among others, but his Burglar books are where the concept came to me. Years after I made Bernie’s acquaintance, I read in more than one Disney guide how turning left at amusement parks can cut your time in line by half. Everybody else is turning right, and moving against that pattern keeps you in less occupied parts of the park. I’ve done a completely unscientific study of that claim with an irresponsibly small sample size, but as far as I can tell the trick works. That’s another vote for turning left.

My wife and I grew up 90 miles apart, and met while we were both living in Japan. Continue reading

Malaysia #1: Malaysia, My Family and Me

Some of my readers already know that I’m in Malaysia now, because life is awesome.
We’ve been here about a month, and it’s time get back on the blogging horseThe Boys.

My wife and I, despite growing up 90 miles apart, met while we were both living and working in Japan. Before we even had kids, we agreed to live abroad for a while so they could have that experience and learn the unique lessons that can teach.


I don’t use “unique” lightly here. Many – too many – mediocre writers and speakers use the word “unique” to mean any of the following: Continue reading

A Tale of Two Fairies

Remember the tooth fairy?download

We were all born without teeth. We didn’t need them, and wouldn’t have asked for them if we knew how. Nobody had told us about fresh corn on the cob yet, so we were happy with breast milk. Besides, our food came with a free cuddle. Life generally rocked.

Eventually, we got teeth through no fault of our own. A few years later, we lost those teeth. We lost most of them because in life you lose those teeth, a few from accidents or a playground fight. Enterprising kids thought of ways to lose a lot of teeth at once so they could cash in on the Tooth Fairy.

Because whenever we lost a tooth, the Tooth Fairy gave us a gift.

It’s the same with the fuck fairy.

The what now?

The what now?

See, we’re all born without fucks. Just look at a baby — that little bundle of joy gives exactly zero fucks. He’ll cry in front of everybody at the mall, and sit for hours in his own shit. When you were a baby, somebody had to keep reminding you not to slam your head into nearby walls. Zero fucks.

As you grew up, though, you got a whole bunch of fucks. Your parents started making you give a fuck about rules. Your classmates made you give a fuck about your looks and popularity. In your teens and twenties, dating and work supplied a cornucopia of fucks to give at random about a whole raft of shit that doesn’t really matter.

But here’s the great part.

You can lose those fucks. Some of them you lose because as we grow up our priorities change. Not a lot of grownups with kids really give that many fucks which metal band somebody else likes the best, or who said what about whom at the office. Others we lose as we become more confident with ourselves, or from the accidents and struggles that define us as we grow..

When you lose those fucks, thus reducing your total number of fucks given, the fuck fairy comes and gives you gifts.

images (1)


She gives you the gifts of focus, motivation and clarity. She grants you the gifts of confidence, moxie and chutzpah. When you waste your energy giving fucks about things that aren’t worth a fuck, it saps your strength and fills you with doubt. When you lack spare fucks to give to anything but the most important things in your life, you can give those few remaining fucks the attention they deserve.


Remember how I mentioned that enterprising kids thought up ways to cash in on the Tooth Fairy? We’d dream of ways to lose all of our teeth so we could afford that new bike or game. Some of us (who shall remain nameless) even tried to counterfeit teeth. That doesn’t make us bad people, no matter what our elementary school principals said, it just…

Anyway, the point is that enterprising people can also become enterprising about losing their fucks. For me, that process was part of my martial arts training and early world travel, then capped off by having my sons. Other folks might need therapy, or coaching, or just regular time to sit quietly and assess their priorities.

Whatever your process for losing fucks has to be, make that process part of your life. Identify what matters most to you and yours, then give all of your fucks to them.Extraneous fucks you can shove under a pillow and smother to death, or you can shoot them through the pillow like a mob assassin in a movie.

You don’t need them anymore.


An Above-Average Joe

Business Writing CoachYou’re going to see a lot of changes on this site over the next few weeks.

I’ve been writing for a living since 2009 and sharing what I’ve learned about the industry since 2010. It’s been fun, and I’ve appreciated the comments and compliments I’ve gotten from everybody who’s been a part of this blog over the years.

But here’s the thing. Writing is a small part of what I do…and a small niche in which to teach. Much of what I know — and most of what I did before writing — is far more widely applicable. So I’m branching out in this blog to cover life coaching, business coaching and similar fields.

The overwhelming majority of what I’ll have to say (and of what I’ve said so far) can be summed up in the title of this post: above average Joe.
Continue reading

Middle of Nowhere Sessions (A Kickstarter Story)

If you can’t move your bar to the music, move the music to your bar…

Reggie Mace and Beth Rahn of Mace Mead Works have been doing that for a little less than a year now.

images Mace Mead Works is a bar in Dayton, Washington, a small farming community about halfway between Walla Walla, Washington and Cour d’Laine, Idaho. If you think there’s nothing at that point on the map, you can be forgiven. It’s pretty middle of nowhere.

Which is why they call their Kickstarter project the “Middle of Nowhere Sessions.”

Here’s the thing. In an attempt to bring in more customers to a bar that belongs in a city but is situated in a town where everything is within walking distance, Reggie and Beth have brought in musical acts from all over the Pacific Northwest. The bands have brought customers, some of whom come back. They want to expand on this model, specifically by

• Building a stage in their back room for better events
• Adding acoustic tile
• Buying sound equipment to record the concerts
• General publicity and word-getting-outness

It’s a good idea, but with 5 days to go they’re at just over 50% of their goal. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that might be: Continue reading