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The Path To Mancavedom

On the day we consume massive quantities of turkey, beer and 12 straight hours of glorious football it only seems fitting I celebrate the official grand opening of my very own man cave. My accountant would rather I call it my home office but calling this blog entry The Path to HomeOfficedom is super lame and I’m paying him good money so work on those tax write offs from the “man cave” investment.

You see man needs his own space and that was easy for him to obtain in his early days roaming the earth. But then man fell in love, married and created little men that eventually look over his home office sanctuary and found himself parking his ass regularly at Starbucks to get some peace and quiet and taking conference calls over endless hours of baristas making double shot skinny mocha latte frapacchinos . That life was getting old.

This path to mancavedom was not an easy one. It started as a vision years ago. became reality last year when the CFO of DonutMonday Inc signed off on the project (wife) and broke ground earlier this year. During this trail blazing journey to build his new castle I documented each milestone of the arduous process and I share that with you today.

Step 1 – Find a suitable location. I live in a modest home in Northern California where housing is expensive and general contractors are in high demand. So visions of a grand remodel adding square feet were not in the cards. Fortunately my property contains a shed in the backyard that was the inspiration for a number of horror movies ground zero for every child’s nightmares. Actually my wife keeps her off season clothes and holiday decorations in here so we’re good to go. Location secured. img_2710

Step 2 – Execute Operation Shed Crap Transfer. This is my dining room table. I think. I didn’t actually see it for almost 2 months because it was the interim staging area of where we stored all the crap we had in the shed. However this was a principal condition of getting the CFO financial green light so failure was not an option. img_2719

 

Step 3 -Knock that old mofo shed down. This was going to be the fun part of the project. Just me, a home depot special entry level low torque cordless drill with accumulated dust from non use and ingenuity. I may not be able to build but I can destroy! img_2708

 

Step 4 – 3 hours later, throw away the cheap ass drill, scrap the elegant de-assembly plan and just start sledgehammering with middle age dad anger. That worked way better. Eventually I was left with the final skeletal remains of the old shed. One i-beam remained holding everything together that required accurate precision to ensure full safety precautions and avoid any injury from walls falling in on the demolition crew.

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Unfortunately that plan did not work but the ladder and what was left of my dignity took the brunt of the collapse.

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Step  6 – Draw up your plans. This was the first rendition of the vision for what my man cave would look like utilizing cave man like drawing skills. Possessing no ability to draw a person from a sky view makes it look like I’m lying on the floor sprawled out face up on the floor with a beer in my hand. That’s entirely in accurate. I’m normally face down.

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Step 7 – Throw away that 1st grade level crayon drawing and hire a real outfit that can do the job right. In my case I went the pre-fab route and worked with a company called Modern Shed (www.modern-shed.com) These guys were great as was their design options and I’m not just saying that because I get $500 for every sales referral I send them. That said if you are in the market for a man cave/home office I highly recommend this outfit and I’ll give you unlimited use of my soon to be new kegerator which happens to be $499 on sale today at Home Depot. Weird coincidence on price. Did I mention these guys were great? So very great.

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Step 8 – Check your non-handy ass ego at the door and get out of the way. This is Jose and Gaspar. These guys know how to build and simultaneously silently mock me with real power tools which they leave scattered around my property to torment me.

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Step 9 – Find a suitable side project. While Gaspar and Jose did all the heavy lifting building out the cave I found a way to make myself useful by building out the storage closets that would house all of the wife’s clothes and decorations that previously resided in the horror house shed. Just look at the precision on how the cabinet doors don’t quite line up nor the 3rd unit on the right which is an entirely different sized storage closet I accidentally purchased and didn’t even realize it till assembly stage 14C.


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Step 10 – Pimp It out. That wall spackle is not even dry and I have the TV fully mounted. Boom! It’s the corner piece centralized universal of any certified man cave and mandated by the city permit that I did not secure when putting up this bad boy. But don’t tell the  city and for god sakes don’t tell that to my accountant.

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Step 11 – Invest in a wifi extender. I cut the cable cord and bought an Amazon Firestick to broadcast HD TV over wifi. Great plan on paper. Unfortunately my current home wifi did not adequately reach the outer confines of Casa de DonutMonday and watching impressively consistent levels of buffering on aforementioned TV in VHF display quality got old fast. So I invested in the titanium grade Sports-A-Saurus 3000 model to deliver 100MB grade HD delivery with the 1 click push button pizza delivery feature. Comcast is NOT getting my money today.

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Step 12 – Once Sports-A-Sauris is installed ensure you have your man cave built during MLB baseball post season, NFL, NHL and college football seasons for proper and thorough quality assurance testing.img_3072

Step 13 – Understand you will fall victim to purchase every ManCave themed shwag on earth.I tried to fight this but who can say no to a one of a kind Mexican license plate themed sign sold by ten thousand street vendors in Cabo San Lucas? I didn’t think so Judgey McJudger

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Step 14 – Equip your man cave. Check out this bad ass hand stitched Italian leather dual motorized reclinable couch imported directly from Florence for a mere $4500. Unfortunately that was not a CFO approved purchase so check out the plan B Costco sofa bed special that currently resides in the cave instead. img_3080

Step 15 – Landscape, paint and rejoice. My kingdom awaits and it comes equipped with full time child labor who will keep the beer fridge restocked knowing access to the Xbox relies upon completion of those duties. Pretty nice upgrade over the horror shed and packs a 140 SF of certified man themed punch on the inside.

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How do I explain a Trump presidency to my kids?

Today was a tough day for me as a parent as I tried to explain to my kids that Donald Trump will be our President. There is no playbook for this so I went on instinct which is the only way I know how to approach this unprecedented moment in our country. As a father of 12 and 9 year old boys I feel its important for them to be informed on the political system and how elections work. My family teases me that if there is one constant in our house it’s that if it’s Sunday It’s Meet the Press. Consequently my kids saw firsthand the hateful rhetoric that Donald Trump ran on during his campaign which ultimately got him elected and questioned why so many people would vote for him. Here’s what I told them. I had to sugarcoat some of aspects of what Im thinking but tried to keep it honest and real. 

  • We respect the constitution and accept that this man is our President. Its the will of the citizens of this country to choose our leader and we will respect that choice even if the President elect himself did not offer the same assurances had he not won. We must give him a chance to try and unite this country. 
  • You will be safe and protected. Our founding fathers created a constitution with checks and balances to prevent a President from taking us to war, enacting new laws or appointing judicial appointments without congressional approval which is many cases takes more than a simple majority. I remain gravely concerned that he will control the nuclear codes but that is not a burden of concern I want to put on my kids at these ages.
  • There is hate in this world and Hillary was right that there is a percentage of deplorables who voted for Trump but I have to believe many more people are decent people and voted for him simply because they wanted change and mistrust the current political establishment. They want higher wages or just to have a job again. They want a congress that will work together. They want to pay lower taxes. They want to protect whatever it is they feel is important to them that they don’t feel Hillary would stand up for. And for whatever reason they feel Donald Trump can deliver this. So far as I believe much of this is based on a foundation of ignorance and fantasy we can still take solace that is it’s still not hate. 
  • We live in a state that mirrors our moral and social values and the constitution allows us to enact our own local laws based on the will of the people. 
  • We will not be influenced by the actions we see in government.  We will support and love our family, our friends and never discard anyone based on race, color, sexual preference or financial stature. 

And if all else fails and the shit gets real I still have Canadian citizenship and can move back where we can hang out with Jon Stewart and Cher. 

Living Large in Little League

This dad shares his experiences as his kids progress through little league baseball

Read more

Dear Liver

Dear Liver,

First off I just want to say that I love you. We’ve been through a lot together and I’ve not always treated you with the respect you deserve. There was that malt liquor phase in college which I’m not proud of.  Oh and spring break in Mexico where I set the record for most consecutive tequila popper shots. Come on that was fun right? Fist bump! Come on don’t leave me hanging. Yeah I get your still mad about those early days in my career where I got a little carried away with the free soda perk and only consumed water in the form of ice cubes in my jack and cokes. Thank you for sticking around with me during those days and by sticking around I mean not shutting down so I’m on dialysis for the rest of my life. I appreciate it.
But hey we are in a much better place now right? I’m drinking tons more water, no more soda and I’ve cut way down on my day drinking at work. I don’t take you for granted anymore and I’m committed to you for the long haul. You know that now and that’s why I feel comfortable telling you that I’m taking a 3 day trip to Vegas with the guys.

Oh please don’t cry.

No really it will be fine. I’ll be sure to hydrate. Already I’ve had 3 glasses of water this morning before I head to the airport. Yes I’ll probably have a few drinks at the bar. Yes those are a stack of Southwest drink tickets in my pocket but it’s just an hours flight and how many can I really use in that time? Last trip was 4 coupons? Really? Wow I’m good but that’s besides the point. I’ve been preparing for this trip and taking a holistic approach to improving all of my organs health. There’s all that hot yoga workouts with those moves that improve the health of my pancreas, kidneys and gall bladder. My gall bladder is rockin right now. It should be on the cover of gall bladder monthly it’s so finely tuned.

Who’s going on the trip with me? Well there is Tom, Dave and my brother Sean. Yes my Canadian brother is going. Ok you need to just calm down. Yes he can be a bad influence on me but I haven’t seen him in almost a year and we can’t even go back to that bar again since the fire we accidentally started burned it down and all charges were eventually dropped. I know it’s not fair that his liver died many years ago from that trip to Saskatoon when it was all you can drink Molson’s night but it’s not my fault that he has free health care and got the titanium liver transplant. We just have to deal with this together.

So let’s just get through these next 3 days and make the best of it. I’m not going to lie to you that it’s going to be easy but I’l stay clear of the double vodka/redbulls (I get annoyingly chatty) and be sure to hydrate regularly. Tonic water counts right?

Last minute Donut Monday Dad Christmas gift ideas

Struggling to find a last minute Christmas gift that merits the awesomeness that Mr. Donut Monday delivers day in an day out? Never fear. I’ve compiled a list of ideas that meets such criteria

10. Someone to re-engineer my Comcast Home security system to no longer make an audible ping on the master console in our bedroom when the system detects a door being opened in our home. This crafty feature was intended to say “Alert –  Someone might be breaking into your home!!” but in reality its sole use to date has been for the sole benefit of Mrs. Donut Monday – “Alert – Mr Donut Monday is rolling in at 1:18am after a night boozing with friends who you don’t approve of!  Also he forgot to take out the trash”

9. A walk on role for Mad Men’s final season as Roger Sterling’s younger, better looking yet boozier brother who engage in hijinx with the secretary pool and bring in the biggest client to date for the ad firm, Scooter Tuna.

8. Someone to train my kids to no longer pee with the seat down and to flush when they go #2. I continually realize the importance of this wish being granted every time I sit on a wet toilet seat and look down.

7. A photoshopped picture me hoisting the Stanley cup over my head surrounded by the San Jose Sharks. I’ve been waiting 42 years for this moment. Time to take matters into my own hands

6. $10,000 cash to hire a team of analysts to determine how I found a way to miss my fantasy football playoffs this year with Peyton Manning, AJ Green, Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Defense on my roster and form my draft war room for next years season.  If there is any money left over it can be used add metallic toilet seats to my home to instill electro shock therapy for any future peeing violations from the kiddos

5. A magical hockey stick that pulls me around the ice craftily with Sydney Crosby like prowess to unleash a slap shot that elevates my game above the wounded moose like skills I currently bring to the ice in my current state

4. A hired hit man to make my raccoon and gopher problems to go away quietly. Plus maybe one of my cats but don’t tell the wife.

3. A super sized bladder transplant with camel like prowess so I can actually make it through a sporting event, movie, or a full night of sleep without the need to go. This wish is sponsored by Flomax.

2. A hovercraft to take me to work daily and avoid the jackelopes who somehow found employment in this improved economy, thus wrecking my commute. Will also accept a transporter device

1. To be “freshly pressed” on WordPress yet again and inflate my already dangerously large ego.

Happy holidays

Leftover Wars – The Final Battle

It’s Donut Monday at  at 3pm and I’m on day 5 of staring at a single piece of bacon sitting in a clear plastic container in my fridge since it arrived late last week. It looks lonely and confused. It’s a class B felony to instill willful neglect on such a tasty morsel in the Donut Monday household with a minimum 1 day ban on chores during football and the option for me to eat aforementioned tasty morsel without repercussions. I could and should eat it right now like a ravenous hungry male lion king but I know this is a trap that has been carefully placed by the only other species that dare challenge his reign – the lioness aka Mrs Donut Monday who “claimed” to be full and brought this piece of bacon home from breakfast out last Thursday in the aforementioned to-go container. Not that this action is out of the ordinary for her.  I’ve seen her first hand drop kick any hovering waiter who dares to prematurely remove a plate and cross forearm windmill block an approaching fork from anyone else at the table she shares as long as there is a reasonable amount of food for later consumption. A single piece of bacon meets that threshold it seems but there’s much more at stake here. I could now see this  to go order was clearly a throw down test of wills between man and woman and the sweet elongated strip of meat goodness  that would ultimately decide the winner, and she had bet large money on the swine.

My track record up until that moment had not been strong. Since our initial courtship I have conservatively obliterated somewhere in the range of 30 meals that the wife had staked claim to for later consumption. I suspect this phenomenon occurs in most other relationships. It’s just one of the differences in the DNA between man vs woman that surfaces during long term co-habitation/aka marriage. A woman orders a meal based on a game-plan where crafty planning can stretch a doggie bag to make 3 additional meals over 7 days. A man takes a different approach and orders a meal based on 3 part rating system

If I order a meal and finish it will it be free and I’ll get my name on a plaque on a wall next to morbidly obese past customers?

If I don’t finish the meal will other men mock me in shame and will my wife start to wonder why I can’t get the job done?

If I don’t finish the meal and deny leftovers out of false bravado how much will  I hate myself when I stake claim on the leftovers my wife will leave unattended in the fridge later that evening?

At first any self inflicted food ownership violations were met with playful banter with minimal repercussions.  But as the violations stacked up over time and she realized no leftover was truly ever safe,  pity gave way to frustration, anger and ultimately threats of sewing my mouth shut. I quickly realized the negative reaction upon confessing to my sin was a direct correlation depending on the anticipation of the illegally consumed leftover multiplied by the complexity of replacement. I call it the Highly Anticipated Nourishment Detriment Syndrome or the HANDSoff effect.

For instance eating the last 2 slices of pie from our local pizza joint only scored a manageable 4 on the “You Suck” scale as I could quickly make amends within a quick call and 20 min drive to make a pick up. On the other end of the spectrum, consuming the remainder of a shrimp burrito recently hauled back all the way from her favorite burrito joint in her college hometown 100 miles away scores a solid 9 with a ten minute sustained stare-down like a man who was just caught clubbing a baby seal.

Back to the single piece of bacon in the present moment which has been tormenting me the last 5 days. I decided early on to to fight the good fight and represent manhood full on knowing that I’m a seasoned pro that is going to own the bacon situation and not let it own him. I document my journey along the way.

Thursday Day 1 – I check to see what the expiration date on cooked bacon under the notion that the threat of food poisoning will mitigate my primal urge to consume. No data exists. Studies show no bacon has lasted longer than 30 minutes before ultimate consumption in 150 years of studies in controlled environments.

Friday Day 2 – Bacon themed nightmares begin. I bolt up out of bed that night in a cold sweat when my wife won’t stop the car to pilfer free Premium Center Cut product from a jackknifed Oscar Meyer delivery truck on the side of the road.

Saturday Day 3 – During my daily refrigerated pork surveillance, the 9 year old asks if he can eat this last piece of bacon in the fridge and for a moment I contemplate letting him just to see what happens. I imagine poison darts shooting out to cut him down mid bite or a trap door opening up beneath him and I think better of it. I let the boy live atleast till Sunday and re-evaluate my options.

Sunday Day 4 – 37 minutes. Turns out that’s how long you can stare blankly into an open fridge before you permanently screw up the cooling system.

Monday Day 5 – I gather the family in the kitchen and announce there is no Santa Claus just a moment before I eat the singular piece of bacon in one bite. I figure better to embrace the role of scoundrel and control my destiny. On the plus side it’s one level higher than that of an accused baby seal clubber.

I am a weak yet fulfilled man

TV Time Out – So That’s What HD Looks Like!

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Oh yeah check out that bad boy the 32 inch Proscan. RCA’s “in your face” answer to Sony’s Trinitron and Pioneer’s Elite series harnessing the best of TV technology circa 1998. That was back in the day when you had to call in atleast 2 buddies to help carry a beast like this when moving and if you dropped this TV on your foot you were definitely going to the emergency room. Not like the featherweight slim LED TV’s of today that my 9 year old could move himself. I took a picture of this relic from a rather odd angle with bad lighting because I literally can’t move it any further by myself.  In short, a man’s man TV. Or some would say a cheap man’s TV. And the reason I know so much about the Proscan TV is because this monster has until about a week ago, been the primary TV viewing home experience for me and my family the past 15 years. RCA may have gone out of business but not in my house.

Truth be told I didn’t even care about replacing the TV the first 8-10 years. TV technology at the time was good enough for me and 50 inch plasma TV’s back then would set you back a good $3-4K. Why get a SmartTV when I had hundreds of physical DVD’s that I could ignore and store in my house taking up precious room while collecting dust? The real shunning began about 3 years ago. Buddies dropping by for a Sunday afternoon watching football slowly dwindled. One friend walked in to my house one Sunday afternoon to watch the 49ers, took one look at the TV and walked out immediately without saying a word. Since then I send him (just him) a Super Bowl party invitation every year with a picture of the TV on the front of the card telling him to RSVP ahead to guarantee I could make room for him. Last year I had my Comcast cable boxes updated and asked the installation technician how much to upgrade to an HD signal. He just looked at me and said “Why?” When the Comcast guy shuns you and gives you the virtual “L” pasted across the forehead you know you’ve hit bottom.

So 2 weeks ago I drove down to the local Best Buy with a stack of gift cards accumulated from 10’s of thousands of dollars in DVD purchase rebates on my credit card and headed over the TV section. The discussion with a very nice sales lady went something like this.

Sales lady – “Can I help you sir?”

Me – “Yes I’d like to buy a new TV”

Sales lady – “Is there a particular set of features you’re looking for in a new TV?”

Me – “Yes I’m looking for a 50 inch TV that has new features developed since 1998”

Sales lady – “You have a TV from 1998?”

Me – “Yes. Please don’t shun me”

Sales lady – “No worries. Are you going to give it to a museum or something”

Me – “I would but I can’t physically move it out of my house. We are going to stack the kids toys all around it until they move out for college which is about when I’ll be ready to upgrade my TV again”

When I finished picking out the TV from the Best Buy Labor Day Sucker sale the nice sales lady said they would bring the Slim LED TV around front to load into my car. In my customary fashion I waited for 3 large men to come by to load the TV but the sales lady brought out the TV herself and loaded it in the car, with one hand, while texting her friends.

Installing the new TV in my living room was relatively pain free save for lifting the old TV off the stand and moving it 2 feet which is where it still sits at this moment. When i turned on the new TV for the first time an impressive graphic display of HD awesomeness appeared before my eyes and that was just the TV set up wizard. Even the set up prompts were impressive and intuitive. “I have detected Comcast Cable as your primary provider” (yep)…”I have detected your home wifi and connecting now” (impressive)…”I have determined your top 10 favorite shows after analyzing your DVR saved programs and past viewing habits. Would you like me to recommend shows to you automatically?” (tears rolling down my face) Once the set up was complete the TV crescendo built up while the TV automatically downloaded a software update. In the background set up music I swore I heard the words “Looooooosseeeerrrr” whisper into my ear.

The next morning was like summer Christmas in casa Donut Monday. The kids reiterated their love for their father and the wife said rent something “frisky” on the Netflix app later tonight, in HD. My Comcast guy looks me in the eye again.

Until my next TV revolution circa 2028

The Father’s Day All Dads Really Want

Father’s day is like Christmas morning for dudes over 35. It’s the one holiday I really look forward to now that I’m a dad, a husband and a worker bee (I mean consultant) And it’s placed at the perfect time of year, just before the wife and I run the gauntlet on a summer when the kids are home 23 hours a day during school break and just after 17 other occasions that are not centered around me. That Hallmark driven marathon starts with Valentine’s day which is a mere 2 days after my birthday (barely enough time to sober up) with a checkpoint at Mother’s day, 12 eight year old kid birthday parties and finally a sprint to the finish line with the wedding anniversary. Speaking of which I’m married to the most shizawesome wife in the world. She knows that while many of my crew of fellow dads get stuck going to expensive Father’s day brunches with the extended family or play dates with other families at the park I get the day off to do whatever I want with no contingencies or lectures after the fact. It doesn’t even have to be legal though she asks to keep it to misdemeanor level offenses

Each year she will ask me what I want to do for Father’s Day and I walk her through the most epic day ever. This would be the Mount Everest of Father’s Days and if I’m only able to achieve a fraction of this it would be a great day still. Let me walk you through it.

The morning starts with a true opportunity to sleep in rather than the daily ritual of a 5 year old projecting at 50 decibels “MORNING DADDY!” 3 centimeters from my eardrum at the side of my bed at 6:30am. The wife has pre-briefed the children the night before that they get 20 minutes of TV cartoon time for each pound of bacon they cook up to prepare for Daddy’s day and an extra 30 minutes if they hear the lock engaged on Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom door in the morning. That’s how I want to be woken up to on Father’s Day morning…the smell of bacon being cooked illegally by minors who earn 5 dollars a week and the bedroom door being locked by my wife.

Once the all clear sign has been given the wife and kids gather to formally present daddy with their father’s day presents. Mommy goes first with a trio of gifts. The first is a tribute to introducing more danger into my life. Up until now the most traumatic experience is whether or not I pull a hammy sprinting out to the curb every Wednesday at 6am to catch the garbage truck after forgetting to put the trash out the night before. So she rewards with me a  guest star appearance as a lowly deck hand who gets promoted to skipper after all the other deck hands are swept to sea on Deadliest Catch.  A spinoff series is being discussed. The second gift is absolute forgiveness for not reminding me that this is the 12 time I’ve forgotten to take out the trash in the last 13 weeks. The third gift is washing the seasick induced puke off my shirt after my guest appearance as a deck hand/turned skipper on Deadliest Catch goes horribly wrong and the spinoff series talks go south.

Then it’s time for the kids to present their gifts to me from youngest to snottiest. The first gift is a solemn oath to from this time forward to flush the toilet after taking a number 2, (an oath that will be broken a mere 20 minutes later) , the 2nd to grant me preemptive forgiveness for blowing they college 529 college money on a weekend bender in Vegas and the third for my oldest boy to commit to learning to drive by age 9 so I can have 24/7 DD access at all times. None of this is legally binding in the court of child rearing but I appreciate the effort and hustle.

Upon completion of the gift giving process and proper consumption of  mass quantities of illegally baked bacon I get dressed and walk outside to see Emma Stone washing my new Tesla Model S hybrid in a bikini. I immediately upgrade her to my caddy where she will carry my bag on a round of golf at Pebble beach with 3 of my heroes: Wayne Gretzky who brings a upgrade to my mad E level hockey skills, the dude who plays Don Draper on Mad Men who shows me how to be productive at work after 12 Scotch drinks accompanied by a power booze nap and a persistent scowl and my Dad who is the only man I know who can pull off a pink shirt and white trousers. Yes I said it. Trousers. It’s father’s day. I get to say whatever I want.

After golf I’m helicoptered into the final table on the World Series of Poker where I put on a clinic to capture my first of many WSOP bracelets, train with the Navy Seal equivalent of Canada (the Beaver Battalion) for an upcoming raid to get rid of the province of Saskatchewan (we’re just tired of having to spell Saskatchewan) and asked to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times on how donut consumption will ultimately save the world. Amen to that brother.

Long Live The Annual Guys Getaway

Mancation….Guys Weekend Away…Boys Trip. Call it what you will just don’t forget to call me if you’re putting one of these bad boys together. Since the beginning of time when Fred and Barney would take a road trip with their fellow Water Buffalo brethren into the prehistoric minivan and head off to Rock Vegas for to blow off some steam and throw down some bets (Did someone say b.b.b.b.bet, bet bet?) men have come to love the ritual of the annual guys getaway. It’s the only reliable environment where you can take  a collection of otherwise responsible set of dudes who are generally upstanding citizens and have them voluntarily subject themselves to photo documented acts worthy of extortion. For evidence I present you with Exhibit A.

Exhibit A

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These are men in full scale annual guy trip mode. Note their temporary departure from self pride fueled partly by brotherly companionship and partly by the 19 beers consumed by the time this picture was taken…at 11am. You may think this picture is an anomaly but I’ve trained this crew to willingly put on an umbrella hat in public during perfectly sunny days at major sporting events for 10 years running. Do not underestimate the alluring power of the annual guy getaway. That and 19 beers.

I used to think that guy trips were just something you only did in your college days but when you are that young with little or no responsibility your whole life at that moment in time is practically in constant guy trip mode. Your only concern when you return from a trip at that age is whether you left the beer fridge open while you were gone and whether you will get the damage deposit back on the house boat rental (You won’t). I suspect the allure of the guys trip fades for those in retirement age as well given the abundance of down time already readily available or because there is only a 78.3% chance you’ll survive the ordeal.

It’s actually us middle age dudes that truly embrace the guys trip and get the best return on our investment. We are in the sweet spot of life where downtime is rare and you don’t pass up the chance to break out of the normal routine. Nothing makes you step up your game and temporarily loose your mind on a testosterone filled excursion knowing that when the sanctioned debauchery ends  you will pack your bags to head home to start a 48 hour diaper duty shift, face a shit ton of work to catch up on and a get a freshly updated HoneyDo list from wife who’s looking to collect on all the man point credit cards you charged this trip to to get out in the first place, with interest. But that’s not for another 3 days 7 hours and 15 minutes from now and it’s time to live large.

Like most things in life there is a hierarchical pecking order in the various preferred formats of the annual guys trip. Any quality time away with the guys is a good thing but the first annual trip is always touch and go and the casualty rate is high. The rule of thumb for a first time getaway is invite 30% beyond trip capacity knowing some never make it past the budget talks, others get D blocked from the boss on a last minute conflicting business trip and then there is the rare occasion where a poor soul gets machine gunned on his front lawn within visual range of their target getaway vehicle by the wife who was never properly briefed on the original mission. We attempt to recover the body later.

Any guy getaway that makes it to year 2 is officially considered a tradition according to worldwide man code which instantly upgrades your weapons cache for counter assaults in subsequent years by aforementioned barriers to entry. Void where prohibited. The gold standard is the annual guys trip established before you even settled down to got married and have kids. This pre-nuptual agreement term was recently upheld in a challenge in front of the Supreme Court of ManJustice. You’re grandfathered in and can play the tradition card every year with no expiration date. “Honey you know I want to be home for Christmas with the family but we’ve been doing our annual guys Halibut Be Thy Name  Alaska fishing trip since 1986 and I can’t let the guys down.  The key is don’t miss even one year or you loose all your accrued vesting and we won’t see your ass on that trip again until the kids are out of college.

Annual girl getaways, while fully endorsed and encouraged by my fellow male brethren,  don’t come together nearly as easy. Women are much more polite then men and will try to work around everyone’s schedules to find a compatible time before an entire year has gone by and they have to start over for the following year. If they do actually agree on a  time there’s talk of what to bring, what kind of clothes to pack and pre-planning some excursions. No such silliness on guy getaways. Without prior notification or planning guys just show up in front of your house the same day each year, the car filled with beer based on a 24 bottles per person per day consumption rate and poker chips. No words are exchanged. For girl getaways, themes will change every year and there’s debate and discussion about what to do to “build on the experience”. Yawn. Men invite the same other men every year, wear the same shirt, order the same beer and sit in the same chair and if someone’s in their chair they will crop-dust  the area until the perpetrator is forced to exit from lack of oxygen. Don’t mess with tradition.

One final little tidbit on the subject of guy getaways. Contrary to what you see in the movies and outside of any excursion involving Charlie Sheen, most men I’ve seen don’t completely loose our minds on these kind of trips and do stupid shit. If  someone new is initiated into the excursion and shows up with hookers and coke they are quickly excommunicated from the group and shunned from existence. The fact is we’re not out to cheat and break laws. We just want to drink beer, shun responsibility for a few days and have something to look forward to next time around, which according to my calendar is a mere 187 days away and counting!

7 Easy Steps (and 180 Sleepless Nights) To Becoming Your Own Boss

This is the true tale of my transition from corporate mid level exec jockey to mid priced self employed business consulting dude and largely the reason why the Donut Monday has been on hiatus the last 6 months or 180 sleepless nights. Large bouts of joblessness and possible financial ruin strangely dulls my humor. Only the names and the companies have been omitted to protect the not so innocent starting with yours truly who doesn’t want to get his ass sued as I recount my journey.

Step 1 – Get Fat and (Un)Happy In the Corporate World

You blink and all of a sudden you’ve been at one company for 13 years. You didn’t plan on it but you figure out how to not only survive but thrive in the corporate matrix. The pay is good. The benefits even better and the 6 week sabbaticals downright intoxicating. You think about leaving but they toss in Sr into your title. You think about leaving again and then they start calling you Director and that’s got a nice ring to it. Now it’s business class bookings on corporate travel and a cute admin. At this point you’ve dodged atleast 6 or 7 company wide layoffs so you think you’re untouchable or just damn lucky but who cares. You made it through the gauntlet and you start buying into the hype. But even though you’ve built up a dream and become a delegation superstar you’re in meetings 8 hours a day and 200 daily emails is a regular occurrence so you catch up at night after the kids are in bed a couple (every) night a week. Your friends start calling you a lifer and you think maybe they just might be right.

Step 2 – Buy Into the Start Up Dream

The dirty little secret is that living in the bay area can be a grind. So much wealth abounds and even though you’re W2 would bring bring no sympathy to anyone else in any other part of the country you start to feel like you settled and the house starts to feel smaller. And you’re about to turn 40. So you start to put out feelers on making a move to a start up , kick your feet up and wait for the offers to pile in like high priced veteran ballplayer who has just become an unrestricted free agent. But no offers come in. Sure you’re great, wicked smart and you put in the hours but you’re a corporate guy and you’re best years are behind you. You don’t know how to work in an environment without process. Can you sell the vision and close when the company’s existence depends on it? Can you work in an environment where everyone is 20 something and that salt and pepper hair is not helping things. No one tells this to your face but that’s what’s going on.

But then all of a sudden an offer comes in from a start up. OK it’s a start up that has been a start up for 10 years and you’re not feeling good vibes about the founder/CEO but then again every start up founder is a bit of a mad scientist so you talk yourself into this being the one. Who cares if it’s the only one. You take the job. The wife is supportive but starts to update her resume just in case.  The company is not based in the bay area so you become a temporary road warrior but you can handle it until you see the hotel reservation the company made for you and you think the one star rating is a typo. It’s not.  Business class is a long way away from your new home in row 39 middle seat. But you’re a seasoned veteran who knows how to play hurt and you soldier on. And before you know it you’re living the dream. Deals are closing. Attaboys and high fives all around. You start sitting in the quarterly board meetings. Your confidence skyrockets and you’re already counting ways to spend your forthcoming start up stock option wealth. Life is good.

Step 3 – Get Fired

While you are hitting nice strides in your job the revenue numbers come up short and your team members are getting picked off one by one. Rationale thought is in short supply and then one day the mad scientist CEO sets his sights on you and next thing you know you’re fired. I’m not talking about one of those prolonged individual performance plan layoffs with a soft landing and a fat severance plan kind of terminations. Or  the  sorry that risky new direction we took the company in didn’t quite pan out so we need to perform a mass casualty slaughter set of terminations. No I’m talking about a coming out of no where-in your face-made for TV-you’re fired-no soup for you kind of terminations transacted in about 15 seconds at curbside pick up at the airport by your boss who you were there to meet and drive to the big customer meeting that you set up. So now you suddenly find yourself curbside and jobless. And the airport cop behind you telling you to pull forward right afterward is not helping the situation at all at the moment. Curbside and jobless.

Step 4 – Have the Sure Thing Job Offer Fall Through

You know you had not been happy in this job for sometime anyway so the feeling of shock is quickly replaced by relief and ultimately joy because another large company had been recruiting you for a few months leading up to this moment. You were hesitating up to this point about going back to the corporate life but after getting virtually gunned down in broad daylight you start thinking maybe this start up life is not for you. Collect a severance, sign a fat offer and walk away unscathed. But just as you’re pricing out a 4 star family trip to Hawaii to celebrate the hiring manager calls up says the open headcount has been pulled but let’s talk again in 6 months and that’s when you really start to sweat.

Step 5 – Consume Large Quantities of Humble Pie

You’re a survivor so you shake it off, fire up the laptop and make LinkedIn your default home page. You punch out some key words in the job search that are representational of who you are and what type of role you are looking for. “VP”… “Team Leader”….”Superstar”.. “Generous Compensation”.  A few weeks later you’re resetting your expectations to “Entry Level”…”Flexible Hours”…and “Free Uniform Cleaning” It’s not going so well. You become a networking mad man. Lunch meetings are your daily ritual and while you put on a good face for friends and former co-workers who actually answer your email or calls no good job leads are materializing and you start to wonder if in fact your shit maybe does stink afterall.  You sit and your home office and do the job math. One unemployed single household income earner times  2.5  months average interview to offer time divided by 6 weeks left of severance to the power of end of season/holiday no one hires this time of year. Don’t forget to carry the one.

Step 6 – Reinvent Yourself

You’re on the 48th coffee meeting when a wise man asks if you’ve considered consulting. You had not. You’re a one company kind of guy but maybe it’s time to reinvent yourself. It’s 10am on a Sunday morning and there is an industry trade show Monday where you know everyone. 2 hours later you’ve booked a flight on your dime and 10 minutes before your local Fed Ex store closes you’re printing out the last batch of home made business cards. JSW Consultants is born. You’re on the 7th hour walking the tradeshow floor when in fact one of your former business contacts says they could use your consulting help a few hours a week. That grows to a few days a week and as you’re filing your business license, installing QuickBooks and pondering what exactly you can and can’t write off on your taxes in your new self employed status an email comes through on a new consulting opportunity referred by one of those networking lunch contacts you thought might be a waste of time.

Step 7 – Remake the Dream

Now it’s 6 months later and you have multiple consulting projects going at once, a few more in the pipeline and atleast 2 intriguing job offers, both of which you turn down for now. You understand the perils of consulting and realize there is no job security and it could all go away in less than 30 days but for now you’re not just surviving your thriving. You are the salary man who only knew one way to earn a living consciously took an unchartered career path and in the end learned alot more about yourself along the way.