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molehole The Showdown in My Front Yard

It’s either them or me.

While working in the yard the other day, I overheard my 9 year old telling his friend that his dad used to have a mole killing business. WHAT???? If he would have told his buddy I was an astronaut, it would have been closer to the truth. I had no idea what he was talking about so I went over to investigate.

“You killed that mole, dad. Doncha remember?”

Oh, so that’s what he was talking about. This happened a while ago, but I wanted to get the facts straight, so I told him this story.

(harken back a couple years ago …)

It was one of those days.

The second I walked through the front door from a long day at work, it was one piece of bad news after another. I was home a grand total of 3 minutes before it started; Girl #1 went to the orthodontist that afternoon and a fight broke out between boy #1 and #2 in the waiting room. In the scuffle things went flying, and now girl #1′s glasses are missing. There’s $300. The doctor must need a new beach house because the “first phase” of orthodontia is going to set us back $3400. More good news. Add that to a fun economy, a couple of misbehaving boys, a nice ticket I received in the mail from the city of Lynnwood complete with a picture of our minivan blowing through a red light on two wheels and you have the Monday from hell.

Then I went out to the front yard.

I shuffled out to clear my head and water the lawn when I saw it. A brand new mole hole right smack dab in the middle of my perfectly green lawn. There are only two things in this life that I can control right now: my hair and my lawn. And given the fact that I’ve been working so hard on my lawn, I would have been less pissed if the mole sprouted from my head.

The good thing was that it was fresh … at least that’s what I told myself. We have trouble with moles every year but generally not this early. They are #1 on my “Axis of Evil” when it comes to my yard. And this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The son of a bitch was mine.

I grabbed my shovel and started clearing away the dirt. I got to grass level and started banging on the hole like I was trying to open the hatch from “Lost.” After a few good, therapeutic whacks, I just stared at the hole … and then something moved. I think it was a paw, or a hand or whatever the hell they have. I jumped in the air like a 12 year-old-girl. Wasn’t expecting that. I frantically ran off — full throttle in my flip flops and grabbed the hose like my house was on fire.

It was on.

I yanked the hose across the front yard like a man possessed and my wife (at the time) came out to see what was going on. I filled her in with a voice that probably sounded more like Bill Murray in Caddyshack than any normal human being, but given our mole problems in the past and what I’ve paid to have them removed — she got it.

I cleared more dirt away from the hole and jammed the hose as far in as it would go and turned the water on full blast. I wasn’t going down without a fight this time. Of course, I had no idea what would happen when all that water gushed in, I just figured the mole wouldn’t come down that tunnel again — like in Caddyshack when the gopher just took off running the other way when he saw the water running in. Yeah, I really thought that. We waited while water gushed under our lot just like it did at Bushwood Country Club … then the dirt moved again. Out popped a pink nose … and then it was gone.

“Oh my God, did you see that?” She said.
“Oh, I saw … ”

And before I could get the rest of the sentence out of my mouth the entire mole came flying out of the hole and waddled across my lawn like he was late for a dinner reservation. My wife freaked out and I grabbed my shovel.

“There it goes!! Get it! Get it!!”

I gotta be honest, I’m not one of these guys who would trap moles for fun. I don’t hunt and I love animals. But this was different — he was an intruder on my property. Also, an article I recently read flashed through my mind about how moles can cause thousands of dollars of damage. By that time, it had scurried to find the dirt on the edge of my lawn and was starting to burrow. So I swung the shovel as hard as I could and …

Missed.

I regrouped and took an even bigger swing this time and hit it dead-on. Any hope that creature had of escaping into the friendly confines beneath my lawn was gone. Bullseye. I gave it a couple more whacks just for good measure, a little theater and because the adrenaline was pumpin.’ Yep, it was dead. With no dignity either — its head was in the ground and body on the grass. The mole equivalent to dying on the toilet.

I had successfully defended my turf.

We both just stood there, amazed at what had transpired in the past 120 seconds. In my wildest dreams I never thought that thing would come shooting out of the hole. I gotta be honest though, it felt manly. I looked at my wife proudly, thinking she thought it was pretty manly too.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have killed it,” she said. “It’s kinda cute, like a hamster.”

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When the structure around you starts to crumble, the more you can take care of yourself, the better off you’ll be.

My boys and their buddy sold lemonade and snow cones yesterday as it hit a blistering 82 here in the Pacific Northwest. Boy #1 has been doing this for years and his focus has changed from “hey this is fun” to “we could make some money for summer” to do cool stuff.  This makes me feel so much better for his future because I hold no hope that our schools are going to teach our kids what they need to survive in the real world. I mean, for God’s sake, public schools still teach cursive over personal finance or negotiation (yes, kids should learn both in grade school). It’s not the teachers, it’s the system.

The technology, ideas and changing landscape we see in the corporate world hasn’t caught up with our education system. And as someone who had kids in grade school, middle school and high school last year, I don’t see this changing anytime soon. The revenues of some of the largest temp companies have gone up 300-400% in the past five years (public info) because companies are outsourcing all levels of employees today. From the secretary to the VP, they just don’t want to deal with the rising costs and headaches (healthcare) of having employees anymore. With changes in the corporate world and the deteriorating relationships companies have with their employees, it’s important that our kids know that they can also start their own companies when they grow up. Even if it’s just to have a side-gig.

The Internet has made running your own business something you can get going in a weekend, and below is a great Ted Talk video on how to raise kids to be entrepreneurs instead of working for someone else. It’s by a former COO who is worth more than $100 million and was a terrible student. He talks about how he couldn’t focus or pay attention and his teachers sent notes home about his failures at school (this sounds familiar).

Teaching your kids how to make a buck on their own is a hell of a thing to hand down. It will also teach them to reach for their own goals … instead of someone else’s.

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9570633249 920961c0f1 z 5 New Sleeping Tips Thatll Stop You From Being a Zombie

You don’t look this good after 5 hours of sleep.

It’s been a while since I’ve published anything here (more on that later), but I promise these sleeping tips and health “test” will worth the effort and make life a little better.

I recently turned 45 which doesn’t freak me out. What freaks me out is that in five years I’ll be 50. That’s almost too much to stomach. Plus, I’ve been waiting for my mustache to come in ever since a girlfriend in high school said I’d look good with one when I grew up. So that didn’t happen.

As I get older, my body is revolting against all the obstacle races, scuba diving, runs, wrestling with my boys and ten hours of sitting and staring at a computer screen every day. I get monkey fist-sized knots in my back that no massage therapist can get out in hours, my hips are like stone and I don’t sleep. You don’t either, I know because you tell me. And I see everyone walking around like caffeinated zombies. Which, coincidentally is a killer band name.

I have little tricks I use that helps the stiffness, but I want to focus on sleep today because I’m such a terrible sleeper that I’m always reading and searching for new tricks and hacks. Plus, I always get good feedback when I write about sleep. Because no one sleeps anymore.

Enter — once again, Tim Ferriss, who has a new podcast and it is chocked full of all kinds of information. Some he’s recycled, but the other hacks and tips have been fantastic. I’ve sung his praises many times and told you guys about a tip he gave to never be tired again. Well, his guests Kelly Starrett and Dr. Jason Mager on a recent episode had more gems about getting the perfect night sleep. Or at least six hours.

Starrett is a superstar physical therapist, coach and mobility specialist who trains Olympic athletes, NFL players, crazy ultra-endurance freaks, athletes from the armed forces and everyone else in between. He has a whole site full of videos to fix common mobility problems by yourself and presents them in a way you can understand. I have no idea who the other guy is, but he is smart as hell and talks like a doctor should in 2014. He promotes health instead of fixing symptoms.

All three stressed the importance of sleep to be at all healthy and function in a high-paced workforce. And if you’re competing in anything remotely strenuous, then you won’t last long without it.

Before the tips, they did talk about how you can tell how healthy you are first thing in the morning with these two big barometers:

  • The #1 thing they said in order to gauge your health is to pay attention to how you feel when you wake up. Do you feel like shit? That’s bad. I always feel like I just ran a marathon while being chased by Michael Myers. Not good. If you feel like you’re ready to take on the day, then you’re on the right track.
  • Do you have “morning wood?” If so, then you’re good. It’s a barometer of health and also reminds you that you’re awake, and alive. If you never do, it’s time for that yearly physical. Just bring your doc something nice for the effort.

Here are their sleeping tips that they said everyone needs to be following to maximize sleep and health:

  1. No light in your room whatsoever. They actually said you should be a diva and wear a sleeping mask. It reminds me of the way Mrs. Roper slept on Three’s Company, and that wasn’t pretty. No screens in your room at all. No phones, computers, or TV’s. They all give off a little light even when they’re turned off and that can be enough to screw up the entire snooze.
  2. Staying with the diva theme, also use earplugs to block out any noise. Tough for parents. I always feel like I need to be ready for when that team of ninjas storms the house and Rocco and I need to spring into action. That hasn’t happened … yet.
  3. Your mattress should be soft. This goes against conventional thinking, and I can’t explain this one, you’ll have to listen to the podcast, but body alignment comes into play.
  4. Your room should be cold – not above 62 degrees. Heat bad, cold good. Probably why we all sleep like shit when it’s 95 degrees, like it was here this weekend.
  5. Never sleep on your stomach. This has more to do with body alignment than anything else, but it was a big deal to Starrett. He says to sleep on your back with a memory form type pillow.

These tips really help, but I find it’s tough being consistent with them. I’ve also been experimenting a bit with sleep cycles, which actually help as well. Good luck and pass this on to anyone who know that doesn’t sleep well or wonders about their “morning” health. Check out the full podcast here, but bring a pen and paper — so much great, life-improving gems.

Check out my new writing and creativity blog Man Vs. Words here.

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A Big Annoucement: Read This or the Puppy Gets It

Well, I did it. Embracing the “it’s better late than never” motto, I finally launched my new blog over at Man Vs. Words. I’d love to say it was inevitable, but it was touch-and-go there for a while. I’m thrilled, relieved and a little freaked out. You’d think we’d finally get to an age where […]

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