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I wrote a new piece over at my writing blog today that has literally been kicking around in my head for 13 years and thought you guys would appreciate it. It’s a 9/11 tribute about the smartest person I’ve ever met. As a guy who’s worked in tech since the late 90’s, that’s sayin’ something because I’ve worked for some of the most powerful companies in the world with some insanely smart people. But none of them as smart as this guy

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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.

Follow me on Twitter here.

 

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5 New Sleeping Tips That’ll Stop You From Being a Zombie

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 […]

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