Save $1,000 Challenge

I am not really one for gimicky challenges, especially when they come from an online source. However, with the economy on a downward trend and extreme socialism about to be instituted in the US (if Obama wins), I think it is important for everyone to spend their money in smart ways.  The Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge might just help us out.

While a little late starting, the challenge has already offered 4 tips that may or may not inspire you.  The best one I think is packing your lunch for the rest of the week.  Typically, going out to lunch will cost $7, whereas a healtheir lunch can be had from leftovers or a trip to the store for $3.  This will save you $20/wk ($4/ day times five days).

I would encourage everyone to at least take a look at the tips offered.  After all, 54% (315/640) of respondants surveyed are willing to spend an hour per day to save money.  Let’s see how this comes out!


Goodbye Summer!


This summer has certainly been interesting. From my travels, the death of my mom, flight simulator releases, triathlon training and my award winning recipes, I feel like my summer has been full of extremes.

The highs include traveling to Colorado and visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and having lunch with the elk to winning “Best Meat Chili” at the company cook-off for the second year in a row.  The lows were extreme in their own right.  I laid my mom to rest after months of heart disease and visits to the doctor. I also decided not to participate in the local triathlon this year, feeling that I was not quite ready. 

I look back over the entire experience with a long list of emotions, but look toward the future with optimism and happiness.  Afterall, this November we get to get those icky, destructive, Republicans out of office.  I will continue to train for next year’s triathlon season, studying up on productivity and leadership, and keeping you all informed of my reality and the flight simulator world! 

As I look forward, I offer these images of summer as a point of reflection.


Boats on the beach near Santa Barbara's harbor.
Boats on the beach near Santa Barbara’s harbor.



The USCG cutter "Blackfin" in Santa Barbara Harbor.

The USCG cutter "Blackfin" in Santa Barbara Harbor.


To The Future! Cheers! 




A Quick Trip to Colorado!

Hi Loyal Readers,

I just got back from a very quick trip to central Colorado to deal with some family matters.  I haven’t been to Denver since I was born there (my parents left Denver when I was just one year old).    I must say, Colorado is a beautiful state.  Denver is sort of like Seattle, only with not quite so many wacko drivers, and much drier.  I visited Boulder and Estes Park (the Santa Barbara of the hills) before driving through Rocky Mountain National Park.  I am still amazed at the stunning scenery, both the rolling hills and meadow of Denver to the peaks and rock of the Rocky Mountains!

The wildlife was very lively as well (maybe that’s why they call it wildLIFE?) Above the tree line on the open tundra along the ridge, three elks made a showing as they grazed on the flowers.  I really think the elks came toward the road to laugh at the traffic jam they would create.  Tourists will do anything to get a picture, including stopping in the middle of the road suddenly without warning because the woman screamed Elk!  Anyway, I actually parked, changed lenses and walked to where the elk was to get the below picture. Yes, I am a nice obedient tourist that is considerate of others.


More pictures to come as I process them!

Ye ‘Ol War on TV, The Simple Dollar Style

One thing I struggled with for many weeks and even months, was turning off the television and focusing my mind on other tasks.  This battle became known as “the war on tv” in my household. Some of you might remember my post, Things to Do, No TV, where I discussed some of the activities that I have done in place of tv watching.  While partially successful in the regards that I have drastically reduced the amount of time I watch TV, the war on tv became more of a reality check of priorities and the meaning of life.  Since starting the war a year ago, I continue to tell myself that TV is nothing than a marketing tool to brainwash the masses into parting with their money and wasting time.

And now, the war just heated up a bit.  The financial blog, The Simple Dollar, recently posted an article discussing the advantages of turning off the television, titled Ten Financial Reasons To Turn Off Your Television – And Ten Things To Replace It With.  The author also discusses activities to do in its place.  While my decision to go to war with the tv was not financial, The Simple Dollar points out that one can save a bundle by getting rid of the cable bill and saving electricity that the tv is no longer using, about $760/year. In addition, you’ll have more time to cook, more time with the family, and more time to devote to your business.

Overall, I found the article to be a nice refresher as to why I am trying to get totally off TV.  The financial ramifications are certainly positive and I would love to start my own side business. A little less stress would nice too.

Colcannon – A True Irish Dish

Since today is the original St. Patrick’s day for 2008 (the church moved it to Monday since it was interfering with their holy week), I thought I would celebrate by making something other than the typical Irish-American corned beef and cabbage. After reading a number of Irish country cooking books, it was clear that Colcannon is a very special dish as it is served serving the Lugnasa (August) Festival following the first harvesting of the new potatoes of the season. Often, this meal was started out with a saying, “Death to the Red Hag,” referring to famine.


The dish is quite simple, consisting of leeks, cabbage, potatoes, butter, garlic, salt, ground pepper and mace. Simply braise the cabbage until tender and set aside. Boil sliced potatoes with the skins on until tender and set them aside. Clean and slice the leeks and place them in a saucepan, covering them with milk. Bring to a near boil and simmer until tender. Mash the potatoes and add the leeks and cabbage, but don’t mash the leeks and cabbage too much. Add the salt, garlic, mace, ground pepper and butter. Pour into an oven safe dish, make some kind of a neat design on the top and then broil until browned. Serve once cooled slightly.

My impression is that this is nothing more than mash potatoes with a bit of spice. I used a combination of allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon as I didn’t have any mace sitting around, so I think the spice was more intense than it needed to be. I would probably add a bit more garlic and salt, as well.  I might even try it with red cabbage and rosemary, which has more flavor than the white cabbage. Heck, I might even stir in some chopped Irish Boar sausages or corned beef for experimentation.

DogTrot Papermodel Update

I’ve noticed over the past few days that arealityofmyown is getting a lot hits from search terms relating to papermodels.  In particular, the post “A new paper model project” has seen most of those hits.  This is the post where I announced I was working on building a papermodel of the toolshed, dogtrot, style sustainable living compound that I designed a few summers back.  An update is in order!

I designed it using Visio, which is a windows only program.  After printing it out, I measured and started drawing the papermodel kit in Photoshop. Developing the basic walls and placing the doors/windows was not hard and before I knew it, I had the walls built.

Unfortunately, this is where I got stuck.   I had a hard time visualizing the roof.  I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to maintain three separate toolsheds, requiring development of three roofs, or designing it with one big roof over the whole thing.  I always visualized the compound as three toolsheds with somethings like a champa or pavilion type roof over them.  The advantage of the champa/pavilion is that the could be covered with solar panels and/or “green roofing” while providing an expanse of shaded outdoor space and even carport.  For some reason, I just could not visualize the final design, the double roofs seemed like a waste of resources, and I couldn’t how the champa/pavilion roof would integrate with the three units if I didn’t use stock toolsheds.  Then there is the possibility of making the whole thing using straw bale.

As you can see, my mind went nuts with ideas on how to refine this compound.  I love the dogtrot style, I love the idea of living units, and I love the idea of protected outdoor space.   Back the drawing I went, but then the holidays came up and I haven’t gotten back to it.  To make matter worse, my guinea pig attacked the model that I built previously, destroying it.  I think it was sign from above to rethink the whole project  However, I migrated to an iMac (I love it!) and no longer have access to Visio and the files it produced.  I am shopping for a simple Mac based, free CAD program, but haven’t found anything yet.  I might return to old fashion pencil and paper and risk poking my eye with the pencil or dying of an infection from a papercut.  Skethcing it out on paper, with full elevations would make it easier to build from paper! duh!
Overall, the first version was a great exercise in visualizing the details and going through the process of possibilities.  Please stay tuned and be patient, the project is moving forward slowing.

Maxwell’s Second Law of Leadership

In my first post, Maxwell’s First Law of Leadership, I discussed Maxwell’s Law of the Lid in which ones effectiveness is only as high as their ability to lead.  Next in the ongoing series of Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I would like to take a moment to discuss his second law, the Law of Influence.  Before I do, I would like encourage everyone to head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of this wonderful book.

The Second Law:

2. The Law of Influence
This law is quite simple, if you can’t influence your followers’ actions, there is no way you can lead them effectively.  Maxwell makes a clear distinction between influence and a title; true leaders can influence their followers despite their title or position. As an example, he discusses the influence that Princess Diana had over the world.  A woman who was afraid of her position and responsibilities early in her marriage, became one of the most powerful women on the planet, even after her divorce and the removal of royal title.   Her influence, many argue, was greater than the Queen’s.  Diana was a true leader.

So, when you think of your ability to lead, think back and recall the last time you influenced anyone.  Then ask if you influenced them through your title or your heart? I think this law has a lot to do respect and trust than anything else.  You must show that you have them in your interest and that your decision making skills are in line with theirs.  This is how you earn respect and trust.  For me, this is the case, as I have always gained the trust and have been respected by many people who call me for advice.  It is something that I take a lot of pride in.

Next, Maxwell’s Third Law of Leadership…