Life Lessons from the End: What can Aging & Death Teach Us?

Considering the recent post about my Grandfather, this seems like a good time to share some life lessons from the end of a life well lived.

We push through our daily lives struggling, clawing, fighting for…????

We are continually distracted by all of the things we think we need to do. Places to be. People to impress.

In the end, what really matters?

  1. Marcus Aurelius on Mortality & the Key to Living Fully - Brain Pickings: Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is an all-time classic. Sits on the table next to my bed. A few thoughts on the end of a life well lived…
    1. Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.
      Cold or warm.
      Tired or well-rested.
      Despised or honored.
      Dying … or busy with other assignments.Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life. There as well: “to do what needs doing.”
  2. Top 5 Regrets of the Dying - Guardian:
    1. I wish I’d had the courage to live the life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
    2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
    3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
    4. I wish I had let myself be happier.
  3. What Can a Man Lear from His Grandparents -  Art of Manliness: You have their genetics. They are you. You are they. Learn from their…
    1. Work.
    2. Idiosyncrasies.
    3. Gifts to you.
    4. Activities with you.
    5. Strengths.
    6. Aging.
    7. Legacies.
  4. 7 Questions You Will Ask at the End of Your Life - Marc & Angel:
    1. Am I proud of how I lived?
    2. What did I discover?
    3. How well did I play the hand I was dealt?
    4. Did I take enough responsibility?
    5. What struggles did I conquer?
    6. How sincerely did I live through love?
    7. How much of my story did I actually write?
  5. 25 Life Lessons from a 100-Year-Old: Here are my top 5…
    1. Always maintain a good sense of humor.
    2. Your family is the most precious thing you will ever have in life.
    3. Education is important, but not necessary. Life can be an education in itself.
    4. Explore your world and stay curious.
    5. Life is a gift that you must unwrap. It’s up to you to determine if what’s inside will lead you to happiness or dismay. You have the power to make that decision for yourself.
Posted in Death, Life Lessons | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of My 99-Year-Old Grandfather Made Me a Better Person [Lead by Example & Choose Your Examples Wisely]

That is what love is made of...

That is what love is made of…

My Grandfather passed away last week. 99!

Actually, 98 and 337 days…28 days shy of 99. I’ll round up.

One heck of a run.

Here’s what our train ride looked like to/from the funeral…


2 1/2 year old in car seat for 12 hours or the train for 12 hours? Neither.

A whirlwind of travel misery and death.

And profound life lessons.

A little background on the legend that is Pop-Pop…

  • December 5, 1916 – November 7, 2015
  • Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Four children, 10 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren.
  • Didn’t swear, smoke or drink.
    • The only drink he ever ordered was when he proposed to his lovely bride - Grandma, at Rockefeller Center. He ordered a whiskey sour, and “if you look there now, the full glass is still sitting there.”

Pop was an awesome dude. Cheerful. Kind. Always there with a joke and a smile. The most steadfast and consistent person I’ve ever met. If he said it, you know you could count on it.

He expected a lot out of you. But he didn’t make demands. He led with his actions, and you knew to follow suit.

He would say things like…

  • If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
  • The Marines have landed and the situation is well at hand.
  • The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.

Before giving a reading at the funeral (verse below), I said…

Pop is an amazing person. I’m honored to be up here. Gram and Pop are the example I live by every day.

Love you Gram

Love you Gram

With the passing of Gram and Pop, I’m left with the realization that I am now responsible for carrying on that example. Their legacy.

A bit cliché, but real.

It’s easy for examples to fade away. It’s difficult to choose the right examples. And even more difficult to follow that example.

When the end is in the future, examples remain examples. Ideals. When the end arrives, those ideals must be carried on. Or fade fast.

I’ve chosen the best possible example, and now it’s my turn to lead in the same way.

  • Always a smile to share.
  • Never a bad word for anyone.
  • A fighter for what I believe, but fight in the most loving way.
  • No complaints, angry faces, or mean-spirited actions.
  • Family is always the top priority, but love is all inclusive.

I am who I am, on so many levels, because of Gram and Pop’s love. I am the husband, father, and person that I am because of the lessons they passed on to me.

The brilliance of it all is Gram and Pop never once “taught” me a lesson. They passed on everything I need to know to live a good life and be a good person by just being themselves.

I am their legacy.

I wrote an essay for my college application about my Grandfather. I closed with…

I hope to make my Grandfather as proud of me as I am of him. 

20 years later, this is more important than ever.

The ideals that Gram and Pop lived by are in my hands. Their lessons live on through my actions.

An immediate jolt to responsibility.

I am a better person because Pop was in my life. The best example I’ve ever met.

Love you Pop. You will be missed. But your  legacy is safe with me.

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Posted in Family, Grandparents, Life, Life Lessons | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

You Should be Listening to Podcasts [Awesome Recommendations to Get You Started]

A monotone voice drones from the worn-out speakers.

Wa wa, wa wa wa…

Miles of road ahead.

Grandpa at the wheel.

Glazed eyes of bored youth melt into the faux wood paneling of the giant Buick.

Ever been trapped by talk radio?

It’s the pits.

Podcasts are NOT your grandpa’s talk radio.

Podcasts are the next wave in media consumption. And you need to tune in. Yesterday.

Blogs are rad. Social media has some nifty perks. But podcasts are where the cool is headed.

Free format. No rules. A niche for every interest. All sorts of unknown talent.

In the past couple years podcasts have moved from fringe to mainstream. With the best yet to come.

Ditch mass media. Control your consumption.

Podcasts are time well spent.

But where to start?

The Dude’s Top 10 Podcast Recommendations

  1. The Tim Ferriss Show: Awesome guests. Great questions. Amazing ideas to improve. The only podcast I can say I’ve listened to every episode.
  2. Hardcore History: History is boring, right? No way – not with Dan Carlin leading the charge. Could be the best podcast out there. Start with the Wrath of the Khans series…you will gladly listen to 7+ hours of history!
  3. Serial: It’s been talked about a lot. Perhaps the podcast that pushed towards the mainstream the most. Awesomeness abounds.
  4. The Moth: Listening to amateurs tell real stories without notes is amazingly captivating – funny, sad, honest.
  5. This American Life: Longtime public radio show turned podcast. The Moth + Serial. Real life stories with professional journalism.
  6. Death, Sex & Money: Great topics, interesting people, endearing interviews.
  7. StartUp: Listen to a podcast startup business…start up. Connections to This American Life, Serial, and other great podcasts…
  8. Reply All: StartUp’s first off-shoot podcast. You didn’t know the Internet was this interesting.
  9. Bulletproof Radio: I’ve chatted Bulletproof in the past. Great info on cutting-edge health ideas.
  10. Psychedelic Salon: Looking for out-there ideas? This is a great place to start. The first podcast I listened to 3+ years ago. Podcasts were definitely fringe. A grandfather sharing psychedelic ideas – mostly Terrence McKenna.

Podcast Recommendations from Around the Interwebs

Posted in Podcasts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dude’s Book Review: Dead White Guys [Because Parental Units are Expected to "Know All About Life."]

Little Dude ~ Yes you do; you know all about life!

I dig philosophy.

We’re all philosophers at heart.

Whether we realize it for not, we search for answers to life’s unanswerable questions. At some point, we realize that we don’t know…and no one does!

At that crossroads, we can throw on the blinders and slip into the cultural norms guided by powers beyond our control, or we can dig deeper and build a personal philosophy that can guide our life.

This personal structure is unique for everyone. Where to start? Who to trust? What is really important?

Luckily there have been very rad dudes (and ladies too) raising these same questions for a loooong time. Dudes like Plato, Socrates, Machiavelli, and many more.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to be swept away by the cultural stream, and for the vast majority of us, we’re not exposed to great thinkers until it’s too late.

Perhaps this is by design.

If people think less and follow more, it sure is easier to guide them.

In the end, we are all responsible for ourselves. And self-education is a primary responsibility.

However, as every parent knows, for the first 18 years, it is our responsibility to mold those young minds. And those young minds depend on us to “know all about life.”

Little Dude: Why can’t girls have boys names?

Dude: I don’t know. (It was early; I weaseled out.)

Little Dude: (Offended now) Yes you do; you know all about life!

How cool is that?! Our kids actually think we know all about life! Awesome.

Perhaps we didn’t get a great education. Or pay attention to that education. But it’s not too late. Not too late for you, and not too late for the little ones that think we have a clue. It could be years before they’re on to us!

Take the blinders off and start to build your personal philosophy. As a result, the little ones will start to build their philosophy too.

A few weeks ago I was asked to review a book called “Dead White Guys.” I’m asked to review books from time to time, and most of the time I decline without much thought.

I have enough to do/read without spending time on unsolicited books. But this one grabbed my attention. As the subtitle says, “A father, his daughter, and the great books of the western world.”

That’s got Dude written all over it. And it didn’t disappoint.

The book is written as a father passing down advice to his child. The advice just happens to be based on some of the greatest minds in history. The book is filled with compelling stories, heart-felt examples, and the loving guidance that only a parent can share with a child. It felt like me, talking to my kids, through the book.

Matt Burriesci is a talented writer that shares a great view of brilliant historic thinkers.

We all need to spend time with these philosophers. But our kids who depend on us to “know all about life” need this guidance now more than ever.

The world is a crazy place. Powers are fighting for your kids’ attention. If you don’t take it, someone/thing else will.

Build your personal philosophy, and help the kids start to build theirs. “Dead White Guys” is a great place to start.

Nice work Mr. Burriesci.

Posted in Book Review, Life Lessons, Philiosophy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Grooming the Next King of Foosball: One Ridiculous Don King Quote at a Time

“Gonna beat your face to outer space!” – Little Dude’s foosball trash talk.

Don King? Or does that American flag top hat put him in Apollo Creed territory?

Either way, Little Dude is on the path to greatness. Foosball greatness.

Are you aware there are foosball greats?! Yep, a pro tour, tournaments, world champions, $65,000 prizes, and some scandal too.

But, it’s a shadow of it’s 1970′s prime when the pro tour offered player trading cards, groupies, coke parties, sports cars, and a $1M prize purse.

A rec room legend has been on a long decline.

Perfect opportunity for the rise of the next king.

Last year I transitioned a dirt mound under the deck into a patio. As part of this mastermind landscape creation, I purchased a $50 foosball table on CraigsList and hauled that beast to it’s new home in the Dude casa backyard.

I have no idea how to play foosball.

Why get a table? Simple. Mrs. Dude whipped my unskilled butt on our 2nd date….years ago. Dudes remember these things. Dude pride is at stake.

The perfect addition to the backyard patio.

To pay the bills back in the day, I worked at a dive bar in Boston that was lovingly described as the “star wars bar.” Perhaps the best dive bar…eva. This dive bar rocked a foosball table, and regulars rocked the foosball table. I’ve seen some nasty foosers.

But I never put the foos time in…the dudes seemed waaay too good. And unfortunately, I never realized I could have made it my (alcohol/drug fueled) occupation. Until I read about The Party Boy King of Foosball.

I’ve been sitting on this Men’s Journal article for a year because the foosball table has been sitting idle on the patio for a year. But a couple week’s ago the foos frenzy began.

For some reason (great summer weather, time to kill, threats from Dad?), we’ve started an evening foosball tradition – Dude & Little Dude vs. the Princess.

None of us had a clue at the beginning, but we’re catching on fast. Flick of the wrist here, pass off the wall there, power shots galore.

We’re definitely catching our foosball groove.

Watch out competitive foosball world, Little Dude is sharpening his skills…and his trash talk. 

I just hope the convention hall tournaments and Trans-Am prizes can last long enough to fulfill the dreams of a future foosball legend.

Give the MJ article a read…it’s equally ridiculous and awesome.

Long live foosball.

Posted in Foosball | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dudeist Priest Wedding Officiant: How to Rock Your First Wedding Ceremony [Bonus: Script Include]

As you may glean from the name of this blog, I dig the Big Lebowski.

Wit, dialogue, deeper meaning…it’s tough to beat The Dude.

In honor of The Dude and his Zen-like ways, I joined the fellowship of the Dudeist Priests many moons ago.

In addition to a few chuckles and reminders of classic Lebowski quotes, I became an ordained Dudeist Priest.

No cost and two minutes of my time, why not?

Ordained priest; check off that bucket list.

In the back of my mind, I contemplated making use of my ordained status…someday, but never dedicated too many brain synapses to the mental image.

A few years ago my cousin asked me to be the officiant at her wedding. But it was a long trip, kids in tow, blah didi blah blah. I declined. I figured my next bucket list check had passed me by.

Turns out my sister-in-law is also a poor judge of character and requested my ordained presence as well.

A beach vacation/beach wedding with the entire family. Hard to turn that request down.

It got really real, real quick.

So, a few weeks ago I performed my first (last?) wedding ceremony. And if I do say so myself, I think I may have rocked it.

Well, I didn’t fall down and I wasn’t booed off the beach. Rocked it? I’d say so.

Lessons for the first time officiant? Sure, how about a Top 10…

  1. Abide. Chill, Dude. I’m a Dudeist Priest…you should have expected that one.
  2. Search flow and scripts online (see below).
  3. Watch officiant videos on YouTube.
  4. Know the bride and groom. Talk about their wishes for the wedding, but more importantly, about themselves and their relationship.
  5. Take time to prep. The great Dude in the sky hooked me up with a 20 minute t-storm to give me added memorization time…much needed.
  6. Memorize, don’t read.
  7. Be comfortable in front of the crowd. Practice…use a mirror.
  8. Keep it short and sweet.
  9. Mix a hint of humor with a whole lotta love.
  10. Tell the bride she’s beautiful. ;)

Marrying two human beings was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. Bucket list, checked.

And afterwards, we danced our faces off to a kick-butt funk band, and watched Little Dude dominate the dance floor with his sweet break dancing skills.

Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Newlyweds.

Wedding Ceremony Script

Here’s my rad wedding ceremony script. Feel free to use, but use with caution…it’s pretty awesome.


Welcome everyone. Welcome on this gorgeous day to the celebration of the marriage of XYZ and ZYX.

On behalf of X and Y and their parents, Z and W, I’d like to thank you all for being here to celebrate this special day.

In the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.”

It’s easy to get lost in the details of the day and lose focus on the big picture.

I encourage us all to stop and look around.

Relax, take a deep breath of the salty air, enjoy this lovely location, enjoy this special moment on this special day as we launch X and Y on their lifelong flight together. (Groom is a pilot, you like that, right?! :) )

Exchange of Vows
(Luckily, they wrote their own vows – not included)

X and Y, the words you are about to say to each other will change your lives forever. It’s an honor to be here to share this moment with you.

X, please share your vows with Y…

Y, please share your vows with X…

Ring Exchange

For X and Y these rings are a symbol of their commitment to each other. By exchanging these rings, X and Y declare their eternal love for each other.

X, repeat after me: “Y, take this ring as a symbol of my love and commitment to you.”

Y, repeat after me: “X, take this ring as a symbol of my love and commitment to you.”

X, do you take Y to be your wife?

Y, do you take X to be your husband?


This ceremony may have only lasted minutes, but your promises to each other will last a lifetime.

It is my great honor and privilege to now pronounce you husband and wife.

You may kiss your bride.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. XYZ.

Yes, I did quote the great Ferris Bueller. Classic Dude.

Go forth and marry Dudeists!

Posted in Dudeism, Dudeist Priest, Wedding, Wedding Officiant | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

MenEssentials: Smell Waaay Better than Your Grandmother on Fire.

MenEssentials Beard Gear

A few weeks ago the Dude was in need of some new beardscaping products.

I conducted the perfunctory Google investigation and turned up too much and too little. Too many options with too little details.

I quickly turned to Amazon and their highest sellers. Mistake.

The first time I oiled up the beard and slapped on some aftershave, Mrs. Dude responded with…

Sniff. Sniff. “What’s burning? You smell like a camp fire.” Sniff. Sniff. “And those spicy candies my grandmother always had. Pretty much my grandmother on fire.”

Not the review I was hoping for.

Thankfully, MenEssentials sensed a bearded bro in need.

A well-timed email, and the Dude had a box of beard gear waiting on the doorstep. Rad.

MenEssesntials gear is solid. Natural ingredients. Sweet smells. Healthy beard.

Waaay better than your grandmother in flames.

A couple favs: Bluebards Beard Wash + Bluebeards Wonder Beard

Happy bearding matey.

Posted in Facial Hair | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

[Bulletproof] Coffee of the Gods: Quality Beans, Butter & the AeroPress

Quality is important.

Coffee is important.

Quality coffee? Crucial.

I mentioned my affinity for “bulletproof” coffee in a post a couple years ago – grass-fed butter and MCT oil added to quality coffee as a great way to start your day.

Since coffee has become a staple in my daily routine, I’ve developed a focus on improving my coffee routine and quality.

Last week, this improvement hit hyperspace.

A bit of a tangent, but we’ll loop around.

Tim Ferris. 4 Hour Work Week. 4 Hour Body. 4 Hour Chef.

Never read his books. The infomercial names turned me off. But I’ve been listening to his podcast and reading his blog for the past few months.

I’m amazed at the amount of quality info I’ve consumed at the hands of Mr. T. Ferriss in a short time.

Another topic for another time.


The first blog post from T. F. that caught my attention was

Tim digs into the coffee ritual at Apple. Decently interesting. But the magic is in the tips Tim offers to hack the coffee game.

After listening to all of Tim’s podcasts, I realize this is the magic T.F. brings to every endeavor. And the reason his books are probably worthwhile.

Tim tells you how Apple loves coffee and their obsessive habits around it, but he also tells you how to do it cheaper and easier.

I bought the recommended inexpensive grinder after reading that post.

I watched the video included in the post and saw the plastic coffee-maker, but like Tim’s books, I judged the book by the cover. Wrong choice.

Tim talks about using this plastic masterpiece to make the “perfect cup of coffee,” but I didn’t believe.

Until last week. I finally broke-bad and ordered a $25 AeroPress (Amazon).

It’s hard to overstate how great the AeroPress is. Quick, easy. More importantly, the best cup of coffee I’ve had.

For reals. The best. Ever.

Coffee of the gods.

Here’s a great post on the invention of the AeroPress.

And a great video of the AeroPress “ritual”…

Sandwich Video | AeroPress – “Ritual” from Garrett Shannon on Vimeo.

I’ve included a list of coffee-related links below that I’ve collected while wandering the interwebs in search of el perfecto cuppa joe. But all you really need to know is…

  1. Grass-fed butter
  2. Single-origin coffee beans (no blends)
  3. Aero Press for life

Coffee-related Links:

Posted in Coffee | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Zen and the Art of Mobility: A Minimalist Approach to Stretching and Mobility [Fitness Bonus]

I won’t claim to be an expert on Zen. But I dig the Zen/Buddhist ideas I’ve studied.

I’m a big fan of simplicity and minimalism. Both of which seem to have strong ties to Zen.

Simple and minimal also have a broad application to an efficient, productive everyday life – a core focus of the Dude’s world these days.

Including health and fitness.

You can dig a bit further on the Zen philosophy and the relation to minimalism in this blog post:

Rather than a focus on esoteric ideas, let’s use this post to explore a minimal, simple, quick and easy approach to mobility and stretching.

And start to consider an efficient, minimal approach to fitness as a whole.

I’ve mentioned the idea of “mobility” a few times:

  1. Take Care of Yourself
  2. Best Exercises to Keep a Dude Healthy
  3. Dude’s Flow: Off the Reservation
  4. You Should Stand More
  5. Everyday Mobility: Every Dude Needs to Move

From my experience, mobility has always been a drawn out approach – from a short and long-term perspective.

I stretch and foam-roll for 40+ minutes almost every day. And I’m still working through deep-seeded damage to muscle groups.

It’s not a quick fix…but neither was the damage.

Progress is being made, but there is a strong time commitment as well.

As I explained in Dude’s Flow: Off the Reservation, my approach to fitness has changed drastically over the last few years, and it is continually evolving.

Efficiency and minimalism are at the core of my fitness approach.

It’s great to see the fitness and health world moving in this efficient/minimal direction as well – forget the gym, use everyday objects and activities, stop over-training, use science to focus on minimal exercises with best impact, get back to nature and use your body.

I could share a long list of resources that are moving in this direction, but rather than an overload, let’s look at a couple recent gems I’ve enjoyed (check my posts listed above for additional links)…

And the motivation for this post – Dan John.

Dan is an impressive dude with a long list of credentials and experiences.

Jumping from one link to another I landed on a post Dan wrote about his go-to mobility exercises:

2 exercises. That’s it!

A big difference from my daily 40 minutes+.

I see value in my slow, deep approach to mobility and stretching. But dang, only two exercises?! I dig. Always room for efficiency.

I’m now working with both approaches. Some days long. Some days short. Dan’s exercises, every day.

Dan sums up his approach to minimal mobility well:

Listen, I KNOW you can do more…I know it! But, will it be better?

Checkout Dan’s great explanation – Two minimal mobility movements:

  1. The Windmill Stick
  2. The Stoney Stretch.


Dan shares a great minimalist fitness practice (Pavel says don’t call it a workout) in the same post:

Day One

  • Warm up with Turkish Get Up, Goblet Squat, and Swing
  • Bench Press
  • Snatch

Day Two

  • Warm up with Turkish Get Up, Goblet Squat, and Swing
  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
Posted in Health, Mobility | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Still Time to Score for Valentine’s Day [More Importantly, XOXO on the Reg]

There’s only a couple rules we live by in the Dude casa.

  1. Never break a promise: Trust is important
  2. Always give a kiss goodnight…

You can’t get today back. Make sure the peeps you love, know it.

  • “I hope they know how much I love them.”
  • “I wish I had a chance to say I love you.”

Such simple regrets to avoid.

Don’t wait for the next holiday to say I love you and share a good night kiss.

Today’s the day.

Holidays? Gifts?


Make every day the right day to share a special moment.

With that said, I love love. Any reason for an extra squeeze is good by me.

It’s a week away, but you still have time to score for Valentine’s Day. Here’s how…

You’re welcome.

Posted in Family, Holidays, Life Lessons, Love | Tagged , , | Leave a comment