August 2020 update

It’s already August! The month snuck up on me! So, what’s new?

Last Train to the Coast

It was a beach week! I just got back from a five day trip from the beach. I spent most of my time wading through the waves, staying close to shore as I let the tide come and go. In total, I most likely walked 20 or 30 miles during my trip. On Wednesday I took a break and read most of the day, finishing a book I had started months ago and chiseling away at a second one before the trip’s end. I brought my sudoku book and did a couple puzzles here and there, ate some crab, and ultimately, just relaxed. It has been about 3 years since I’ve had a proper vacation and it was a nice change from what has become the Covid grind.

Different Horizons

New Horizons Chapter three is still on it’s way. I had written most of it before July slipped away from me and didn’t have time to publish it before the end of the month. I’m trying to make the series as realistic as possible and there was one part of the story I wanted to rework so it made logical sense. I do not have an ETA on when I’ll get around to finishing the chapter, but my hope is that it will be later this month.

Dating

My Dating articles have been doing surprisingly well. As such the plan for this month is to write another dating relating article focused on my experience being single and how it’s a good thing! Don’t want to give too much away, but I’m excited as I’ve already drafted the key talking points in my head.

Schedule

Given last month, now is the perfect time to once again talk about the schedule for the blog and what I’ve envisioned. As you might know, I have a thousand different projects going on simultaneously. I am walking a fine line between chaos and order. Most of my day is spent coding and learning a foreign language. I am also learning how to podcast and have delved into some painting tutorials as I would love to paint as a way to relax. As such, the schedule for the blog is relatively relaxed. The goal is an update at the beginning of the month and one to two articles. One article I can write but depending on the month two might be a bit much. If I miss an article, the current plan is simply to move it to the next month. Right now, it’s not a terribly big deal but if the blog grows, I want to provide at least the illusion of consistency.


And that’s it! Another month down, about five more to go until twenty twenty is over. It’s already been an exciting year for growth and I’m excited to see what the next couple months bring. If there’s any content that you want to see more of, feel free to let me know! And if you want to support me as a creator, below is a link to my Patreon and Ko-Fi pages:

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As always, thanks for reading and I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

4 Things I’m doing to stay sane during the apocalypse

So the world has ended and you don’t know what to do. Social norms have disintegrated overnight and you’re left to your own thoughts. You slowly feel the insanity creep as you lose track of days and time starts to become irrelevant. While we’re not quite at the point where I can make use of my horseback riding and archery skills, I thought it might be fun to cover some tips and tricks I’m doing to keep sane. Remember when I used to do bullet point articles? Yes, it’s that time again! Without further ado, let us jump into number one:

1) Meditation

My go to recommendation, especially now. Where our world was once filled with noise, we now have upon us a forced quiet. There is no more go, there is only being in the moment. Like any skill, meditation is something you teach yourself. We are wired for connection, so being able to disconnect yourself from the world is invaluable for a pandemic. The hardest part is simply the act of starting. I love meditation and I still find it hard to simply sit down and start the meditation. I meditated for 9 months straight the last time I was unemployed and the health benefits were immediately noticed. Back then I did 5 minutes a day and eventually 10. I wore a sleeping mask and typically had my window open to feel a breeze and listen to the leaves rustle. Eventually I stopped when I started working but have once again been meditating off and on. If your chest is tight, just take a little time to breathe deeply. My meditation is quite enjoyable right now and I went ahead and bought a game called “Playne” to help. 9 months of blind folding myself was great but that can be taxing. With Playne, I simply start the game and I can choose different ambient sounds like a creek, wind, or rain to listen to while I meditate. It also has a visual world and a story (as well as guided meditations) so it’s been well worth the $15 I paid. I’ve been doing 20 minutes a day and for me, it completely rids me of anxiety for the rest of the day.

2) Exercise

My love, hate activity. Another show stopper that reminds me how poorly designed we as humans are. There are only benefits to exercise so you’d think the brain would prioritize it over all else. Yet it doesn’t, so you have to trick the brain. It might be easy to justify not exercising right now since all the gyms are closed but you can indeed, exercise at home. This article may foreshadow some topics to come but for now I just want to introduce you to some ideas you might not have considered before. Before the pandemic, I rode public transit and spent about 40 minutes of my commute walking. On weekends, I made it a habit to go to the bouldering gym. If it sounds sad that I built a bouldering gym in Animal Crossing, you’d be right. If you don’t know what Animal Crossing is, shame on you. What’s not said is an idea I had to turn exercise into a game. If I could make it fun, then my brain would want to do it in the future. As a planner, I like to have versatility in my approach. Bouldering was fantastic and is missed dearly but I also set up my home for exercise. 10 years ago I bought the iron gym and that was not so fun; this year I bought “Ring Fit Adventure” for the Switch, which is very fun. The game works as follows; you have a ring that you use to work out. You push and pull the ring to build resistance in your muscles. There’s a variety of activities to choose from ranging anywhere from upper body workouts to yoga. The second brilliant aspect is the joycon leg strap, which you strap to your leg and you can jog within the virtual game world! The game itself is an RPG (role playing game) that has enemies to defeat, clothing to unlock, and a world to save. If you hate exercise, learning to turn it into a game (or better yet, buy a game) is the way to go. I also just downloaded Pokemon Go and bought the Pokemon Go Plus accessory, which allows me to play the game while keeping my phone in my pocket. While I’m avoiding the outdoors as much as possible right now, I take comfort in knowing that should I get too agitated, I can go for a walk and train Pokemon, because lets face it, it’s extremely hard to stay inside 24/7.

3) Cardboard

No, I did not make a typo; since this is my list, these are my rules. Ok, so this is more about DIY projects but I’m still going to talk about cardboard. It started after I bought a switch and was unhappy with my job. I did a little soul searching and my goal for the last year was to recapture my long lost childhood magic. I used to build when I was younger. I would take apart mechanisms and turn them into art. My favorite was the fencer I made from a mini radio. There was an antennae I used as a sword and the speaker covers made a great mask. The fencer has been lost to the ages, but the memory has not. And then there was cardboard. Large boxes made forts and smaller boxes were broken down and repurposed. I once made a house for Mario and Luigi from boxes, complete with stairs and a chimney. While I don’t remember much from my cardboard days, I do remember the long forgotten love of crafting. So when Nintendo came out with Nintendo labo, I said, “why not”? I’ve built a piano, a fishing rod, and even a steering wheel (and motorcycle wheel) for Mario Kart and I was able to recapture a little of my long lost childhood magic. I’ve also built a fully functional virtual reality headset out of cardboard, so thanks Nintendo for making me smile in a way I haven’t smiled in a very long time. So moral of the story, do DIY projects. This covers a wide range, from sitting down and assembling your electric bike to fermenting hard cider and kombucha. I’m talking about projects you can sink hours into.

4) Play Video Games

So this is a habit I never really considered having a huge impact on my behavior and overall welfare. Typically, video games have been historically frowned upon as a hobby. Fun but ultimately a waste of time. When I did the math, however, this was far from the case. Take TV for example. You are simply sitting, you are not engaged. As far as brain development, there is none. You enjoy a story and that’s it. The Office might get a laugh and Jersey Shores might make you cringe, but the highs are lows. The best you can truly achieve with a show is a documentary. Netflix has been on point for content and the documentaries have been reminiscent of what the Discovery channel and History channel used to offer; a thirst for knowledge, quenched. But even with the best documentary, I would feel like shit if I spent the entire day sitting around watching it. Every once in a while, fine. But every day? Unfathomable. Video games I can play every day and I never feel my time is wasted. My brain is actively working when I fire up a game. If you want to learn from a game, you can. The stories are typically beautifully written and you are playing through the game, living the experience. The closest I’ve gotten with TV is choosing whether to take the grappling hook or the slingshot with Bear Grylls in “You vs. Wild”. Fun, but not on the level of a game. Want to learn a foreign language? Download Duolingo. Gaming is fun and there’s no better time to jump in than the apocalypse.


And that’s it! 4 things that I’ve been doing to keep sane in the apocalypse. Hope you enjoyed the article! As mentioned, I have an article planned for each of the topics covered today but it’ll take time as I need to play the games consistently before I publish. The “Cardboard Mechanic” article is ready though, I just need to put thought to paper and take a couple photos! And if you like my content, don’t forget; like the post, follow, and share with your friends! The traffic will help the blog grow and will help bring in revenue as more ads are views; I’m a one man army, so the money does help! Last week, I received my first patron over on patreon, so huge shoutout to Tara for the support! If you feel inclined to donate, below is the link to my Ko-Fi and Patreon pages:

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Thanks for reading and all the support over the last 5 years! I’d like to ask the question back to you; what are you doing to keep sane on day 40 (I think, oh my) of quarantine. What are some of your personal tips and tricks for staying sane and positive?

The Happiness Equation

I’ve often wondered where I’ve wanted to take this blog. When I started, it was nothing more than an outlet to navigate the chaos in my life. The goals I set were distant and as such I needed not worry about the future. And then the future came and went and here I stand. At a crossroads. I suppose we’re always at a crossroads; and each choice we make, we are pushed further in one direction.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written and as I work towards producing more content, I find myself at a loss. I come home, exhausted from work and my go to is video games. I spent 5 years in College constantly improving my skills and I find myself more often than not wishing I was there, not here. A different time, a different place.

By the time I was graduating, my standard of living was wonderful. I wasn’t rich by any means, however, I was happy. And like a ghost, this is what remains. My sanctuary among a world that when it becomes certain, becomes rather dull.

I was always taught that this was the way to live; to make a steady paycheck with a great organization. However, the more I walk, the more it feels as if I’m being dragged through the sand. So I’ve pulled out the jumper cables and try to feel for a beating heart and sure enough, I can hear faint echoes.

My life needs lightning and I am comfortable with saying that I have failed myself. I have come to terms with mediocrity becoming “good enough” and excellence a pipe dream. And I am comfortable with saying that I am not satisfied, that I hunger for more. I miss the articles I used to write, my “learn and apply” method. Deep, thoughtful, and engaging.


It’s been interesting to see this article develop. I started writing this a few months ago; gutted the draft and then stopped. In an update to my “happiness equation” I’ve started making changes just this last week. I am juggling the old with the new and it is no longer enough to adapt, I am beginning to modify. Imagine your life as a canvas and since the world is far from perfect, imagine each moment being painted with broad strokes. What you once saw as imperfection you are now going over with fine strokes and precision brushes; the broad strokes are still there but the painting takes on new life and a completely different form.

I’ve started taking pride in my work and while I was initially opposed to subjecting myself to anymore grit in my life, I have now begun to embrace grit. I used to think I had enough grit for a few lifetimes over, however, working at a call center for the last 7 or 8 months has quickly changed that, My skin is thicker and that’s not a bad thing. Most of the time I thought I was stuck but after taking time to look back, I can see how much I’ve grown on an individual level. I used to think the growth was turning me into something I didn’t want to be but I realize it has turned me in what I need to be. I have the confidence now to tackle problems head on and finding myself run less and less. I have ran my entire life and only now realize that I do not trudge through the mud out of weakness but rather to gain strength.

It does not matter where I’m going, so long as I’m moving forward. As far as my goals for the year, I’m excited. I’ve been walking everyday and hope to begin intensive exercise soon. I have scheduled PTO and am thinking of camping for my first vacation. The money I’ve saved in the last 8 months has put a smile on my face and I finally have the means to start moving forward with my life.


I had an interview for a promotion the other day and that was a perfect time for me to reflect. I mostly talked in regards to my college experience and realized that was almost 2 years ago and most of the situations I referenced were around 4 or 5 years. I was hesitant to reference my current work experience, because, as much as I hate to admit, not quite the resume builder I had hoped. How do you quantify excellent customer service after a center point and how do you illustrate a portfolio with no projects under your belt? The response then becomes, by default, “I did my job and I did it well” or the equivalent of saying “it was just a job.” I chose to focus on personal growth in the interview, but it did make me think about my future and where I want it to go.

My main takeaway is that I am an acting again in my life and every situation I find myself in, is ultimately, when boiled down, a choice. I must receive some perceived benefit for myself and if I’m not, then the cost will ultimately lead me to other opportunities. The issue I think most people struggle with, then, is quantifying the cost-benefit. If a situation is neither good nor bad but simply is, you could, in theory, spend a lifetime being miserable. And perhaps, the equation is not so much in avoiding the bad but rather understanding that “happiness” lies in the highest highs and the lowest lows. When life sucker punches us and we’re able to stand, is that not a piece of the “happiness equation”?

In addition, how could we possibly appreciate when life is good without first knowing what we don’t enjoy. Yes, perhaps for some they have only ever been blessed with good fortune, but life has a way of eroding our best laid plans and I’d rather have a gradual build towards greatness than to have that given. We need to know how to manage the highs when we’re in them and temper the lows when we eventually fall.


Happiness does not simply lie in shifting your perspective. One can change ones mindset and while this helps for a while, if a person is not living to their full potential, then “good enough” is not simply “good enough”.

A prominent aspect of happiness is time. We’re constantly telling ourselves “if I had more time…” and once we find the time, we end up wasting it. But then the question becomes, was it truly a waste?

A prominent aspect of happiness is money. Yet once we acquire wealth, we keep working and acquire more and more. For some reason, the wealthiest among us are the most miserable.

We try to find meaning in our work and we work ourselves to death. 90% of the people who work won’t stop and what I’ve seen is work become all-consuming, as if their soul is slowly leaving their body until they are a husk sitting in a cubicle, with their skeletal remains grinning in what one might make out to be a smile. I however, opted for PTO.

So then, what is happiness?

The truth is, I don’t know. Happiness is a speculation, a pursuit. Almost everyone I’ve met has their own answer and those who can’t articulate why they’re happy are perhaps the wisest among us all. Happiness is a jumbled mess and is pathos at it’s finest. To truly smile and live, that is a feat; one our economists didn’t think of measuring when they designed our society. Happiness is beautiful, happiness is fleeting, and if you have it, then hold on and be brave enough to let go. For nothing last forever and it’s best to adapt and keep moving.


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That’s it for the article. With that said, what is your “happiness equation”? What makes you happy and what has your search looked like? Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below!

Journey’s End: A Tale of Love

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” -Abraham Lincoln


A Note From the Author

A post written nearly 2 years ago. Lost to the ages, brought back to life. This article has been left in its entirety, with minor edits made to help the overall flow of the article itself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!


In honor of this being my 69th post on WordPress (nothing to read into here), I thought it would be fun to talk about relationships and love. So if you’ve ever been curious about my thoughts regarding this topic or wondered what deep secrets Mike is hiding, this is the time.

A Rare Glimpse

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m management by trade. A benefit of management is a lot of proper management and leadership is understanding people. To not put a one size fits all label but rather see the little nuances, do some math, and create a picture of each person. One aspect in particular is emotional intelligence. Which, in a nutshell, is how well you understand others emotions, as well as your own. Can you accurately read someone’s facial expressions? Their body language? Are they fidgety? Does this mean they’re nervous? Excited? Uncomfortable? As you can see, it is a fairly complex topic and it’s taken me about 5 years (if not a lifetime) to have a somewhat decent grasp over. To go further, I’d also like to acknowledge the unconscious mind. I read a lot of business/ business psychology books and I’ve spent years learning how to pick apart my mind in order to reprogram my behavior. As such, I have a good understanding of who I am, what I want, and how to get there. I’ve also been an observer most of my life, with excellent listening skills (developed over time) and a desire to understand.

I Walk a Lonely Road

Say what you will about when boys and girls start to fall for each-other and develop crushes, but for me I’d say it was around first grade. The scenario was this: I go play with my friends or I go for a walk around the schoolyard with a cute girl. What did I choose, being a first grader? My friends of course. Any regrets? Nope. Then after first grade, there was another cute girl that came along. We went through elementary school, middle school, and high school together. I’m 99% sure she liked me and while I liked her, I made the mistake of going after the girl I couldn’t get. How did that go? As well as one can expect.  The girl that got away? perhaps, but let me make a note of that.


Everyone talks about the one. You listen to any love song and more often than not it’s about the one that got away. Usually the singer is filled with regret and what sounds pleasant to the ears is more often than not obsessive. You want to know how stalkers are born? Surprise, this is how. It’s not letting go and moving on. It’s OK to be upset and give yourself time to heal but sooner or later you have to move on. And of course, love is messy. Hormones run wild, people go insane. Love is indeed a feeling… Anyways, the point I want to make is that there are multiple “ones” out there. If a girl breaks your heart, don’t worry, another will come along. It may take a while, but it’ll happen.


So, back to the story. Come college, I took a break. I was waiting for someone to come along and save me from myself. I thought I deserved a girlfriend and resented those who had one. I sound like quite the charmer, no? Everyone has their issues and nobody is perfect, so I figured it would be fairly easy. My philosophy back then was girls dated assholes. And yet no one came… So I started burying myself in my work. Work was a distraction. After bumming around my Freshman year, I had a job by my Sophomore year. I’d go to class, work, and sleep. My first real taste of responsibility. I had money and that was spent on books and classes. Then I quit and joined student organizations, where I had even more responsibility. I was shy and awkward back then but I still remember one of my mentors saying, “one day the right girl will come along for you”. Simple, yes. True? Don’t know yet. Fast forward a few years to last Winter, when I first installed Tinder. I had my first date. Coffee by the water front. And afterwards? A walk along the water front and then a walk back to her car. We exchanged numbers and then? She got cold feet. I uninstalled Tinder and continued to focus on making myself a better person. I wasn’t perfect, but at least I was trying. Then came Spring… The cherry blossoms began to bloom and my professionalism was at it’s peak. At this point I was juggling both being the Director of Social Media for management club and being the Service Chair at the same time. I wasn’t looking for love. And then one of my friends decided to touch my arm… The cruelty of the human touch. Like a witch, she put me under a spell. I, being the rational individual that I am, tried to fight it and didn’t quite understand what was going on. After the touch and suggesting that we go dancing, she went in for the hug. If I had any chance at this point, it was now gone. The casual arm brushes, the “accidental” touching of hands, the subtle mention of weddings in everyday conversation, or the “how much I love fro-yo, we should go sometime”. Of course there is more (all of which is well documented in my personal journal) but I think you get the idea. So I said, “what the Hell?” and asked her out to drinks. She said yes and she tried to drag me back to her place to do God knows what with me. I politely declined, citing that I had a job interview in the morning. Being the Gentleman I was, I was in it for the long game. So come the end of Spring, we were making summer plans and it felt as though I was on top of the world. So I figured I would ask, “do you want to go on a date”? Not asking to date regularly but rather than “hanging out” it would require a tiny bit of commitment. What did she say? “I’m flattered Mike, but right now I’m looking to have fun, focus on myself, and then see what life has in store”. Best part? She was playing the field with her childhood friend, saying they were just “friends”.

So my fragile heart was now crushed to dust and I was  left to sweep what was left into an urn. And what did I do? I buried myself in my work. I found a summer job and simply worked. It was a summer thinking of what could’ve of been but what would never be. Up until this point I had always assumed women were more mature than men but this instance shattered that illusion. And then I was in Germany.

Germany was there to mend a broken heart. I had 3 months of pain and in a sense got a chance to hit the reset button. I worked on my flirt game. I learned German pickup lines, reinstalled Tinder and tested the waters. My goal, as I have so elegantly put it, was to be “wild and free”. So I played the field, saw how far that got me, and simply enjoyed the ride. Of course, it being 4 months, there wasn’t enough time for anything meaningful to transpire. That’s besides the point. I gained the confidence I needed, changed my look, and essentially was reborn in Germany as I made some of the most meaningful relationships in my life. This was the final hurdle, to break away from the shy and awkward Mike of the past and fully embrace who I wanted to be.

Coming Home

And now that I’m back from Germany, I’ve gone on a few dates. The first date was terrible (nothing in common) and the other date was interesting… Nice date (although no second date). And of course, the story wouldn’t be complete without a little more heartbreak. There was a girl in my class who once again touched my arm. Then she’d sit next to me everyday and invade my personal space. The “accidental” brush, the flushed face, dilated pupils, heavy breathing, even mimicking. And then the cursed corporate holiday came, Valentine’s Day. A holiday where people who are in relationships try to make up for 364 days of neglect (love should be year round) or a holiday that has now become single’s awareness day. So I, being the hopeless romantic I am, decided to ask her out to coffee after conferring with her friend beforehand on whether or not she was single (according to Facebook and the friend, the answer was yes). The result? I got a, “I’m flattered but I’m kind of seeing a guy from Spain right now”. And was my heart broken? Not at all. I was frustrated but I learned a lot in Germany. Perhaps more than learning to love others, I learned to love myself. So being rejected on Valentine’s day didn’t phase me.

The Fragility of Love

Over Spring break I went for a walk. I live on a mountain (more a glorified hill) and at the top of this hill is a park. I sat down and enjoyed the view. To the side I overheard a girl and a guy talking. The guy was trying to convince the girl (who was with another guy) to be with him. Over the course of a few minutes, the argument the girl made eroded and at first she talked about being loyal, then how they weren’t really together, and then it was over (rationalizing her decision all the while). The mood had soured and while I was simply there to gaze out to the horizon and ponder the vast mysteries of the world, I got up and without looking, walked back down the hill.  I always have to wonder how truly happy people are. People profess their love for each-other yet I don’t think many know what that truly means…

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