Five-Minute Betterment: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

I had my second ever “silent migraine” today.  Silent migraines are migraine headaches that happen without the excruciating headache.  In my case, they are also accompanied by auras in my field of vision, difficulty speaking, and numbness and tingling in one arm and my face.  It’s pretty terrifying.  The first time I had one was about nine years ago.  I didn’t know what was happening so I looked up the symptoms on WebMD and a lot of the symptoms are shared with things like strokes and retinal tears.  So I freaked out.  Especially the first time.  I wound up going to the neurologist and getting an MRI and everything was fine but for it was pure terror for a couple of days.  It wasn’t as bad this time because I knew what it was, but I wasn’t expecting it because it’s been so long and one of my biggest fears is going blind so it was still shook me up.  Anyway, the whole thing passed within an hour or so and I’m fine now.

The experience reminded me that we tend to take our senses for granted.  We don’t take the time to think about how fortunate we are to be able to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.  What blows me away is that you can’t really taste without smelling or smell without tasting because the two are so intertwined.  Or how smell is the sense most closely tied to memory.  Or how you could literally bleed out internally or succumb to some other condition if you had no feeling in your body.  It’s crazy.

So today’s Five-Minute Betterment is about taking some time to appreciate the beauty around you: your spouse or your kids, the sunset, your favorite song, a passage from your favorite book (or your favorite blog wink wink), a delicious treat.  Find something beautiful and embrace it.  Turn the entirety of your attention on it and appreciate it and only it for a small part of your day.  This is something you should be doing all the time, but start small and do it consciously and diligently, allowing that beauty to grow in your life.  Because it’s right there in front of us, we just have to look for it.

Godspeed,

D. Glass

Secondhand Sunday

This week’s #secondhandsunday features our first estate finds as a married couple!  Mrs. Glass and I took Baby Glass to Portland, Oregon in April of 2013.  It was part honeymoon (We were married January 2013), part reconnaissance mission (we are ever-striving to live in the Pacific Northwest, especially the Portland area), and part family visit (my wife’s aunt and uncle live in Washington state).  We had an amazing time driving around looking for place to live because at the time we were certain that one of the many, many jobs in that area that I had applied for at the time would come through. [

Not one of them did, but we obviously didn’t know that then]

One of the jobs I had applied for was in the Educational Technology department at Reed College, near Portland, so we drove out to see the campus and scope out potential housing in the vicinity.  On our travels, we spotted signs for an estate sale which turned out to be at the home of a late professor from the school.  His items were amazing and we wish we had had the budget and luggage to get more than we did, but we are very happy with our selections.

The book is amazing.  It has a bunch of historical pictures and maps of the evolution of Portland from a tiny shipping town into the bustling metropolis that it had become in the 1970s, when the book was written.

The fishing reel is a vintage Four Brothers Pontiac #357 trolling reel complete with a near-full spool of line.

The flashlight is a Ray-o-vac Hunter lantern, which has sparked in me a love for vintage flashlights.  I only have two so far (the other one is another estate sale find, to be featured at a later date), but I look for them everywhere I go.

All in all, a hell of a good run for our first estate sale together.

Happy hunting,

David Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Listen:

Kurt Vonnegut is another one of my favorite authors.  When people ask (and they never do any more) who my favorite author is, I say “J. D. Salinger.”  When they ask for my Top Three (which they definitely never do), I tell them “J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, and [my Brother-in-Arms, currently and eternally representing El Paso, TX, “The Jewel of the Southwest].”  I actually just say his name, but, you know, privacy for now.  These three speak to me in a way that I understand, which is not to be taken for granted in a world like the one we live in.

I’ve read and re-read and re-re-read the more-than-ten Kurt Vonnegut books that haunt my shelves and I find that the messages he delivers continue to be relevant today.  Player Piano talks about an over-reliance on technology and the vanishing (banishing?) of the American laborer.  Cat’s Cradle discusses the abuses of science and the atrocities of World War II.  Slaughterhouse Five covers the lesser-known but still tragic bombing of Dresden, Germany in World War II as well as time travel and a myriad of other topics.  It is also the inspiration for this post.  There is a part in the book where the main character, Billy Pilgrim, is at a POW camp in Germany.  The English prisoners have been there for some time and have a relatively luxurious existence.  As the Americans are being prepared to be moved to Dresden for work detail, an English officer imparts some advice on the American that he hopes will improve the overall condition of the Americans’ lives.  I have reproduced it below:

“The Englishman said that he, when captured, had made and kept the following vows to himself: To brush his teeth twice a day, to shave once a day, to wash his face and hands before every meal and after going to the latrine, to polish his shoes once a day, to exercise for at least half an hour each morning and then move his bowels, and to look into a mirror frequently, frankly evaluating his appearance, particularly with respect to posture.”

Today’s Five-Minute Betterment is the last chunk of his recommendation.  “Look in a mirror.. frankly evaluating [your] appearance, particularly with respect to posture.”  We as a society spend a lot of time slouching down in uncomfortable chairs at uncomfortable desks and ogling a bunch screens.  Believe it or not, people’s neck skin is even aging faster than it should because they spend so much time looking down at our phones.  So..

STAND UP!

Stand up as tall you can.  When we talk about posture in music classroom, I tell the kids to imagine that they have a string that connects their ankles, knees, and hips, and comes up their spine and out through the top of their head.  I don’t want them pulling their shoulders up so I don’t even mention them.  Then they reach above their head and pull up on their imaginary string.  I tell them (kindergarten mostly) to try to be taller than I am (6’5″) without taking their feet off the floor.

Try it.  Maybe do a few back bends or side bends.  Twist at the waist.  Take a deep breath down into your diaphragm, not up into your shoulders.  Relax your shoulders and roll them out.  Run a comb through your hair and get the boogers out of your nose.  It will only take like five minutes, but it will probably improve your overall condition as well.

Because we are what we pretend to be, but we have to really take care of ourselves if our selves are going to be taken care of at all.

Poo-tee-weet?

Glass

P. S. – If you are a man and you are looking for a no-nonsense and incredibly durable comb to run through your hair, might I suggest perusing the Chicago Comb Company‘s wares?  There combs are hand-forged in Indiana from American steel and laser-cut in Chicago.  I got the Matte Model 1 (pictured below) maybe a year and a half ago from Huckberry and I love it.  It can be hard on tangles, but it really provides a look that is as polished at the comb itself.

comb

“Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.” – W.C. Fields

I used to drink a lot.  Like a lot a lot.  I don’t drink very much any more because it’s no good for a married father my age or anyone who’s married, a father, or my age.  When I do drink these days, I like to class it up a bit and indulge in something slightly higher-end.  The Family Glass was at our neighborhood slightly higher-end grocery establishment and they were sampling Deschutes Brewery’s Zarabanda and Hop Henge IPA.  Zarabanda was delicious but slightly out of the budget, whereas as Hop Henge was also delicious and a very reasonable $5.99 for the 22 oz. bottle.  At a staggering 9.5%, the Double-H packs a subtle wallop, without the back-of-the-tongue flavor that you might find in other strong-beers loitering in your mouth.  Hop Henge is an “experimental IPA” blending FOUR types of hops into a pleasantly and surprisingly fresh brew with subtle floral notes and a springtime herbal spice.  I have always appreciated Deschutes (and the state of Oregon as a whole) and I am delighted to say that Hop Henge has more than lived up to my expectations.

Cheers to you, dear Reader, and may the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty.

@deschutesbeer Cheers! And thank you for yet another tasty brew!

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Five-Minute Betterments: Sharpen Your Teeth (Or Lay Flat)!

[I’m just messing around.  This is actually a post about sharpening your knives but the above is a line from “Pacifico” by Ugly Casanova.  Ugly Casanova, as you may or may not know, is the side project of Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock and others.  Modest Mouse was a large part of the soundtrack to a pretty substantial part of my life and Ugly Casanova played in heavy rotation for a while there, too.  It’s definitely worth a listen if you’ve got more than five minutes to kill.]

Sharpen your knives!  I timed myself doing this one to make sure it would work and it did for me.  I have had the same four Pampered Chef knives for the past five or six years: a Santoku, a cook’s knife, a utility knife, and a bread knife.  I also have a ceramic knife sharpener (not pictured).

#Knives !

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All of these items and some other crucial things in my kitchen were gifts/hand-me-downs from my mom when she got newer ones or had extras that she wasn’t using.  She used to be a Pampered Chef consultant so she’s got a kitchen full of their stuff and I really like the vast majority of it.  I really haven’t found one of their products that I don’t like, actually, just stuff that I tend to not have a use for in my day-to-day cooking.

[I got the cutting board at an estate sale for $3 and it’s amazing.  It was handmade in Del Valle, Texas and I believe it’s mesquite.  It’s from the “IsaacWare” line from a company called Star of Texas Woodworks which, as far as I can tell, does not exist anymore.]

I have taken good care of my knives and they have, in return, taken good care of me.  I think that that’s part of the deeper meaning and importance of knife-sharpening that I’d like to briefly get into.  It’s kind of Zen to get out your knives and carefully and methodically take them to the stone or steel.  It shows a respect that a lot of people don’t seem to have these days.  A respect that, when shown to an inanimate object, can translate to the people around you.  I’ve talked before about inward positivity permeating outwardly and this is another instance in which that happens.  Take care of your knives and you show respect to the higher culinary cause.  Show respect to yourself, and you show respect to the higher human cause.  It’s a small step, but with big implications.

And there’s no better feeling than getting through a hunk of raw meat in one slice.  Which reminds me:

I refer to my past self as yesterDave, clearly a clever portmanteau (ho hum!) of the word “yesterday” and my name, “Dave.”  YesterDave is responsible for some of my bigger goofs, but more often, some of my grander successes.  A small example would be when yesterDave puts the garage door clicker in the console so that we went go out scavenging, I (toDave) don’t have to run into the Glass House to get it, thereby eliminating a potential delay of at least 15-20 minutes since I tend to get sidetracked when I run inside and often need to use the Wizz Palace (right, Knope?).  Crisis averted!  Anyway, I like to give credit when and where credit is due and a sharp knife through raw meat definitely earns yesterDave a solid nod.

So, keep them sharp and the sharpness will spread.

Keenly,

D. Glass

“I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect – they are much more interesting.” – Marc Jacobs

Secondhand Sunday! ( #secondhandsunday )

Mrs. Glass, Baby Glass, and I like to spend our Sundays at estate sales, garage sales, flea markets, etc. so I thought I would take some time each Sunday to feature the items we found that day, or showcase some of our favorites finds from the past.  Today, I have two books that we got for a dollar a piece at The Friends of the Library book sale a couple of towns over: J. D. Salinger: A Life Piloting, Seamanship, and Small Boat Handling by Charles F. Chapman.

#secondhandsunday

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I have a lot of authors that I really love reading, but when people ask who my favorite is, I have to go with J. D. Salinger.  Franny and Zooey is quite possibly my favorite book of all time.  Nine Stories changed so much about how I perceive the world.  All of his characters are exactly as deep and complex as they need to be and the world he created behind them, though strikingly similar to our own, seems so much more romantic and liveable.  I’m really looking forward to reading this biography.

There has always been an air of wonderment surrounding The Sea.  My dad was in the Navy when he was younger and growing up, I would go through his old Navy Handbook and marvel at everything it held.  This helped to ignite my interest in the military, boats and the sea itself, and everything that I’ve learned about the ocean and marine life has contributed to that.  This book promises to be a nice balance of small ships and the water they sail on, as well as an equally nice balance of information and awesome imagery.