Every Man Should Know How To Landscape

Every man should know how to landscape – and I don’t just mean mowing grass. Doesn’t the idea of a square, expressionless suburban lawn bore you to tears? Half of what makes the homes of the wealthy (and tastefully wealthy) so attractive is the shape and quality of their grounds. The trees, shrubs, stones, dirt, […]

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Your Nature Is What Makes Your Culture Unique

If you’re like me, you probably think that the world is becoming too small of a place – that things are getting too “same-ish” and average wherever you go. I want the different parts of the world to get weird again. But what made our cultures unique to begin with? There are many factors that […]

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Your Skills Can Make a Great Gift

Today I had the great honor of being the event photographer for someone’s gender reveal party. They counted on me to document one of the most important events of their pregnancy, and I think I delivered. I’m still young, so it’s still relatively strange to find myself in experiences where I’m the expert. But there […]

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Stop Productizing Adventure

It used to be that adventure was something you had – not something you could purchase with a credit card. Now there’s an “adventure industry.” A lot of things seem to be going this way. Now you can buy the experience of connecting with nature. You can buy the experience of becoming a sailor. You […]

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Become Aware of Your Soundscape

You think about your diet. You think about your exercise. You think about your friends. How often do you stop to think about the sounds around you? We’re surrounded by sound, from the humming air conditioner to the clacking of computer keys to the buzzing of insects. As with smells, we become accustomed to these […]

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Only the Man Who Teaches Himself Is Ready for a Teacher

Want to learn any serious skill the serious way? You’ll pursue some kind of apprenticeship, or some kind of learning under a master. But wanting to learn a skill is one thing. Getting (and deserving) a good master is another, and it only comes to the people who are already doing the work to learn. […]

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Is It Better To Be Public or Private In an Age of Surveillance?

Like it or not, we now live in an age of surveillance. If the state isn’t actually surveilling you, a corporation or business is gathering data about your location, your browsing history, your interests, your employment, and more. You’re also probably subscribing yourself to a system of (voluntary) surveillance from friends, family, and colleagues via […]

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Amor Fati, But for the Past

It takes as much equanimity to accept the past as it does to accept the future. Friedrich Nietzsche (I think) introduced the notion of “amor fati,” or “love of fate” as a way for humans to reconcile themselves to the uncertainty of the future and the disasters it may bring for each of us. The […]

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Going To Sleep Should Be Exciting

Going to sleep should be more exciting for us. Who needs a Netflix show before bed when you’ve got dreams to look forward to? I’ve dreamt of fighting Egyptian mummy-sorcerers, skiing to a mountain castle, and helping to keep a young child alive in a medical emergency. And for every crazy dream I forget, there’s […]

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I Was a Fool vs. I Am a Fool

“I’m so sorry for the way I acted. I was a fool.” I’ve had some times when I’ve had to admit to other people (or to myself) my foolishness. I’ve looked back on times in my life when I was so sure I was wise and so wrong about that – and tried to admit […]

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Stop Watching Movies Alone

Staring at a screen. Sitting in a dark room alone. Stuffing your face. This is the experience (for many people) of watching movies and TV alone. Contrast that with gathering together with your family to watch a beloved movie. Your dad is belly-laughing. Your mom is asking unnecessary questions about the plot. Your brother is […]

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Men, We Have Better Options Than Meeting for Coffee

This blog post is for men. I’m learning that “meeting for coffee” should be rare and used only in the last resort as a way to hang out with your bros. Can you really look at the world around you and everything you could be doing with your body and mind and tell me that […]

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“New and Sleek” Is Getting Kind of Boring

What makes for a good gym? I was checking out a local one online recently and noticed that it had all-new (or else very recent) equipment and that polished, clean, modern, “new” look which seems so common in many chain gyms these days. It occurred to me that this is what lots of folks seem […]

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The Paradox of Rural Community

It’s a truism that rural communities tend to be more tightly-knit. We think of cities as places full of strangers and countrysides as places where “everyone knows everyone.” This is true to a great degree. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Communities can be stronger in the country. But they’re also harder to […]

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He Who Is Most Prepared Will Lead

Have you ever seen the chaos of a large meeting in a corporate boardroom? It’s the guy who goes in with the agenda, the notes, and the pre-meeting-prep who typically ends up leading the direction of the room. He (or she) doesn’t have to fight much for the attention of the room. The unprepared can […]

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Create Your Own Hard Times

““Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And weak men create hard times.” I was born a son and a grandson “hard men.” They farmed, led businesses, shaped land, and raised families through good times and bad, and if their stories are any indication, they worked like dogs to do it. Because of them I grew […]

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It’s a Joy To Endure Misery In Company

Suffering alone is one of the worst human experiences. Suffering in fellowship is probably one of the best. Tonight I watched the movie Master and Commander for he first time, amending a serious gap in my movie-watching resume. And I can say that I’ve seen no better illustration in film of the fellowship of sailors. […]

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You Create the Voices In Your Head

“That’s not good enough.” “You’re unfocused.” “You’re not working hard enough.” “You’re not bold enough.” Like all sorts of people, I struggle with internal voices and internal self-talk like this. It can be limiting at times, keeping me from taking leaps I need to take, or making me kick myself for past regrets. Often internal […]

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In Defense of Romanticized Careers

Most of us have the jobs we do and the jobs we romanticize. We romanticize the jobs of cowboy, firefighter, soldier, farmer, and filmmaker – and we do the jobs of tech support, retail associate, lawyer, and corporate executive. We all have an intuition that the former jobs are more beautiful, cooler, or somehow more […]

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If You Must Serve, Serve Someone Good

It is better to serve principles rather than people. But in work life, even the most independent and stiff-necked of us have to serve others. Employees (to some degree) serve bosses and managers. And even entrepreneurs are in service to customers and clients. If there can be no freedom from service itself, there can be […]

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The Three Ways To Spend Your Twenties

There might be about three main ways to spend your twenties. You can goof around – working easy jobs, partying every chance you can with friends, traveling around, etc. This way is enjoyable in some ways, certainly easier than most paths, but it is ultimately short-sighted. Those who choose it are in for a rude […]

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Even Anarchists Need Mayors

“Mayor ____ welcomes you to Atlanta.” This sign greeted me as I left the airport for home. I kind of liked it. Now as an anarchist, I don’t want any city governments, and I don’t give a damn about Mayor What’s-Their-Name, but I do give a damn about Atlanta. And like all cities I love, […]

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Words are the Ultimate Hand-Me-Downs

It’s funny the words you guess when you’re playing Boggle, or Scrabble, or word-games like that. Some of them you don’t even know the meaning of until you look them up. One my opponent tried was “ween”, which derives from old Germanic roots through to an old English origin. It means “to think/to be of […]

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The Freedom of the Blue Collar Worker

Tradesmen, contractors, and blue collar workers hold the jobs no one seems to want. They get paid less generally than some office desk jockeys, and they may never be rich enough to own yachts or mansions. But they are free in a way few corporate employees are. Excepting the more unionized trades, these men and […]

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Instead of Instagram

I want to share photos from my life with friends. More and more, though, I find it distasteful to share them on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. Aside from all their other problems, social networks have become much too bloated. As observer Jeffrey Tucker once noted (back at the time when Google+ was […]

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What Are Your Cultural Exports?

There was the time I made my Mom’s chocolate cake recipe for friends for the first time. There was the time I brought a locally-grown watermelon and sunflowers (from our own farm) to share with coworkers at the office. Then there were all the times I shared people have remarked on the way I treat […]

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If You Ever Get Tired of the World, Wake Up Earlier

This morning I walked to work instead of driving. Despite working a new job with a new commute, I’ve already tired of driving in each morning. As luck would have it, this morning I remembered I’d left my work truck at the shop where work starts every morning. So I walked. It’s not far at […]

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What Makes Your Family Different?

There’s a term I learned in church world: “cultural distinctive.” It basically means “what makes you different from everybody else,” and it’s a very important thing to understand, for yourself and for any group of which you’re a part. My family has a few of these distinctives that are notable. We hail from farmers and […]

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If It’s Easy To Make Someone’s Day, Do It

The days come and go quickly. They are the small things in a human life, full of worry and activity. It doesn’t take much to break through the noise and make a day special for someone. For my mother, it’s as simple as sitting down to play a card game. She lights up in a […]

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Let’s Play a Game

Kids – especially young boys – are infinitely willing to play, infinitely willing to try new games, infinitely willing to suspend disbelief if it means they can compete and practice. Seeing this is one of the most charming things in the world. Today I got to see that firsthand with my little cousins (boys aged […]

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