Category Archives: Manic Mutterings

How I Survived Being Legless On Thanksgiving

Legless On ThanksgivingWe just got the bird in the oven. Should be on the table by 6. I was going to barbecue it this year, but the friend who was lending me his Weber could only find the important parts. “What are the unimportant parts?” I asked. “The legs,” he calmly says. “Uh, no thanks. We’ll use the oven. I’m not going legless again on Thanksgiving.”

Barbecuing The Bird

I used to barbeque the bird every year. It’s a great way to go. Nice smokey flavor, frees up the oven for marshmallow yams, and you don’t risk burning down your house with a deep fryer. 1400 homes a year burn down each Thanksgiving, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Barbecuing your bird is much safer than deep frying.

The key to it is banking your coals properly, and running shishes through the bird. Being Armenian, I always have sturdy shishes in the house, though they are usually for roasting lamb Shish Kebab.

But I found that by running three  shishes through the bird, they would support its weight in the barbecue. Plus they give you an added advantage.

You Get To Flip The Bird

This is the main advantage. To keep all the juices from running out of the top half, you flip the bird over halfway through. This keeps it nice and juicy while you’re locking in great smokey flavor with some hickory chips down in the fire.

So a few years back, right when the coals were ready, disaster strikes. I’m holding the shished bird, about to cradle it gently onto the fire, when one of the three barbecue legs flops over. Holy Crap! Luckily I’m able to yell for help and keep the bird and the coals from crashing all over the patio.

Improvisation Skills At Work

The strength of a Manic Impressive is not in the planning stage. We can hold a vision pretty well, but sometimes the details are better left to more cognitive types. But we are masters of improv.

So while my wife jumped in the car to acquire a roasting pan, I set about improvising a way to keep the barbecue alive. I got out a mallet and knocked the remaining legs off. A few bricks later, we had a workable, legless barbecue, albeit a few feet shorter than its original form.

Legless On Thanksgiving

So that’s how it came to pass that I roasted the bird on a legless barbecue. As you can see from the picture above, there was a lot of squatting involved, but the bird was delicious, and my brother-in-law got a great story to tell his friends.

And that’s why I took a pass on my friend’s legless Weber. Because I have literally been there and done that already. This year we’re keeping it simple, and trying to keep the chaos out of the kitchen.

Instead, we’ll try to keep the chaos at bay at the dining room table when the inevitable discussion on politics breaks out. We plan to use Saturday Night Live’s brilliant Thanks, Adele skit when politics come up. We’ll have it cued up and ready to go. I suggest you do too.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

 

When Being Stubborn Is A Good Thing

When Stubborn Is Good

Stubbornness has long been one of my endearing qualities. As a kid, I was a champion at resisting authority and excelled at digging in my heels. It got me in a fair amount of trouble, but sometimes being stubborn was a good thing.

When Stubborn Is Good

I learned from a master. My grandmother was well known for her stubbornness. Like the time in the hospital when the night nurse came around to collect her dentures to be cleaned. Grandma refused. Uh-uh, no way, she was not cooperating.

Finally, the exasperated nurse reached in and grabbed Grandma’s teeth.  But they wouldn’t come out. Even Grandma’s teeth were stubborn. Actually, they were real, and since the nurse refused to believe that an 80-year-old woman could have all her natural teeth, Grandma bit her to settle the matter.

She bit her real good, too.

So to stand up for yourself, to demonstrate your commitment, or to hold on to your body parts, being stubborn is good.

Only we don’t use the word stubborn when it’s good. We use words like persistent, determined, or resolute.

When It’s Bad

But when others think we’re being unreasonable, they’ll ignore our steadfast, unyielding discipline, and label it stubbornness. Like the time I refused to stop my unorthodox plan to propose to my wife.

I couldn’t just take a knee, offer a ring and ask her to marry me. I had to be clever. I had to do something memorable.

So I sent her a beautiful floral arrangement. But not from me. From “Will.”  Then I was going to send one the next day from “Hugh”, then one the day after that from “Mary”, and a final one at the end of the week from “Me.”

Only, my execution was flawed. I misplaced the ring, spent a week searching for it, then sent the second bouquet a week late. That would have been a good time to revise the plan. But nooo, not me. I had to be resolute, steadfast, and determined.

Also stubborn, stupid, and nearly arrested.

My wife thought she was being stalked by a weirdo. So she called the cops. The cops called the florist, then they called me, and I had some ‘splaining to do. Meanwhile, all those expensive flowers went in the trash.

Is It Time To Let Go?

So now and then we need to ask ourselves if we’re being reasonable. Yeah, it’s subjective. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we may find those folks have a point now and then. Sometimes we just need to let go.

And that’s where I am right now. I’ve been posting something here every Thursday for 95 weeks in a row. But sometimes I think the only reason I keep doing it is out of sheer stubbornness. I don’t want to end the streak. I don’t want to be a quitter.  But I’m also not writing with the same purpose or energy as I was before.

It shows in the stats. My audience is no longer growing, perhaps because I’m no longer growing as a writer. At least it doesn’t feel like it right now. I think I’m posting every Thursday out of sheer stubbornness.

Your Thoughts

What do you think? Am I being stubborn in a good way, persisting at a creative effort and continuing what I started? Or am I being unreasonable? Am I digging in my heels because I’m stuck?

I’d like to hear what you think. Maybe I’m just being an insecure artiste. Maybe I just need to shut up and write. But what do you think? Has it gone stale? Is it time to rethink this thing? Is my stubbornness good or bad?

Perhaps it’s the crash from Halloween’s sugar rush, but I can’t help but think it’s time for a change. Maybe I should try something else for a while…

 

Why You Need To Master The Snappy Comeback

Autumn makes me sentimental. But not for the usual reasons. Sure, I love pumpkins and raking leaves as much as the next Hallmark dad. But the reason I love Fall is that it’s the time of year I executed my best, most historic, snappy comeback.

We Manic Impressives are skilled at wordplay. It’s what helps us influence, persuade, and charm the people we need to deal with. We know the power of cleverness and making people laugh. We’ve been training all our lives, first as class clowns, then as full-blown smartasses, to deliver that devastating line with precision timing.

As clever as we are with words, though, we celebrate our quick-witted wins because of all the times we fail.  How many times have you thought of the perfect response for a situation well after the fact? It happens to us all.

So when we score a snappy comeback, it’s something to celebrate. And when we pull off a great one, it’s something to remember. Like the one I delivered in the Fall of 2003.

Snappy Comeback Earns Me Free, Top Shelf Booze

I was at the bar at the Irvine Marriott to order a celebratory drink. The bartender acknowledged me but got pulled away momentarily to answer the phone. It took just a few seconds, but when he turned back to serve me, a woman stepped up, and though I was clearly there before her, she called out her drink order.

The bartender was a pro. He politely told her he’d get to her as soon as he finished serving me. The woman seemed miffed. Then she turned to face me, and rather brazenly, eyed me up and down.

Her eyes landed on the plastic hospital band around my wrist. She nodded toward it and again, quite brazenly, looked me right in the eye and said, “Hey buddy, you really think you ought to be drinking right now?”

These are the moments we agonize over after they happen. The times when we fail, in the moment, to take the pitch left out over the plate, and slam it right into the bleachers. We think of the most clever, funny, and biting things to say after our chance has passed.

Most of the time, out of surprise, politeness or misplaced deference, I too, fumble my chance at greatness. My chance to put someone in their place, with elegance and panache. But not this time.

I followed her eyes to my wrist, and as if I hadn’t noticed her rudeness, I raised my wrist up with a huge proud smile and declared,

“Yes, I do. My son was born today! I absolutely should be drinking right now.” 

The color drained from the lady’s face and she told the bartender to put my drink on her tab.  I replied sweetly, “Why thank you, that’s so kind of you”, turned to the bartender, quickly jerked my pointed finger from the bottom shelf brandy to the top shelf Courvoisier, and said,  “I’ll have that one!”

The bartender, with a knowing smile, poured me the greatest drink I’ve had in my entire life. But not because of what was in the glass.

Snappy Comeback Earns Me A Wife

It was also at this time of year that someone delivered their greatest snappy comeback to me. Back when I had abs and a full head of luxurious hair,  I showed up for my appointment with my hair stylist and saw a woman in my seat. I playfully blurted out, “Hey lady, you’re sitting in my chair!”

She turned her big blue eyes on me and parried with, “It ain’t your chair yet, buddy!”

We’ve been married over 25 years now.

Celebrate Fall With A Snappy Comeback

So please, do me a favor. Ignore your TV for a bit, with its nasty politics and depressing natural disasters. Take some time to focus on delivering the perfect zinger to the next person who serves you up the perfect opportunity.

No more ‘I shoulda said’ excuses after the fact. Be ready for your moment, be quick on your feet, and knock it out of the park.

It can do wonders for your happiness, your self-esteem, and your love life.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Blind To The Big Picture?

The Pull and The Big Picture
Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

After two, 3-day conventions in a row, where I played a hearty role, I’m sitting back down with my to-do list. Nothing feels inspiring or urgent, and I’m in a bit of a personal low. Seems I’ve become blind to the Big Picture and I’m struggling a bit to work my way out of it.

Sure, it’s natural to have a letdown after so much action. But where’s my fire for my big goals? Why am I not charging out there and attacking? What the hell’s wrong with me?

If you’ve ever experienced this sort of low, maybe you know what I’m going through. I’ve lost the forest and I’m just staring at a bunch of trees.

Time To Get Back On Track

It’s inevitable at times to get bogged down in the details of our lives and lose sight of the big picture. Or worse, to start feeling that our sights are set on things too big or unattainable. Add in a little financial pressure and it’s easy to start hedging on ourselves.

But that won’t solve the inner crisis that’s brewing. There are only two things that will. The Pull and the Push. The thing that attracts us to something, and the thing that gets us moving in that direction.

Desire

This is the Pull. The force that gets us out of bed, off the couch, and into the world to earn what we desire. It needs to burn hot inside of us, to keep us working towards our goals. We need to want something bad enough to struggle through the rejection and the obstacles.

Without a strong sense of desire, we are apt to wander and putter our time away. Buried in the details (damn trees), doing the mundane tasks, because we should.

But “should” is not enough. Doing what we “should” do is not motivating for long, if at all. So we need to keep the desire stoked for the Pull to work. Constant, daily reminders of why we want something.

Action

This is the Push. By taking action, we move forward. Especially if we do the right things, the things that will lead to what we desire.

We Manic Impressives sometimes bog down when we’re not actively involved in doing.  But we also don’t get much satisfaction from just crossing things off a to-do list. We need to see where each task leads to something bigger – more accolades, more freedom,  more fun.

Line Of Sight

This is what we call it in Leadership training. The ability for everyone in an organization to see how each task leads to the overall success of the group’s goals.

When people can’t see how their daily actions add up to bigger things for the group, they become complacent. They go through the motions. They provide lousy service. They go home at night less committed to the cause than when they started the day.

They lose their desire.

The Big Picture

Whether you’re leading a huge organization, a team, a family or just yourself, you’ve got to have that Big Picture in front of you at all times. You’ve got to know why organizing your paperwork and reducing your clutter leads to the things you desire. You’ve got to know why exercise and eating right makes you happier, not just thinner.

So if you’re like me, and tend to lose sight now and then, do something to keep that Big Picture in constant view. Make your Dreamboard and post it right above your computer. Write out your goal statements and affirmations and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Get your family on board to nag you in the best possible way.

Remind yourself every single day of what you desire, so you will be pulled toward the right actions and away from the wrong ones. Get that Big Picture in front of your face right now so you have your Line of Sight and the reasons why you should check things off your list.

Now please excuse me while I gaze at my Dreamboard and remind myself why I want those wonderful things in my life. I’ve got to go work on my Pull…

 

It’s The 4th Quarter – Time For Your Big Push

Still Time In 2017 For Your Big PushVacations are over, the kids are back in school, and Fall officially started today. So dust off your 2017 Dreamboard and review your progress to date. It’s time to start your big push.

Goal Power

We set our goals so we continue to push, even when we’d rather cozy up on the couch and watch football. We’re three-quarters of the way through the year, but now comes the most important part.

Take a look at what you hoped to accomplish when you were singing Auld Lang Syne and swilling champagne last December 31st. Sure, you were full of optimistic hubris and threw down some lofty goals.

And yes, you’ve probably had some setbacks this year, and maybe you’ve forgotten the bravado that caused you to declare all those wonderful milestones for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ve probably met some of your goals, but you’re also probably lagging far behind on some others.

But none of that matters if you get it together for your big push.

What Matters and What Doesn’t

As we learned from those damned Patriots in the last Superbowl, the score at the beginning of your 4th quarter doesn’t much matter. Only the score at the end counts.

The Pats trailed the Falcons by 25 during the 3rd quarter and were behind  28-9 when the 4th quarter started. But none of that mattered in the end. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points and won the game 34-28 in overtime.

Damn those Patriots! They didn’t give up or give in, though they had 25 good reasons to quit. They just put their collective heads down and ground out the greatest comeback in Superbowl history.

Focus On What’s Left To Accomplish

Like the Superbowl champs, you need to focus on what’s left to do. No sense beating yourself up over what you haven’t done or how far behind you may feel. Nothing’s been decided yet.

So get out your Dreamboard and your calendar. It’s time to schedule some hustle. What’s left to do? What’s it going to take to get there? If you break your remaining goals down to the task level, what exactly do you still need to do?

Make a list of activities you need to complete to reach your goals. Then start placing them on your calendar. This is the key. If it can be scheduled, it can be done. And if you have each task down to the date and time you will work on it, you are halfway there.

Don’t let your demons psyche you out. Like those Falcon fans at the Superbowl, they’ll say you’re too far behind and the game is over. They’ll encourage you to give up and lose gracefully, to take life easy and start your Christmas shopping early. But they are full of beer and don’t know what they’re talking about. They think you can’t put your head down and grind it out. They think you’re weak.

Trust me on this. You’re not weak, and there is still plenty of time on the clock.

Your Big Push

You’ve got 8 solid weeks between now and Thanksgiving week. Then 3 more weeks before the holidays heat up in December. That’s 77 days to make it happen. Plenty of time to mount your big push and come up big by year’s end.

Pretend you’re the Patriots (damn them!) and you don’t care what the score is now. Pretend you are making the greatest comeback ever. Do that now, and in a few weeks, you’ll have enough points on the board to start believing it’s gonna happen. Then put your head down and push all the way until December 31st. It will be worth it.

How To Know When Being Resilient is Bad For You

Being Resilient is Bad For YouWe hear it all the time. Successful people are resilient. They take what life throws at them in stride, and keep getting up whenever they get knocked down. This is usually a very good thing. But sometimes it’s not. Being too resilient can be bad for you.

You’ve probably seen this in action before. A friend faces their challenges with grim determination. They soldier on in the face of long odds because they don’t want to give up and quit. We admire this quality in our friend.

But have you ever noticed that your friend seems to be in this situation an awful lot? Could it be that your friend is too resilient, and accustomed to slogging away at something they shouldn’t be?

How To Know When Being Resilient Is Bad For You

If you’re constantly picking yourself back up, you may need to ask yourself why you’re getting knocked down so much. Are you taking on things you shouldn’t?  Are you challenging the status quo at every turn? Are you swimming upstream when there’s an easier way?

Sometimes we become so determined to carry our load to the finish line, that we don’t stop long enough to consider the load. Just ’cause you have a bag of rocks over your shoulder, doesn’t mean you should be hauling them around wherever you go.

The Dip

Seth Godin wrote about this 10 years ago in his book The Dip. He used Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” as a starting point to examine when it makes sense to give up on something. He even challenged the great Lombardi’s philosophy by stating this – “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Whoa. You mean I can quit and still win?

According to Seth, The Dip is a point in your venture where your results are not matching your effort. Most of us are trained to be resilient at this point and keep on marching. Seth says you should stop and reassess. If you focus harder and apply more resources, will your results improve? Or are you venturing further into a Dead End?

A Dead End is a project that will not pay off, no matter how much effort and resources you put into it. Perhaps the market has shifted or become saturated. Maybe your competition has too much of an advantage for you to succeed. Or maybe you’re not the best at it.

At this point you’re better off quitting, shifting your energy to something more promising, and just walking away.

Ouch.

Nobody wants to face this kind of painful truth. It takes so much gumption and hope to launch something that we can’t help but tell ourselves that “failure is not an option.” But it is.

And sometimes it’s the best, most practical option.

So How Do You Know?

Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Like Kenny Rogers said all those years ago, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Great advice, and not just for gamblers. Great advice for Manic Impressives.

We are famous for dreaming up lots of schemes and ventures. And famous for starting things we never finish. After awhile it can wear on you, not finishing what you start. You can start believing there’s some fatal flaw in you that’s keeping you from the finish line.

But it’s part of our nature to be great at the ideation and not the execution. Ideation is our strength. Execution, not so much.

Pushing through the Dip can lead you to great success. But if you’re facing a Dead End, the sooner you turn around the better. So here are a few good questions to ask yourself when you’re facing a Dip.

  • Is my lack of results caused by my lack of effort?
  • If so, can I give more to it? (And why the hell haven’t I?)
  • If not, is this really in my wheelhouse and worth more effort?
  • Do I really need to succeed at this, or could I be just as happy succeeding at something else?
  • Am I persisting just because I’m too afraid to admit defeat?

A ‘no’ on the first four could indicate a Dead End. A ‘yes’ on the last one is all the permission you need to fold ’em and walk away. Or run.

There’s No Shame In Quitting

At least there shouldn’t be. If you’ve taken your hacks, it’s okay to accept your strikeout gracefully and walk back to the dugout. Life is a lot like baseball. You may not score today, and as long as you don’t beat yourself up too much about it, it’s okay. Because tomorrow there will be another opportunity to swing for the fences…

 

 

What To Do When You Reach Your Goal

The Prize, and what to do when you reach your goalYou set a goal so you get the prize at the end of your struggle. The harder your struggle the bigger your prize. This week I got a big prize from a hard struggle and it felt great. Made me want to dance around and shout GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL!

Like a spanish-speaking soccer announcer, I wanted to draw out the scoring of the goal as long as I could. To really feel the win, and honor the struggle.

The High

Luckily I was in the right place to do this. For about 30 seconds Saturday night, at the National Speakers Association annual convention opening session, the world revolved around me. The announcer pronounced my name right, I climbed the stage, the committee chair draped a medal around my neck, and the president shook my hand while the photographer stepped in to capture the moment. I received the highest earned designation they have to give, the CSP – Certified Speaking Professional award.

It was the culmination of 6 years of work and a grueling application process. I had to submit an hour-long video and be judged by a panel of CSP holders, charged with determining whether I was good enough to become one of them.

The celebration started the moment they called my name, and lasted four days. They insisted that my 41 new best friends and I wear our medals throughout the entire conference, and told all 2000 attendees to honor our accomplishment.

A Manic Impressive dream – to have hundreds of people come up to congratulate you and start a conversation.

The Crash

But even as I was drinking it all in and savoring the win, I knew it was all going to end. The convention would wrap, everyone would head to the airport, and like the host at the end of a rocking house party, all the guests would leave and I would be all alone again with a mess to clean up.

The crash from a high that great would come, and it wouldn’t be easy coming down.

So now I sit all alone, my new best friends scattered, the phone quiet. I’m back to being just me. Now what?

Begin With The Feelings

You met your goal and the party’s over. Now what? Yes, time to set new goals. But first, it’s important to recall the feelings you had at the start of your goal.

Remember the nervous excitement of thinking you might, just might, be able to reach this one. Remember why you chose to go after it. What it would do for your career. What it would do for your self-esteem and your confidence.

Now think back to all the times you doubted yourself. Those dark moments when you didn’t think you would follow through, when you thought you’d find a way to sabotage yourself. When you thought others wouldn’t think you were talented enough to deserve your prize.

Preparing For The Dark Thoughts

You had them before and you will have them again. Whatever you set your sights on this time, know that you will have to  come up against your demons. They will set upon you when you are tired, weak, and full of self-doubt.

But this time you have some proof. The goal you achieved proves you are talented and disciplined enough to earn another prize. Your resilience will pull you through the darkness of self-doubt, and you will come out the other side with more than you had before you started.

You accomplished this goal and you will accomplish the next one. You just won’t know what it will look or feel like when you do. All your problems won’t magically disappear. You will have to drag them along with you as you crest the next hill on your life’s journey.

The New Struggle For The Next Goal

You’ll get an incredible view for a few moments, then you’ll drop back down into the forest for a while as you struggle to mount the next peak. You may not see the sun for a while, you may slog through mud, mosquitoes and poison oak, and the view may be crap for a bit.

But if you keep moving, one step at a time, you’ll reach a higher peak. You’ll dip down again, struggle in the muck, then reach another, even higher peak. You’ll do this repeatedly until you’re too old and frail for the trudge.

In time, you’ll look back and be amazed at all you achieved despite your flaws and weaknesses.

And that, my Manic Impressive friends, will be your biggest prize.

 

The Cheap Bastard Guide To Frugal Summer Travel

Cheap Bastard Guide To Frugal Summer TravelIt’s the summer travel season and we’re all looking to hit the road. But the Fed just raised interest rates, gas is over 3 bucks a gallon, and nothing’s going to be cheap. Lucky for you, I’m not just a Manic Impressive – I’m a Cheap Bastard too.

I once made it from Calgary to San Francisco on less than $40. Okay, things were cheaper back then, and I was hitchhiking with a full backpack and slept on the ground. But when I got down to my last two traveller’s checks (remember those?), I stuck out my thumb and made it back to San Francisco with several bucks to spare.

But that was then and this is now. 

6 Tools Cheap Bastard Uses For Frugal Travel

The family frowns on hitchhiking and sleeping on the ground. So I’ve mastered these tools to vacation in a style they can enjoy.

Airline Miles

We use credit cards for everything throughout the year (groceries, utilities, doctors, insurance) to rack up free airline travel. The bills are paid in full each month automatically with Auto-Pay, so we’re not paying interest and running up debt.

Last year we flew free to Maui, Nashville and Phoenix, and this year we’re flying free to Orlando, all with airline miles. We get rental cars free too. Just gas for the car and a few bucks in fees per airline seat.

Chris Guillebeau is the master of this. Check out his website for the latest mileage deals and tips on how to use credit cards to fly free.

Priceline

William Shatner may be a hack actor, but he truly is the “Negotiator.” The Cheap Bastard secret to Priceline is the bidding feature. I know, it’s scary to book a hotel without knowing which one you’ll get. But we’ve stayed in Hiltons and Marriotts for pennies on the dollar by bidding.

You need to work it a little. They rate hotels by “Star” level (1 Star = Crappy, 5 Star = Luxury), so learn which hotel chains land in which “Star” levels for the area you want. Then check their “Express Deals.” We’ve gotten good deals here without bidding, but mostly you go here for research.

Once you know which hotels they have, pick the Star level you want and start lowballing. They’ll reject you flat-out if you’re too low. That’s okay. You’re establishing the going rate. They limit your bids to once per day per account. But Cheap Bastard is sneaky. He has multiple accounts, so he can bid multiple times per day.

Bid repeatedly, a few bucks higher each time. When you get close to their best rate, they’ll actually tell you how much to bid to get what you want.

A little research and you can master this site. This is how we got a suite at the Anaheim Hilton, a mile from Disneyland, for just $64 a night. Bid low, then creep upward until you land your deal.

A Coffee Grinder

Let’s be honest. I’m a coffee snob, I’m totally addicted to caffeine, and I bring my own coffee when I travel. Partly because I’m particular, but mostly cuz I’m a Cheap Bastard.

It’s crazy what hotels and Starbucks charge for coffee. A pound of whole beans costs me $16 and lasts about a month. You couldn’t last a week at Starbucks on $16.  I travel with freshly ground beans, filters, and the skill to jerry-rig any hotel room system to brew my own. I get way better quality for a fraction of what most people pay.

So consider taking coffee with you on the road. You’ll get a better fix and save enough for a fancy dinner out.

The Nutri-Bullet Blender

Amazing what you can fit in a suitcase. I pack my Nutri-Bullet and portion my protein powder and fiber in little zip-lock baggies. Pick up strawberries and kale along the way and you can start each day with a healthy breakfast smoothie.

Hotel Mini-Fridges and Barbecues

Eating out with the family can run hundreds for a week’s vacation. So do what Cheap Bastard does. Make breakfast in your room and sandwiches for lunch. Use your hotel mini fridge for smoothie ingredients, yogurt, or milk for cereal, and the microwave in the lounge for oatmeal. Hit a grocery store when you land, pick up a cheap (bastard) cooler, get all the ice you need for free at your hotel, and cut your food expense in half.

Most hotels also have barbeques you can use. Take advantage. We often grill at our hotel, meet our frugal neighbors, and enjoy a nice sunset over dinner.

My friends Molly and Raul once flew to Hawaii with an ice chest of steaks, fish and ribs packed in dry ice. They ate in style their whole vacation for what you’d probably pay for one fancy dinner out.

Follow these dining tips and you’ll save enough to splurge on some nice restaurant meals without stressing over the tab.

Cheap Bastard Travels Well

I’m not the only Cheap Bastard around. Learn from the frugal, use your creativity, and you’ll be able to travel more, eat better, and give your credit cards a rest.

Now, take a moment and share your Cheap Bastard travel tips with the rest of us…

The Gift of a Chance Encounter

Chance Encounter
My Beach Haul

Yesterday was my birthday, so being a good Manic Impressive I did the only reasonable thing. I ditched work and drove to the beach. My particular piece of heaven is San Gregorio State Beach, just 39 miles from my front door. It’s where I go whenever I need to relax, recharge, and get inspired. Or get a gift of a Chance Encounter.

Before I could even get out of the parking lot, a man called out to me and struck up a conversation. He was out from Connecticut visiting his daughter at Stanford, and decided to check out the beach as a little adventure on his birthday.

I pulled out my driver’s license, shoved it at him and said, “you mean our birthday?” My instant new best friend Terry and I spent the next hour enjoying each other’s company. I gave him a tour of my favorite spots while we reveled in the beauty of the beach and our serendipitous meeting.

A Chance Encounter

What are the odds? Two men from opposite sides of the country who share a birthday, meet by chance on that very day. I could not get past the amazing coincidence. Neither of us were planning on being in that spot at that time. I only decided to go 90 minutes earlier. He was just wandering down Highway 1 on a whim. Continue reading The Gift of a Chance Encounter

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure As I’m grinding through my clutter, I’m tempted to hold onto things and sell them. I know my trash can be someone else’s treasure, but this urge is often just a stalling tactic to protect my hoard.  Yet every now and then it works.

Like when I got up on a stepladder to inspect the beams in our ceiling.  Turns out they were not rough-hewn hardwood as they appeared. They were fake molded styrofoam. They’d fooled us for years, but the minute my wife found out they weren’t real, they had to go. Stat.

So we removed the beams and scraped the “popcorn” texture ourselves, to save money before hiring a painter to re-do our ceilings. It turned out to be a tough, messy job.

But I ended up with over a dozen of these cool fake beams. I was mesmerized with the possibilities. They looked genuine but weighed next to nothing, and you could cut them with a putty knife. I could build a fort, a cool 4th of July float, or sell them for gobs of cash. Continue reading One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure