“Thriller” ~ Vincent Price’s Rap (by Rod Temperton, 1982)

mjthrillerdoll

Darkness falls across the land

The midnight hour is close at hand

Creatures crawl in search of blood

To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood

And whosoever shall be found

Without the soul for getting down

Must stand and face the hounds of hell

And rot inside a corpse’s shell

The foulest stench is in the air

The funk of forty thousand years

And grizzly ghouls from every tomb

Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive

Your body starts to shiver

For no mere mortal can resist

The evil of the thriller!

Friday Faves, Issue #11

metallica-james-hetfield

[Metallica frontman, James Hetfield]

Another edition of Friday Faves, served up hot and fresh.  Whipped together in record time this week.  ENJOY!

Destination of the Week:  Recently came across this city working on some business with a relatively new client this year.  Check it out.  Miri

Quote of the Week: “Get after it.” Simple phrase, simple concept. Big effect. Courtesy of Jocko Willink.  So what are you waiting for? 

Band of the Week:  METALLICA.  Loved & hated. Speed metal pioneers. Nine studio albums, four live albums, five extended plays, 26 music videos, and 37 singles, eight Grammy Awards, over 110 million albums sold. Inspiration for fans all over the world. And still going strong 34 years later.

Meal of the Week:  Home-made tamales.  Cheese & jalapeno, to be exact.  Best place to find them?  Try this crazy idea.  Ask someone behind the counter at a Mexican grocery, “I have kind of a crazy question:   Do you know anyone who makes and sells home-made tamales?”

Website of the Week:  Love Your Mother. How?  RECYCLE.

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REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome! LOVE to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse via that micro-blogging site:  my handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

“It’s Not Rocket Science”

WW108_warrior_Leopard2011[Image of Wouter Weylandt c. 2010, racing for Leopold Racing]

“Focus and Perseverance go a long way. In other words? Hard Work Makes the Difference.”

Most things aren’t incomprehensible. Complex?  Sure. Takes some effort — sometime a LOT of effort — to understand and master?  Absolutely. But with most activities the majority of us need to master to live a happy, fulfilling, productive life (however that’s defined), those skills don’t amount to “rocket science”, as the saying goes.

To be sure, many things in the world take practice to get better.

Studying various disciplines and increasing one’s knowledge are varied subject matter, as well as honing the practical skills necessary in life — reading, driving, using technology, cooking, keeping track of your money — and at work, learning new professional skills, successfully accomplishing expected tasks in your current job, finding your way along whatever career path you’ve created or otherwise happened upon, and of course learning about any variety of academic subjects — these all require a similar approach:   Learning, Practice, Repetition.

The common traits necessary to work through any particular problem, issue, etc. require focus and concentration.  Often times “concept understanding” is needed as well, to have the right vocabulary and way of thinking about whatever the topic at hand might be. And of course, the other big factor important to being successful working through a problem?  TIME.

So often we try to speed through our work, find a short-cut, try the easy way to get to the finish line; this very strategy can “bite us in the ass”, as I hear around the shop.  Even seemingly complicated, technical activities require time more than anything else to finish the work, to accomplish the goal.

Whether it’s balancing your checkbook, working through project planning at work, fixing something in your house, or making a meal, the recipe remains simple:

Understanding + Focus + Time = Goal Achieved, Mission Accomplished.

The willingness to apply one’s self and commit to the hard-work repeatedly over a long period of time together establish the underlying theme for being successful in life.  It’s not rocket science, but there’s really no magic involved either.  It’s up to YOU. So if you want it, GET AFTER IT.

Friday Faves, Issue #10

Another edition of Friday Faves, activated remotely from the high country north east of Los Angeles this week.  The GOOD comes from everywhere, at anytime.  Ya gotta be ready.  Enjoy!

Destination of the Week:   Al-Khobar, one of the “triplet cities” in the Eastern Province of  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and smack dab in the midst of the main energy sector region there.

Quote of the Week: Teach Me

Band of the Week: The Barenaked Ladies.  One of the most fun bands in the last twenty years. No surprise, as they’re wacky Canadians! Listen/watch this set of their favorites, and you’ll get a good dose. Glad they’re still rocking today, with pretty well the same guys since they hit the scene.

Meal of the Week:  That old faithful standby, four food groups all in one:  PIZZA!  It could be teenage mutant ninja turtles type, or Blueline,  one of the best spots in the SF bay area, or just good ol’ Round Table (which I had last night)…it’s YUMMY.

Website of the Week: If you’ve ever thought about blogging, http://www.wordpress.com is the place to do it.

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And to wrap it up, let me invite you once again. Your comments are always welcome! LOVE to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse via that micro-blogging site:  my handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Finding Magic in the Mundane

We all have activities we find aren’t very stimulating.  As a result, we might find ourselves avoiding such tasks in favor of more exciting, fun work.  This circumstance can bubble up in your professional life, especially if you have an office job of some sort.  But it can also pop up at home, with the inevitable chores of daily or weekly life that require our attention.  Think doing laundry, washing dishes, or picking up after little kids.

But like so many other things I tie to attitude, having a good one (attitude) about doing the mundane work in life makes all the difference.  If nothing else, treat it like exercise (which you may also find yourself avoiding).  Daily exercise in whatever manner suits you is good for your physical health and your mental health.  It makes you feel better, if only by feeling the sense of accomplishment at finishing an arduous effort.

One key is good attitude.  The other important factor is a sense of focus.  You have to get after your task with resolve, refreshed concentration, and a sense of purpose.  It doesn’t have to be an overblown, theatrical affair. Simply take a few deep breaths, get a drink of water, stretch, and settle into accomplish the activity.  If it’s going to take many steps to complete the work, attack them in manageable amounts.  Make your list, and start checking tasks off as they are completed.

Whether your at work or at home, it’s all about your approach, and your attitude.  Make them both GOOD, and the results will follow.

Friday Faves, Issue #9

This edition of the Friday Faves brought to you by the letter “G.”

Destination of the Week:   The Orange Free State.  Saw this place on a world map from the 1980’s.  It was in southern Africa.  The string of learning that ensued about colonialism in Africa, the Boers, and the role of the Dutch East India Company was swift and enjoyable. One more reason to visit South Africa if you get the chance.

Quote of the Week: “You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”.” –  Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Band of the Week:  A band that has morphed throughout the last forty years, no doubt.  But with (at least) one constant, the band leader Arturo Sandoval.  Great interview here to get to know him, the sample of samples of his sound, with his mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, and something more contemporary.

Meal of the Week:  “I’ll die before I give you that BBQ sauce recipe.”  This makes me hungry.  And itching to smoke some beef ribs or brisket. Might happen this weekend.

Website of the Week:  And it follows from the Meal of the Week, straight up good meat makes good eats. Find it here.

There ya have it, peeps.  Your comments are always welcome.  And you can follow more of the muse via twitter.  My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

A Nuptial Homage

I’m sure in previous posts I’ve written in [at least] adjacent reference to my better half, SCL.  I could go on and on about so many different traits she has that make her a great person, friend, woman, partner, and mother…like most guys who love their wife, right?

This post is intended as a simple, straight up homage to SCL’s focus and drive to achieve goals once she sets them for herself.

First, a nod to her history as a runner.  I’ve been an off-again on-again runner all of my life, and I was interested in getting back into it around the time we met.  That was ten years ago.  SCL would say, “I only run three miles, on flat terrain.”  Ok.  But that didn’t last.

Her true nature as a determined, powerful runner, both over varied distance and terrain came to the fore.  Before long three miles over flat terrain gave way to her running multiple 30-hour relay races in the San Francisco bay area.

She has also completed several half marathons, both before having kids, and after.  In fact, she made it her practice to train and run a half marathon after the first two of our children were born, part of her own special “13.1 mile postpartum therapy.”

Another area where SCL has shone strong include her volunteer service via Junior League (JL) and in particular, her event and club committee leadership provided to JL.  The interesting thing is, she decided to join Junior League at pretty well the same time we started growing our family.  But she wanted to do more, wanted to give back, wanted to develop her skills, and she’s done just that.  All the while as our family has grown considerably.  And about that…

When we decided to have kids, SCL decided early on that she wanted to give birth via means of natural child birth.  We’ve had now three kids in four years, and she delivered each of our children with nothing more than the watchful eye of medical personal, my humble support efforts, and her own (gained) knowledge about that matter and will accomplish the feat. Three Times.  I will always take my hat off with great respect for her courage, will power, and ability to cope with pain and discomfort in the context of bringing our kids into this world.  AWESOME.

And then there’s her cooking.  SCL is a self-proclaimed “bad cook.”  I don’t happen to agree, but she doesn’t think she does a very good job.   I’m not culinary expert, so I can only speak from my own experience and enjoyment too as a novice who likes working in the kitchen.

SCL brings her usual focus and creativity to the task of cooking for our family via slow cooker recipes, and finds, plans, purchases, preps, and readies the vast majority of our family meals.  Even shares some of the meals she cooks with family and friends.

With time being an extremely limited commodity in a house with three kids under five, we have to be efficient (and patient) to be successful.  At one point earlier this year SCL prepared 34 meals in a two hour period (or something like that), cutting and chopping, zip-lock freezer bagging and labeling, and filling our deep freezer with a bunch of meals to be cooked day-of as part of our strategy for providing home-prepared food for the family as often as possible.

So whether it’s running, cooking, or giving a little extra to the community, SCL is all that and a bag of chips.  Super happy and grateful she’s my wife.

Friday Faves, Issue #8

This edition of the Friday Faves brought to you by the songbirds in the front yard.  ENJOY.

Destination of the Week:    A town in the far south of Germany, near the border with Switzerland.  Ancient village.  Horse Parade every spring. Birthplace of a good buddy at work. Check it out.  If you’re in the neighborhood, definitely, visit Weingarten for a taste of ancient Europe.

Quote of the Week:  “It is so.  It cannot be otherwise.”  Attributed to an inscription on the wall of a cathedral in the Netherlands from the 1500’s.  Keep in this quote in your mind everyday.  It’s a good starting place for acceptance and progress.

Band of the Week:  Punch Brothers. Ahhh, who?!, you might ask.  Five dudes. Chris(mandolin), Noam (banjo), Gabe (violin/fiddle), Chris (guitar), & Paul (stand-up bass).   NPR was the likely channel.  So much more than just a “band”, per se. Example?Watch this bit on their residency at Oberlin College  HERE.

Meal of the WeekPho‘, aka Vietnamese soup.  On the menu today.  Been looking forward to it since Monday.  I’m planning on a variety with wonton, egg noodle, & chicken.  Gonna be DELICIOUS, I’m betting, at a place called Khanh’s just down the street.

Website of the Week:  Paul Salopek is walking. A long way. “Out of Eden“, is what they say.  How long?  How far? A seven year, 20,000+ mile journey. From the birthplace of our modern species in Ethiopia, through the Middle East and Asia, over to the Americas, and down to the Terra Del Fuego.

And you can join him.  It’s only just started really.  Here’s an update from the road, and good sample of Salopek’s awesome, engaging style of writing.

And that’s the skinny for this week.  Comments are always welcome.  And you can follow more of the muse via twitter.  My handle is @jhludlum ~

Have  a good weekend!

Blue Monday: Not What You Think

Sometimes Blue Monday can be good. In fact, sometimes the color blue can make Monday a little easier to cope with.  Allow me to explain.

The company I work for gave each employee a few Navy Blue, company logo-ed polo shirts several years back.  The idea is that we wear the same company shirt when we have client-facing meetings, have customers attending  training sessions at our facility, etc.   I decided several years back to make it a habit of wearing the company shirt on Mondays, whether or not I had a client meeting.  The motivation was a simple one.

If you work a “normal week” (unless you’re in the Middle East), Monday is the day we get back into the work groove.  We step back into our professional life, review our activities from the previous week, consider what needs to be done for the week, deal with any urgent matters that have come up, and generally start ticking items off the to-do list.

I figure it’s a good idea to take one variable out of the equation as the work-week begins. By wearing the company shirt on Mondays I don’t have to make the wardrobe decision in the early morning when I’m getting ready for the day.  It is already decided.

This approach works well for me.  I take my work seriously and make an effort to do my best every day.  That said, I have a little extra respect for Mondays. Monday can be difficult.  After all, it’s sorta like the ocean:  you never know exactly how it’s going to behave, what surprise it might spring on you, etc.

I read an article one time that Barack Obama pretty much wears the same color suits, most of the time.  This simple approach to fashion allows him to focus his attention on the many decisions he has to make as Commander-in-Chief.  By making his clothing choices more automatic, it’s one less thing he has to think about.

While I don’t have THOSE sorts of decisions to make, with three little kids at home and a busy life otherwise, I seem to have a lot going on most days.  Workdays start before five o’clock in the morning.  So picking the Navy Blue polo on Monday morning as I dress in the dim pre-dawn light makes it easier for me to get out the door and into the workday.

Like most things, it’s not a hundred percent.  Close, but not quite.  Today I wore a brown plaid shirt.  Just wanted to mix it up a little bit.  At least I had my Navy Blue over-shirt on too.