Friday Faves, Issue #38

This week the dedication is to a collection of places in the Pacific Northwest U.S., one of my favorite regions in this country.  Enjoy!

Destination of the Week:  The Emerald City is a sneaky-worldclass city.  It’s worth visiting again and again…but if you’re from California, don’t mention it.

Quote of the Week: “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.” -Jimi Hendrix

Band of the Week: One of the enduring bands from the Grunge Era. Still kicking-ass, 25 years later…Pearl Jam. Here with one of the derivatives, Temple of the Dog, playing one of my favorites.

Meal of the Week:  A Dick’s Deluxe.  Get it here.

Website of the Week:  Check out this site to get excited.  Then visit!


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 there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

It’s Only Pain

We are conditioned from birth to avoid pain.

It’s only natural.  Something sharp.  Something hot.  It’s the fundamental mechanism by which our body communicates to us, “Danger!” “That hurts!”  Whether we’re hungry or tired or sick, it’s the pain, the discomfort that spurs us to action to try to change the situation.

It starts when we’re infants, and continues on through childhood and into adulthood.  As the years tick by, many people develop the simple attitude, “I’ll go to great lengths to avoid pain and discomfort.”

Sometimes the things that are suppose to help are actually harmful in this regard.  Think of people taking pain killers, becoming addicted, medicating behaviors gone dramatically awry.  Negative consequences of such behavior don’t have to be that dramatic either.

Consider the normal aches and pains of going from being “inactive” to “active”, when you start exercising after a long time off.   Muscles and joints let you know if you’ve been sedentary too long.  The discomfort of sore spots in your legs or arms or back or all of the above can cause powerful reactions.

Some people are spurred forward to be more active so the pain will decrease and eventually go away.  Other people might respond by hanging up the running shoes after the first day out, not willing to work through the discomfort to a healthier state.

And if we’re talking about emotional pain?  We often avoid conversations, situations, etc. that cause us emotional discomfort.  The thing is, if we live our lives avoiding pain, our world experience, and overall well-being, will suffer.  We absolutely have to confront the pain to get better.

Just how do we do that, you ask?

It’s in that first moment of discomfort, as we first fell the pain, that we must make the choice.  I’d suggest that’s the moment we have to prepare for, to be ready to cope with the pain, and thus transcend it.  We have to practice how we’ll respond and learn different strategies for coping in different situations.

Why face it though?  It’s pretty straight forward, really.  If we don’t deal with it, if we try to ignore or avoid it, that thing that’s causing the pain isn’t going to go away.  It will still be there.

Each of us has to work through pain, cope with it, transcend it, to get to the other side.  And what’s on the other side?  Healing and improved health wait for those who learn to deal with discomfort.


An important clarifying point is appropriate here:  The discomfort I’m not talking about is not pain caused by things like a hot stove, or a broken leg, or a car crash, or any other intense and traumatic situation.  It’s critical to be able to discern between a situation that involves immediate danger to self or others, and less threatening circumstance.

That said, there is much pain in life that we can learn to deal with and thus transcend.  Down this path  we’ll be able to overcome the causes of the pain, to be a better human being.

It’s only pain, after all.  Remember the old saying, “No Pain, No Gain.”



Friday Faves, Issue #37

Start to finish, Friday Faves this week is in tribute to one of the greatest musicians, performers, entertainers of his time:  PRINCE

Destination of the Week:  Chanhassen, Minnesota ~ the location of Paisley Park, Prince’s studio and residence.

Quote of the Week:  “I’m not going to be sick anymore…an angel told me so.” ~Prince as a child to his mother, regarding seizures he had periodically when he was young.

Band of the Week:  The Revolution ~ Prince’s crew, a bunch of rocking musicians capable of playing the wide variety of music Prince was known for.

Meal of the Week:  Spaghetti & Orange Juice – Prince’s favorite meal when he was coming up in the music business, according to one source anyway.

Website of the Week: Prince was a fan. And honored by this organization for his stand on e-related issues. Looking out for your rights in a whole new way.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Prince Rogers Nelson ~ Rest In Peace (1958-2016)


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 there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Curb Walk


Lately I’ve been walking at lunch.  No biggie, right?  Yea sure, lots of people have taken to a walk during lunch.  It’s a good chance to digest a little, get some fresh air, and refresh you mind for the afternoon’s work.

I’ve tried to incorporate a little twist into my lunch walks, when I’m feeling particularly…creative, I guess.  I started walking on the curb.  The inspiration for this peculiar practice?  It comes from a couple of places.

First, in the little business park where I work  there are only sidewalks on some of the streets.  For some reason the developers who designed the business parks in the area figured people would only walk on some of the streets, apparently.  So it’s walk the curbs, or you’re in the street.  Then again, this is only part of my reasoning. Lots of people walk on the side of the road, the gutter, etc.

The main reason is that I feel like the practice gives me just a bit of a balance challenge and thus gives my 10 minute walk a little more value.  At least I like to think so.  Today I walked around the whole business park where my office is.  On the curb.  This is the first time I did it the whole way (mostly I’ve just been walking the curb on a portion of the walk).  It felt good.

The reasoning behind attaching value to “balancing” comes from something an old physical therapy friend, Roberta, said to me.  I remember her telling me one time that mixing up your exercise activities, including some balance tests/practice, was a good idea.  It encourages micro-movements that strengthen muscles that wouldn’t otherwise get worked.

So I’ll keep on with this new practice and see if I notice any micro changes from the micro-movements.  Regardless, I’m enjoying the variety.  The main thing is to get up and get moving.  It’ll improve your fitness, and your attitude.  Find something that inspires you to do so.  The curb’s working for me.


Get UP_curbwalk_april2016


Friday Faves, Issue #36

This week’s list, this week’s inspiration for wanderings, figuratively and literally. ENJOY.

Destination of the Week:  The main city in a little country with a LOT of oil money. It’s a city, with a country name:  Kuwait City

Quote of the Week: “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” ~ Henry Ford

Band of the Week:  Some call him “Satch” ~

Meal of the Week: This version inspired by the Hunger Games, try the slow-cooker version, on Low for six (6) hours. Beef and Plum Stew ~

Website of the Week: A website tailor-made for people who like to get after it in a GOOD way. Support AND get cool stuff via Onnit. HERE.


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 there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

“Be There, Be Ready”


This past weekend, two great efforts in the world of sport resulted in victory for two unlikely competitors.  A great underlying lesson bubbled UP as well.

Mathew Hayman, a journeyman pro bike racer with  Orica GreenEdge Professional Cycling Team was racing in Paris-Roubaix.  This 114th edition of the  250+ kilometer, ass-kicking, pave’- heavy “Queen of the Classics” was chock full of monster bike racers. Both veteran champions and fresh, fast faces were at the start, including the youthful, reigning World Champion, Peter Sagan (and winner of two races in the last two weeks).

With all the big names racing, you might think it’d be one of those guys across the line first. In fact, it was Mr. Hayman raising his arms in victory, actually beating none other than Tom Boonen (four time winner of the race) in the end to take the top step on the podium.  You can see it in his face.  The emotion of the effort.  The joy, the satisfaction, the humbled, appreciative gaze for the moment was inspired.

Back in the U.S., along the hallowed fairways and greens and posh grounds of Augusta, Georgia, the 82nd Masters Tournament was played.  Last year’s winner, Jordan Spieth, was playing well and in the lead going into the final round Sunday.  Then a Brit named Danny Willett shot a final round 67 (five under par). This good score coupled with Spieth’s struggles during his final round produced a surprising result.

Willett had stayed in the hunt throughout the weekend.  The effort put him up near the top of the leader board after his final 18 holes.  Previously in his eight year career he’d won a handful of tournaments.  However, Willett had never won on US soil.  And then things unraveled completely for Spieth, the leader, and it was Willett who put on the fabled green jacket at the end of the afternoon, as the sun set on another Masters.

Obviously a portion of each man’s success can be attributed to others’ misfortunes, shortcomings, and just plain bad luck.    But that’s how sport goes.  And that’s also how life goes.

If you want a chance to win, to be successful,  you’ve got to be in the game.  You’ve got to keep after it, and not give up but instead, give your all. You’ve got to be, as Teddy Roosevelt put it, “the man in the arena.”

You have to show up, you have to be there.  And you have to be ready.  Willett was.  Hayman was.  I striving to be more like those guys.  Bravo, gents, BRAVO.





It seems alternately easy (when it’s easy), but also quite difficult a lot of the time.  How to cope with, overcome, resolve difficulties in life?  One key skill is being able to DETACH.

Cambridge defines the word thus:  “To separate or remove one thing from another thing.”

In the context I have in mind, it means separating your ego, your emotion, from any particular situation that is challenging you.  The result?  You remain engaged with your intellect to solve the problem.

This concept is not my own, but it’s certainly an idea I’ve been trying to apply to my own life to live better, live happier.   How so?

Of late it’s been in the swirl of chaos that often characterizes life at home with three little kids, my wife and I busy with work, and my being increasingly involved in my own aging parents’ lives.  There’s a danger of being tripped up everyday by some unexpected challenge or disruption of schedule and planned activities.

Sometimes it’s one thing after another, a pile of problems seemingly rising before my eyes.

Then emotional waves come crashing down, and it’s in this very moment I would do best to check my ego and DETACH.  At this critical juncture it is my choice how I respond. You have the same opportunity.  How we react is up to each of us to any situation.

We’re best served by letting the frustration, the conflict the unexpected difficulties, with the anger and doubt and hopelessness and fear of failure that comes along…let it all GO.  Make note of the emotion(s) experienced at the awn-set that temporarily paralyzed you, but then let go.

Let it go and focus on the most immediate issue at hand, and find the best solution to deal with the most immediate issue.  Concentrate on finding the best accommodation, compromise, or solution, and be done with it.

Detach.  Deal.  Done.  What’s that amount to?  A damn fine way to stay happy, and move your life forward.


Friday Faves, Issue #35

Rainy spring day here in San Jose…perfect time to gather up this week’s list. ENJOY.

Destination of the Week:  A city of relative calm and prosperity in a dynamic region of the world, Amman Jordan was founded 9,000 years ago.  So it’s got some history, to say the least.

Quote of the Week: “…if I could, you know I would…let it go.” That song’s so good, here’s another version, from a few years earlier.

Band of the Week:  Given the quote, no surprise…it’s U2.  You too probably have at least heard of them.

Meal of the Week: That old Irish standby, Corn Beef and Cabbage. This recipe guides you start to finish.

Website of the Week:  Yet another great resource for parents, for families…for GOOD. Right here.


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 there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Get Vertical, Get UP


I was thinking recently, “We humans, we like to go UP.”  What does that mean, exactly?  Here’s a little of what I’m talking about.

As the snows begin to melt out west and winter sports give way to baseball, bike races, and BBQs, consider alpine snow sports, things like downhill skiing and snowboarding.  In this example, we like to go “UP”, so we can then go “down.”  The thrill of going up the mountain to zoom back down.

You might also consider rock climbing.  Think “Dawn Wall”  on El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park, in California.  Think “pitches” (how  climbers parse climbing distances as they traverse the rock face), anchors (used to fix safety ropes to the rock), and routes (some rocks, like El Cap, have more than a couple dozen).

Trial and error are the orders for the day, every day, when you’re climbing.  Being safely roped up, but also trying and failing and trying again.   It’s about striving for the summit, getting further than you did the last time, staying safe while also pushing yourself further.

Think about exercise, like running stairs.  When I was in college, the freshman dorm was called Swig Hall.  It had 11 floors.  I joined a couple buddies running those floors a few times.  It was 132 steps from the ground floor to the top.  Not sure why we felt compelled to run those stairs, other than it seemed like an accomplishment to do so.

It was all about going UP, really.  UP to the top, could we make it?  Could we do it twice? Or thrice — I don’t think I myself ever did it three times in a row — but you get the idea.

And still UP  beacons.  When I’m doing my morning exercise in the garage, part of my routine of late has been stepping up and down repeatedly on the two step UP into the house.  When I have time I do 132 steps, to simulate Swig and those 11 stories we ran all those years ago.

Then there is your ATTITUDE.   That is most certainly something that needs to be UP, go UP, stay UP.  Motivation too.  And inspiration.  Energy level too.  When these things are UP, we are at our best.  For ourselves. For others.  So, Fire UP. You’ll be glad you did.

Play Ball!


Headed to my first Giants game of the season tonight.  It’s the second to last exhibition game; the regular season starts Sunday, I think.  But it really doesn’t matter to me.  What does matter is that my son (LHL) is my wing-man tonight.

I know you might be thinking. “Ah well, here comes another sappy father/son story…”, but that’s not quite it.  It’s not about “showing him the game I love so much…”, or wanting to “plant the seed” for him to be a major leaguer some day.  Nope.

There are two main reasons I’m excited.

First, my boy is our middle child.  He’s 20 months younger than his older sister, and fifteen months older than our youngest.  And while I think we’ve done a pretty good job giving our three kids equal attention and individual time, I sometimes feel like LHL gets the short end of the deal.

But not tonight.

Tonight it’s all about the two of us hanging out, enjoying the scene at ATT Park, and maybe even seeing a little baseball.  You see, my son is only three years old. So I’m not exactly sure how long he’ll be able to concentrate.  Or how many potty runs we’ll need to do.  I suspect we’ll be done by the 7th inning, maximum.  But that doesn’t bug me a bit.  The important thing is that LHL and JHL (me) will be having some quality time together.

The other reason I’m excited is that he’s been having some extra health challenges the last week or so.  Nothing too serious, but very uncomfortable and irritating and draining for him.  So I’m hoping our adventure will give him a helpful distraction and put a smile on his face.  Because if he’s smiling, I’m smiling, and we are all GOOD.

Play Ball!