Two Dozen Old School Things

1. Illegal fireworks

2. Minor league baseball

3. Staining the deck (Yeah, I know that plastic stuff is great, but show me a plastic tree and I’ll feel better about it.)

4. Ducks

5. Polkas at weddings

6. Having an embarrassing level of fondness for a song that 99.99% of people think is moronic


8. Pick your own farms

9. The persona & public image of Sam Elliott

10. Knowing that in real life I have no idea what Sam Elliott is like

11. Maple sugarin’. I have friends who tap their maple trees and boil it down to syrup. I tell you what, this stuff is so good it has a street value.

12. The phrase “I tell you what”.

13. A pastor with a beard

14. Ben Hur.

15. Non-franchise Mexican restaurants

16. Illegal raw milk. Yeah, that’s right. I’m a baaaaaaaad man.

17. Uncle Jim’s habanero pepper mustard. My mother-in-law, mom of the Smokin’ Hot Wife gave me a jar of this the other day. (That’s good mother-in-lawing.) Good stuff with the right amount of habanero bite. It would make a baby cry and probably jack up a Frenchman.

18. Not getting bothered because you just read “jack up a Frenchman”.

19. My Coffee Shop. No, it’s not my coffee shop. It’s “My Coffee Shop”. Despite the pronoun and antecedents issue, if you’re in Southwestern PA, be sure to stop by. It’s a locally owned business run by great people that serve up a great product. If you’re not near Southwestern Pennsylvania, find yourself a locally owned business like it.

20. Making popcorn the right way. Hint: Never involves a microwave.

21. For the hundredth time, carrying a pocketknife or multi-tool.

22. Having a legitimate reason to wear a fez. Now understand, I have yet to find a reason that would work for me, but I haven’t given up hope.

23. Same as #22, just substitute kilt for fez.

24. Judge Andrew Napolitano


Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man


Categories: lists | 53 Comments

The Value Of Mindless Morning Work

While you’re here, be sure to like us on Facebook.

About 150 years ago, the day of a typical Old School Man (back then called “a man” and frequently “a woman” because then almost everybody was Old School) might begin like this:

  • Fire up the wood stove
  • Feed and water the family cow
  • Milk the family cow
  • Feed and water the chickens
  • Get the eggs
  • Clean nests and stalls
  • Prepare breakfast for the family (families were bigger back then so this was a chore and a half)
  • Throw in some water fetchin’ and wood choppin’

My mornings, nowhere near as ambitious, can include*:

  • Make coffee
  • Move the chicken tractor
  • Feed and water the fryers
  • Feed and water the layers
  • Feed ducks
  • Feed the goats
  • Get the eggs
  • Load dishwasher

*Specific tasks vary with time of year and amount of ambition

Not too much work and it takes about 30-40 minutes, but it’s some of the most productive time in my day. It’s not productive because it produces more than any other part of my day. It’s productive because it enables the rest of my day to be more productive.

“My brain has a standard transmission”

You know any of those people that wake up ready to literally hit the ground running? They keep their running shoes at the edge of the bed. They get up. Slip into their running shorts and shoes, stretch a few minutes and then head out the door running. Know anybody like that? Yeah, I hate them, too. (If you’re that kind of person and you’re reading this you have my respect. And I still hate you.☺)

Then there are the people whose brains work that way. Bible students who live under the “no read — no feed” rule, meaning they won’t eat anything until they’ve spent some time in the Word. These folks hit the books running. Asking me to get in the Word in the morning without coffee is like asking an octogenarian to eat a steak without his dentures. Sure, he’ll get it down, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

I think of these people as having an automatic transmission. They can go from zero to sixty at 0-dark-thirty in the morning. I’m not that way. Wish I was, but I’m not. Maybe it’s a limitation that’s in my genes or just in my mind, but either way it’s there.

My brain has a standard transmission and it helps if it can spend a few minutes in first and second gear before getting on the highway. That’s where morning chores come in. Look at that list again.

  • Make coffee
  • Move the chicken tractor
  • Feed and water the fryers
  • Feed and water the layers
  • Feed ducks
  • Feed the goats
  • Get the eggs
  • Load dishwasher

None of that work is brain or body taxing. It is just enough to ready for fourth gear, jump in the shower (3Ss) and ready to start my day with the added benefit of knowing the livestock are taken care of until supper.

Other ways to do it.

For the record, this is a file photo, not my home. I don't know why it's important for me that you know that. It just is. Maybe it's the white couch. Yeah, that's it. The white couch. Who owns a white couch? Not people with kids. Noooooo.

In discussing this post with one of the blogs readers in a Facebook message, he offered his version:

  • Alarm rings.
  • Take iPhone off the charger.
  • Take iPad off the charger.
  • Take MacBook off the charger.
  • Walk downstair. Drink coffee from timer-activated coffee maker.
  • Go back upstairs. Read Facebook while “sitting on the crapper”.*
    *You know who you are, long time OSR reader.

Or another, less effective, way I’ve witnessed:

  • Alarm rings.
  • Get up from bed.
  • Go downstairs and lie on couch, living under the illusion that being down in a different place constitutes being up.

Here’s the point (or at least something semi-pointy):

Front loading your morning with mindless physical tasks that need to be done is a great, Old School way to start your day. It’s not about chickens and goats. It’s about the principle. Mindless tasks first thing in the morning do three things.

  • Gets these things done.
  • Gets your mind and body ready  for more thinking oriented tasks.
  • Frees up time later in the day for the tasks that can only be done then. My kids aren’t awake at 5 am. They are awake at 5 pm. If I’m not loading the dishwasher at 5 pm I can focus on them. My clients don’t take calls at 5 am. They do at 830 am. If I’m ready to go, brain in gear and necessary tasks done, I’ll be better at making calls and sales at 830 am. As it is written in Ecclesiastes 3: 1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Don’t do day work at night and vice versa.

Your Old School Homework
Figure out what your “chicken and goats” are.
Start tomorrow.
Get up early and get them done.

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

OSR Man Of The Day: Bernie Goldblatt

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man (but not as old as Bernie)

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Extra Credit

50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things – There are certain things that instantly remind me of my late father. One of those is jar lids screwed to the bottom of a shelf with the jars then screwed into the lid. This was one of the way Dad organized different screws and nails. It’s something I’ve seen in many workshops from Dad’s generation. This page has 50 things like that, most artsier than my dad’s efforts.

Josh King has resolved to read less this year. – What makes this so Old School, is what he’s chosen to do instead of read new books.

I’m not Kreskin, but this sure looks like a possible preview of the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Old School western, animation, craftsmanship – Give this its five minutes and thirty-three seconds. Low tech, high craft and Old School combine for an unconventionally delivered western story.

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man

Categories: extra credit | Leave a comment

Business Lessons From Van Halen

The Old School Lesson Of Brown M&Ms

This video is Old School business brilliance from David Lee Roth. Roth shares how a misunderstood, seemingly self-indulgent contract rider saved lives, exposed incompetence and added to already great branding. If you want to be a rockstar in YOUR business, this video is required viewing. Like most Old School Rules, the benefits don’t come from mindless copying. The benefits come from thoughtful application.

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Five Reasons To Split Wood

For a few weeks my hydraulic wood splitter was out of commission, so I went back to my “manual wood splitter”, a.k.a. my splitting maul. I’ve realized I miss it like an old friend. I will eventually fix the hydraulic splitter, but I plan on taking my time with it. Here’s why:

#1 Splitting Wood Is A Great Workout

From your finger tips to your core, from muscles to cardio, splitting wood will give you a work out. As the old saying goes, fire wood keeps you warm when you cut it down, when you split it, when you stack it and when you burn it.

#2 You’ll Look Like A Rugged Old School Man

Hey, pal. Yeah, you. In the yoga class. I know, your bodyfat is at its lowest level ever. And that workout attire sho’ is spiffy.  But honestly, has a woman, and I mean a real woman, even more importantly, your real woman, ever looked at you while you’re doing that, uh, stuff and just given up a winsome sigh?  Has she looked at you through the kitchen window … while you’re out in the field …while you do a yoga barking werewolf pose …has she ever said under her breath … “Yeah, that’s my man.” No, I didn’t think so.

Now take out the “yoga” part and replace it with “while you mightily swing an axe”. Wait! Did she just look wistful and blissful at the same time. Get some o’dat, son.

I know, yogster, you’re thinking I’m over romanticizing this. Sure I am. Whatever gets you through the night, Nancy boy.

#3 It Gets You Outdoors

“Fresh Air!”
Oliver Wendell Douglas, farmer, Hooterville

It’s good to have several reasons to get your butt outside, particularly when your day job keeps you indoors. It’s an added bonus when the reason is as good as splitting wood — workout, thinking time and a warm hearth.

#4 You Can Work Up A Good Think

A few days back I told someone how much I enjoy splitting wood.
He replied, “Get to vent a little anger, huh?”
I thought, “No, potential serial killer with more issues than a magazine stand. It’s not about that.” As much as I enjoy a good natured rib at all things yoga, I have to admit I enjoy the relaxed, contemplative state that comes with wood splitting. Unlike a hydraulic splitter, swinging a maul is quiet. It requires concentration and attention (Remember: Safety first or E.R. second.) but it doesn’t require much in the way of contemplation or thinking. That frees up a man’s mind to solve the world’s problems, his business’ problems or finally figure out where to find good minions or henchmen.

#5 You End Up With Split Wood

An Old School Fable by Yours Truly

A young Nancy Boy asked the Old Man, “Why are you splitting wood?”
“I enjoy it. It’s good exercise. I use it to heat my home and for our fire pit” replied the Old Man
The Nancy Boy said, “But if you just bought a cord you would still have the wood and you could buy a gym membership and work out there.”
The Old Man asked, “So you’re saying spend $150 a cord for wood then an additional $20-$30 a month for the gym, instead of getting exercise chopping wood and not spending anything?”
The Nancy Boys says, “Exactly.”

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man

Categories: lifestyle, Old School Skills, work | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Glory Of Failing Fast

“The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”
Thomas J. Watson, American businessman


Here’s something you don’t see authors do that often: I’m going to tell you about a personal business failure. Then I’m going to brag about it. I had a product I wanted to get into a market semi-related to my core business. So I had a website set up, spent sufficient bucks and time, pitched to sizable numbers and… nothing, zilch, bupkis.

In the end I discovered something in the market that made the offer unworkable and the project was shelved. The entire process took less than four weeks and was very part-time. And I’m bragging.

Specifically, I’m bragging that I failed quickly. I didn’t take months to prepare – that would not have changed the results. I didn’t beat a dead horse – it was dead when I arrived. Instead, I conserved resources and failed quickly. I had my hook in the water but their weren’t enough fish. The “positive attitude” so praised by the motivational-speaker-addicted-crowd would not have helped me get non-existent fish. It only helped me go elsewhere for fish.

The Real Moral of the Famous Edison Light Bulb Story

When asked about all the failed attempts that preceded a working light bulb, Edison replied, “I haven’t failed. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Most people think the moral of this story is the virtue of a positive attitude. That’s the wrong lesson, as it didn’t take Edison that terribly long to create a working light bulb. The most positive attitude in the world would not have benefited Edison if he took a month, or even a week, to test each new way. At a week for each attempt, Edison would have had to live to be over 191 years old to get that light bulb. At one attempt a day it would have taken over 27 years. Instead, it took Edison about a year.

Edison failed quickly.

What about your business?

Tough guy action movies often have the character saying, “Failure is not an option.” In business, failure is going to happen, but it’s just another result that happens. It’s part of growing and entering new markets, introducing new products and services, or going through the dozen no answers to get to the yes answer.

Some failures happen after months of research, planning, tens of thousands of dollars, then adjustments, more research and more money.

Some failures happens after a two weeks and a few bucks. (Hint: I like this kind of failure more than the “tens of thousands of dollars” one.)

So Why Does Failure Often Take So Long?

#1 Laziness
Too much preparation and over planning can add weeks to a job that should only take a few days. So why do people do it? Because a man (not an Old School Man, mind you) can do too much preparation, planning and research while sitting on his butt. Actually doing the job requires he get off his butt and, if he does that, he will soon discover the job doesn’t take that long.

#2 Vanity
Taking forever to fail is often the result of the unspoken assumption that every idea must be a good one. Nope. Some are huger stinkers, including the some of the ones I’ve had. If a man goes into a project asking, at least somewhere in his head, “Is this dumb?”, he’s not going to beat a dead, stinky, fly ridden horse.

So how do you want to fail? Fail quickly.

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man


Categories: Business | Tags: , | 1 Comment

25 Old School Rules For Winter

Two feet of snow and below freezing temperatures are no excuse to not get your Old School on.

  1. Shovel your sidewalk
  2. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk.
  3. Reread #3 if your neighbor is elderly, handicapped or a single mom.
  4. Stock your kitchen pantry deeper than usual.
  5. Stock your bar deeper than usual.
  6. Teach your kids how to throw a snowball.
  7. More importantly, teach your kids how to get hit with a snowball and not get all Nancy boy. My four year old was whining about this very thing. I had to nip it in the bud Barney Fife style. I told him to throw a snowball at me. When it hit I over reacted and fell to the ground. He laughed. He did it again. I played it up again. After a few more hits I tossed the smallest snowball at him. Caught up in the spirit of fun, he laughed. Fast forward a few days. Now his five and six year old brothers can give him their 90 mph slider and he gestures, “Just bring it.”
  8. While alone, pour lemonade in snow. Minutes later while in the company of friends, pick up a healthy scoop and eat it, speaking of its “holistic health cleansing effects you read about in Namaste Monthly.”
  9. After #8, decide whether letting your friends think your nuts has advantages. It can legitimately go either way.
  10. Feast on snow ice cream.
  11. Sled
  12. Egg nog
  13. Take the Mrs. to a nice bar with a pool table. Trust me. The combination of good bar food (wings, let it be wings), libations and billiards is Barry White-ous.
  14. Have a party or, if that word has too much work associated with it, invite some folks over for food and adult beverages and call it a get-together.
  15. Go to a cigar night. If you’re like me, I don’t light up a stick inside my house. Office? Yes. House? No. That means I usually smoke outside on the deck during the spring, summer and fall. That makes going with a few buds to your favorite local cigar shop for an extended visit a winter moral imperative.
  16. Grill
  17. Reread #15 if there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground. There are few things that look more awesome to the women folk than a man braving the elements to deliver the hot, smokin’ beef.
  18. Don’t forget the veggies.
  19. Just kidding.
  20. If you do the dive in the cold water on New Year’s Day polar bear thing, seriously consider wearing a superhero outfit.
  21. The NHL …oh, my bad
  22. Do all the indoor home improvement stuff you’ve been putting off NOW because spring and summer you’ll have to do all the outdoor home improvement stuff you’ve been putting off and you won’t have time to do both.
  23. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
  24. Those resolutions that you’ve already broken by day 3? So what. Get back on the horse and keep working.
  25. Plan for next spring.

Keep it Old School, My Friend

The Old Man


Categories: homestead, humor | Tags: | Leave a comment

Visit OSR Facebook Everyday And …

… get your Old School Rules Tip of the Day

A big part of my personal goal list for 2013 is to live a more down to earth, authentic Old School life.

Whether it’s in weight loss, entrepreneurship, athletics, achievement is rarely built on one singular action. Instead it’s built on thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of small steps. Few if any of these small steps will be based on “secret method” or “revolutionary technique”. Instead these steps have their foundation in strength of character and the willingness to do the work again and again when reward seems very distant.

Becoming more Old School is like this. It’s not one big thing. It’s thousand of small steps that add up.

And OSR will be sharing these “small steps” on our Facebook fan page on a daily basis. You’ll get inspiring quotes, great examples, needed reminders and, because it’s Old School, the occasionally needed kick in the backside. That’s 365 ways to get some Old School in ya!

2013 is the Year of Old School*

Join us on Facebook and while you’re there, be sure to like our page.

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man

*As declared by OSR, and we should know.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have A Happy New & Old School Year!

Here’s To Making 2013 Old School!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment