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My Philosophy on Time

"I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time—taking time to be more fully present." Oprah


What are the most valuable things in life? Health? Relationships? Money? Yup, they're all important. They enrichen your life and give you options. But consider this for a moment: I've gotten ill, but I regained my health. I've lost money, but I made more. I've lost friends, but I've made new friendships. I've lost time, but I've never been able to recoup that. Time is irreplaceable, and it's my most precious resource. Every heartbeat is one closer to death...


I've learned that "time management" is more of a mindset than anything else. That's why I often ask myself: "Is this a wise use of my time?"


Where did my time sensitivity come from—my sense of urgency, and my desire to maximize my limited time on earth? Well, it's true our perspectives are shaped by our experiences, and mine has emphasized the reminder that life is fleeting. I enjoyed some of the best friendships a boy could ask for growing up. One of my fondest memories was celebrating my 18th birthday skiing in Colorado with my best buds Keith Carrigee and Jacob McMillan. Sadly, Keith Carrigee died in a car accident at 24 years of age, and Jacob McMillan was killed-in-action (KIA) while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom at 25 years of age. To add to these tragedies, my other close childhood friends: Joseph Thibodeaux was KIA in Iraq at 24 years old, and Jared Guillory suffered a heart attack at only 31 years old! Their untimely deaths remind me what I already know—tomorrow is not guaranteed.


My life is a gift from God, and I want to take full advantage of this blessing. Here is my "Top 10" for maximizing time:


1.   Set boundaries. Every yes is a no to something else. Time is a coin. Don't let others spend it for you.


2.   Work smarter, not harder. Legendary Coach John Wooden said, "Never mistake activity for achievement."


3.   Ask yourself: "Is this a wise use of my time?" Management expert Peter Drucker said: "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."


4.   Strive to get paid for your expertise, not your time. The military has a saying: "Train to standard, not to time."


5.   Delegate and/or outsource where applicable. I find myself spending a lot of time doing chores myself because I don't mind doing them. But those several hours I'm staining the concrete, cutting the grass, washing the car, or grocery shopping can be hours I'm investing in writing, learning, or something else. Today was the first time Heidi used the Walmart grocery pick-up option, and it took 10 minutes instead of an hour at the store.


6.   Don't do second things first. As a pilot, I study air crashes so that I can learn from them and increase my chances of avoiding the same tragic outcome. One in particular is Eastern Airlines Flight 401 on December 29, 1972. As the passenger jet made its approach into Miami, the pilot realized the green landing gear light was not on. So, the pilot flew a circle over the Florida Everglades while the crew checked to see if the gear actually had not deployed, or if it was just a bulb malfunction. The flight engineer tried to remove the light bulb, but it wouldn't budge. The pilot became focused on this, and neglected his responsible to fly the airplane. The plane slowly lost altitude and crashed into the swamps—killing 101 people onboard! This experienced pilot concerned himself with a .75 cent lightbulb instead of doing first things first—flying the airplane.


7.   Understand that spending time is not a metaphor. You're trading your life for it.  Author Charles Spezzano said, "You don't really pay for things with money. You pay for them with time. In five years, I'll have enough away to buy that vacation house we want. Then I'll slow down. That means the house will cost you five years—one twelfth of your adult life."


8.   Overlook frivolous things. American Psychologist William James said, "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook." That's why you won't be able to drag me into an extended debate on Facebook.


9.   Focuse on the big picture. We all have a life purpose. Is what you're doing contributing to that? Check the compass often to recalibrate the course. As a pilot, if I'm off just 2 or 3 degrees, I'll arrive at a different destination. The big picture goals determine the monthly/weekly/daily goals.


10.  Combine activities: Stephen King said he likes to read a book while walking in his neighborhood, while waiting in line at the grocery store, etc. For me, I listen to audio books during my commute. For example, turning my car into a mobile library allows me to read at least 10 extra books a year. Taking a vacation on a cruise ship allows me the relaxation time I desire, while also getting to visit several different countries.


Time is the lowest common denominator. The day gives 24 hours to both the rich and to the poor, to both male and female. Master it, and you master your life.

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Dreamcatcher: "Shamrocks or Bullets"

Time: Present Time


Background: Mr. Gerald McMillan is my best friend's dad. He was a pharmacist at a local hospital, and the McMillan family lived down the street from me in Lafayette, Louisiana. The 1980s suburban was a real vehicle that the McMillan family owned, and Jacob and I used to drive it back and forth to martial arts classes. It was like a tank, but instead of green, it was blue. Instead of tracks, it had rubber tires.


The Dream:

I hopped into the passenger seat of Mr. Gerald's 1980s something suburban. Mr. Gerald and I were headed to the shooting range. It was 5:00 PM and the range closed at 6:00 PM. I felt a sense of rush, but Mr. Gerald didn't.


"Let's stop at the Diamond Shamrock to get some gas," he said.


The Diamond Shamrock was the local gas station near where the McMillan Family and I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana. It was at the corner of Robley Drive and Ambassador Caffery Parkway.


I glanced at the gas gauge. It may have been low, but not at a worrisome level. "Why don't we just get gas after we leave the range?" I suggested.


Mr. Gerald was adamant about refueling first. He pulled into the Diamond Shamrock and as I opened the door to get out and start pumping the fuel, he handed me a check to pay for it.


"Just sign my name," he said, as he stayed seated behind the steering wheel.


As I'm looking at the display on the fuel pump, there's only two options: Press here to pay with a credit card, or press here for help.


I pressed for help, and the attendant answered.


"I'm paying by check," I said.


"Come inside first," he replied. "We'll have to hold your check for 51 dollars."


I walked across the concrete toward the swinging door. That makes sense, I guess. He'll hold onto my check because he's got no idea how much gas I'm going to need.


I entered the convenience store and noticed there was a line of customers—about three or four people. I got in line, and studied Mr. Gerald's check. It was addressed to his internet/cable company! I drew a line through that, and began writing "Diamond Shamrock." I wasn't quite sure how to spell "Shamrock," so I glanced around the store and found it written on the door. I also signed my name in the signature section, instead of Mr. Gerald's—even though he gave me prior permission.


When I got to the cashier and presented the check, the man told me that he couldn't accept that check. "There's no typed name in the upper left-hand section, there's a line through the wording right here…"


I went back to the suburban and sat down. "They wouldn't take your check."


"Why not?" Mr. Gerald asked incredulously.


"I think he thought it was suspicious that a millennial would be writing a check," I said with all seriousness." I glanced at the center console's clock, which read 5:59 PM. "I guess we're not going to the firearms range."

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Movie Review: "No Country for Old Men"

This crime thriller was even better the second time I watched it! It's directed by the Coen Brothers, and based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.


In summary: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is out hunting deer when he comes upon the grisly aftermath of a drug deal gone bad. His greed takes over, and he steals a briefcase of cash. Well, of course, the owner of that money is not going to stop looking for it. The hunter becomes the hunted when a merciless killer named Chigurh (Javier Bardem) picks up his trail throughout the Southwest desert/border--places like El Paso, Texas in the early 1980s. Also looking for Moss is Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a lawman nearing retirement, who reflects on a changing world.


To truly appreciate this film, you have to look at Chigurh's character as it was in the novel--as "Fate" itself. Once I did that, his character took on a different persona. This movie confronts fate, greed, fear, morality, and change--and it does so through the lens of different characters.


Although the dialogue is sparse throughout the movie, I think it's excellent. It was appropriate for the time and geography. Here are a few of the lines that I remember:


Anton Chigurh: You need to call it. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair.

Gas Station Proprietor: I didn't put nothin' up.

Anton Chigurh: Yes, you did. You've been putting it up your whole life you just didn't know it. You know what date is on this coin?

Gas Station Proprietor: No.

Anton Chigurh: 1958. It's been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it's here. And it's either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.

Gas Station Proprietor: Look, I need to know what I stand to win.

Anton Chigurh: Everything.


Sheriff Bell: "Signs and wonders. I think once you quit hearing sir and ma'am, the rest is soon to follow."

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Movie Review: "Alamar" ("To The Sea")

Was going through a list of movies on my Amazon watchlist, when I came across Alamar, a 2010 semi-documentary about a 4 year-old Italian boy who was the beautiful product of an Italian woman's tryst with a Yucatan tour guide. The young boy, Natan, spends a summer on the remote Mexican island with his father, and a kind-hearted grandfather figure who likes to joke and drink coffee with lots of sugar. Natan seamlessly transitions from speaking Italian with his mother in Rome, to then speaking Spanish with his father and the other inhabitants of the fishing village. While living with his tender and attentive father in a stilt hut near one of the world's largest coral reefs, Natan learns his father's way of living in harmony with the natural environment. This is a wonderful and emotional peek into a boy coming of age as he spends an exciting and culturally different summer with his father. 


Here is the trailer.

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Movie Review: "Won't You be my Neighbor?"

My childhood shows were Thundercats, GI Joe, and He-Man. So, my only recollection of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was from what other people would say, and also from satire clips. But the buzz about this new documentary, Won't You be my Neighbor, peaked my interest and I sat down to watch it. Boy, I'm glad I did. This film showcases an ordained ministry who was heading one direction when Fate re-calibrated his compass--and steered him toward television, and ultimately inside the homes of millions of Americans.


This documentary relives some of the show's highlights, and takes the viewer on an insightful journey through America's 1960s to our post 9/11 world. It reminds us of how Mr. Rogers presented controversial topics TO KIDS about the Vietnam War, race relations, homosexuality, Bobby Kennedy's assassination, etc.


Director Morgan Neville raises tough questions, and then answers them! Was Mr. Roger's a homosexual? Was Mr. Rogers a Navy SEAL? Did Mr. Rogers create an entire generation of whiny kids who feel entitled? I walked away from this film with a deep respect for Mr. Rogers' kindness, steadfast devotion to adding value to children, and his amazing contribution to save PBS from getting cut from President Nixon's budget. It was heartwarming to see Koko the Gorilla's visit to the set, and to also hear from some of the show's characters and behind-the-scenes people.


Once they finished taping a scene, Officer Francoise Clemmons said something like: "I felt like you were talking directly to me." And Mr. Rogers replied, "I've been talking to you for two years, but today you heard me." Wow!


Check out this terrific documentary about a wonderful human being who had his own struggles and insecurities as an artist, yet kept the faith and stayed the course.

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Movie Review: "Operation Finale"

Operation Finale was about the Israeli clandestine operation to capture Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. The purpose of the operation was for Eichmann to stand trial in Israel for war crimes during World War II. I'm disheartened that more people went to watch "Crazy Rich Asians " over the Labor Day weekend instead of seeing a film about the endless pursuit to bring justice to evildoers, but I digress...


Actor Sir Ben Kingsley did an amazing job showing the complexity of humanity and the capability of the cruelties one family man and patriot can do to another human being. "I was just following orders. I was a cog in a machine..."


When the movie ended, people sat motionless in their seats, likely with the same feeling of unease as I. This important movie will resonate with you long after you leave the theater, just as my visit to Auschwitz years ago changed me. My experience touring Auschwitz in Poland stirred my soul to write about it, which you may read here.

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My Philosophy on Money

Not too long ago I saw the film, "All the Money in the World." The Rome scenes and interactions with the Carabinieri brought back fond memories of when I lived and worked in Italy. My favorite line from the film was: "Priceless? I deplore that word. Everything has a price. The great struggle in life is finding out that price." When asked how much money it would take for Mr. Getty to feel secure, he replied, "More."


My wife and I both attended public schools in Louisiana. Although we grew up in different parts of the State, we observed that none of our teachers taught us about money.  Read More 

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Movie Review: "Alpha"

Saw the movie "Alpha," today. Takes place 20,000 years ago in Europe. Entertaining and intense flick about a teenage boy who must survive alone in the wilderness after he's left for dead during his first hunt with his tribe. My favorite quote was from this young man's mother: "He leads with his heart, not with his spear." A lot of themes play out in this film: coming of age, enemies becoming friends, earning your father's pride, being stronger than you think, man vs nature, etc. There was too much CGI for my liking, but I did enjoy how the movie showed the evolution of how the wolf would eventually become man's best friend. After the show, I went home and loved on my five-year old Chocolate Labrador.

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Movie Review: "Get on Up"

The movie about James Brown's life, "Get on Up," was satisfying! The director (Tate Taylor) and main actor (Chadwick Boseman) captured the essence of the "Godfather of Soul" within the time constraints of a Hollywood movie. The film was entertaining, the story was fascinating, and the music was energizing! I couldn't help but wonder if James Brown would have become James Brown had it not been for his really sad childhood. His struggles reminded me of the metamorphosis that must take place for the caterpillar to become the butterfly. I think we shy away from struggles and let them handicap us, when in reality, they help us grow into the person we're destined to become.

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Opportunity Knocks. Will you Hear it and Answer?

Naples, Italy

The word, "opportunity," is an old nautical term that means "toward a port." Ship captains couldn't just sail their boats filled with crew, cargo, and passengers into the harbor. They had to be skilled mariners. They had to measure the wind, current, and tide. They had to be on the lookout for other ships, too. To safely port, they had to see their opening, and then take advantage of the opportunity.


Recognizing the history of this beautiful word helps us understand the secret to seizing opportunities.


(1) Realize that opportunities come and go. It's better to be prepared and not have an opportunity, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.


(2) You must identify that it is an opportunity for you, and not just a temporary distraction.


(3) And finally, you must seize the opportunity by action. Indecision is a decision, and the road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision.


"Life is about opportunities," Janine Shepherd said as she opened her Ted Talk." This Australian pilot's speech is emotional, at times funny, and ever so inspiring. Please take a moment and watch. Perhaps your takeaway will be that you are the opportunity you are waiting for. Click here for the video.

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