Wednesday, March 01, 2017

50 Things Every Guy Should Own

List taken from: Lew Rockwell
1. Land – I don’t care if it’s a quarter acre lot in some remote place. Get some. Nothing says ‘Merica like owning a chunk of earth.
2. A truck – Haul stuff. It’s what guys do. Diesels are the best but get what you can afford. Jalopys are ok too. Nothing like learning the fundamentals of mechanics. Don’t forget the saying “a good friend will help you move, a really good friend will tell you NO.”
3. Grill – Unless you build your own, just get a classic charcoal Weber. Nothing is better than this, trust me. Don’t be the dope that spends $700 on the egg. You could be spending that money on meat. Or, if you’re a vegetarian you could spend that money on sweet corn (grills nice) and tampons. Either way, just get the Weber.
4. Flashlight – What!!!!! I just saw a flashlight for $488! Are you kidding me? Look guys, think about how often you’re gonna use this thing….if you’re a night owl, I could see stepping it up some, but for my money I would just get the three battery Maglite. It’s tough and could also double as a hammer.
5. Rifle – My standard rifle is a Marlin 30-30. Does the job and it doubles as a sledge hammer and still shoots. Tough gun.
6. Thermos – The green one. Here’s a pet peeve of mine: if you buy a damn thermos for coffee, don’t put fricking soup or stew in it. Just put coffee or tea or whatever in the container. Get a separate container for foods. Have some dignity. I like the Thermos brand. Get this one.
7. Rope – Have 50′ of rope at your disposal. You need this. There is  plenty of different types of rope from climbing to construction. You’ll know what type to get when you see it. Just remember that some ropes give a little and some give a lot.
8. Atlas – It’s the first part of traveling. Know your world.
9. Razor – I’m about to save you a ton of money. Get you one of those razors that have the disposable blades. The blades are so cheap. I mean cheap. It takes a little getting use to, but you’ll be ahead of most schmucks when you strap one of these on your face…..and wallet.
10. Water hose – Don’t go cheap on me here. It’s an important tool. Get the industrial kind. Usually about 50 smackers at your local hardware store. Just get the fifty footer. If you need more, then double up. It makes for easier storing.
11. Shotgun – 12 gauge. Don’t get an automatic. Pump action or double barrel is best. Great for home or property protection. From slugs to bird shot, you can’t go wrong with this tool.
12. Sunglasses – Get a good pair. Make sure the lens is made of glass and not plastic. Plastic scratches too easy. Trust me on this. You’re allowed to splurge on quality.
13. Coffee maker – I would say buy you a good traditional maker, but my wife uses a French press and it’s just takes coffee to the next level. The Frogs (aka the French) have one thing down, and that’s coffee. Don’t get the glass one either. Buy a nice metal one. It’ll hold the heat better and won’t break if you drop it.
14. Cards – You never know when the opportunity comes up to have a little fun and take your friends money. Keep it friendly. And if you owe money, be damn sure you pay it. Plus, learn a couple of tricks to show the kids. It helps them question things.
15. Gloves – These hands could stop a chainsaw….or at least use to could. Momma said “never trust a man that wears gloves.” I think she meant a man that wears gloves all the time. Thats why my hands used to be so brutal. Anyway, a pair of gloves come in handy sometimes, just not all the time.
16. Pistol – Get a .357 revolver. All you need. S&W is my choice. Plus, you don’t leave shells laying around….or whatever….no gangster…..just never know. Plus, it never malfunctions. Ever.
17. Pocket Knife –  Get a Case or Old Timer, either one will do. Get the double bladed knife, not the one with three blades. Use one blade for the good stuff, and the other one to “f” stuff up with. The three bladed one sits too thick in the pocket.  Bonus: If an old man ever asks you to “drop knives”, don’t.
18. Watch – I wear a Timex Iron Man. It tells time. Hard. I once left it tied to my upside down kayak, in the dirt for three months and found it in working order. It’s tough, It’s cheap. It tells time.
19.Machete – My cousin swears up and down by the “Woodsman’s Pal.” Yeah, they are pretty nice, but expensive. You’re choppin’ weeds, not whittling an art project. I say just get ya one of those cheap bastards at Wal-Mart. Does the job. Here’s a pic of one of those woodsmans things.
20. A Nice Suit – I’m not putting a picture up here for this one. You should just know that you should have one. For church, business, weddings, funerals, etc. Dress the way you should….don’t go to a funeral like you’re some kinda hobo. That goes for weddings and church too.
21. Wallet – Keep it organized. So lately, I’ve been carrying a zipper wallet. I don’t keep all my stuff in there…..just the important stuff like ID, one credit card, and one debit card. My old man’s wallet is so thick, it’s like sitting on a phone book. Why he carries that thing I don’t know. Anyway, here’s the one I carry. It’s made by Chums.
22. Work boots – Don’t go for fashion, go for function. And by function, I mean comfort. I don’t like steel toe boots and would never own a pair. I do Timberland work boots, but I’m sure there are some better ones out there. Point is, don’t show up to the job site wearing something that looks like you’re about to play a pick-up game down at the Y.
23. Tent – If you go camping solo a lot, get a 2 man. I like the 2 man tent because I can get my stuff out of the weather. If there is two of you, get a three man. A good one is usually not that heavy. I have a North Face I’ve been using a lot, but also have a Marmot in my bug out bag that’s nice as well. Anyways, don’t go cheap on camping gear…..
24. Sleeping bag – Western Mountaineering makes the best. THE BEST. But, who can afford one? Not this hombre. Not that I wouldn’t spend the money, but I don’t do extreme cold weather stuff, so I just stick with the Marmot bag I have now. It’s super comfy and lite, and does the job.
25. Canoe or kayak – I would say get the kayak over the canoe, but I have both and both have different uses. The canoe I fish from, the kayak is for fun. Either way, WATER.
26. Desk – Every guy should have a desk. In fact, you should sit at it once a week and write something. Computers are great, but nothing like the art of lines and circles that can communicate thought. If nothing else, write a chore list for the kiddos every week. It’s fun and as CEO of the family, it’s your duty.
27. Pen – How are you going to make money if you don’t have a pen? I have a nice fountain pen I use when I want to write something fancy. For regular stuff, I use a Skillcraft. They are the best. Throw all of your pens away and get a box. I remember my dad having these pens from his time in the military.
28. Wife – A good wife is hard to come by. It took me 45 years to find mine. Well worth the wait.
29. Umbrella – Get a good, big one. One for two people. You know, so your wife doesn’t get wet while she’s holding it for you.
30. Leatherman - Not the cheap knock off brands you can get for $10. The cheap ones don’t last. I have the simple one. I’m not sure what style it is, but here’s a pic.
31. Camera – I may concede this one. Most phones have a camera built in that are pretty good. I have a Canon A-1 that is kept in storage. It uses film and I don’t want the added expense of development. I also have an old Polaroid, but the film for that thing is too damned expensive, but could be a lot of fun. I’ve often thought about breaking it out for family night. Anyway, if you have a camera on your phone, you can probably skip this one.
32. Shop Vac – It’s the vacuum for guys. It’s great to have for cleaning out the truck, cleaning up shop mess or sawdust. Get one, they are handy.
33. Hair clippers – It’s a great way to keep your barber employed. But seriously, if you need to lower the ears in a pinch, they can be handy.
34. Fire safe – Keep your important stuff in one, safe place. I have a couple of these that I keep birth records, passports, legal stuff, etc. in. It’ll keep an honest man, honest and most have some sort of fire rating.
35. Knife – Outdoor type. I have to be honest here, I have some sort of infatuation with knives. Probably comes from watching Johnny Weismuller when I was a kid. Make sure you get one that is full tang. That was FULL TANG. For my money, I think the Schrades are pretty good. They are inexpensive but are built to take a licking. I’m sure the brand can be debated, but Schrade is best for the money in my book.
36. Sewing Kit – Don’t be a sissy. A man should know how to sew a button or put on a patch. Hell, even Rambo knew how to sew, albeit it was his own skin. You should have one handy. Thanks mom for showing me how to sew a button.
37. Skillet – I do all my cooking in one big ass skillet. Bacon, eggs, burgers, mac and cheese, steak, soup….whatever. Get a good one. I found a really good, over sized skillet at TJ Maxx several years ago and still use it till this day.
38. Cutlery – Get a good set that will last you forever. Make sure it’s a reputable brand so when you lose that one knife, you are able to reorder it to avoid that annoying empty slot in the block.
39. Lock – I like the combination locks pictured below. No more keys.
40. Ladder – I’m sold on the multi-position ladders. They fit easily into the back of a truck, and can be used as a step or extension ladder. Plus, the weight capacity is higher than most of the standard home ladders.
41. Rod and Reel – I like a good bait caster. Whatever works for you though. Just have one…..or some. Guys fish. If you’ve never gone fishing, plan a trip. It’s relaxing and fun. If you really get into fishing, step it up and learn to fly fish. My dad used to tie a wooden match on the end of my fly rod line and let me practice the cast without snagging into something.
42. Tackle box – This is the brains of fishing. Ask you local bait shop guys whats best for your area, then fill it with lures, jigs, weights, corks or bobers, leads, and lines. Have fun!!! And by the way, you don’t need a huge one to catch a huge one.
43. Chainsaw – You should have a chainsaw and know how to properly use one. I like a 16″. If I needed anything bigger, I would just call Roy my local lumberjack. Lumberjacks are a different type of people. Fun and a little crazy. Most lumberjacks use Stihl, I however have a Husqvarna.
44. Liquor Cabinet – All good Presbyterians have one, and the Baptist lie and say they don’t. Stock it with your poison. I like Jack Daniels….not often, but when I do, it’s handy. Stock it with clear and dirty liquors. Anything from the South is better.
45. Stereo – Don’t forget the speakers. Preferably a stereo with a turntable. Is that vanity fair? It’s the one thing hipsters have right.
46. Hand tools – Don’t cheap out on these items. I mean it. There are two things a guy should never part with: tools and camping/outdoor gear. You get what you pay for. Buy good name brand toolshere is what you need in a household kit. Hammer, measuring tape, pliers, crescent wrench, allen wrenches, screw drivers (get the all in one), chalk box. nippers, speed square, combination square, torpedo level, nut drivers, razor knife, putty knife, sanding block, chisel, 2 pound hammer, scraper, pencils, coping saw, regular saw, sheetrock knife, and nail set. I’m sure there’s something left out, but this will get you started. Oh…don’t forget socket sets and wrenches. As you get older, you’ll accumulate more tools and there’s nothing wrong with that. I would put a picture of my tool box on here, but ya’ll would probably get jealous….or most of you would.
47. Binoculars – I have a pair of my dads old ones. He got them while in Germany. The ones to get should be heavy duty and adjustable to your vision.
48. Post hole diggers – I like to call them “my PHD.” The new fiberglass handles are pretty nice and a little lighter too.
49. Ax – Get one with a hickory handle, they are easier to replace. Don’t get the double bladed because you can use the other side of the ax as a sledge when needed.
50. Baseball glove – Every guy should have one. Who doesn’t like to play catch. Turn off the tv for once and get your ass outside and throw.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Cedarbrook Church Ignite Winter Retreat Round-Up



This weekend I had the opportunity to speak for the Cedarbrook Church student winter retreat. The topic of the weekend was "Weird Like Jesus." We looked in the Bible at how following Jesus with all our hearts may make us look weird in the eyes of the world, but how important it is to value God's opinion of us over people's. Specifically we looked at the areas of sex, material possessions and the purpose of life.

One highlight of the trip was spending the weekend with my friend Kyle. He and I have been friends for over twenty years. Kyle has been a pastor at Cedarbrook Church for six years and it is awesome to watch him interact with the leaders and students on this trip. Ignite, the youth ministry here, is strong and growing thanks to God's grace and the leadership Kyle has shown. Everyone says that it is obvious why Kyle and I get along so well, we're a lot alike. I am grateful to have a friend like him, and to have a chance to use my gifts serving Jesus and the youth ministry of Cedarbrook.

The even bigger highlight than spending time with Kyle was spending time with my thirteen year old Jacob. He was a bit hesitant about leaving his friends in Northfield to spend the weekend with strangers, but by the end of the trip he had an absolute blast. Friday night he was a little reserved, but he started cracking out of his shell before bed. Then all day Saturday he became increasing plugged in with some of the kids here. I think there were even a few girls who had a little crush on him. He had such a fun time on Saturday that he ditched me and left me sleeping alone in the speaker's cabin so that he could spend the night in the boys' dorm with his new buddies. 

I was so blessed to have Jake here with me as I shared and served. Watching him play and worship and connect and listen to me preach is something I will hold on to forever. I am so happy about the man he is becoming. 

A summarized version of highlights from the weekend would include...
- Buffalo Wild Wings on the way to camp
- Cherry Berry with Jake
- Mattress Races
- GaGa Ball in the snowy pit
- The Bacon room
- Underwear Sumo (I beat Kyle!)
- Telephone Charades (Never Pee Into the Wind)
- Slap Jack
- Dance Party!
- Lots of snack and Starbucks














Saturday, February 11, 2017

Q & A with Myself: "Why do you like Tom Brady (and the Patriots) so much?"


Yesterday I was wearing my new Alabama Crimson Tide baseball hat and my thirteen year old called me a "front-runner." I wasn't offended. I'm actually used to being harassed for the teams/colleges I cheer for. As a fan of Notre Dame, Boston Red Sox, Patriots, and the Cleveland Cavs I am accustomed to people calling me bandwagon and all other sorts of harassments. It is pretty easy to take in stride.

It is a fair question though. I am Minnesotan, born and raised, and yet many of my most passionate cheering interests extend outside state lines. Of course I want my local teams to do well. All my life I have been a Minnesota Gopher hockey fan (although to be honest I have cheered for Boston College, Colorado College, and even Wisconsin..eeek....a time or two). I want to see the MN Wild win the Stanley Cup as much as the next Minnesota hockey fan. In the end though, my heart doesn't find it's happiness here in "Loserville USA."

That still doesn't answer the question, "Why Tom Brady? And why the Patriots?" So let me offer you 6 seasons I cheer for Tom Brady.

*In many ways I see Brady as the image of the Patriots in general, so I will refer from now on simply to Brady.

1. His dedication to his success

From diet, to off-season workouts, to weekly preparation, Tom Brady is dedicated to doing everything he can to achieve success. He is always prepared. He workouts out wth his players during the off-season. I have read about Brady's commitment to health and diet and alternative medicine. Brady pushes the envelope and does things other people won't do to achieve success.

2. His mental toughness

It couldn't have been easy for Brady to be suspended the first four games of the 2016-2017 season. But did that detour him or negatively affect his performance? No way! He went on to have a fantastic season and he capped it off by winning his 5th Super Bowl. A lot of guys couldn't have overcome the mental obstacle of what Brady went through. They would have developed a chip on their shoulder. They would have lost focus. Rather than being negative, Brady focused that energy, he prepared hard even though he wasn't playing, and when the time came he stepped right back into his spot without missing a beat.

3. His leadership

The Patriot motto is "Do Your Job" and no one exemplifies this better than Brady. Brady is professional, old school, quinteessintial quarterback. He understand what is means to lead his team. He doesn't seek out the spotlight for himself, he lets his play do the talking. Brady is quick to praise his teammates. You can tell Brady buy-ins to his coach's philosophy and he doesn't do or say things outside the lines of that. Brady represents his ownership, coach and teammates in a professional manner at all time. He is a guy others respect.

4. His ability to make everyone better

No quarterback has done more to elevate his teammates play, year after year, than Brady. It seems like the Patriot roster turns over again and again, with new players coming and old players leaving each season. And yet the one constant is Brady, standing tall in the middle of it all, waiting to welcome the new group of players and mold them into Champions. Brady has won 5 Super Bowls (played in seven) and not one set of offensive personal looks the same. Remarkable.

5. His longevity

Brady has said he wants to play until he's forty-five. Watching him in the Super Bowl this year and seeing the way he led his team to the most dramatic Super Bowl win in history made me think he can. It is amazing to think of the continued success Brady and the Patriots have had. Brady is doing the right things on, and off, the field to take of himself and give himself a chance to prolong his career. I enjoy rooting for a dynasty over an underdog, and Brady has given me that.

6. His happiness in what he does

I love the passion and happiness Brady exhibits when he plays. It is similar to what I loved about watching Brett Favre. You can see on their face how much playing football, and winning, means to them. Seeing Brady pump his first and yell "Let's go!" absolutely fires me up. Give me a set of pads and I'd run out onto the field next to him, believing I could handle any lineman on the field.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Q & A with Myself: "Why do you post so many meal and workout pictures?"


If you follow me on social media you have likely been inundated with pictures of the meals I am eating and the workouts I am doing.

I'm guessing you may even be wondering what's with all the pictures. Well, here goes with my first Q & A with myself.

"Brenton, why do post pictures of your meals and workouts? And why do you have Balvin Get Fit accounts on Facebook (Balvin Get Fit page) and Instagram (@BalvinGetFit)?"

Thanks for asking!

There are a few reasons why I do this.

1. It keeps me accountable.

I have found that the more public I am with my fitness journey the more likely I am to stay on track. I am in a routine of posting meals now, and so when I am tempted to eat junk I ask myself, "Would you post this?" If the answer is no it is easier for me to say no to the temptation. Of course I eat some things I wouldn't post, I'm not trying to hide anything, but being in the routine of posting good meals helps me to keep in the routine of eating good meals. Same goes for the work-outs. Posting #GymPics means I am in the gym. Working out, Which is where I wanna be. The 'pressure' of posting helps keep me going.

2. It makes me a part of a tribe.

There is quite a community of fitness bloggers, Facebookers and Instragrammers. My participation in the social media stream joins me with these other folks. It makes me a part of a tribe of like-minded people that encourage and support and inspire one another. I pick up tips and tricks and ideas. I can then pass them along to others who are looking for the same inspiration.

3. I like to share good things.

The cleaner I cook and eat, the better I feel. My natural inclination is simply to share this with others. I hope that as other people see what I am eating, and see the positive effects it has on my body, they will be motivated to give it a try themselves. Maybe someone will see a meal I've made and try making it them-self. I do it all the time. I have tons of saved images and recipes from other people I follow that I plan on trying to make for myself.

4. It documents my progress.

I have always been a writer and journal-er and document-er. I like to take notes, and keep records, and chart progress. In today's digital age I can do this quickly and with photographic evidence. I still write my workouts down in a notebook I bring to the gym, but social media gives me instant access to see my journey from an entirely different perspective.

5. It feels good.

Of course there is an emotional aspect to this all too. It feels good when people like a post of share it with others. Enjoying affirmation from others for the hard work you do is natural. Posting and amazing meal or sharing the gains I've made in my lifts, and being cheered on helps keep me moving forward and pushing through tougher times.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Review of Zenni Optical and My New Glasses


I'm stoked. Yesterday I got new glasses. It's my first new pair in about eight years.

I hate buying new glasses. I hate going through the exam. I hate trying on all the frames. I hate the outrageous costs associated with it all.

So, I've stretched every pair of glasses I've ever owned as far as I possibly could.

But the time had come. My wife couldn't stand looking at my old frames anymore. I needed an upgrade, but I wasn't sure where to go.

Then a friend of mine told me about Zenni Optical. Zenni is a web based company that offers a full range of prescription glasses at ridiculously low prices. It was started by a couple scientists in San Francisco. You may have seen their Facebook ads and not even realized what an awesome company this is.

The website looked good, but I was a little skeptical at first. Could you really get glasses as inexpensive as advertised. And if you could, I figured they would probably be pretty junky. Bad lenses, cheap frames, incorrect prescriptions. I wasn't ready to take the leap until I felt more confident I'd be getting a good product. But when my friend got her pair of Zenni glasses in the mail she loved them. The looked great and worked just as well as advertised. I decided to give it a shot.

I went to the Zenni website and spent about thirty minutes browsing the many frames available. It was easy to upload my photo so I could see how the frames would look on my face. I used the online tools to measure the distance between my pupils. I was even able to save a few of the frames I liked so I could review them with my wife later. We picked a pair, answered a few additional questions about the upgrade options I had, and made the purchase. My entire purchase was less than $45 and I even received a code for 10% off my purchase.

In less than two weeks I received my new glasses and I am super impressed! I wore them to work today and I've already gotten compliments from my co-workers on how great they look. It will be easy for me to recommend Zenni to others and I am already thinking about going online to order another pair.

For a guy who hates buying new glasses, Zenni Optical could be a game changer! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

If You Aim at Nothing, You'll Hit It Every Time


"If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." - Zig Ziglar

The main idea behind this quote is obvious. If you want to achieve something you have to set a goal, direct you energy at it, and go after it. If you don't have any goals or any direction you are aiming, you won't do anything. It's like hoping in a car and driving around in a circle. You never really go anywhere.

I've had times in my life where I have experienced the thrill of working hard and achieving a goal. One of the primary examples of this was in high school grade 10 when I set the goal of being the best hockey player in my grade. Whether or not I actually was the best could be debated, but in my mind I know I succeeded because of the growth and development I experienced as a young man and a player. I set the goal, I took aim, and then I directed all my energy at that target.

As I've gotten older I have had to set new targets.

Graduate college.
Help launch a new church.
Improve my fitness.
Pass interviews for pay grade increases.
Pass interviews for a new job.
Achieve budgetary goals.
Improve fitness.
Find a new house.
Be the best husband I can.
Be the best Dad I can.
Grow spiritually.
Complete a couple marathons.
Complete a few triathlons.

Some of these were short term goals. Some were long term. Some required a tremendous amount of effort. Some not as much. But moving the needle on any of these goals required that I first identified where I wanted to go, and then planned out the route to get there.

I feel like I'm in another season of "taking aim" at a bunch of things. To be honest it takes me a little bit to get my head around recalibrating things. I have a tendency to want to arrive and then get complacent. I have a tendency to slip into aiming at nothing and wanting to go through the motions. But whenever I do I inevitably begin to feel restless and frustrated inside myself. There is some motor in me that won't allow me to stop completely.

There are a couple challenges for me in this process.

#1 - Staying happy and finding joy in the times when I am recalibrating my aim.
#2 - Staying focused and moving forward when the progress seems slow.

The reality is the we rarely achieve of goals quickly.

I was complaining to someone about how, after working out 5 days, I didn't see the number on the scale significantly dropping. They responded by asking me if the scale went up to that number in five days. The point was obvious. It took time to get where I was, and it will take time to get where I want to go. I don't really like that. Like a kid in the backseat of a long car ride, I want to be there now. But that's not how life works. At least not anything that is worth something. You don't microwave a great rack of ribs, you grill them long and slow and patiently. And when that process is done you have something amazing to savor and delight in.

So, I'm working on taking aim at a few things. I'm reordering my life and prioritizing where I want to go. Then I'll engage in the deliberate, intentional, possibly prolonged process of headed in that direction until I reach my goals. And when I get there, I'll enjoy it for a season, and then it will be time to reset and begin working towards a new goal.

Keep aiming, working the plan, arriving, recalibrating, and moving forward friends.