Browsing Tag: advice

    Miscellany

    My Best & Worst Quarantine TV Shows

    September 1, 2020

    Like most of us, I’ve been watching a lot more TV during the pandemic than I have in years. Maybe ever. And no lie, a lot of it has been much better than I expected.

    So, in a nod back to my “Average Matt” days of doing movie reviews for friends’ podcast, here’s a list of the new shows I’ve been watching and how I feel about them — the mostly good and the occasional bad.

    (Note: I’m only talking about new shows I’ve started during these quarantine days. So shows like The Walking Dead and even The Mandalorian won’t be here because they pre-date the pandemic.)

    Defending Jacob (Apple TV+)

    This is by far the best show I’ve watched during the pandemic. It’s a great legal/psychological drama, but not so much a “thriller” like some of the other legal shows over the years. It moves slowly … very slowly at times. But I loved it.

    Defending Jacob was eight episodes long, and from what I’ve read, that’s it. There’s no season two coming up or anything. Just those eight great episodes. It was good enough that I’ll go back and watch ’em all again someday.

    The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

    I’d heard less-than-stellar things about this show, so I was kinda hesitant to watch … but I’m really glad I did.

    This one gets off to a slow start. The people who didn’t like it probably only watched the first 3-4 shows. It starts to get much better around episode 4/5. As I was telling a friend on Twitter earlier this summer, it almost feels like they changed writers or something because the second half of season one is way better than the first half.

    I’m not a huge Jennifer Aniston fan, and in the first few episodes she seems out of place, but she really crushed it in the second half of the season. And Billy Crudup is amazing in his supporting actor role — totally deserving of the award nominations he got.

    Mythic Quest (Apple TV+)

    This is a comedy set in a video game company’s office. The company makes a super popular game called … you guessed it … Mythic Quest.

    This one had some really funny moments and episodes, and some really good/funny characters. But it also had some duds, too. Overall, it’s not bad. When season two rolls around, I’ll check it out. But the show needs to go deeper on the characters — the best comedies (like Cheers, for example) explored the characters while also making you laugh.

    For All Mankind (Apple TV+)

    (Can you tell I spent a lot of time watching Apple TV+ this summer?)

    This is one of those “alternate history” shows, where they tell the story around “what would’ve happened if X didn’t happen, but Y did?” It’s kinda like Man In The High Castle, which I loved, but it’s not dystopian like High Castle was.

    The first episode of this one is a bit slow, but it gets really good after that. Sometimes it seems like the show tries too hard to be conscious of (or “woke” as some would say) and to fix the social injustices of the 1960s/1970s, but I think that’s a relevant part of the “what would’ve happened if…” question that the show raises.

    Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

    I can’t believe I like this show. It’s running right now, and they’re like 4-5 episodes in to the first season.

    There’s nothing original about the show. Ted Lasso is an American football coach who takes a job running a British football/soccer club, even though he knows nothing about the sport. The club just changed ownership in a divorce, and the previous owner’s wife is now in charge — and she wants the team to fail to embarrass her former husband. (That’s why she hired a know-nothing as coach.)

    It all sounds so cliché, yet I can’t stop watching. Jason Sudeikis is really great as Ted, and the show is just starting to unpack some of the personal/character reasons why he’d leave a great job coaching football in the US for this other coaching job he knows nothing about. It has some funny moments, some touching moments, and you know exactly what’s going to happen in the end … but that’s not stopping me from watching.

    Central Park (Apple TV+)

    Finally, an Apple TV+ show I didn’t like. I really wanted to. I watched the first two episodes and started on the third, then decided it just wasn’t for me.

    The Expanse (Amazon Prime)

    Ugh. I so wanted to like this. Managed to stick through all of season one, but I think I bailed during or right after the first episode of season two. It just didn’t do anything for me, despite my best efforts to give it time to work.

    High Score documentary (Netflix)

    Just finished watching this last week. This is a 6-part documentary on the video game revolution of the 1970s/1980s and how it played out into the 1990s.

    There’s obviously a lot of nostalgia here for me, because I grew up on video games — Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, even Apple games. And don’t get me started on how much $$ I spent at the mall arcade. (Or at the 7-11 on Trenton Rd., which was the closest place to find Defender and Missile Command).

    The first two episodes really delivered on that nostalgia, but after that High Score was really hit and miss. The last episode was good, too, I guess. But in the middle … meh. Rather than six episodes, it probably should’ve been four.

    The Last Dance documentary (ESPN)

    Speaking of documentaries, this was fantastic and maybe the best thing I watched all year — but I’m listing it down here because, I don’t know, it feels different from all the scripted shows that I planned to write about.

    So that’s it … my best and worst shows of the pandemic. I also managed to catch a few movies here and there. (Knives Out was great; Greyhound was meh.) And I need to find a way to catch up on one of my favorites, Yellowstone. That just finished season 3, but I never saw season 2 because Paramount Network wasn’t on YouTube TV when we dropped DirecTV a couple years ago.

    What are your best/worst shows that you’ve seen during the pandemic??

    Miscellany

    It All Comes Down To Discipline

    April 21, 2020

    I’ve never seen Creed, but this graphic caught my eye on Facebook not long ago.

    I believe all of that to be true. The older I get, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that success in just about anything comes down to discipline.

    It’s about knowing what we need to do and going out and doing it. The “knowing what to do” part is the mental — what’s in our brain. The “doing it” part is the physical — what our body does. The bridge between them is discipline.

    If you know what you need to do to succeed, but you don’t do it … it’s not your brain’s fault and it’s not your body’s fault. It’s because you lacked the discipline to connect them.

    If you want to lose weight and/or get in better shape, it’s really not all that difficult*. We all know that we need to eat better/less and exercise more. For most people, that’s all it is. But we lack the discipline to do that — and I include myself in this because I’ve been 10-15 pounds heavier than I should be and want to be for about 15 years now.

    Many years ago when I was still an SEO consultant, I had a client — a dermatologist with one office in northern California who wanted to become an international skin care brand. Dr. Cynthia Bailey wanted to become an expert and influencer in skin care, because she’d created a line of skin care products and wanted to sell them online.

    When I started working with her, I outlined a plan to accomplish that. I told her it would require a lot of work on both of our parts, and that it would take a while to happen. I told her she’d need to create high-quality content on a regular basis — multiple blog posts every week. I told her she’d need to make herself available for media interviews to grow her brand and visibility (and earn some high-quality, editorial links along the way).

    She was on board and we got to work. Fortunately, Dr. B had the discipline to do her part — she wrote and wrote and wrote, and it was great content. Readers loved it and started ordering her skin care products. Google loved her content and promoted her to the same level of medical trust that they gave to organizations like the Mayo Clinic. On some skin care searches, Google showed her content as the authoritative medical answer — this was long before the days of Featured Snippets (that sometimes get given to questionable sites).

    Dr. B went from earning less than $100/month in e-commerce revenue to making … well, I don’t have permission to say how much she was making when my career changes forced me to stop working with her in 2012-13 … but it was exponentially more than where we began.

    And it all happened because she had the discipline to bridge the knowledge of what to do with the actual work of doing it.

    I think this applies across the board in so many areas of our lives. We know what to do to succeed — have a strategy, create a plan with smart tactics, put in the hard work, etc.

    But why do we sometimes fail even when we know exactly what to do succeed? Discipline. I really believe that.

    *I know that some people are unable to lose weight due to medical conditions/reasons, no matter how much discipline they have. My mom was that way — she had a form of diabetes that she couldn’t overcome no matter how much she wanted to lose weight.

    Miscellany

    The 5 Stages of Colonoscopy Prep

    July 13, 2019

    My first colonoscopy went well, thanks for asking. It happened yesterday — my first surgery/medical procedure of any kind. It’s true — no broken bones, no sprained ankles, nothing that has ever required me to see a doctor for anything other than preventative treatments and regular checkups. I’ve been blessed.

    The procedure itself went well and the doctor pronounced me totally healthy on the spot — he didn’t find any polyps or anything else to cause concern, so I’m in the clear for 10 years until I get to do it again.

    The days leading up to the colonoscopy weren’t so great, of course. Even though I knew what to expect from having watched my wife go through the process less than a year ago, I wasn’t looking forward to the prep phase. No one does.

    Since I have a lot of friends in their 40s who’ll be going through this in the near future, I want to put down my experience of the five stages of colonoscopy preparation.

    Stage 1: Dread

    There’s no avoiding it. As soon as someone older than 50 finds out that you’re having a colonoscopy, they’re gonna tell you about it … just like I’m doing right now.

    In the days and weeks leading up to it, the doctor’s office will make sure you know all the rules about not eating and when you have to take the (awful) prep medication that clears out your system. You’ll look at what you’re allowed to eat (almost nothing) for the entire day before the colonoscopy, when you have to take the prep medicine, when you have to stop drinking liquids and consuming anything … and it’s all terribly dreadful. You’re gonna tell yourself it’s gonna be awful, and you’ll mostly be right.

    Stage 2: This Ain’t So Bad

    The day before actually starts out fine. You’ll have your jello made and ready to eat, maybe you’ll have some popsicles, too. And you’ll have clear liquids like apple juice or even Sprite — yep, that’s allowed. It turns out that jello and Sprite are a better combo than you expected, and if you consume enough of them, they can kinda fill you up for a while.

    I got through breakfast and lunch on this menu, along with one popsicle for “dessert” after lunch. It really wasn’t so bad. And then….

    Stage 3: Starvation

    It hit me at about 1:30 p.m. My stomach started growling loudly and when I went out to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door, I had just one thought: If I ever see a bowl of gelatin again, it’ll be the death of me.

    I kept eating it, though, along with Sprite and apple juice. Then I got back to my desk and texted my entire family: “Can someone PLEASE bring me a cheeseburger ASAP???”

    No. No, they couldn’t.

    Stage 4: Disgust

    The real prep starts the night before your colonoscopy. There are apparently several different prescription prep kits you can get, but I was told to ask for Suprep. It’s apparently the least bad. When I had my initial visit at the gastroenterologist about a month ago, I asked the doctor’s assistant to prescripe Suprep for me, and the instant reply I got was “Good choice.”

    To be clear, that’s kinda like being told you made a good choice by crashing your car into a shallow river instead of hitting a tree.

    Suprep is not pleasant and what it does to you the rest of the night is awful. It tastes like a very, very salty cold medicine. Did I mention it tastes salty? And you have to mix it with water and then drink 16 oz of this concoction within an hour. (Suggestion: Drink it all immediately and get it over with. Don’t drag out the salty torture.) And then you also have to drink 32 more ounces of plain water within an hour after finishing the Suprep. You’ve pretty much got a one-way ticket to the toilet no matter what.

    So you drink all this stuff and then the prep really begins. For me, it took about 30 minutes for the bowel cleanout to begin. Your timing may differ, but you’re gonna spend most of the night on the toilet and it’s pretty disgusting. And by the way, Stage 3 is over at this point — once the cleanout begins, you’re not gonna be starving. In fact, the thought of eating or drinking anything should put the fear of God in you.

    One last note: You have to take the same 16 oz. Suprep concoction the next morning, about four hours before your colonoscopy, and the fun begins all over again.

    Stage 5: Amazement

    This may happen during the night, or maybe (like me) the next morning — but at some point during all this your disgust will turn to amazement as you wonder … How is it possible for anything more to come out of my body?

    If all goes well, you’ll be completely drained out by the time that 4-hour window comes to an end. You’ll go to the hospital (or wherever you’re having the procedure) and you won’t have that urge anymore. And hopefully, your colonoscopy will go as smoothly as mine.

    I ended up losing three pounds over the course of two days — the prep day and the day of the procedure. It wasn’t even remotely fun, but I got through it … and you will, too.

    The most important thing: Don’t put off your colonoscopy out of fear or any other reason. It’s an important procedure and can save your life. Do it.

    Miscellany

    Where to watch NFL games on Hawaii’s Big Island

    November 12, 2018

    We found our tribe of Seahawks fans (12s!) at a neat sports bar in Kailua-Kona!

    If you’re a big football fan who’s traveling to Hawaii during NFL season, you might reach a point during your trip planning where you wonder … Where am I gonna watch the football game on Sunday?

    My wife and I have been to different Hawaiian islands probably 2-3 times during NFL season, and each time we’ve managed to find some good places that open up early Sunday for tourists to catch their favorite team’s game. Our most recent trip was last month when we visited the Big Island (Hawaii) with friends. But we were the only ones who wanted to find a place to watch NFL games — preferably with other Seattle Seahawks fans! — so the planning was all on our own.

    Good news: There are three sports bars nestled closely together in Kailua-Kona and each one opens early on Sunday mornings for NFL fans!

    My wife and I ended up at Oceans Sports Bar, which is just off Ali’i Road, the street that runs along the coast. As we were walking there, we passed by two other sports bars that were also open early and had TVs on for people to watch the games — Bongo Ben’s and Laverne’s. There are a few other bar/restaurant-type places in that same area that may have also been open, but we didn’t walk to them.

    (By the way … we’re talking 7:00 AM in Hawaii. That’s when the early games kickoff, at least before the mainland changes its clocks. If it’s after the clock change, kickoff will be at 8:00 AM Hawaiian time.)

    Oceans has a pretty big bar area with a bunch of TVs above showing the games, and then several more TVs placed throughout the dining areas.

    My wife and I arrived just as the game began and picked a table in the first dining area, where about 10-15 Seahawks fans had already gathered. It’s always fun to watch a game with other 12s, and this was no exception.

    The crowd grew as the game went along, and there were eventually about 25-30 Seahawks fans spread across two dining areas. There were also some Broncos fans, Chiefs fans and a few other teams represented … but Oceans Sports Bar seems to be the place for Seahawks fans to gather.

    Service was excellent. Our waitress was quick to bring my wife a mimosa and kept me filled with various tropical juices all morning. For breakfast, they offer a buffet that runs $14 per person, as I recall, which is pretty much a bargain for Hawaii. It was fairly standard stuff — scrambled eggs, bacon, home fried potatoes (to die for! OMG), biscuits and gravy, fried rice and some fresh fruit options. I think they had the fixins for a loco moco, too. As part of the buffet, you can also order a Belgian waffle — it looked delicious, but we were too full to try it.

    All in all, we had a great morning. The food was good. The service was good. The atmosphere was really fun. And we got to watch the Seahawks beat Detroit alongside a big group of fellow football fans. If you’re an NFL fan looking to watch the games on Hawaii’s Big Island, you can’t go wrong with Oceans Sports Bar — especially if you’re a Seahawks fan!

    Miscellany

    Great Italian Food in Maui? Try Antonio’s (in a strip mall, even)

    January 24, 2016

    Antonio's Italian Kitchen, as seen on Google Street View
    Antonio’s Italian Kitchen, as seen on Google Street View

    Let’s talk first about the 800-lb. elephant in the room: It’s in a strip mall anchored by a Long’s Drugs. That’s it in the corner of the Google Street View screenshot above. But don’t let that discourage you as you drive up to Antonio’s Italian Kitchen, which may very well have the best Italian food in Maui.

    Maui has a ton of fantastic restaurants but, in my experience (been to Maui four times in the past five years), they mostly pay lip service to Italian food. Seafood reigns on Maui, with steak joints or Asian food probably the next most popular restaurant options. At most of these places, you can find a seafood/pasta combo dish (or several) and maybe some basic Italian dishes like different takes on Pasta Primavera and such.

    But if you’re looking for a great Italian-focused restaurant that offers several kinds of homemade pasta and multiple sauce options, your choices will be pretty limited.

    Enter Antonio’s. In a strip mall. In Kihei.

    Our party of four ate there on a Thursday night in mid-January and we all loved it. We read about it the well-known Maui Revealed guide book and found their review to be spot on. It’s small — maybe 10 tables altogether. It’s very clean. Service was super friendly. The food was wonderful.

    I had the Fettucine Alfredo dish with chicken. I loved the homemade pasta and the sauce, which I assume was also homemade, was fantastic. My wife loved the Ravioli, and our guests loved the Chicken Parmesan (with Spaghetti) and Italian Sausage dinners.

    Entrees were in the $15 range, plus or minus. Appetizers were in the $8 range, plus or minus. The ones we ordered (Bruschetta and Garlic Bread) were good, but not as rave-worthy as the entrees. Desserts were solid (cheesecake for me, a chocolate mousse cake for my wife). With an alcoholic beverage or two thrown in, our whole meal was in the $60/couple range, which is really affordable for Maui.

    Reservations were suggested, so we made one. But there were a couple empty tables when we arrived so a walk-in would’ve worked, too.

    Huge props to Antonio’s on Maui for what very well could be the best Italian dinner on the island. Give it a shot, and don’t let the strip mall location discourage you.

    Miscellany

    18 Men & 18 Letters on an 18th Birthday

    December 16, 2015

    sean-letter-600

    My son turned 18 years old today. For a boy, that’s a tangible step toward manhood — a special occasion that is worth honoring and celebrating. It should be a Big Deal.

    About a month ago, I invited 17 other men to help me make it a Big Deal. I asked them to write a note/letter to Sean and gave them some ideas to get the juices flowing:

    • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were 18?
    • If you could go back and talk to your 18-year-old self, what would you say?
    • What advice would you give to a young man on his 18th birthday?

    I can’t claim ownership of the idea. It was mentioned by the father of a young man who was on a video that I watched a couple years ago while taking a men’s class at Bethel Church. As soon as I heard it, I knew I wanted to do it.

    So I sent out letters before Thanksgiving — yes, actual snail mail letters! — to 17 other guys, a few from the McGee/McGann family and the rest good friends. Some are friends from all the way back in college, some are much more recent friends. Some of the men know Sean, and some don’t. Likewise, Sean knows and has met some of them … and some he doesn’t know at all. Some are Christians, some aren’t. Some are conservatives, some are liberals. They ranged from 30+ years old to almost 80.

    I asked them to write as little as a paragraph or two if that’s all they had time for, or as much as several pages if they felt so inspired. Most wrote several pages. A couple also sent back gifts, which was incredibly generous. But the most important thing, in my opinion, was the time that they gave to share their wisdom and experience with the next generation.

    All 17 men accepted the invitation, and all wrote wonderful things for Sean on his 18th birthday. Below are 18 of my favorite pieces of wisdom/advice, which I’ll present in random order and without attribution, because I didn’t think to ask the men for permission to make their words public and associate their names with those words.

    1. Don’t try to emulate or become what someone else is, be the best Sean McGee you can.

    2. Don’t believe you’re entitled to anything. You must work for it. Everything.

    3. Fortune favors those who are prepared.

    4. Always remember there is RIGHT and there is WRONG.

    5. The older I get, the more I realize that The Beatles knew the secret to life: “All you need is love.”

    6. Don’t worry about your future, but do care about it.

    7. Make use of every single moment you have.

    8. Somewhere along the line I woke up one day and realized that life was a choice. A choice to be happy instead of sad, a choice to do rather than not, a choice to have deep and meaningful relationships that could uplift me rather than not.

    9. Put down your damn devices. Be with yourself. It is difficult. It is good for you.

    10. I didn’t find what I was supposed to do with my life until I was 37. You’ve got time. Try everything.

    11. When you are approaching 40 and looking back on what you’ve accomplished so far, be able to say to yourself, “I have no regrets. I’m proud of where I am and what I’ve accomplished.”

    12. With your adult life unfolding in front of you, you have the great privilege to pick a track to run on. I would encourage you to really pick a course that goes along with what makes your heart jump. If you have passion for something, you’ll fully engage in it and become great at it, and people will pay for greatness.

    13. Make good choices about what you’re going to do, of course, but pretty much say YES to opportunities to travel, learn new things by having hands-on experiences, and by helping others. Those things will shape you into a smarter, kinder and more compassionate person in the years ahead and they will help you learn to adapt to the changes in life you’ll surely experience.

    14. Make it a priority in your life to treat women as equals, not objects. Show respect by saying NO to places, products and temptations which denigrate women, which cast them as toys or servants or trophies.

    15. Reading good books is important and feeding your mind with positive thoughts will help you in your life. I am sure you have heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out.” Well, feed your mind with good things and good things will come out.

    16. Don’t take the easy way out when faced with tough decisions. The hard way is almost always the right way.

    17. Do admit that, even though you’ve been brought up going to church, you have doubts. God made us and lived in our shoes as Jesus, and knows our difficulties and doubts. It’s no use pretending we have it all figured out.

    18. Draw outside the lines, laugh, cry, serve others, make great friendships and live the best life you can ever live.

    Gentlemen: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving your time and energy to help my son have such a memorable 18th birthday. It means the world to me.