Welcome back! At long last, I am proud to present a relaunch of the infamous HelloNeiman blog. This time, however, the writing is laser focused (as is my attention) on my biggest passion project ever – a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. During the past year, I really ramped up preparing and planning for this epic journey. Now, most friends and family know I have been obsessively planning this trip since first picking up Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods back in 2003, but this past year brought on a new level of dedication as a start date is possibly on the horizon (more to come). For those unfamiliar, the AT is a 2,189 mile journey from Georgia to Maine, passing through a total of 14 states along the way.
But I’m not leaving tomorrow, so why start the blog today? Well, as a career Management Consultant, I truly appreciate the art of planning and project management – putting a strategy in place, preparing goals, establishing important milestones, defining requirements, aligning stakeholders, preparing a budget, etc. So, although many AT thru-hikers prefer to just get out there and wing it, I believe the planning is just as fun and will lead to an even greater experience out on the trail.
Whether you have an interest in this adventure or not, I invite you to subscribe, follow, or read along as I update the world on my planning progress. And if/when the exciting day comes when I take my first step on the white blazed trail, this blog will become the daily journal of my travels. Hello Neiman!
Note: For nostalgic purposes, the original HelloNeiman blog entries are archived here.
When HelloNeiman.com 1.0 launched on February 25th of 2009, it was an instant worldwide phenomenon. Fans from all over the globe flooded my inbox with emails of praise, demands for more, and requests to send a small fee to inherit millions in Nigerian Prince money. Over the next 1827 days, the HelloNeiman blog fluctuated in publication cadence, delivering a total of 153 priceless stories of prose to the universe where I delightfully enjoyed writing and sharing my random daily thoughts with whomever accidentally stumbled their way there.
Although the original domain hosting expired in 2014 (and the original blog entries with it), HelloNeiman.com 1.0 is back for your reading pleasure. In honor of its important place in (my) history, this page represents an archive to those original entries, recreated in all of their original glory. Enjoy!
Note: Although I’m not proud of every sentence written when looking back, there were no changes made to the original text (except fixing spelling errors).
Three guys from Minnesota went backpacking in February, and you won’t believe what happens next…
I hate that stupid teaser. You see it on every Facebook/ Buzz Feed post and every unimportant story on the web. But I’m going to steal it at the same time I mock it.
We just got back from the first adventure of 2014, a 3-day excursion in Angeles National Forest just east of Los Angeles, California. Awesome timing to get away and an incredible trip with the Puchtel brothers. Check out the video above documenting our crazy time. I love how easy it is to bring an iPhone to take pictures/movies, then use the iMovie app to quickly create and upload the video. #technologywin, #canthepalmpredothatyet?
If you already know what I’m talking about, you are more hip than me. This Pixar Conspiracy Theory idea was foreign to me, though not surprising, given Disney’s history of Easter Eggs in their films. Remember when Easter eggs were simple? As a child, we paused/rewound/played over and over again to giggles and cackles whenever one of these hidden gems was uncovered. Admittingly, I miss the days of this simplistic Disney secrecy … So first, let’s take a trip down memory lane….
Underwater phallic castles…
Erotic Arabian princes…
And derogatorily dispersed flora…
Well, apparently Pixar took animation shenanigans to a WHOLE. NEW. LEVEL.
At a team lunch yesterday, conversation took a turn for the crazy. What started out as “Arby’s is cool because it was the royalty of fast food growing up” somehow became “big corporation is out to get us all”. I don’t recall the exact details that moved us from A to B, but it probably went something like this…
- Me: I love Arby’s
- Tennille: Duh, everyone loves Arby’s!
- Jeff: Arby’s is the greatest restaurant in the world.
- Sean: Arby’s could totally rule the world.
- Laura: What if Arby’s really did rule the world?
- Sean: I’d eat myself to death
- Michelle: Wasn’t that the storyline of WALL-E?
- Me: Wait, what?
- Jeff: Oh yeah, Pixar has predicted our apocalypse for over a decade.
- Me: … (fork drop)
And with that, the Pixar Theory was introduced. A world of crazy that links all 13 Pixar movies into a chronological order for apocalyptic chaos. The website above is the simple version, but for a more complex telling, you can always check out this cracked.com video. I admit the theory gets a bit far-fetched at times, but I do like the science fiction twist of time travel, wood=magic and interwoven universe. So, if you have not seen this yet, go check out the website and have some fun. I definitely want to introduce Pixar to my kids for the first time in true chronological order, future Neiman children
4 out of 5 HelloNeimans
Movie Review Haiku:
Fast paced from the start.
Still edge of seat by credits.
Tom good, Abdi great.
Movie Review Detail:
Not sure why I skipped this in the theaters, but an Oscar run gave me the chance to catch up now like the rest of you. A lot of hype about this movie, and if I could sum it up in one word … it would be INTENSE. From within 10 minutes, you are watching the aggression unfold, and halfway through it really kicks into high gear. Up until the very ending, your heart beat will race and your eyes will be locked. No spoiler here, but everything within the lifeboat must have been tough to film, but was great to watch.
The best. The emotional relationship between the 4 pirates was astounding. First with the other pirates, then with Captain Phillips and crew, and finally with each other. Barkhad Abdi (limo driver from Minneapolis!) was absolutely spot on. For a first time acting gig, him and his cohorts were exactly what you fear when you hear the term “Somali Pirates”. He has some tough competition (Jonah is my vote, followed closely by Fessbender), but it was no doubt an Oscar nomination-worthy performance.
The Worst. There wasn’t really a “worst”, except that the script for Phillips and crew tried a bit too hard. I don’t know the real Captain (sorry Avi Olitzky, I missed my chance), but it all seemed to work out a little too easily for the first half. Hinting at broken glass, suggesting they stop for water, etc. Maybe pirates are that naive, but I was both on the edge of my seat and offering sighs of “seriously? come on!” for the first half. They definitely made up for it in the second half though, once the crew was out of the picture, the whole movie took an intense turn for the better.
The Verdict: Worth seeing for sure, but maybe while working out. Take your aggression and intensity out on the treadmill while watching the turmoil erupt within. You’ll get a good flick, a good shvitz, and a good story.
I have been dragging my feet on this for a few weeks now. Most people put up their resolutions pre-NYE, or at least within a day or two. But I have really struggled with what to prioritize as my 2014 goals. If you will recall (which you won’t, because I didn’t until Facebook reminded me), 2013 was a pretty big year with lofty resolution goals. Here is a recap of what was resolved on 1/1/2013 and the outcomes:
2013 New Year’s Resolutions:
- Get Married.
- Success! She didn’t leave me at the alter and I didn’t ask any groomsmen to “bring the car around”. All and all, I’d call that a success.
- Learn how to use a DSLR camera.
- Well, Dana and I did pay $80 for a class from National Camera and came away feeling like experts. And I did sign up for a weekly email lesson from a digital photography webpage. And in all honestly, our honeymoon photos came out spectacular … but I have to give Dana the credit. She somehow has a better knack for the camera then I do and always takes the better shots. So we’ll call this a success, but through proxy of a better person. I’m more a in-front-of-the-camera guy anyway.
- Go on 5 new camping/backpacking/outdoor adventures.
- Sadly, this resolution had the worst results. Because I needed to use all my PTO on the wedding and honeymoon, I’m not sure how I thought this could be accomplished. I had a killer weekend mountain biking and waterfall skiing in Paraty while studying in Brazil, and then hiked the Ice Age Trail with Puchtel a few weeks later … but that is where the fun ended. No summer excursions or winter camping in 2013, a sad realization…
Well, now it’s 2014 and time to forget accomplishments and wipe the slate clean of failures. It is time to take on new challenges, new goals, and new adventures for a new year. It will be fun to come back a year from now and see how many of these I accomplished, but here’s hoping for a better than C-average like 2013:
- Graduate Business School.
- After 3 long years, I damn well better.
- Go on 4 new camping/backpacking/outdoor adventures.
- Five may have been too much, but damnit if I can’t at least do 4. Hell, I have 2 planned before June already.
- Learn to play the Harmonica.
- I bought a Hohner Special 20, subscribed to Mitch Grainger’s video lessons, and plan to get puckering, bending, chugs and all the other blues harp goodness figured out.
- Teach Pippa how to catch a Frisbee.
- If I am going to have a dog, you better believe she is going to learn to run, catch, and return a disc instead of a ball.
- Read 10 Business Books (or Executive Summaries), and 10 fun books.
- With school done, let’s keep the learning and the fun reading going.
- Make big career moves.
- With an MBA complete, 10 full years of consulting expertise under my belt, and new aspirations to obtain, this is the year I’d like to focus my career to the next level. I’m not going to quantify it, but I want to look back and say “I did something bigger and better to escalate my professional career in 2013.”
So that’s it, here’s to a new year, a new set of goals, and a new chance to feel good in 12 months for accomplishing all I set out to do! Don’t let 2014 be a boring year for you, challenge yourself to go above and beyond, do something more, do something different, and do something you’ll that makes you live the mantra “I just want to live while I’m alive.” I know I hope to. 🙂
“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice” – T.S. Eliot
One of the perks of working for a Fortune 100 company is that it typically comes with a wealth of training and knowledge at your fingertips. I’ve always enjoyed the video tutorials and online database of content via Lynda.com and Microsoft, but another equally impressive resource is Books 24×7 by Skillsoft. Introduced to me originally by Accenture, I was pleasantly surprised to see Big Red have this available to employees as well.
And with that introduces the Executive Summary Challenge. Books 24×7 sends me an email every couple weeks with new Executive Summary reports of popular business books. These ES reports are basically a shortened (5-10 pages) outline of the full text in a very easy to digest and understand level. I’ve always wanted to read the best business books on the market, but hated how these books completely contradict one of the concepts of business that I define as success: be direct, be succinct, and be brief. Unfortunately though, you can’t sell a book that is only 5-10 pages long, so most authors add hundreds of pages of fluff to fill the unnecessary void. Enter the beauty of the Executive Summaries – all the meat, sans pointless fluff. Its a fast-paced business leader’s dream come true.
This week, I received an email of the 10 most popular Executive Summaries available and will take on the challenge of reading and reviewing them all on my blog in 2014. I am graduated with my MBA in May, and no doubt will miss the fun-filled nights of reading boring business cases and texts, so this will be a nice way to maintain my educational learning. These will be short reviews in honor of the short summaries … because brevity deserves brevity! Below are the list of book summaries scheduled for this challenge, many of which you have probably read or heard of. Hopefully they prove to be a valuable addition to my learning and career aspirations.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do what we Do in Life and Business
- 52 Essential Habits for Success
- Working with Emotional Intelligence
- How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- Well Said! Presentations and Conversations that Get Results
- Extreme Productivity: Boost your Results. Reduce Your Hours
- True North (done, I read it for my leadership class last fall)
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (done, read for Management class last summer)
About Exec Summaries (from Skillsoft):
Quick insight into the thinking and best practices of today’s thought leaders and business gurus. ExecSummaries supports the multi-tasking lifestyle of busy professionals by providing concise content online, in downloadable text formats, and MP3 – all easily accessible from a PC or mobile device.
5 out of 5 HelloNeimans
Movie Review Haiku:
Boiler Room Part 2.
Bigger, Better, Druggier.
You will drink it up.
Movie Review in Detail:
Having perhaps the biggest hype of award movies this season, The Wolf of Wall Street did not disappoint. A three hour epic tale of the rise and fall of wall street stardom, I wanted more after the credits rolled. The film is an exciting drug-induced high of cinematic excellence, and every minute of the story twisted your love or hate of the characters portrayed. This movie is yet another telling of the rich and infamous life of Jordan Belfort, but I’d watch 100 films of his life if they are all like these two. And, I don’t mind giving money to this deadbeat of a man, because every penny he makes is now going back to restitution of the victims he swindled. So, let’s make a sequel already Marty!
The Best: Uhh… everything? So far this is movie is neck and neck with Book Thief for my Best Picture vote. And for similar reasons. The story is simply amazing from start to finish and leaves you on the edge of your seat eager for more. Honestly, this film is as much a drug as the Quaaludes oft-swallowed. I want more more more! In addition, this has got to be Jonah Hill’s best performance. He showed us what he can do last year with Moneyball, and this time he goes for the jugular. He is absolutely my shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor (hilarious fake teeth and all). Be on the lookout for the awesome scene in a mini-mall parking lot between him and Shane from Walking Dead. Beyond Hill, were a ton of other great performances by McConaughey, Reiner, Bernthal and ESPECIALLY Margo Robbie. Who the hell is this girl and why has she gone this long without doing a nude sex scene? Thanks Marty for that one as well, as if you didn’t have enough to sell this to money-and-power hungry men…
The Worst: [SPOILER ALERT] Not really much to bad mouth here, it was an awesome story, incredible casting, great acting all around, and just a great fun movie. Possibly the only areas of improvement are the ending. There is a lot of chatter about whether Scorsese was too easy on Belfort at the end, but that is not my critique here. I did struggle with the last 10 minutes though because he did not really explain what happened completely. I had to go back and re-read the synopsis on Wikipedia to see what happened with the on-again-off-again deal with the Feds. I thought perhaps Donny had ratted everyone instead of Jordan, because he was watching the bust occur without actually being taken himself. From that sequence on, it felt like Scorsese was trying to wrap things up too quickly and off-speed from the rest of the detailed storyline.
The Verdict: Call in sick to work, you need a day to yourself immediately. And after watching this instead, you’ll come back to the office tomorrow with a new found passion and excitement to “sell me this pen”.
4 out of 5 HelloNeimans
Movie Review Haiku:
All critics are right,
Seaworld is evil empire.
…Yet you all have gone.
Movie Review in Detail:
This was a very well made film, the music fit very well with the different themes of the events, the actors were appropriately emotional when needed, and the message is very clearly received by this critic and all others. As a documentary, I truly appreciated the film and like all of you, believe it will standout as one of the great documentary’s of our generation.
As for the social agenda of the film … I don’t understand why this is news to anyone. Every
college kid with too much time on his hands social media political activist/expert has been posting to Facebook about how powerful this movie is, how horrible “the man” of Seaworld is, and how we should never have let this happen. During the movie, there are countless interviews by people who “knew what they were doing was wrong, but they did it anyways”. Only now, years later when accidents have happened and society has requested change in trainer behavior, do people finally step up and speak out against Orca captivity. Now you speak up??
And, yet, we have all been to one of these aquatic parks as kids … and loved it.
This movie is taking advantage of some horrific situations, and feels like little more than OSHA’s attempt to bankrupt Seaworld as payback to the court cases referenced in the film. The political agenda is strong, the desired results are clear, and the media reaction is exactly as expected. But these horrific events should never have happened in the first place, and this movie will propel just as many people to visit Seaworld as those that boycott it. After seeing this, you know kids will line up to buy tickets at a “chance to see a whale attack”. That is as sad a fact as it is true.
I did like the movie, and I appreciated the attempt to make a social change from it, but I don’t like how it was done. You will likely watch it, be touched, and speak out against me … but deep down you know I am a little right.
The Country Gentlemen
This post comes because of a combination of a few things.
- With my wife gone, I took on a new hobby of smoking cigars on my balcony. It is relaxing, non-life threatening, and fun to do while reading.
- Lord of the Rings is my favorite book, and they smoke a lot in that story.
- Apparently a lot of people smoke pipes while hiking the Appalachian Trail
So, although I hate cigarettes and the thought of inhaling smoke feels stupid, I thought I’d check out what smoking a pipe could be like. My grandfather smoked a pipe his whole life, and if nothing else it may be fun to have while hiking the San Gorgonio wilderness with the Puchtels this February. I don’t anticipate a big habit here, but I did get a Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob pipe as a gift from Secret Santa at work, and now I have an excuse to learn more.
So first things first … How the hell do you smoke a pipe? Do you inhale? Do you use filters? Do you have to keep lighting or just light once? How much tobacco do you put in? What type of tobacco do you put in? Is there a right and wrong way to smoke a pipe? So many questions!
Here’s the funny thing, there is a ridiculous cult following of the Corn Cob pipe. I stumbled upon Pipedia: A Wiki for Pipes, which is apparently the encyclopedia of pipe smoking. There are people with way too much knowledge on this and way too much time on their hands. A little light reading over the next few weeks, and maybe I’ll have a fun addition to my camping trips. Or, maybe I’ll have a new paperweight.