Dear Jack: Our New Family Tradition of Visiting Bell Buckle the Weekend Before Christmas

9 years, 1 months.

Dear Jack,

As long as I’ve known Mommy, she’s always been curious about the exit on 1-24 for Bell Buckle, on the way back from Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama as we make our way back home to Tennessee.

This year we decided to finally check it out, once Mommy found out that Bell Buckle hosts a Christmas parade on the weekends leading up to Christmas.

We enjoyed a hay ride with Santa, then got to check out the local shops in the town’s downtown area.

It was so much fun, we decided to make it a new family tradition!



Dear Holly: You Love S’mores… Maybe a Little Too Much!

3 years, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend when our family visited Bell Buckle, Tennessee with Nonna and Papa, there was a s’mores station set up in the area as we waited for the hay ride with Santa.

I had my doubts that you would actually eat the S’mores sandwich I made you. Instead, I assumed you would just each the chocolate bar.

To my surprise, you labored over eating the whole thing; as it was much, much bigger than your little mouth.

You were still finishing it off once we got to the hay ride; as seen in the family photo of us, where your mouth is wide open and you are clutching the s’mores in your hand.



What Power Tools Should a Professional Have?

What power tools should a professional have?

In this post, we are going to tell you about power tools, those that work via electric current or with batteries. Since their creation, these tools have become essential to the daily life of any professional.

Below we will list the advantages of these power tools as the best are sold by Mississauga Hardware.

The advantages of power tools

Power tools have many advantages over hand tools. Here are a few.

Speed: Thanks to electric power and a powerful machine, speed at work allows you to complete a task faster. When customers impose a limited time on us, speed is an important parameter to take into account.

Clarification: The goal of a professional is to go fast but without making a sloppy job. This is why speed and precision balance and complement each other.

Safety: Power tools have a safety system to prevent accidents. For safety to be complete, the user must wear protective devices such as gloves, masks, etc.

Power: We can use more rigid materials, dense or impossible to handle manually. In addition, the depth of the work is optimized: from a hole in the concrete to a perforation on a tarmac track.

Professional power tools 

When we are asked to name tool names, we list more power tools than hand tools. We have therefore compiled some essential machines for the professional both for industry and for the automotive sector.


What is a grinder? What are the most important features of the grinder? What are the most suitable grinders for each trade? Here are the questions we will try to answer.

What is a grinder?

A grinder is a very useful and versatile power tool that consists of an electric motor with a mechanism that rotates an axis at high speed. A disc attaches to this axis to perform different tasks.

Its most usual uses are cutting, pickling, sanding, buffing and sharpening all types of materials.

The parameters to take into account before buying a grinder:

You have to choose between an angle or an axial grinder. The first is the most used because it is a universal tool that can be used for several different tasks. For its part, the axial grinder is more suitable for precision work, in places difficult to access, for exclusive sanding or sharpening work, etc.

The other factor to take into account is the disk to use. We distinguish mini grinders when the disc has a diameter of 115 mm or 125 mm and large grinders when they have the capacity to place a disc of 230 mm in diameter on its axis.

Power is important when choosing between a grinder or another. It is an element that determines the working capacity of the grinder. The more “W” you have in watts, the more work capacity you will have and therefore the better adaptation to different materials.

Finally, professional grinders are tools that are thought to work for many hours and with high levels of requirement. It is important to acquire a model of grinder that will match the work to be done and the use you will give it.

Heat guns 

A heat gun is a general-purpose tool that operates at very high temperatures. Here are its most common functions:

  • Tinning metal
  • Weld plastic pipes
  • Thaw water pipes in very low-temperature areas.
  • Remove stickers or decals
  • Remove sealing materials
  • Loosen the oxidized nuts,
  • Wax the wood,
  • Remove the paint,
  • Etc.


Impact wrenches

An electric shock wrench is a tool with a wrench created to provide high torsional power with minimal effort for the user.

Impact wrenches are available for all sizes of standard socket wrench discs, from small ¼ ” tools for small assembly and disassembly, to square discs up to 3 ½ ” for larger jobs.

The sanders

The use of a sander is indicated for correcting or eliminating the paintwork of a vehicle, whether partial or total. The sanders not only remove damage and defects from the paint, such as scratches it also makes it possible to shine in order to obtain an optimal finish.

Types of sanders: 

There are simply two types of electric sanders: Rotary (or circular) sander and a double-action (or orbital) sander. The fundamental difference between them is the mode of rotation of the cap or the sanding foam, hence the name of each machine.

With rotary sanders, the foam rotates on its axis in a circle and the speed is measured in revolutions per minute. Conversely, with double action sanders, the foam rotates not only circularly but also alternately, and speed is measured in movements per minute.

Rotary sanders were the first machines used for sanding vehicle bodywork and are still widely used. The fact that the foam follows a circular movement allows a more uniform distribution of the cutting abrasives and therefore transforms the machine into an extremely flexible instrument for the correction of paint.

As an added benefit, rotary sanders can be used with wool foam. The latter has much more cutting capacity, that’s why it should be used with caution. However, it is an essential and necessary tool to eliminate deep scratches.

Dear Holly: Can You Just Stay 3 Years Old Forever?

3 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

Here recently, I’ve been hearing Mommy ask you, “Holly, can you just stay 3 years old forever?”

She’s got a good point.

This is definitely an enjoyable age for me as your Daddy. You’re potty trained. You can clearly communicate what you want. And you do a great job of entertaining yourself during times Mommy and I are getting household chores down.

In fact, you’ve even begun helping with some of those chores, including help me clean the toilets and the hamster’s aquarium.

What I love best is how adorable you are these days. You are basically a stuffed animal kitten that came to life and can talk now.

I’m sure 4 will be great too.

But as for right now, I’m in no rush for you to stop being 3 years old!



Dear Jack: Your New Converse All Star Shoes, with Flames

9 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

You’re at the age where you are constantly wearing out your shoes, as well as outgrowing them.

For your “2nd half of 3rd grade” shoes, you decided it was time for a new pair of Chuck Taylors; like I have.

However, when we went to Kohl’s, we learned that Chuck Taylors are not made is size 4 for boys.

Instead, we had to buy you the slightly more cushioned upgrade:

Converse All Stars.

You got some really cool black ones with flames on the bottom.

And, they aren’t designed to lace up all the way, so they look extra cool!



My Wife and I Have Been Performing and Publishing Original Songs I’ve Written… Largely Due to Cancelling Netflix and as a Way to Overcome My Existential Crisis

Earlier this week I revealed the top 5 highlights of my 2019 in review: one of those is that my wife and I have been releasing songs that I have written. While I have published them on YouTube and shared them on Facebook, I have yet to really talk about the how and the why of it.

So here’s the story…

My wife and I both moved to Nashville to pursue music careers; she arrived in 2004 and I showed up in 2005. We met in 2006, starting dating in 2007, and got married in 2008.

Since then, my wife earned her Master’s Degree (2009), we had a son (2010), we become debt-free other than our mortgage (2013), we moved into a brand-new houses in the suburbs (2015), and we had a daughter (2016).

And then, my employer of 12 years shut down my branch, releasing about 40 people at the same time; giving us a 2 weeks’ severance pay and a hand shake.

For the next 6 months, while being a stay-at-home dad, I spent any free time I had on writing songs, and eventually releasing my newest song on YouTube, in 2018.

“Maybe It’s a Dream” is an autobiographical song exploring the concept of how “removed” from the human experience I felt after I started living my life with the knowledge that being offended or disrespected is always my own choice. It was me realizing how much of my time, energy, and emotions had been wasted on letting the free world affect my emotions, when it was my decision every single time.

Shortly after releasing that song, my 6 month stint as a stay-at-home dad/blogger/YouTuber ended when I gained employment at a Fortune 500 company; where I have been employed for more than a year and a half now.

That led to new inspiration for writing songs, as it ushered in my “existential crisis of 2019”.

My salary nearly doubled, putting my wife and me in a situation where we could finally start building our retirement. We are very grateful for all the help with investments, thanks to Charles Schwab.

This caused me to have to re-evaluate my identity, as I found myself at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid; no longer triggered by the fear or anxiety of money, or even my own emotions.

Therefore, I started coming to terms with my existential crisis (some would call it a midlife crisis); as I had basically reached all of my life goals before the age of 40.

My next song, written just a couple of months ago, would be called “Tripping on Existence”; which was my way of sorting out my experience. I found that going through an existential crisis at a younger age put me in a situation where few people I knew could relate; which only intensified my feeling of floating in the universe like Tony Stark in the trailer for Avengers Endgame.

There had been other songs I had written during my 6 months of unemployment, but that didn’t get released due to me getting a job.

One was called “Fort Payne, Alabama”; another autobiographical song addressing the paradox of how my hometown undeniably helped form my identity, yet ultimately prepared me to move away after college and live my own life in the next state over in Tennessee.

So after releasing that year-and-half year old song, I decided I wanted to include my wife on my final leftover song from 2018: “We’re Gonna Leave in the Morning”.

It was a song I written, fantasizing about being able to just “up and go” on a road trip to anywhere; just she and I.

This is a fantasy because we haven’t gone on a fun road trip without the kids, since… we had kids.

I finally got to show off my wife’s singing in one of my songs. I was so proud to share her with the world.

It is truly a song about us; written from my perspective. It is my version of a love song. A love song when you’ve been married for over a decade, have 2 kids, and live in the suburbs.

During the time we were rehearsing that song, I casually wrote a song called “The Meaning of Life”. We decided to record that as well; the song was barely a week old when we published it.

The song was me exploring the irony in that none of us asked to be born, yet it is up to us to determine individually what the meaning of life is, though we have no idea how long our lives will be.

My next couple of songs, which I determined I wanted us to record on that same night; were complete opposites in mood:

The loud and upbeat “(Subtitles) I Dare You Not to Fall in Love with Me” would serve as our very first true duet together; as the autobiographical song explores what was really going through our minds on the night we met: October 5th, 2006.

Meanwhile, the somber and reflective “You Won’t Remember My Name” was written to remind the listener how the default is often to arbitrarily make perceived enemies of the people on the other side of the political fence.

The last song of 2019 that my wife and I recorded is a cover of Patty Griffin’s “Long Ride Home”; imagining the regrets of a man at his wife’s funeral, after they had been married for 40 years.

This one was special because it served as my wife’s first solo of all the songs we performed together. I simply played guitar on this one, as I wanted to only showcase her amazing ability to sing.

I currently have 3 more originals that I have been practicing; likely to be released in January 2020.

There is the somewhat novelty Country tune, “Jeep Wrangler Theme Song”, explaining the micro-culture of Jeep Wrangler owners, along with our Jeep wave.

Another loud and fun song is “I Feel Like You Want Me to Care”, which points out the power (and humor) of refusing to give emotional control to others when they are eager to take it from you.

And lastly, I have an alternative rock power ballad (?) called “Shotgun”, addressing the ridiculously dangerous risk and gamble that two young people make when they choose to marry each other, for better or worse.

My wife and I both moved to Nashville a long time ago to pursue music. Could we have been doing this all along? Maybe.

But I don’t think it could have been this genuine, this mature, or this good.

We had to live more of our lives together first. We needed more life experience first. We needed to get to the point where we were financially set so we psychologically free to create and perform in the way we can now.

Ultimately, the gate opened as a side-effect of us choosing to cancel our Netflix subscription back in May of this year. That was what created the time and space for us to focus on these songs.

Our music is what happens when Netflix is out of the picture. That’s pretty interesting, actually.

Dear Jack: Your Hamster’s New Aquarium

9 years.

Dear Jack,

It turns out, cages sold for hamsters aren’t truly intended for the type of hamster you have. A teddy bear hamster, or Syrian Hamster, is much happier in an aquarium; as opposed to a cage.

So last week, on a random school night, I took you to the pet store to help me pick out a 20 gallon aquarium for Alpha.

Not only is he clearly much happier in the open space, but it is undeniable that you are much more excited to have a pet hamster now!

You are actively involved and excited each evening when we get him out to play.

Plus, it is much easier to clean his home that he predictably pees in the same corner now! Out with the cage, in with the aquarium.