Friday, January 12, 2018

How to Ask for a Raise

You want more money.  You think you deserve more money.  There is ONLY one way you will get a significant raise out of your company.  You have to ask for it.  The worst they can say is no.  I have never ever heard of a company firing someone for asking for a raise.  You just have to have the intestinal fortitude to walk in your manager's door and ask for it.

How do you do that????  First, know that, if you are a good worker, your manager WANTS to give you a good raise.  It is difficult to find workers who are just satisfactory.  Someone who does their job well, is an amazing find and you want to keep them happy.  So, look your self in the face and ask some very introspective questions. 

  • Am I a good worker, or do I just do the minimum it takes to get the job done?  
  • When I complete a job is it just "good enough," or is it well done?
  • Do others come to me for help, or do they come to me as a last resort?
  • Am I a good supportive team member?  Do I aid others on my team, even if I am busy?

This helps set your mind for what is the next step.  If you can answer those questions truthfully, and the answers are "yes," you can move on to Phase II. 

Don't think about WHY you NEED the raise.  Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your manager.  Your manager, as your friend, DOES care about your financial wants and needs.  However, realize that, even if you report to the owner of the company, your manger needs to justify your increase in pay to the "company."  The "company" doesn't care about your personal financial wants and needs.  All the company cares about is money.  Even if you work at a touchy feely non-profit, the business cares about MONEY.  That's it.  That's all. 

So, when you make your case for a raise, you must make it in terms that the company will understand and appreciate.  You have to make the money case.  BUT, you need to make your case such that the company will want to spend more on you.  Your case needs to be about what you have done in the past, AND about what you will do in the future.  If you make your case about what you have done, the company rubs its hands together and says, "What a bargain I have!  I got the work of three people for the price of one!!"  Make your pitch too much about the future, and the company says "Let's see all of this pan out before we invest."

The best way to start is to write it all out.  Start first with the past.  Write out your major accomplishments and how they have benefited the company.  You have to use examples of measurable success, and how they have monetarily befitted the company.  Developed software that increased productivity by 50% and saved the company $1.2 million.  This sets your current value, and how the company has benefited from your work. 
Then put your goals for the next two years.  Again, they should be measurable and monetary.  This shows your future value.  This is the time to compare your duties to how much it would cost to replace you. 

Next, how much are you going to ask for?  Have a number in mind.  Just don't say "a raise."  Also, realize that the number you ask for may not be approved, but a lower number might.  So, always ask for a little bit more than you want.  But, don't shoot the moon.  If you want 10%, but ask for 50%, you are going to be disappointed.  Your number should be realistic enough that the company feels like it can make a counter offer.  It should not be so high that the company scoffs and just walks away. 
Do your research.  Take a look on job sites to see what the comparable in your experience and duties are.  Don't limit yourself to just your job title, look at your duties, and compare with other jobs that have similar duties. Mark this down in your pitch notes.  Also look at the cross duties your perform.  If you have duties that cross different disciplines, note how much it would cost to hire a dedicated person to perform those duties.

Now you are ready to ask.  Don't ambush your manager.  Set a time and a meeting.  Meet in a conference room.  Try not to meet somewhere that your manager has a perceived air of power over you.  Their office, or your office for instance. 

You don't need a power point, but make your case in a pointed, logical way.  Be prepared for counters and some defensiveness from your manager.  Your tone should be one of friendly negotiation.  Don't plead, or demand.  Demanding will put your manager in full on defensive mode, and, if you make it sound like an ultimatum, it will definitely hurt your chances for future raises or promotions.  Pleading makes you look weak.  This will hurt your chances for risky and important projects. 

This is a touchy subject for them as well, because, more often than not, they do not have the unilateral power to bless a pay raise.  They have talk to someone else. 
Speaking of talking to someone else, don't do it.  Your asking for a rise should be between you and your manger.  No one else.  Don't bring it up, don't discuss it with anyone at work.

Finally, be prepared if the answer is "no."   What are you going to do?  Think of alternatives.  In your research, try to find a job title that better describes what you are doing.  That way you can argue in the future that you title's comps are higher than what you are paid.
You could start looking for another job, and use your research in your salary negotiations.

Or, you could ask why the raise was rejected, and try to find out what you need to do to turn that answer to a yes next time.  Sometimes, the answer is budget considerations.  Sometimes, the company is preparing to do something and needs the resources elsewhere.  Sometimes, the reason is YOU.  Raises aren't given to adequate performers.  They are given to linchpin high performers.  If you aren't a linchpin, work hard to become one. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Don't Mess Around. END THE THREAT

One of the guys at the gym got in to a street fight.  He was able to dominate the other guy, take his back and get him in to a rear naked choke.
Instead of choking the guy out, he just held him in this control position until the Police arrived.  However, the guy being choked gouged at his eyes, hit him, and even managed to smack him with a reverse headbutt that bloodied his nose.

So...  What should he have done?  First foremost and always, Your head must be kept tight against your opponent's neck.  This prevents the reverse headbutt and greatly reduces the force that they can throw in to a punch. 

Now to the point...  When you are in a street fight, end the threat.  Even if you completely dominate your opponent.  This isn't the gym.  If you catch a choke, CHOKE HIM OUT.  Don't talk to him.  End the threat.  You don't know if the guy is armed and is taking his time pulling out his weapon.  End the threat.

When you fight, you MUST match the brutality and savagery of your opponent.  Otherwise, you will lose.  And when you lose, you could lose your life.  It is the same concept when you carry a weapon.  If you carry it, you must be absolutely confident that you will use it if you have to.  There can be no hesitation. 

There are some things to consider, however...  If you get a joint lock, especially a leg lock, and you finish the technique, i.e. you break the joint, you better have a very good case for that person going to cause you great bodily harm.  For whatever reason, a jury will look at a broken nose, busted teeth, and other broken bones in the face caused by strikes MUCH differently than a broken elbow or dislocated shoulder. 
A destroyed knee needs as much justification as shooting someone. 

With that in mind.  If you feel like you are dominating, get to the back mount position.  Find the choke.  Choke him out.  If you must, move to mount and drop elbows.  Be careful with joint locks, but if they are there and the guy has the potential to do you real damage, break it, and call your lawyer.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Another New Car?

The wife wants me to buy a new car...  She is driving our 2013 Audi A4, and she wants me to get rid of our trusty 2007 Mazda 3.

My response to her was that if we look to do that, we should look to trade/sell our Audi.  That would get us something like $15K to $20K.  Trading/selling the Mazda would get us something like $2K...  Not really significant when you look at the cost of a new car.  She didn't want to give up the Audi so soon, AND what if we want to have another baby?  We would need to look for an SUV or minivan or something.  SO...  What if you want a new car, don't want to keep it for a while, AND you don't have very much equity to use for down payment?  LEASE!!!

Here are the requirements:

  • Gotta have all of the cool tech
  • Gotta have All Wheel Drive
  • Gotta have a largish cargo area
  • Gotta have 4 doors
  • Gotta have some additional room for growing baby and car seat 

Here is what I am looking at...

Audi A5 Sportback

from $42,600
252 HP
3,704 lbs
0.29 Drag coefficient
24/34 MPG
7 Speed Transmission
186.3 / 79.9 / 54.6 Length / Width / Height
39.4 / 37 Headroom front/rear
41.3 / 35.1 Legroom front/rear
55.7 / 54.5 Shoulder room front/rear
21.8 / 35 Cargo capacity (cu ft)

Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4Matic Coupe

from $46,600
241 HP
4,001 lbs
0.31 Drag coefficient
21/28 MPG
9 Speed Transmission
186.3 / 82.5 / 63.1 Length / Width / Height
38 Headroom (in)
40.8 / 37.3 Legroom front/rear (in)
57.3 / 56.5 Shoulder room front/rear
17.6 / 56.5 Cargo capacity (cu ft)


from $47,600
240 HP
4,130 lbs
0.36 Drag coefficient
20/28 MPG
8 Speed Transmission
184.5 / 74.1 / 63.9 Length / Width / Height
39.3 Headroom (in)
40.4 / 34.8 Legroom, front/rear (in)
57.2 / 56.0 Shoulder room, front/rear
17.7–49.4 Cargo capacity (cu ft)

All of the cars are comparable in terms of price and specs.  The Audi stands out in terms of tech (the most bad ass of the bunch).  I was surprised to see that the overall head room was comparable between all three.  I would have thought that the MB and BMW would have won that battle.

Overall look, I have to go with the Audi as well.  The lines are clean and it looks aggressive with out getting dated or weird.  The BMW and MB look like beefed up cars...  A lot like an AMC Eagle that a friend owned in High School...

What gets me is the MPG.  All cars are the All Wheel Drive option.  All have turbocharged 4 cylinder engines.  The Audi has a slight edge in HP, but they are all about 245 HP. 
The MB and BMW are significantly heavier, 300 and 400 lbs respectively, than the Audi.  That, and the drag coefficient, make for a big difference in MPG. 

I like my current Audi, and being at risk of being called the "Audi family," I don't think I can go wrong with the A5 Sportback.  Just have to find a way to keep the price around that $42K...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why Iron Fist Sucks

Iron Fist and the Defenders have been out for a bit, so I feel it is OK to talk about them without worrying about spoilers for anyone.

I was really excited when I heard that Iron Fist was coming to Netflix.  Then I watched the first season of Daredevil.  Then I was chomping at the bit.  If Daredevil was this badass, Iron Fist, the Living Weapon, the pinnacle of Martial Arts, should be insanely off the hook.

I heard Finn Jones was starring and I wasn't too worried.  Charlie Cox of Daredevil wasn't know for his Martial Arts, and he made DD look amazing. 

Then it premiered.  My expectations were high.  I was devastated.  It wasn't the story.  It wasn't the angle they took for Iron Fist.  That was all OK.  They played up the whiny rich kid angle way too much but that's fine.

The fight scenes that featured Jones just stunk up the room.  No energy.  No talent.  With out trying to exaggerate at all, my 43 year old non-acting, inflexible, fat ass could have done a better job.  EVERYONE, including Rosario Dawson, did better then the supposed "Living Weapon." He was terrible.  Awful.  Unforgivable.

What's worse is that Marvel had a change things when the filmed The Defenders.  They KNEW that Jones was terrible.  They did NOTHING.  There were times in The Defenders where Charlie Cox and Finn Jones were in the same fight scenes.  I can't even remember watching Jones.  I remember Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones movements more than I remember Jones.  Ritter's moves basically consisted of her throwing someone in to a wall. 

The best scenes in BOTH shows where when secondary characters, Iron Fist is the primary in both shows, fought.  Davos, played by Sacha Dhawan, was amazing in Iron Fist.  I was actually cheering for the bad guy when Danny/Davos finally faced off.  That fight SUCKED, because Dhawan was obviously holding back for the craptastick Finn.
The Electra/Daredevil fight in The Defenders was incredibly badass.  NOTHING that Finn did was badass.  Even the should have been insane Luke Cage/Iron Fist fight.  Just terrible.

There will be a season 2 of Iron Fist...  I will watch it, because of the interconnection between the Marvel Netflix series.  I hope they teach Finn some Martial Arts, or have other people fight his battles.  Because he sucks.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How To Escape Mount

One of the most fundamental positions in fighting is the mount position.  As children my brother...  and my older sister, used to put me in this position all of the time.  It just feels right.

Mount is achieved when you pass your knees above your opponent's hips.
This is one of the most superior positions in all of fighting.  You can punch, choke, or go for a myriad of submissions from here.  Escaping this position, therefore, is a primary, fundamental skill that must be mastered to progress as a fighter.

First and foremost...  If you are mounted, you messed up very seriously previously to getting to this position.  You must attempt to avoid getting in to this spot with strong escapes and movements in one of the inferior top positions previous.  But...  I well know, that is MUCH easier said than done.

Secondly, when you train and drill this position, realize what a powerful position it is.  Getting out is very very difficult.  If you do escape, you are likely to be in a bad position afterwards, just not as bad as you were before.
Because you are in such a bad position, realize that you are going to get mauled before anything positive happens.  Most of the escape positions involve you moving your arms away from defending against punches and chokes.  Know that if you are in a situation where you can be hit, you WILL be hit, likely several times, before you complete the escape.

Beginning the Escape - Theroy

When mounted you MUST defend first with your grappling.  You have to make your opponent adjust their position according to your movements.  This means disrupting their balance with hip pops and movement.
You MUST avoid allowing your opponent get his knees in to your armpits.  If that occurs, you are in very deep trouble, as he has taken away your ability to use your most powerful muscles and your center of gravity to disrupt his balance.
If they DO get their knees in to your armpits, you must attempt to move them back down on to your waist, BEFORE you can begin your escape movements.  Otherwise they will be too high on you body to catch their legs.
It is here where you will be at your most vulnerable.  Your elbows will be exposed.  You need to uncover you face and neck to get your elbows in the best position to move your body up/move their body down.  It is at this time where you will get your nose broken, or you will get choked out.  Beware, and try to time your movement to minimize the amount of damage you will take.

Best Time to Start is Before They are Finished

The BEST time to begin your escapes is just before your opponent finishes moving to mount, before they can solidify their position.  This takes timing and experience.  You have to know when to stop defending the mount and start escaping it.  I would rather give up position escaping a position early than start escaping a position too late.  

Escape Number 1 - Hold and Roll

This is one of the easiest and most intuitive of the mount escapes.  Essentially your isolate an arm, block the same side leg and roll.  However, there are subtleties to the escape that you must be aware of.  


When you begin your roll, you must BRIDGE!!  Not straight up, but at a 45 degree angle.  I turn my head until I am looking at the mat.  I then take the roll to my inside shoulder.  NEVER just roll linearly.  Your opponent will base with the arm you have not isolated, and shut your movement down.

Leg Placement

One of the most difficult aspects of this escape is the leg placement in the roll.  Your inside leg threads UNDERNEATH your outside leg.  This sets your hips and your center of gravity in to a position to complete the escape.  It makes it very difficult for your opponent to stop your movement. The natural movement is to step over with your outside leg.  This movement is slower and much less powerful than the leg thread movement.  

If all goes well you end up in your opponent's guard. This is known as the Rickson Gracie mount escape.  No one better to demonstrate it than the man himself:

Pay special attention to when Rickson's opponent is giving him a hard time. Rickson demonstrates the leg thread movement effortlessly.

Escape Number 2 - Knee Elbow Escape

The Knee Elbow Escape involves a very special shrimp movement.  To execute this correctly, you must first "umpa" to knock your opponent off balance, then you have to shrimp, while keeping as much as your back on the ground as possible.  Expose too much of your back, and your opponent snaps in to an "S" mount and your goose is well and truly cooked.
The movement begins with putting the shrimping leg on the ground.  Your same side elbow then is placed on the closest knee of your opponent.  
You then start an oblique crunch to push your opponent's leg backwards, while you simultaneously push your hips upwards.  As this happens, you stick your shrimping leg knee in to the space between your opponent's instep and shin.  Your goal is to bring your elbow to your knee.  This places your opponents's knee in between your legs, giving you the half guard position.

Leg Placement

Many of these movements must be executed simultaneously, or in such close proximity for them to be essentially the same movement.  This is true with the umpa and the shrimp movement.  Leg placement is difficult for the student at first, because the two movements have the direct opposite leg placements.

The umpa requires that both feet be on the ground.  The hips are then raised explosively upward.  Once the maximum height has been achieved, the leg that you will be shrimping into needs to be set flat on the ground.  This is to pre-position it to move the knee in to the space between your opponent's instep and shin at the ankle joint.
So, the idea is to explode upward, then fall back to the mat while extending one leg.  The other leg remains in the umpa/shrimp base position.

The knee of the straighted leg then begins to move upward.  What is important is that the knee remain flat on the ground.  It is imperative to the escape that your knee fit in to this area and pass all the way in.  The knee moves forward until it meets the escapee's same side elbow.

Body Position

One of the big dangers with this position is your opponent moving to "S" mount.
Most of the time, this happens when the bottom person lifts their shoulder off the ground too much.
Another big danger is that as you place your elbow on his knee you expose your face to punching.  To counter both of these, you are going to do an oblique crunch.

How do to an oblique crunch? Try this.  Lay on your back with both feet on the ground, knees in the air.  While keeping your back on the floor, thread your left hand through your left leg and touch your right ankle.  Do the same for the other side.  This is an oblique crunch, and a fun exercise you can do for warm ups.

You have your elbow down at your side, your hands high to protect your neck and your face. You execute your umpa that knocks your opponent off balance.  As you flatten out your leg and begin to move your knee upwards, you begin your oblique crunch that places your same side elbow on your opponent's knee.  You then begin pushing your opponent's knee backwards  in to your upward moving leg.
This pincer movement forces your opponent's leg between your own, and you close for half guard.

Ritchie Yip has an excellent video on how to execute this movement.

Half Guard

When I teach this escape, I like to continue on to the Half Guard part of it.  It is necessary to think of the half guard escape as part of the mount escape as a whole, because, without teaching and training the movements as a whole, students tend to make it to half guard and stop.  This allows their opponent to begin their own half guard escapes.  By teaching everything in the same movement, a more complete escape can be envisioned where the escapee ends up in a superior position.

After completing the knee elbow escape, it is important to immediately switch your hips outward, and search for the underhook with the elbow push arm.  More often than not, you will end up in a very low half guard.  The two escape strategy that I use here is first the foot grab escape, followed by the roll under escape.  Stephan Kesting, as always shows these two movements with excellent detail.

Put It All Together

How do black belts escape the mount?  They chain their movements together.  When I roll 99% of the time I use the above two movements to escape the mount.  I normally start with the roll escape then, if I'm stopped, I immediately move in to the knee elbow escape.  The two complement each other very well.  The important point is that I never stop moving.  I'm always trying to disrupt my opponent's balance so that they cannot begin their submission movements.  They are always dealing with my movements, trying to grapple me.  If they miss or if they pause, I have them, and I escape.
It is important to note that you mustn't spaz out.  Your movements to disrupt must have purpose.  If you are simply flopping around like a dying fish, you cannot take advantage of your opponent's mistakes, and execute your escapes.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

House Renovation - What You Need to Know if you Know Nothing

We are finishing up on a medium sized house renovation.  I want to say major, because we are spending major money...  Anyway, background and scope is this:


We found a new construction house in the neighborhood we wanted to live in.  Prime location.  The house was someone else's dream house, who couldn't afford to actually keep it.  They realized this just as the house was finishing up, so we got a high end, custom house that had some very obvious sacrifices made to finish to sell.  Two of the most obvious were the kitchen and the outdoor porch area.

The kitchen area is a combined kitchen/dining/living room open concept.  The stove is a 36" Viking Professional.  High end and expensive.  The refrigerator is an Fhiaba built in.  Idiotically expensive.  So expensive that I would have never in my life bought such a thing had it not been in the house already...  The island had a very large butcher block counter top, with the rest of the kitchen having Alabama White marble counter tops.  Very expensive.

The floors are all natural hardwood taken from trees that were on the property before it was cleared to build the house.  They are extraordinarily beautiful.  It is difficult to find old growth wood for flooring, like the old days, but somehow they pulled it off.

The fireplace is large with a bench like brick front.  The bricks were all kilned in Birmingham, and were reclaimed from some old buildings around town.


The cabinets were all Ikea.  As inexpensive as you could get.  There were no overhead cabinets.  And all of the cabinets were drawers.
There was no backsplash.  Just painted walls.
The oven hood was the smallest that could pass inspection...  and it was about an inch off center...  and it vented in to... nowhere.
The marble counter tops are gorgeous.  We love them.  They are impractical as all outdoors.  Everything stains them.  They scratch and chip easily.  They need to be regularly sealed.

The fireplace bench protrudes about two feet in to the living area significantly shrinking the already scarce space.

The outdoor porch area was...  Just a roof with supporting telephone pole like columns, and pea gravel floor.

The fireplace firebox protrudes about two feet in to the outdoor area, again significantly shrinking the already scarce space.

It was obvious that the family had intended something much more grand.  When we bought the house, we knew that we would have some work to do.  Now...  A little look in to my crazy.  I hate fireplaces.  I think they are outdated and should have been eliminated with the outhouse.  Wood burning fireplaces are even worse because they add smoke, soot and additional cost in firewood to the mix.
So... That is what we are doing.

Scope of Work

  • Kitchen
    • Replace all cabinets with custom wood cabinets
    • Replace all counter tops with marble looking quartz
    • Replace and extend cabinet around the built in refrigerator with a place to put small appliances.
    • Replace hood with stainless steel 42" Viking hood with 1200 CFM vent that vents outside.
    • Replace refrigerator door with stainless steel door.
    • Add two overhead cabinets
    • Add tile back splash 
    • Reduce the footprint of the island to allow more dining space
  • Living room
    • Remove fireplace
    • Add 16' sliding glass door to porch area
      • Gives an 8' open area when both doors are open
  • Porch
    • Remove telephone poll supports
    • Frame and screen in porch
    • Add ceiling, recessed lighting, and 72" ceiling fan
    • Add polished concrete floor.
    • Add concrete pad on one side of the porch for grilling
  • Landscape
    • Add sod and plantings as needed
So a good sized project with a lot of moving parts.

What to Know if You Know Nothing

I know nothing about construction.  It isn't my area of expertise.  I don't know how much things cost, or how much time they take.  What I do know is that it is MY house.  I am signing the checks, so I am the ultimate boss.  Me.  Never ever ever forget that.  

So the first thing you need is a contractor.  But not just any contractor.  You need to know things about your contractor.  You need to ask around.  You need to meet with people and really interview them.
I needed someone who was honest, felt the same about quality of work, could accurately manage my expectations, who could deliver on time, and who could guide my wife and I to the decisions that we had to make.

Everyone knows about the horror stories of the renovation that drags on and on and on.  Or get something they didn't ask for.  I don't what that.  

So, what do you ask?  How do you find this person?


First thing first.  You have a conversation to find out how well the contractor listens.  You need someone who will listen to you, not talk over you, or try to force their opinion on your.  You need someone who isn't afraid to be HONEST with you about the scope of work, or the costs, or even if you are being unrealistic.  So, ask their opinion on what you are planning.  You can tell if someone is telling you something you want to hear.  
You need to get a sense as to how this person does business.  Do they accept that this is YOUR house, YOUR project, and YOUR standards of quality?  

Find out if the contractor uses subcontractors and for what work.  Then find out if they use the SAME subs on each job.  That is important to know.
Ask about how he schedules his jobs.  Does he have multiple jobs going at the same time?  If so, how many crews does he have working.  

Next, get references.  But not just good references.  Ask them for three references.  One that loves them, one that is a return customer, and one that hates them.  Then call all three.  Get as personal as you can with your questions and the job that was done.  

  • Job completed on time
  • Costs, estimate accurate or not?
  • Work quality
  • Quality of the crew
    • Were they working or standing around playing with their phones?
  • Overall project management
Get in to the nitty gritty as far as the reference is willing to go.  Even the customer that loves them will have somethings they don't like.  If you can live with that, you are good to go.


This is where the rubber meets the road.  Subcontractors are specialists in a certain aspect of your job.  For instance, on my job we needed 
  • Masons
  • Cabinet maker
  • Landscapers
  • Tile people
  • Floor people
  • HV/AC
  • Window mill-workers
  • Painters
  • Concrete
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
It is likely that your job will have this many and more.  The important thing to know here is that each one of these subs has their own agenda and time line.  Most renovations get hung up on the subs.  So, when you are finding your contractor, it is very very important to find out how much work is done by the subs and how much work is done by the contractor directly.
Find out who the subcontracting companies will be.  If the contractor is cagey about who will come, you DON'T want that contractor.  You need time to check in to those companies.

What you are looking for is a contractor that consistently uses the same subcontractors.  Why?  Leverage.  Think about your own job.  Which customer is treated better and given preferential treatment?  The large customer that keeps coming back or the first timer that you aren't sure that will ever come back?  Companies bend over backwards to keep large customers happy.  A contractor that uses the same subcontractors every time IS that big customer.  

Case in point.  When the slab was poured for our porch, there was a problem.  There was a slight bulge in the concrete that wouldn't allow the sliding door to go in.  The solution was to break down the slab and re-pour.  Because my contractor does the majority of his concrete work with this same company, they were out the next day early and working late breaking up the slab and re-pouring the concrete.  The contractor had the leverage, and the relationship to get the work done and keep us on schedule.

The main reason you want a contractor using the same subs isn't the problem fixes above, though.  It is the schedule.  With a strong relationship the contractor can get the subs to come when he wants them to according to his schedule, not the subs.  This means that you won't get the long delays between work.  


There are a lot of decisions to make.  Your contractor will help you get through them.  Your contractor, in the planning phase, have drawings for you to look at.  They should come on to your job site and show you what things will look like with tape or string or something that you can walk around at different angles to make your final decisions.
You will need to make decisions on colors.  This needs to be done as soon as you can.  You need to make decisions on placement.  You even have to make decisions on what kind of cover you want for your electrical outlets.
A good thing to do is to look at your current house and living area.  Get in very close.  Everything you see is a decision you have to make.  Trim, paint, plastic, placement, size, shape, etc etc etc.

The Work

When the work begins...  It will be DIRTY.  Very dirty.  Dust EVERYWHERE.  It will be noisy.  Bangs and saws and motors and everything else.  There will be smells.  Wet paint.  Floor varnish, etc.
You will lose the use of the part of your room that work will be done in.  Your electric bill will be much higher.  If you are doing work in the summer, and you have your AC on, people will be in and out of your house, so your AC use will be much higher.

The Workers

The workers...  It is unavoidable that you will have some shady looking people working in your house.  That is the nature of the business.  That isn't the worst part.  The worse part is that the workers will treat your property like crap.  Trash will be everywhere.  They don't pickup after themselves.  YOU must be the trash enforcer.  You must make it clear that you will not accept abuse of your property or your grounds.  Make it clear that they are to throw away trash in to a designated pile to be hauled away, or they must bring cans or something to put personal trash in.  Be insistent.  It is your house, your rules.  Be very clear on what is acceptable.  Some construction debris around the site are inevitable and unavoidable.  Have some discretion, but obvious stuff, cans, bottles, etc.  Be firm.

Smoking...  Some of the workers will smoke.  If you don't smoke in your house, make sure that everyone knows that the home is a no smoking zone.  Zero tolerance.  I set up a smoking area for them.  I did not allow any smoking on or near the materials that would go in the house.  I was very firm about this.  Again YOUR house.  YOUR job. YOUR RULES.  If they give you static, simply ask them if they would like to be paid for the job.  This is something that you have to jump on EARLY.  You can't pull it on them half way through the job.  

Once it is established that YOU are the ultimate boss, things are set.  The workers will listen to you.


You may run in to a situation where a working is intoxicated on the job.  Let the contractor know immediately.  It is a safety and liability issue for both you and the contractor.  If you are uncomfortable about confronting the intoxicated person, you have the right to revoke your invitation to anyone at any time.  Talk to one of the other workers.  If need be, call the police. Let that be your last resort, though.  Get with the foreman or your contractor before you do that, unless you fear for your or someone else's safety.  If you do call the police, do so quietly.  You don't want to have the intoxicated person become more agitated by announcing that you are calling the police.

Final Product

Before you call the job complete, or a section of the job that a sub does that is complete, go over every inch of it with the contractor.  If ANYTHING is not to your liking, let the contractor know so that they can fix it.  This is an important thing to keep in mind.  This is YOUR job.  YOUR house.  The job is done when YOU say it is done.  You have the right to be as picky as you want to be. Once they leave the job, they are gone and you must pay to have anything corrected.  Be anal.  Be specific.  Don't worry about anybody's feelings.   The only person that matters is YOU.  The only feelings that matter are YOURS.

Be sure that the job site is cleaned and finished to your satisfaction.  There will be construction debris everywhere, and the workers will not be good about cleaning it all up.  Again, be insistent.  Make sure that you are understood and that you won't accept the job being done before everything is looking beautiful.  


If you take anything away from this, take this:  It is YOUR project.  You must live with it.  Make sure that you have something that you will enjoy.  You must take ownership of the project at a personal level, because it is very personal.  This is your house.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Working Through Impostor Syndrome

One of my friends saw my blog posts and mentioned how he liked my honesty on dealing with Impostor Syndrome.  I asked "Dealing with the what now, whondrome?"

Doing a bit of research, it is a subject that comes up quite a bit in BJJ.  Largely due to the length of time it takes to progress, and the not so subtle fact that you get absolutely SMASHED for a good long length of time.  It puts you in the mind set of "I will never be as good as INSERT GUY HERE."  When you achieve the rank of said guy, you feel like you are a poor substitute for him/her.  You feel like you don't really deserve the rank/praise, and that any moment, you will be revealed for the pretender you are.

When I started BJJ, I rolled with our black belt, Rodrigo Vaghi.  He crushed me.  Stole my will to live.  Then he did it to the next guy.  Then the next guy.  Then the NEXT guy.  That was my understanding of what a Black Belt was.  What I didn't know was that Rodrigo is an elite black belt.  One of the very best.  What I didn't know was, had I gone to his academy in Rio, I would have seen that he would crush their black belts the same way.

Others have written about the same thing:
Valerie Worthington 

Nick Chewy Albin

Higher JiuJitsu

I have taken some time to really think about it.  To pull out my soul and take a good look.  I realized that I'm just starting my journey.  I have passed the minimum qualifications to become a black belt.  I have a good idea of base, and a basic understanding of leverage.  My fitness is good.  It's time to play.

For the last few months, I have started to "play" with my jiujitsu.  I've begun to open myself up and try different positions, different movements.  I am also taking time to drill the basics consistently.  I've completely given up on always having to be the guy who wins.  I can lose, as long as I learn.  By concentrating on the basics, and drilling them I have strengthened and deepened my knowledge of them.  So, when I get in to trouble after trying a new position, I can fall back on what I know works.
It is something that I should have done a long time ago.

I feel that now I am trying new things, I have expanded my game.  Best of all, I'm having more fun.

I know that I won't be what my mind's eye expects of a black belt.  But I also know that I am not undeserving of the rank.