Season One Finale

Cliffhanger Finale

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Because of that, I’ve heard a few things way too many times. Commercials for Blue Apron and MeUndies, for example. Also NPR voice. Worst of all is the “Season One finale.”

In the season finale routine, a podcast that has produced an episode a week for months or years randomly ends an episode by informing listeners that they’ve actually been listening to “Season One” of the podcast this whole time, and this has been the Season One finale. Season Two will probably start sometime soon, but in the meantime, head over to for 20 percent off!

It’s very annoying. Why do you all of the sudden have to pretend that this is Gilligan’s Island and the gang is about to be rescued, but hold on, is that actually a pirate ship? Find out when Gilligan’s Island returns next fall!

I’ve discovered that podcasts keep pulling the season finale charade because “season finale” sounds better than “we’re quitting because recording a new podcast every week is really hard, and nobody’s clicking on our link any more.” And you know what? I get it.

That’s why I’m announcing that this post is the Season One finale of The Life Lessonbook.

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You Bought a What?


Recently, I’ve realized that almost all of the regrettable purchases I’ve made throughout my life are consequences of the following two truths:

  1. I like food.
  2. I am bad at making food.

Also, there’s truth #3: given the choice between the easy way to do something and the right way, I will pick the easy way every time.

These three truths put me squarely in the crosshairs of the kitchen gadget industry. Throughout the years, I have made a number of purchases that have likely landed me on marketing lists with names like “These Giant Suckers Will Buy Anything.” Continue reading

Me and Taylor Swift


The thing I miss least about working in downtown Cleveland is leaving downtown Cleveland. Every day at 5:30, every person in the city crowds onto the same street at the same time to leave Cleveland. As a result, no one gets to leave Cleveland.

Over the years, I learned how to leave Cleveland fast by cutting down alleys and through parking lots and in front of people. I got good. I got cocky. Then on June 3, 2015, I got stuck.

On June 3, I pulled out of my parking garage onto Prospect Ave. and stopped. No matter who I tried to sneak in front of or what parking lot I tried to cut through, I couldn’t get any closer to the freeway. A half hour later, as a last ditch effort to get home before dying of natural causes, I tried to cut down the alley next to the graveyard. That’s when I ran into the cause of my problem.

A quarter-mile of these trucks were parked in the alley.

A quarter-mile of these trucks had parked in the alley.

I could get out of Cleveland just fine on Indians and Cavs game days. But on June 3, someone bigger than LeBron James came to Cleveland. Taylor Swift had taken over my city.

I don’t know much about Taylor Swift. She seems kind of like a nice robot. But on that day, surrounded by minivans full of bedazzled 10-year-old fans, I realized that there was no more powerful robot in the world than Taylor Swift, Inc.

That day reminded me of my one previous encounter with Ms. Swift. It was five years ago, and it was captured on video. I watched it the other day while procrastinating and was struck by how much the two of us have changed over the past five years – Taylor into a sleeker robot with an armada of semi trucks, and me into someone who is mortified by my actions in the video.

On Dec. 7, 2010, Taylor Swift sat down with the Today Show to promote her tour. On the same date, Deserae and I visited New York City to wave in the background of a Today Show interview. We all accomplished our goals that day. Continue reading

Is This It?


When Deserae and I went to Maui for our honeymoon, my goal was not to relax by the pool or enjoy the ocean breeze or have a romantic time with my new bride. No, I would not rest until we SAW EVERYTHING. That’s how we ended up on a three-hour hike after a full day of driving and sweating on the Road to Hana.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Road to Hana, it is 64 miles of blind turns and one-lane bridges through Maui ’s rainforest. If you make it to the end without dying or divorcing, you win a prize. The road’s best feature is its waterfalls. Because Deserae loves waterfalls (we got engaged next to one), I planned a route that would let us see all 2 billion of them. After eight hours, we’d seen all the waterfalls except one – the 400-foot Waimoka Falls at the end of the Pipiwai Trail. I’d kept this one a secret because I was romantic and dumb.

“I think you’ll like this hike!” I said as we pulled into the parking lot.

Deserae looked skeptical. “Is it long?”

“That’s not important.”

“It’s kind of important.” Continue reading

The Grinch’s Guide to the Hottest Toys of 2015

Grinch Gift Guide

I make money by buying junk and selling it online. Because of this, I spend a lot of time in checkout lines answering the question, “What are you doing with all THAT?!” Usually when I answer that I sell on Amazon, the cashier gets intrigued and excited. “Oh wow! You need to show me how to do that!”

That is not the reaction I’ve been getting lately. Because Christmas is coming up, most of the junk I’ve been buying lately happens to be toys. And when cashiers ask “Who’s the lucky kid?” or worse “Are you donating all this to charity?” and I tell them that I sell on Amazon, I do not get an “Oh wow!” It’s just “Oh.” Then it’s silence and no eye contact for the rest of the transaction.

Am I the Grinch who stole Christmas? I don’t think so (I’ll stop buying toys a few weeks before Christmas, and stores have been restocking everything immediately after I buy it), but it’s hard not to feel grinchy when I step in front of a small child to clear out half a shelf of Paw Patrols.

To help clear my conscience and use my experience for good, I’ve put together this list of the top toys of 2015. If you’re not sure what to buy the child in your life this year, try one of these hot sellers. You won’t go wrong.

Garbage Truck

Tonka has this whole line of rescue vehicles – police cruiser, fire truck, SWAT helicopter – but its biggest seller by far is the garbage truck. There’s a small but very passionate group of children who LOVE garbage trucks. I believe these kids can only grow up to be one of two things: garbage men or serial killers. Continue reading

They’re Watching

Security Camera

College is a strange place for a thousand different reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that at any given time, roughly 75 percent of the people on campus are procrastinating. And when you procrastinate, you are willing to devote a shocking amount of time and energy toward any activity that is not school-related. Super Smash Brothers, for example. Also elaborate stunts featuring every mattress on the hall. And then there are the pranks.

At no other time in your life do you have the patience, opportunity and animosity toward others that is necessary to pull off Jim Halpert-level pranks.

In a college dorm – especially an all-male college dorm – every day is April 1st. Continue reading

I Hate a Parade

Parade Candy

“No. NO. I do not believe you.”

My new girlfriend Deserae was shaking her head at me.

“It’s true.”

“Everyone has been to a parade.”

“Not me.”

“Well you’re coming on the 4th of July with my family. It’s the best thing ever.”

I grinned and nodded like a fool, thus sealing my fate for the rest of my life.

If you’ve never been to a parade before, DO NOT GO. If you go, you risk it becoming a tradition, and there is no worse tradition than a parade.

I know because this past Saturday, Parma held its annual Independence Day parade, and, eight years after that first conversation, I was there in my place again. Because it’s a tradition. As a service to those who may one day have to lie about having been to a parade, I recorded the experience. Continue reading


PWN Definition

The most stressful part of coming back to college every year is meeting your roommates. Best case scenario – you get a new groomsman. Worst case scenario…actually, there are infinity worst-case scenarios. Lice. Top-bunk toenail clipper. Kleptomaniac. Pyromaniac. Regular maniac.

To take a few bullets out of the Roommate Roulette chamber, many college students choose to room with people they already know. Sure, they may be lowering their chances of making a new BFF, but when it comes time to confront a vindictive shower urinater, you need all the allies you can get.

That’s why I decided to room with my brother Jesse my junior year of college. I was already pretty familiar with Jesse’s work as a roommate after sharing a room with him for 20 years. He had a few annoying habits like leaving his light on after falling asleep, but at least I knew he wouldn’t give me scabies. Continue reading

My Foolproof Method for Learning Something New


Throughout my life, I’ve perfected a method for learning anything – guitar, snowboard, driving, etc. Last week, I used it to learn how to windsurf. As usual, it went fantastic.

If you’re ready to learn something new, follow these simple steps, and you’ll have it mastered. Probably in a day.

Step 1

Go in with extreme confidence that has been fueled by lifelong dreams and YouTube videos. For as long as I can remember, learning to windsurf has been among my top 3 dreams (It’s right between hang gliding and getting a job at the CIA). I have spent HOURS watching windsurfing videos online, becoming more and more confident in my ability to do sweet spins off of waves if I ever got a hold of a board.

Last week, Deserae and I were in Aruba, an island that was having its windiest week in more than a decade. As we were driving back to the hotel from a long morning of snorkeling, I spotted a beach with signs advertising windsurfing lessons and an ocean with tons of people zipping around on little boards. I pulled over, explaining to Deserae that I “just wanted to see how expensive it is.” The next thing Deserae knew, her husband was giddily forking over $50 for a lesson and board rental.

Step 2

Listen to the first two minutes of instruction before tuning out. While he was setting up the board, the windsurfing instructor explained that the wind was blowing 30 mph out to sea. I wouldn’t get good enough today to sail back into it, so I needed to stay inside the buoys. If I went past them, I’d no longer be able to touch the bottom, and I’d have to swim my board back to land, which would be nearly impossible with this wind.

After he finished his set-up, he let me stand on the board and hold the sail. He gave me a bunch more instructions that I didn’t hear because I WAS STANDING ON A WINDSURF BOARD. Continue reading

The Perfect Snowball

The Perfect Snowball

It is now Wednesday, and people are still upset that a tax evader and woman beater stole $100 from them by dancing in a ring for 12 rounds last Saturday. If you got burned by the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight this weekend, I’d like to make things up to you a little bit by sharing the story of the only time I’ve been punched in the face.

It may surprise you to learn that I did not get into fights growing up. There are two main reasons for this:

  • While other kids were learning sweet fight moves from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I was learning about The Hunchback of Notre Dame from a Jack Russell Terrier named Wishbone.
  • I have the physique of a walking stick.

These two things kept me safe from scuffles all the way into junior high. Then the Perfect Snowball happened. Continue reading