Quick Takes: French Farm Breakfast

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We have been staying on a farm in Normandy and making trips to various monuments and battle sites in remember since of D-Day.

One of our favorite things about living on a farm has been the simple family breakfast. Everyone, including guests, gathers around the table and enjoys fresh French bread with butter and jam, yogurt, espresso/coffee and fresh cows milk…from that same morning.

We read the paper and talk about events as much as our poor French will allow, and listen to the family discuss news and work.

It is wonderful.

To Normandy, To Remember

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This is my grandfather, Herb Simmons, showing his medals to my wife.

My grandfather, who I’ve written about before1, was a part of the valiant group of soldiers who entered France through the beaches of Normandy, helping reclaim the country from German forces. He is the only living member of his troop and in one week my wife and I will join him for the 70th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day Invasion.

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1. I recently wrote a happy birthday post for my grandfather’s 92nd birthday.

What to Expect from this Blog

One truism that I harp on relentlessly focuses on expectations:

All frustration is the result of unmet expectation.

Or, said another way, setting expectations well provides a great platform for relationship—to others, to work, to things we consume, to our time and so-on.

Recently I read a blog that I really enjoyed and the author did a very good job of explaining what his readers could expect in the about section. I really appreciated that because it gave me a context for evaluating how much time I wanted to invest in following and reading that author’s work. (As I’ve said before, we each have a limited number of precious hours to spend.)

I thought I’d take a cue from that experience and do the same thing here.

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About Me: Updated

I recently wrote a blog post for The Iron Yard that shared my story and the path that led me there. I’ve been meaning to refresh a few details about me on this site, so I added it to my about page as “The Long Version” of my story.

The Long Version

I was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. My siblings and I had an eclectic upbringing because my parents allowed us to explore almost any interest we had. That broad exposure propelled me into adulthood with a love for reading, research, philosophy, the outdoors, tools and mechanics, travel, good music and more.

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Making it Count: Threads of Belief, Questions and Answers

This is the third post in a series called Making it Count about getting things done and using our precious hours wisely2.

It’s been a while since the last post in this series. I have a whole list of things that I want to say, but based on feedback from from several smart people who know me well, I am compelled to write a post that dives a little deeper into the topic of belief. The last essay3 discussed the mechanics of belief as they play out in a given moment. Here’s an excerpt:

If action flows from belief, we need to be very careful about what we believe so that what we do will put us on the path we want.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as setting the bearing once and letting everything take care of itself. Humans don’t work that way. We are good at deciding on what we want our destinations to be (“I want to be a good parent,” “I want to get better at writing,” etc.), but our fickle minds and hearts, along with the circumstances in our lives, constantly throw us off course. While we might value our commitment to an end goal, we often choose to believe things contrary to that goal because of convenience, stress, success, failure, personality—fill in the blank.

Why write another philosophical post? 

I am writing this post because talking about belief in the context of a given moment, while extremely valuable, doesn’t paint the whole picture of what I believe about those systems, or why our minds and hearts are so fickle.

Also, for those who can’t help but ask additional questions, talking about my beliefs in a given moment simply won’t close the philosophical loop that the topic opens. So, yes, a bit more philosophy before we dive into the practical; don’t worry, we will get there!
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1. You can read more about the series and view links to additional posts here.2. Read the last essay, called “Values, Beliefs and Precious Hours.

On the Hunt for New Budgeting Software


The first draft of this post was titled, “All Budgeting Software Sucks.” That’s not true, of course. The reality is that budgeting sucks—or, more accurately, budgeting can be frustrating because it requires constant attention, thought and discipline. The equation becomes even more complicated when you move from one set of finances to managing them for multiple people or a household.

In the last few weeks I’ve experienced frustrating direct connect issues with iBank 5, the personal finance software I’ve used to manage the financial side of the Dodds Household. Duplicate transactions and entries repeatedly posted to wrong accounts put me on the hunt for a new solution, which was depressing because I’ve tried several of the heavy hitters. Here’s a quick rundown:

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