Windows App Woes… Trying an Android Emulator

There are lots of great apps for tablets out there. They can help you be effective, efficient and entertained. The problem: I own a Windows tablet (a Surface Pro 3) and it’s an iOS and Android world. The eventual workaround I arrived at: an Android emulator. But first, let’s explore how I got there.

Why not get a tablet running iOS or Android? Well, first, I want to own less devices, not more. Second, I need a desktop — running Windows or Mac OS — to use software like Clip Studio Paint EX and Photoshop.

And there are many great apps built for Windows tablets of course, but my issue is with reading apps: Comixology and Kindle.

A screenshot from my Comixology account showing the Backups screen which lists comics and links to download them in CBR or PDF format

Comixology’s “Backups” screen on their site. You can see that certain publishers (Image for one) allow downloads of comics in both CBZ and PDF format. Other publishers, like Marvel and Dark Horse, do not allow such backups.

With Comixology, reading offline is not possible in the web reader, the only option available on Windows. I am aware you can download backups of comics to read offline but only from certain publishers. Contacting customer support, suggesting they release a Windows app, was not helpful (as expected).

The Kindle app for Windows has several issues for image-heavy books. There are a lot of UI elements that keep you from viewing a book in true full screen. And you can’t zoom in on images in a book. Amazon also discontinued the Kindle app for Windows 8/10, not that it was much better.

It might appear that I’m picking on Amazon (both Comixology and Kindle are Amazon services). But, of course, I want to use these services. I want to be able to use them as any iPad or Kindle Fire user can.

The solution: use an Android emulator

I can have the functionality I want and can also choose the device I want to use. The emulator I chose was DuOS.

A screenshot of my Windows desktop showing DuOS (Android emulator) running in a window

DuOs running on my Windows desktop with the DuOs Configuration Tool open as well. The Configuration Tool lets you set fullscreen, RAM and other options.

So why did I pick it?

DuOS is not free; it costs $15 USD. That’s quite a deal. There are many free options out there but none that were quite as easy. I could figure out one of the other offerings but I didn’t want to take that time. I wanted something that worked, right out of the box.

How’s it working out?

Great. You can switch back and forth between Android and Windows with ease. I had one issue with screen rotation not kicking in, but that was because screen rotation wasn’t working in Windows either. A quick restart and it was fine. As always…


Are there more persistent issues?

It’s slow to load and it tends to slow down Windows a bit too. Though that was expected; it is an emulator after all.

For the Comixology and Kindle apps, it’s great. When I’m reading a comic or a book I don’t want to be interrupted. I don’t want to be checking email or Facebook. For my purposes, those “issues” are more features. You may have different needs. I should also note that a more powerful machine, one with more RAM, would probably alleviate those concerns quite a bit.

Why I’m happy with this Android emulator

I’m always trying to own less, to simplify my day-to-day activities. I like to have options but I also don’t want to have to maintain many devices.

With this solution, I’m able to have that simplicity. I can have one device to do my work and leisure activities. However, I still like reading prose on e-ink readers. But that’s for another post.

Going Paperless Progress

I’m always trying to lighten my environmental footprint. I’m not doing perfect, but I always strive to do better. One of the ways I aim to do that is by going paperless.

I also want to own fewer things and to be more mobile. So my daily processes should need little else other than my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. That device has gone a long way to making my day paper-free.

I work from various locations that are not my home office — coffee shops, my parents’, my wife’s parents’, etc. I don’t always have access to a printer.

For editing fiction, I like to go through the completed manuscript with a pen to mark it up. I could print it off and do it that way but, as noted above, that goes against what I’m trying to do.

In this post, I’ll be looking at two apps for Windows tablets that streamline day-to-day tasks — taking notes and annotating documents.

Drawboard PDF

Available on the Microsoft Store.
Cost: ~$12 CAD (I got it during a promotion for around $5)
Vendor Link: Drawboard

I had been looking for an app to annotate PDFs for ages. I happened across Drawboard PDF one day while researching something completely unrelated.

Advantages of using Drawboard PDF:

  • Opens where you left off
  • Keeps the last tool selected
  • Keeps the same view that you left off in

In this image, I’m editing a sci-fi book that is coming to Amazon and other vendors soon. The title has changed since.

You can start working again, straight-away. No fuss, no configuring anything. Even with more expensive software like Adobe Acrobat DC I had to take a minute or so to get back to where I was. But, then, Acrobat is not designed exclusively for marking PDFs up.

I’ll have a more exhaustive review of this app, about using it to edit fiction, coming up soon.

Bamboo Paper

Available on the Microsoft Store.
Cost: $8.00 CAD for the Pro Pack
Vendor Link: Wacom

One thing I’ll note first: I could not find out how much this thing would cost me. The Microsoft Store told me it had in-app purchases and the range of those prices but I couldn’t tell if I’d have to buy a few at that price. The price noted above is what you’ll pay, as of publishing date, for all the extra tools and such — the Pro Pack.

Wacom makes great products. I’ve owned a couple Cintiqs and an Intuous tablet over the years and have had no complaints (other than the price). So it was no surprise that this app is also great.

The app allows you to create as many notebooks as you need and there are different paper and cover options for various tasks — note-taking, sketching, more technical drawing, and so forth.

I have used it to take meeting notes during a phone call and it worked great, no issues whatsoever. I’ve also done a few sketches with the various drawing tools.

You can export entire notebooks as PDF or export single pages as PDF or PNG.

It doesn’t have layers, which seems to be a complaint from some people, but I actually don’t mind. I want it to be like paper. I just want to get my ideas down, not to do a finished drawing.

One issue I’ve noticed is that it tends to close when left idle for an extended period. But it has never crashed while I’ve been using it.

My only other caveat with it was that there was no option to save notebooks to a cloud service, like Dropbox or OneDrive. I have found a somewhat advanced solution for that. Look for a post about that soon.

Taming the Menagerie

I had an epiphany recently.

I had too many websites, too many social media accounts and I wasn’t updating any of them.

Why so many places to keep updated?

I have many interests. Chief among them are, at least now, and in no particular order, minimalism, productivity, travel, technology, cooking/veganism and illustration. Whew, quite a list right?

The focus of my paying consulting work is technology (and its intersection with productivity) and illustration. But those other topics I noted are also areas where I often feel like I have something to add, or at least are things I feel a need to comment on.

And for some reason it seemed to make sense to put everything in its own silo. I had a site that focused on minimalism and productivity, one where I posted illustration and comic art related tidbits and another where I was planning on tackling technology related topics.

Why was I adding friction to a process that, really, should be simple and straight-forward?

There was too much overhead, not to mention overlap — where to put a post about an app that has a minimalist slant? Of course I could post it in two places. Well that gets ridiculous pretty fast. The net result was that I didn’t post nearly as often as I would like.

This hatchet job on my thoughts also wasn’t honest. It was an artificial separation of ideas into narrow and arbitrary slots. It’s advantageous to mix topics and give them a big stir — that’s where a lot of new ideas come from. And I was stepping on that seedling before it could take root and grow.

I think I’ve found the, very obvious, solution.

This site, where you are reading this now is the site. The only site. There will be posts about all the topics I mention above, and probably some that cover other odds and ends. And many will probably touch on various areas. I’m aiming to tag and categorize as much as possible so that filtering shouldn’t be too much of any issue. But, hopefully, all of them will contain something that will be of value.

As always thanks for reading and I hope you’ll tag along for the ride. If you like what you’ve read and would like to see more check out the sidebar for how you can have new content delivered directly to your inbox or how you can follow along on social media.


Weekend Eats and Treats

Here are a few recipes I concocted, located and/or tried over the weekend.


This past weekend I had a “I’ve got to do something with those apples that are going to rot on my counter” situation. My wife’s parents had dropped off a plastic grocery bag full of them. They are local, picked near the childhood home of my mother-in-law. I love apples and I especially love free apples.

Applesauce is also a great substitute for oil when baking. So I looked at a few recipes, getting an idea of how to make applesauce. I’m sure I’ve made it before but it must have been years ago.

I ended up tossing all the apples — washed, sliced but with peel still on — into the food processor. I also added in the juice of one lemon. Thanks to Costco I also have a surplus of those. I topped it off with a dash of cinnamon.

Once completely pureed I tossed it all in a large pot and simmered on medium-low heat for about 25 minutes.

It came out fantastic, not bitter and not too sweet.

After letting it cool for a bit in the pot I dished some out into a mason jar and the rest into a plastic container which was destined for the freezer.

Yeast-free Pizza Dough

Recipe via House Of Yumm

What do you do when you have leftover pizza sauce and other toppings and you want pizza quick? You say to yourself, “self, I bet there’s a yeast-free pizza crust recipe out there in the tubes somewhere.” Lo and behold I was right.

The linked recipe is not vegan but I very easily modified it to be.

I often find that people, when starting out baking, are afraid of trying things, thinking they’ll really screw stuff up if they change proportions. While that may be true for baking powder, baking soda or salt, when it comes to most anything else I modify away. It’ll have to be pretty bad before I won’t eat it.

And sometimes you surprise yourself and discover something that might not be what you wanted but is still awesome. A few months back I tried out an oatmeal pie crust that was only so-so BUT when I used the same recipe to make oatcakes I discovered a new favourite. So experiment and surprise yourself!

Anyway, back to the recipe. What did I modify?

Instead of white flour I used whole wheat — it’s really the only flour I use. Even when it calls for whole wheat pastry flour I just use straight-up whole wheat. I’m easy to please and possibly now causing some chef somewhere to curse me for my blasphemy.

In place of the milk I substituted unsweetened almond milk. And for the oil I instead made use of an equal amount of my freshly prepared applesauce.

A side-note: You may be wondering about now, after my going on about not using oil, what that Daiya “cheese” and fake salami are doing on my pizza in the photo. What can I say? It was the weekend, I was cutting loose… It’s all relative right?

The secret to this dough is, of course, the 1 tablespoon of baking powder. It rose great. I’m not sure if I didn’t roll mine as flat as the recipe called for but it took about 10 minutes longer for it to cook than the recipe noted.

It was great though, fluffy with a nice texture. While I enjoy the tangy yeastyness of a well-risen dough this will be my new go-to recipe when I’m short on time, or have fallen down in the planning department.

Black Bean Brownies

Recipe via Chocolate Covered Katie

If you haven’t tried black bean brownies shame on you. No, really, get over the fact that there are beans in them. It’s like you’re getting away with something. They are more moist than regular brownies, richer and oh so chocolatey.

I’ve been trying to eat a more completely whole-food diet and that means less oil (which is, of course, not a whole food). Originally I thought this would mean a lot of changes when baking but, it turns out, it’s pretty easy to accommodate and I actually quite enjoy oil-free baked goods.

For this recipe I swapped the 1/4 cup of butter for one banana that was more black than yellow (which are the best kind for baking).

I also took the option of using all maple syrup instead of maple syrup plus sugar. And, finally, the batter seemed a little too runny so I tossed in a couple handfuls of whole wheat flour.

They came out great. I wish I had used a smaller pan — though I couldn’t locate one in the cupboard so what can you do? — as they were a little thinner than I like my brownies. But in terms of taste and texture they were amazing.

Coming Soon…

I’ve been searching for a method of making fluffy, store-like 100% whole wheat bread for a while now. A quick search informed me that vital wheat gluten is great for that very purpose — you just add a small amount to your regular bread recipe.

I purchased some at Bulk Barn the other day and will be experimenting with it soon. Stay tuned for the results!


Another Inconvenient Truth

Some things are inconvenient truths.

There are times when people want you to hold your tongue, when it’s not polite to say certain things, to broach certain topics.

How long do you stand by, silent? How many times do you bite your tongue so that people aren’t uncomfortable? How many of the people you love have to die, perhaps needlessly, just because people are afraid to ruffle feathers?

Twenty years ago my grandfather died of heart disease. Five years ago my father very nearly died of heart disease. Thankfully, very thankfully, he didn’t become just another statistic.

Sadly many people — many, many people — do become statistics each and every day. More people die from heart disease than any other illness in our western world0.

But they don’t have to.

We need some consciousness raising. We need to be informed. We should want to be informed.

Why would anyone ever want to be ignorant?

And yes, I do understand that there are many sides to complicated topics like health and disease. I understand that I could be biased.

But then there is evidence.

It’s something that, given what I see every day on Facebook, is little demanded and in even shorter supply. One would think that having much of the world’s combined knowledge at your fingertips would make us more likely to seek facts. Yet the opposite is true.

When it comes to a whole-food, plant-based diet, and it’s positive impact on health, however, the evidence is out there.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a man who can be, if anyone can be, called an expert on heart disease, had this to say about the affliction:

coronary artery disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never ever exist and if it does exist it need never ever progress.1

And, of course, heart disease is just one condition that can be improved by eating differently. There are many, many more.

I don’t want to be the guy that stirs up trouble, the guy who blabbers on with statistics and talks at people.

But, is it so wrong that I don’t want the people I love, or anyone for that matter, to die from something that is pretty much completely preventable?

Labels are not something I embrace. I don’t like being “the vegetarian” or “the vegan”. And, in all honesty, I’m not vegan. I’m more like 99% vegan. I try my best but I’m not perfect.

I’m not in this to win some chlorophyll trophy. This is about, on a personal level, doing what is best for me, for society and for the planet.

Sometimes it’s hard to know if what you’re doing is actually a good thing. I used to feel that way about being vegan. How could I be sure? There was nothing definitive, no collection of studies and evidence that could back up what I felt to be true.

That’s just not the case anymore. There are so many books or you can go to Netflix and watch documentaries like Forks Over Knives and Vegucated.

A whole food, plant-based diet is good for us. Changing our diet also has direct benefits for animals and our planet.

It’s as simple as that.

I’m not telling you what to eat — eat whatever makes you happy. Just don’t do it on autopilot.


What are you putting in your body? What are those food choices doing to it? What about the effect on other creatures and on the environment? Don’t be willingly ignorant, you owe it to yourself, and to your families, to get informed.

I apologize if I’m making things weird, if I’m being that guy. Many other people are already out there doing their part to inform others. Maybe if we all make it weird enough it won’t be weird anymore.

It’ll be the new normal.

A normal where my family and friends — where everyone — live long and healthy lives on a green and thriving world.


Being there is Believing

I recently returned from my first visit to England. It was my first trip out of my province, or pretty much anywhere, for almost three years.

There’s a certain energy that comes with travel. It’s a feeling which I knew existed but one which seems to dull in the space between trips.

However, I don’t know if it’s travelling, particularly, that generates it. I suspect it’s just change.

And what better way to stir things up than to transport yourself, with minimal belongings, to another location, perhaps one that is very different than where you live?

There are certain things that you just have to see with your own eyes.

Photographs are not reality. Something becomes real when you see it in person. Even more so when you can add the sensations of touch, sound and smell.

In the future, when you again see photos or videos of the place, it is changed in your mind.

Now you pull from your experiences and really know what it’s like to be there.

You remember the slight breeze, the smell of the hay and near-by sheep. You can hear birds chattering and the not-so-distant drone of continous traffic along the motorway.

First-hand experience makes books, TV and films come alive like never before.

Perhaps this is something that residents of London or New York feel without realizing how precious it is. I grew up in a small town, a very small town, if compared with the largest of cities.

That’s not a bad thing in itself but it definitely gives you a myopic world-view. To me a skyscraper was as alien as the surface of the moon, both only existed on screens and in books.

With every new place I visit on this amazing planet I add to my repetoire of sense memory. It’s with me on every new journey, whether through a new country or a new book.

The world becomes more real, more tangible. More relatable.

It helps bring into focus that the people, no matter their creed or colour, are just that, people. Each and every life on our world is sacred and precious.

News stories need no longer take place in some strange, distant and only-imagined land but in places where I’ve planted my feet, breathed the air and spoken with the people.

I still have far to go and much to see, more than I know I will ever see in my lifetime.

But I will try to see all I can and always remember that where I’ve been helps define who I am.


Don’t Believe Everything You “Like”

Did you know that the radiation from cellphones can pop popcorn? You can watch it right here. Except…

It’s not true.

And yet I saw this video shared, as if it was fact, on Facebook last week. This has been debunked for years and the article I referenced above has been available for years.

I remember chain letters. Actual paper chain letters.

People, well some people, took them very seriously. They fretted over sending it to the right number of recipients, fearing the consequences outlined in the letter if they didn’t.

This kind of ignorance-baiting and fear-mongering has, naturally, migrated online.

Some forms it can take:

  • Hoaxes. You’ve seen these I’m sure. They usually go something like this: “Everyone who shares this will get a free cruise.”
  • Urban legends. Yes, they’re exactly like they’ve always been except now they spread even faster.
  • Satirical articles being shared as real news. I have no problem with satire, quite the opposite. But some people just don’t get it.
  • Dated news stories being shared as if recent. Granted this may not be people trying to trick anyone but, if someone misses the post date, it can certainly cause confusion.

Why do people continue to share it?

According to the Wikipedia article on “gossip” one of its possible functions is to “build and maintain a sense of community with shared interests, information, and values”.

Such shared knowledge binds us together, makes us one. As our tribes have grown to encompass more of the globe our shared stories have changed as well.

All of your friends on Facebook might not know the weird guy down the road with all the dogs but they most likely do know who Madonna is. And so we share bits of information about celebrities and such. Since it most likely came from a “friend” we trust it, whether it’s true or not.

Brian McDonald believes stories contain survival information. So perhaps we are compelled by our biology to share that which seems to be beneficial on some level.

This survival information could be contained in articles about an armed robbery in our city, an “amazing” free offer or even misinformation about some new drug on the market. Again, the validity of the facts takes a back seat. Perhaps we sub-conciously reason that it doesn’t matter if it’s true, only that we get it out into the world, “just in case”.

What can you do?

  • Be skeptical. Don’t just accept things, investigate. Before the Internet you sometimes had to accept things. You really could exhaust the places you could look for knowledge. That’s just not the case anymore. Excerise your power to inform yourself.
  • Think before you link. Be responsible for what you share.
  • Before you share, read the article/watch the video. Don’t just like or share stuff without knowing what it is.
  • Check the validity of the information. There are great sites whose sole purpose is to debunk misinformation. Snopes and Hoax-Slayer are just a couple.
  • Pay it forward. Post a link to the debunking website article so that other people can become informed. Let’s use the power of sharing to educate and illuminate.

What are some of the worst hoaxes or urban legends that you’ve seen?


Shake Off the Rust

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but, for whatever reason, have never gotten around to it?

Does it nag at you from time to time, but you continue to push it down, saying “next week” or “next year”?

Every time you snooze your dreams another layer of rust builds up in your mind.


In 2012 my fiancee and I went to New Zealand for a year. It was amazing, as you might suspect. But it took us a long time to get there.

We originally started talking about going in 2007. 2007! It took us five years! Why?

We knew we wanted to go someday but we didn’t set a date — we hadn’t really decided to go. Not until early in 2011.

If we were so eager to go why did it take so long to make that firm decision?

We were coated in rust, comfortable moving within the narrow confines of the lives we had defined years before. Stable jobs and stable pay cheques made us comfortable with our stale routines.

Before you decide, when it’s just something you’d like to do someday, your brain tells you why it won’t work. 0 Perhaps our brains are just trying to help us out: “Keep doing what you’re doing, it seems to be working okay.”

The great news is that we only have to do one little thing to get around this ancient mechanism:

We have to decide to change, to act.

And remember: Change is good, and inevitable. You might as well have a say in the particulars of that change.

The great thing is, as soon as you decide, as soon as you say “I will do this in x days”, your brain starts looking for ways to make it happen. You sub-consciously work on it all the time, noticing things you wouldn’t have noticed before — because now different things are important to you.

So don’t let the rust build up. Keep moving, keep changing, all the time. Keep feeding the fire of imagination and experience — grow in some way every day.

That might be something as simple as changing up your route home from work occasionally, or taking the bus some days, walking there maybe. You could take up a new hobby, eat something different, read a random book or go to a bar or restaurant you wouldn’t normally go to.

Anything outside the usual forces your brain to actually work. Don’t let it run on auto-pilot. Routine will make your days seem to go by faster.

So make change and adventure a habit in your life.

Life is full of change. Some of them are changes we instigate. Others, not so much: Health issues, lay-offs, whatever. But the curve balls come whether we like it or not. When you’re used to changing your routine, or don’t have a routine, dealing with these issues is less traumatic.

You might not want to travel to the other side of the globe but I’m sure we can all agree that a more fulfilled and relaxed life is something worth striving for.

What have you always wanted to do? Is something keeping you from it, or have you already decided to go for it? I hope you have. As the saying goes, “you regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did do.”

  1. See item 2 in the linked article.

Not So SmartPhone

My smartphone has been bothering me for a while now.

It frustrates me. A lot.


  • It’s slow. eg. You have to tell the subject of a potential photo to “hold on a moment” while the camera app loads.
  •  It seems to not work when I need it most. A piece of paper never gives me that problem.
  • It’s always out of hard disk space. Managing the space available takes as much of my time as using the device.
  • A while back the power button stopped working. I do have a workaround for that though.

It is over three years old I suppose. And I could buy a new phone.


  • I hate being locked to a provider. So…
  • The price will be high for an unlocked phone.
  • It would be something else to worry about losing, breaking or getting stolen. I don’t worry about a three year old phone.
  • And then I have to do it all again in a couple of years or face the same issues.

There’s also the whole time suck factor.0

I turned off the cellular data a while back and yet, since there’s Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere, as soon as I get to a coffee shop I haul the thing out and check my email… even if I intended to do something else.

Recently I reached an (almost) breaking point.

All notifications, except for calls and texts, are now switched off. I also deleted every app I haven’t used in a while and, crazy I know, I deleted the Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter apps. I should probably remove my email app too.

I know that I don’t need to browse or respond when I’m out of the house. It can wait. It will wait.

Apparently I’m not the only one that has been thinking about this.

One article mentions using 1980s rules when it comes to technology.

This makes perfect sense to me. I remember a time before the Internet. Then it was called a BBS. I also remember a time before that, a time when the only glowing boxes in people’s homes were TVs.

Back in that age of rotary dialing and rabbit-ears I wrote and drew all the time. You had to wait for TV shows to air to watch them and there were only so many books to read.

Yet I was never bored. I created worlds in my mind. It was fun. It was for fun.

I often found myself in a flow state, immersed in these tasks for, sometimes, hours. Now five distraction-free minutes are hard to come by.

I want to get back to the feeling of ease and completeness that comes from being fully engaged in an activity.

But I’ll still give my app-reduced smartphone a try for a while longer.


Because smartphones are smart. They have replaced a horde of other devices and media and will continue to supplant even more.

Technology is here to stay. It surely will not always be phones but, in some way, we will continue to utilize our technological innovations to make our lives easier and more convenient. This is just a natural progression — from the wheel to the steam engine to the smartphone.

Anyway, the problem lies with me, not the device.

Like with all new technologies we must learn to adapt. Unlike other past innovations the Internet and everything it has wrought has happened in the blink of an historical eye. Twenty years ago very few people had heard of the Internet. That’s not a long time.

When I started writing this I was planning to ditch my phone. Now I think maybe I was throwing the phone out with the apps. I just need to treat it like the tool it is and not as a crutch that I reach for whenever there’s a “spare” second.

Do you ever find your phone is as much trouble as it is a benefit? Have you ever considered going to back to the simpler times of 2005, tossing your smartphone for just “a phone”?

  1. The linked article talks about employees wasting time but I think the general idea of people wasting time on the Internet comes across.

What Now? Redux

Time flies.

Well, actually, I’ve been finding it doesn’t anymore. Each day seems longer, more full. And that is a great feeling.

The comic below was first published two years ago. Exactly two years ago.

And a lot has changed in that time. Time that, given what I stated above, seems like a very long while.

So how do I feel about what I wrote and drew then? Have I changed my tune?

Before we get to that read the comic for yourself, so you can make up your own mind if it still is, or ever was, relevant.

Thanks for reading.

There is a lot of my soul in that piece and it was stewing in my brain for a long time before I committed it to pixels.

I don’t want to preach to people, I really don’t. But I did, and still do, find it depressing when I see people making decisions against their nature. When I see them making decisions based only on things like money.

So in that sense I think this holds up very well. It still reflects how I feel overall. Actually, I think I need to take my own advice on a couple points.

The art, to me at least, is cringe-worthy in a couple spots (but I suppose that just means I’ve progressed in the past two years). But I can also see details that I’m proud of.

The piece is a reflection of me at 36. It’s a snapshot of my personal philosophy at that point in time.

Now at 38, I still try to live that philosophy, and I continue to hone it. But, overall, if you want to know what I’m about, this comic sums it up pretty good.

Again, thank you so much for reading! Now, go, live your life in your way.


Comic transcript:

What Now?

Advice for life after high school (or anytime)

By Jay Brushett

I’m about to turn 36.

18 is half a lifetime ago to me.

So What?

I think I’ve learned a few things in those intervening years, most of it the hard way.

I don’t want to tell you what life to live, only you can determine that.

But I would like to hand over some general guidelines, so that you don’t have to learn EVERYTHING the hard way.

If this advice is helpful, GREAT!

If not then I hope you’ll at least take away this…

Be you, always.

Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are.

And smile.

Life, being alive, is amazing!

It is also fleeting. Cherish every minute.

Try new things at every opportunity.

Do things that make you uncomfortable.

Learn something new about YOU.

Challenge yourself.

Try and fail. Try again.

You only truly fail when you stop trying.

NEVER accept something just “because”. Think for yourself.

Ignorance is the disease, education the cure.

ALWAYS learn, never stop. Learn from people, from books and by traveling.

Education doesn’t have to come with a framed piece of paper to be valuable.

Be YOU. You are unique. Don’t anybody change who you are.

Money is far, far, far from everything.

Things will NEVER make you happy.

If anything the more things you have, the less happy you will be.

Think before you spend money. Especially when it comes to CREDIT!

It’s NOT free money. You will have to pay it back — WITH INTEREST!

NEVER buy something if you don’t have the money. Save the money, then buy it.

A quick decision to use credit can cost you a lot. And not just money.

It can determine what you HAVE to do day in and day out. For YEARS!

Just how much money do YOU need? Not your parents and not your friends. YOU!

Plan for the future, for retirement if the means are there. Have an emergency fund and try not to live cheque-to-cheque.

But LIVE now!

Don’t wait to live until you’re 55 or 65.


There is no such thing. If you work for someone you are a number. And that number can come up.

Or you can make your own way: become an entrepreneur.

University or college can be rewarding.

BUT only go because YOU want to go.

If you don’t know what to study, WAIT. Work, travel. Figure out what you want.

The world is a big place, live in it! Travel far and often.

A place, a person may change your life.

Put your feet on the ground in places you’ve only read about.


Books can transport you to other times, other places.

They can put you in other people’s shoes.

Some of them WILL change your life.

Before getting student loans, THINK!

To pay them you may have to do a certain job for MANY YEARS!

Imagine, really picture, a day doing that job.

Then multiply it by thousands of days.

Sound great? Keep going. Otherwise, STOP, rethink things.

Follow your dreams, your passion. If there’s something you feel you HAVE to do… DO IT! Don’t let ANYONE stop you. They may mean well but that doesn’t make them right.

AND if you push that nagging feeling aside it WILL come back. Again and again.

Trust me.

And talent is not inborn. It’s just lots of hard work and a drive to see it through to the end, nothing more.

Bad things happen. They always have and always will. But you choose how you react to it.

Feel the pain, grieve. But, eventually, get up and move on.

Watch out for bad habits, they sneak up on you.

Don’t be a slave to anything. If you HAVE to have something it’s time to change things up.

Eat well, live well.

Food is your gasoline, don’t put sand in your tank.

And get enough sleep.

Unplug and get outside.

Smell the flowers, feel the breeze, the heat of the sun. Appreciate the beauty all around you.


Move your body, feel your muscles working, your blood pumping.

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Family and friends may not always understand but they will be there…

…if you’re not too proud to ask.

Stop complaining and start acting. Don’t just take, give back. Be positive. Be kind. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Change is the only constant.

Be open to it, it’s going to happen anyway.

New things can become old friends.

When you’re on your deathbed, looking back at your life, what will you see?

A life filled with regrets?

With playing it safe?

Or will you die with a smile on your lips?

Because you know you tried.

Because you grabbed hold with both hands and ran, screaming, into the fray?

Live YOUR life…

…not someone else’s.

But that’s far away.

Today, SMILE —

Being alive is awesome!