DIY: Life Sized Ruler Growth Chart

A huge Thank You to Mr. J.D. Young for this guest post. This is a project I have been wanting to do for my boys. I am happy to take a note from this fine father and his craftiness.
Life Sized Ruler Growth Chart
Items Needed
1. Wood board
2. Black Paint
3. Wood Stain
4. Polyurethane
5. 220 Grit sand paper
6. Ruler/Tape Measure
7. Pencil
8. Stencils
9. Exacto Knife
10. Old socks or t-shirts to use to apply stain and polyurethane
11. Latex gloves
12. Paint brushes
When my wife pitched me this idea, she had seen many different variations on ETSY.  But in order for it to be extra special, she wanted it to be hand made.  There were many types out there that were as easy as just getting wood and putting stickers on it.  But I wanted something to do for Evan for Christmas that would be extra special.
When we were looking at wood, I figured oak would be a good choice due to how rich the color would look and how the grains would stand out once stained.  After a trip to Home Depot, we decided on an oak board that was a 1×6.  This would allow for the inch marks as well as numbers at the foot marks.  We decided to have our “ruler” to be 6 1/2 feet tall.
Picking a stain color was tough to do.  We wanted the color to be very close to the color of our hardwoods and cabinets in the kitchen.  After looking at what seemed like 100 different choices, we decided on a satin based stain called Antique Walnut by Minwax.  For this project, a small can was plenty.  The stain calls for the wood to be sanded prior to staining.  It recommends using 220 grit sand paper.
After this was completed, I began to apply the stain to the wood. I ended up applying two coats of stain to the wood to achieve my desired look.  Drying time varies and since I wasn’t in a hurry, I took 4-5 days before the second coat was applied.
 
Since the spot we elected to put the board on the wall wouldn’t be flush on the floor, we had to measure out how far from the ground the bottom of the board would be.  Once that was completed, the next step was to decide about the inch marks.  After using a spare piece of wood to get an idea, we decided on the following. The foot marks would be 3 1/2 inches long.  The half inch marks would be 2 1/2 inches long.  The quarter inch marks would be 2 inches long and the inch marks would be 1 inch.  After some practice on the spare piece, the marks were made with the ruler on the board, but before I could paint, I had to sand the stained wood one more time.
This next step takes time and patience.  Going back to that spare piece of wood, I practiced for days on getting my brush marks just right and making sure they aren’t too thick or thin. The paint I selected was a semi-gloss based black paint by Glidden.  Nothing major here, just some paint to put on the wood.  I used two different brushes for my marks.  For the foot marks, I used a medium sized flat bristle brush.  For the rest of the marks, I used a small round tip brush.
I bought 4 inch stencils from Hobby Lobby. I initially practiced on spare wood with some of the letters in the pack. I taped them to the wood, but found that the paint would leak through.  So to combat this, I ended up tracing the numbers on the board then painting them by hand, but I had to cut small pieces out of the stencils to make the numbers usable.  I used the small tip brush to trace the edges of the number, then filled in the rest with the larger brush.  This was a fairly easy process that took about 45 minutes.
After the paint had dried, I went back to the saw horses and applied two coats of polyurethane.  I used a satin based finish by Minwax.  We did not want the finish to be shiny so the satin base is the best way to go.  After the second coat had been applied and dried, it was time to put a bow on this gift and get it ready for Santa to deliver.
We mounted the board to a small area that separates our kitchen from our breakfast area. I used 3 inch screws to secure the board into the studs.  I also pre-drilled holes in the board and sheet rock to make this process easier.  And as soon as it was up, we had our first measurement.  Evan stood tall at a whopping 2 feet 6 inches.
If you had to this on a quick schedule, I’d say it would take you about 3-5 days.  The longest part would be waiting on your paint/stain/poly to dry.  But other than that, it can be done pretty quick.
When J.D. isn’t chasing is little boy around he is a realtor with DeSelms Real Estate in Nashville, TN.
 

The Ultimate Every Day Carry Guide

Every Day Carry or EDC is the minimal amount of gear I need – and can carry – on a daily basis to protect myself and others and survive whatever life throws at me.

Without looking like a tacti-cool nerd, that is.

Number one to surviving life is knowledge or software. There are a million books and courses to fulfill this requirement. EDC is about the hardware – how much or how little and how custom your kit is. I am a huge fan of anything custom and things that make sense.

I personally like looking at what others do and adopt what I like for myself. This is my ultimate tried and trusted guide of what I carry in various situations.

There are EDC kit lists that have way too much stuff or items in separate pouches, to where there is no way you carry all of that in your pockets every day. These items are to aid you in everyday life and in an emergency, but EDC kits only work if they’re practical, functional and you actually carry them. I believe in setting yourself up for success. Learn, blend and be prepared.

I’ve broken down into 3 levels what I carry depending on what I am wearing and doing. Most military will recognize the similarities as 1st, 2nd and 3rd line gear loadouts. This list is intended for a permissive environment, or everyday life. I have highlighted, in RED, items you cannot take through US government security check points (ie. gov’t buildings,airports, etc.). Take note and I hope this helps you. Feel free to change makes and models according to your taste and budget.

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Level 1: Jeans and t-shirt

  • Digital Watch – Primary – Suunto Ambit 2 (gps), Secondary – Suunto Core (Carry in Level 3 as back up)
  • Wallet – Custom by Chester Mox – ID, Concealed Carry Permit, multi-tool card, ceramic razor
  • Passport – with custom case by Chester Mox (Only during Foreign travel)
  • Cell Phone- iPhone 6 w/ Life Proof FRE Power Case (2x battery capacity) – VPN capable, survival apps, ebooks, music, light, unit converter, measuring, local map, language translator
  • Keys – light, handcuff key
  • Sun glasses – Gatorz, whatever fits your face and protects your eyes.
  • Knife – Zero Tolerance Hinderer Flipper, Other favorite: Spyderco Native (Check for state legal length)
  • Pistol –  Glock 42 .380 w/ RIP ammo and Techna Clip
  • Custom 17mm Tungsten wedding ring
  • Hidden money – in sock or small pocket in jeans
  • 550 para cord, kevlar or dynama cord shoe laces (match color of original shoe lace as to not stand out)
  • Polymer handcuff key – hidden in sock, small pocket in jeans or tied to shoe lace (not to be found during a basic search i.e. survival bracelet will be confiscated)
  • Metal Pen – I don’t have a fancy self-defense pen as I always lose them.. Ultimately, any pen will do.

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Level 2: Cargo Pants, Jacket or Suit and Tie (Add to Level 1 list)

  • Nice watch – Panerai PAM 328
  • Headlamp
  • Notebook – Write in rain or appropriate
  • Medical – gauze, tourniquet, curvat, quick clot (each in a different pocket will smooth out profile)
  • Fire – Lighter or paper matches to get through security
  • Multi-tool – Leatherman Wave
  • Self defense tool – spike, knuckles, etc. (Train with it or it becomes a hindrance in a fight)
  • Medicated chap stick – for lips and wounds.

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Level 3: Back Pack (Add to Level 1 & 2 list), (If in Level 1 attire add Level 2 list to your Back Pack)

  • Civilian style backpack (Anything tactical looking stands out and attracts attention)
  • Medium medical pouch – Gauze, chest seal, pressure dressing, quick clot, tourniquet, band-aid, antiseptic, pain killers
  • Batteries – in original packaging or battery container
  • Head lamp/ Flashlight
  • Small Solar Charger
  • Extra Clothes- pt shorts, socks, underwear, t-shirt (for unexpected overnight stays and lost luggage during travel)
  • Computer – VPN or Tor browser capable
  • Thumb drives and external hard drive
  • Strobe – VIP Strobe, 9v Strobe
  • Lock pick set
  • Cable box – all charging cables
  • Water bladder or bottle- Nalgene, Regular water bottle or Platypus (They will need to be empty when going through airport security.)
  • Food – MRE, Cliff bar, Gue, etc.
  • Water purifier –  tablets or straw
  • Book – Favorites – How to Disappear by Frank M. Ahearn, Escape the Wolf by Clint Emerson and Raising Men by Eric Davis (for the fathers in training)
  • Extra 550 cord
  • Riggers tape
  • Sharpie – extra pens and pencil and notebook
  • Fixed blade knife – Dan Winkler WKII, CND Custom, etc.
  • Rain jacket – REI black
  • Tooth brush and paste (3 oz.)
  • Comb
  • Hand sanitizer (3 oz.)
  • Tissue pouch or wet wipes

Blending in to the population around you, situational awareness and technical knowledge is the first line of defense and offense. These items are the secondary. Be smart. Don’t wear a maxpadition pouch and G-shock with a suit and tie or run around like you are in Kabul while you’re in Milwaukee (you might need to if you are in Detroit – haha). This makes you stand out and first to go in my book. Your situational awareness and posture will make you stand out and is a deterrent enough. If not, doom on them.

Practice, practice, practice and know what to do with what you have during threat identification, initial contact and post conflict. It can be an earth quake, drugged-up crazy with a box cutter, plane crash or zombie apocalypse. Have a “broad strokes” plan. As information comes in on what you are dealing with, then make adjustments.

This is not just about your safety and survival. As a father it is up to you to provide for your family. Be prepared.

I’m a grown ass man, I can figure this shit out.

Be a grown ass man and figure shit out.

Please comment and share your EDC kit. If you have any questions about my list, please ask.

Code Name Dad… Out!

What’s in your glass? A list of my favorite and must have booze for your home bar.

Hard day at work? Lost in the desert? Rollin’ down the street smokin’ indo? Sometimes life just calls for a cocktail. There are so many choices out there, and different situations demand different poisons.

While I’m certainly no sommelier, I do have extensive consumption experience. Here are a few of my tried and true favorites that won’t leave you high and dry.

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Vodka:

Whether you’re shooting straight with your Russian neighbor, mixing with tonic or having a martini shaken not stirred, a good vodka is key. Don’t settle for well, look for these options:

Tito’s – A great everyday drinker easy on the head in the morning.

Ketel One – My Bloody Mary mixer.

Belvedere – My #1 go-to vodka. A bit pricey, but worth it.

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Rum:

I can go on forever with this…I’m a rum-drinker and can tell you, you need to be picky. That said, here are my top three choices.

Cruzan #9 or white – Not so common mixing rum from St. Crox B.V.I. Nice change from Captain Morgan or Bacardi.

Koloa White – Once lived on Kauai Island Hawaii and fell in love with this mixer.

Havana Club – Another great distillery that you can not go wrong with anything they have to offer. A little tricky to get from Cuba though.

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Scotch:

If you’re channeling your inner Anchorman, you need to know what Scotch to choose. (Selections based on reliable recommendations).

Balvinie Double Wood – Aged in traditional and sherry oak this single malt burst with a multitude of flavors while staying smooth and mellow.

Macallan – With a variety of styles you can not go wrong with anything this distiller has to offer. The most mature pallet will be pleased.

Glenmorangie 18 – Top of the prestige collection this is a single malt scotch whiskey of serious distinction. Another must have.

Whiskey:

On the rocks, mixed with coke, or neat, you want a a whiskey that will complement the hair on your chest, not one that burns the esophagus.

Jameson Casemates – A unique experiment that came out delicious.

Lead Slingers Whiskey – Nice daily drinker and uber-patriotic.. ‘Merica

Mekhong Whiskey – From the deep jungles of Thailand this is mak mak ling. Taste like a rum but labeled a whiskey. Proceed with caution.

Bourbon:

Like scotch and whiskey, even if it’s not your drink, it never hurts to have a nice bourbon in the home bar. Pick up one of these stand-bys. (Based on reliable recommendations).

Jim Beam Single Barrel – Masterfully made by america’s finest Jim Beam has a spread any bourbon lover can enjoy.

Widow Jane 8yr – Hailing from New York City this craft bourbon is aged to perfection and worth the hunt to find.

Woodford Reserve 1838 Syle White Corn – The use of white corn instead of traditional yellow corn complements additional grains in the whiskey and allows for a sharper whiskey that’s lighter in body with a softer, sweeter, fruit-forward profile

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Tequila:

“You boys like MEXICO!! WoooHoo!!” Lets get south of the boarder silly with some favorites courtesy of the agave.

Gran Patron Platinum – A little on the pricey side but triple – distilled with a long spicy finish makes it way easier to swallow.

Herradura Reposado – Fermenting with naturally occurring airborne yeast and long stents in American Oak barrels really brings out the vanilla and butterscotch flavors while adding some color and unmatched smoothness.

Tapatio Blanco – Double distilled this is a great example of old world style tequila on a budget.

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Beer:

I’m not a huge beer drinker..sorry hipsters. Yet, certain occasions just call for a beer and why settle for Coors Light? Having a few go-to selections will come in handy when you need to grab a 6-pack for a BBQ, a little hair of the dog or something to wash down that burger and onion rings.

Dos XX Lager Especial – A favorite of “The Worlds Most Interesting Man” it’s not hard to understand why. A crisp, light-bodied, malt-flavored beer with a well-balanced finish is very refreshing on a hot summer day.

Any Octoberfest – Or Marzen as “ze Germans” call it. It is a shame this nectar of the gods is seasonal. Born in Munich, it is well worth the flight or at least a trip to your local store.

Gasser – I have only seen this in Austria. This light and refreshing adult beverage will be an internet purchase. A definite anytime beer…even with breakfast…Prost!

Monkeynaut IPA – Why? Why not. It’s a good beer with an awesome can logo. It’s you’re going to drink beer, you might as well be entertained at the same time.

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Wine:

For you single guys, being able to pick a good bottle to bring over for dinner is a definite plus. And a good husband knows the true value of a good bottle of wine. There are a huge number of good options out there and often a good liquor store will give some great recommendations. In general, avoid screw tops and don’t go for the cheapest bottle on the shelf. Beyond that, check out these no-fail bottles:

Dreaming Tree Crush – Everyday drinker. A California blend with mixed berries and vanilla oak flavors. Great on its own or with dinner, this reasonably-priced red is a favorite in our house.

Francis Coppola Claret – A Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine, blended in the classic Bordeaux style. Flavors of blackberry, cassis and roasted espresso.  This rich red is the perfect pairing with a nice steak dinner.

Archival Ferrer Malbec – A little vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina, the wife and I found this wine on our honeymoon. A hard find but worth the look. You can not go wrong with anything from this part of Argentina.

I’m a red wine drinker…ask your wife for white recommendations.

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Champagne:

The more accurately label for this list would be “Sparkling Wine.” Either way, when you are popping the top and sipping bubbly, you don’t care what it’s called just as long as the party keeps rolling.

Bollinger – the “James Bond champagne.” It’s been featured in 11 of the Bond films to date.

Cordon Negro Brut – A family favorite. Sunday brunch mimosas.

Krug 1975 Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs – For all of you ballers making it rain.

There is the list to church up your home bar, entertain a client at the office or surprise the Mrs. for dinner. I hope you enjoy responsibly. If not, at least take pictures and post them with #codenamedad

Please add your favorites in the comments.

For the difficult finds and imports, I have had success ordering from The Whiskey Exchange.

I will post new finds as time goes on. Until then, Cheers, Prost, Salute, Nastrovia, Skall!

CODE NAME DAD… OUT!

DIY: Plyo Box

DIY: Plyo Box

Cost: About $40

Time: 2-3 Hours

Difficulty: Medium 

Want to get some bounce in your legs? This 3-in-1 Plyo Box is just what the Doctor ordered. 3-in-1 means 3 different heights, 20″ inch, 24″ inch and 28″ inch, in one box. How amazing is that! Made out of 3/4″ cabinet grade plywood ensures durability for even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast. So, put on your favorite gym shoes, grab your power tools and lets get to work.

Materials Needed:

  • (1) 8′ x 4′ x 3/4″ piece of cabinet grade plywood
  • Skilsaw or table saw
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil
  • Wood glue
  • Box of 2″ wood screws

Extras:

  • Dremel Tool
  • Sand paper and dowel or PVC
  • Exacto Knife
  • Poster Board
  • Spray Paint

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Step 1: Cut the plywood into the 6 pieces you need. Home Depot or Lowes will do this for you if you do not have your own power tools. Bring this layout so the guys at Home Depot don’t get overloaded with math and Tetris.

  • (2) 28″ x 20″ rectangles
  • (2) 28″ x 22.5″ rectangles
  • (2) 22.5″ x 18.5″ rectangles

Jump box layout

Finished cuts.

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Step 2: Do a test build. Set up all the pieces to ensure everything lines up. Re-measure to ensure correct dimensions. Once you glue and screw there is no going back. I pre-drilled holes in all 4 corners for test build ease. See Step 3 for hole placement.

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Step 3: Glue and Screw. Measure out and drill pilot holes for your screws. I used 1/16″ bit for pilot holes. Mark and drill 3/8″ from edge to match the seam and 1″ in from corner to prevent the screws from colliding. I used a 5/16″ bit for recess but found it unnecessary.

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EXTRA!

Step 4: Make a handle. I recommend doing this before you put everything together. I did not. Here is how. I used the 28″x22.5″ piece as the top of the box and the 22.5″x18.5″ as the side I put the handles on. 6″ from the top, centered 12″ from the side. The handle is 1.5″ wide x 5″ long. Rounding the ends adds 3/4″ to each side. I used a cutting bit with my Dremel or you can use a Skill Saw. I rapped some rough sand paper around 3/4″ pvc pipe to smooth the edges.

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Step 5: Add your personal touch! This box was made for my wife who runs Virginia Beach Bootcamps. Print your logo, trace it to the poster board, use the Exacto knife to cut it out and spray paint it on. Blamoo!!!

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There you have it! Your very own Plyo Box ready for extensive use. Warm up, stretch out and get jumping!! As alway, don’t forget to HYDRATE!

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For info on how to make the Slam Ball and Parallettes please click on links. Let me know what you think in the comment section. I hope you liked this tutorial.

CODE NAME DAD OUT… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Chow Gear Review

In case you don’t like to watch videos, this post is about my favorite tools to feed the baby. We have gone through multiple different brands of bottles, sippy cups and bibs. I hit my BICOP (Bad Idea Cut Off Point). T&E is done. These are the items that have worked best for us:

  1. Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottle – $17 
  2. Munchkin Bottle Brush – $3 
  3. Playtex Baby Sipsters – $5 
  4. Take and Toss Cups – $3
  5. Munchkin Spoon – $3 
  6. Nuby Suction Bowl – $9
  7. Bumpkins Super Bib – $7 

Honorable mention: Camelback Kids – $13 

Please comment on what you think of the list and add any of your favorite chow items.

Code Name Dad… Out.

DIY: SLAM Ball

How to Build a Slam Ball

Cost: About $30 for an 8 lb and 18lb ball

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

This is a fun and inexpensive project. A must have for the avid bootcamper, cross fitter and home fitness enthusiast.

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Materials needed:

Rubber Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

Tire Patch Kit

40lb of salt pellets

Power Drill – 1/8” and 3/8” drill bit

Exacto Knife

Scale – I used a small digital food scale and a bathroom scale.

Paint pen or Sharpie

Stencil

How to Build a Slam Ball –

Step 1: Make a hole in the basket ball.

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Choose a flat area of the ball. Avoid the seam so the patch will get a better surface to seal later. Using my power drill, I drilled a pilot hole to let the air out slow using 1/8” bit. I then used the 3/8” bit to make the hole bigger. I cut two small slits with the exacto knife on opposite sides of the hole just big enough for the salt pellet to go through.

Note: I wanted the hole to be small as possible to give the patch maximum surface coverage. This will take more time to fill the ball, but the Slam ball is going to take a beating and I do not want the patch to fail.

Step 2: Fill the ball with salt pellets.

Salt pellets were chosen due to the ease of use, low cost, it won’t spill out if ball is damaged and easier to weigh before putting into ball for exact weight.

Morton System Saver II Salt pellets worked great and were $5 for a 40 lbs. bag at Walmart.

The smaller hole made the work more tedious, but it will be better for the patch work.

Step 3: Weigh your balls.

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As the ball got about 3/4 of the way full, I used the bathroom scale to see how much weight I will be able to get into the ball. I then used the food scale to measure out the remaining salt pellets. I finished final weigh in to get an exact 8 lbs and 18 lbs.

Note: My food scale worked great for small weight and ounces, but it only goes to 12 lbs which is why I needed the larger scale for the bigger ball.

Step 4: Patch up the hole.

I used Slime Tire Patch Kit. The largest patch in the kit covered the hole great. Read and follow the directions on the kit. I used a lot of the epoxy glue. Once again, this ball is going to take pounding… Literally… and I don’t want the patch to fail. Allow 24 hours to dry before use.

Step 5: Mark your ball’s weight.

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Using a black Sharpie and a gray paint pen I stenciled the weight on the balls where I thought would look the best. My wife will use them for her home gym and park boot camp classes. Her clients like to know how much weight they are picking up a bazilian times.. haha.

There you go. As you can see, making your own slam ball can be inexpensive and rewarding. It does not take a degree in rocket surgery to build, adding another awesome DIY project under your belt. Good luck and have fun.

CODE NAME DAD…OUT!

CHECKING OUT: A guide to leaving the country

Expat:

An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing, as an immigrant, in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).

With all the recent talk about leaving the country depending on who is elected president, the question is – how do you go about moving abroad?

Whether your favorite politician didn’t win, someone is after you, or you decide FTW and just want to sit on a beach drinking Mai Tais for the rest of your life, moving abroad might be a viable and/or necessary option.

I have personally visited 23 different countries, staying anywhere from 3 days to 6 months. I was fairly serious about moving to Grand Cayman Island and visited for two months. With all of those miles, I have picked up a few things you want to consider when moving abroad.

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1. Where are you going? There are many web pages on the google machine to learn about your choice of exile (CIA World Factbook ).You can read all about the sandy beaches and how you can live comfortable for $500 a month (Thailand), but you will never really know if you are going to like it unless you have been there. Before selling the family farm, I highly recommend a test run. Visit your new country for a few weeks to 6 months. You can go through all of the integration pains with no strings attached. If you don’t like it, then you can slip out the window while its sleeping never to return. Sleep around, explore the neighborhoods, local food, talk to other expats… This is it! I have found the place for me. What is next?

2.Prepare yourself and expect change. Everything will be difficult and different from what you are accustomed to. Logistics, administration, culture shock, customs, traditions, language and you may face discrimination. Do your homework, read a lot and talk to others who have done it.

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3.Sell everything and travel light. UHAUL and PODS works well in the states, but they do not exist in most countries. Moving a whole house full of goods will cost an arm and a leg and there may not be a guarantee that everything will make it through customs or arrive undamaged. Regulations and customer service are not always the way they should be. Poor nation’s customs tend to have sticky fingers. Expect this and try to avoid at all cost.

 

4.Hoblar the local mak chow???? Learn the local language! Very important for the long haul. Invest in Rosetta Stone or something of the like. It will make life possible — to buy groceries, if you have to go to the hospital, to set up a bank account, get a taxi or even order your favorite drink at the tiki bar. Don’t expect the cashier at the road side coconut stand to know multiple languages. You may think you ordered a hamburger but you get a cooked duck leg with burnt feathers still on it chopped up by a rusty cleaver…trust me. You can also look for highly populated expat locations where your language has been common for a while. This will help if you have to move in a hurry.

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5.Get your documents in order.

Passport – Everyone needs one to travel internationally. Plan on it taking a few weeks to acquire. You can get it expedited to a few days for a few extra bucks.

Visa – Some countries require a visa to be approved before allowing you into their country. Something about not liking illegal immigration or whatever. Just a guess. Minimum of 24 hours to process.

– Student Visa – Spending the last few semesters abroad? You will need a Student Visa and knowledge of local campuses. Once you find out what school you want to attend, they should be able to help you with the visa application. Also, if your younger kids are not citizens, they may need one too if you are not home schooling.

– Work permit – Some countries (ie. Grand Cayman) won’t let you stay past a few months or move there without a work permit. If you plan on staying awhile and are not filthy rich, you might want a way to make money, which makes this a must.

International Drivers license – You can walk or ride a bike, but after a while you may want to venture further. An international drivers license/permit will work in a lot of countries but you may need to get a local one eventually. They should not be difficult if you are a good driver but some countries have different rules of the road and even drive on the opposite side. Yikes.

– Resident status, dual citizenship or full citizenship – “Going out for a pack of smokes, I will be back never”. There will be many hoops to jump through to obtain these. If taxes are something you are trying to avoid this might not be your route. You forgo your previous country’s taxes, but now have to pay the local tax man. Also, you lose your emergency exfil via the U.S. Embassy. When your new country goes up in smoke due to a coupe or revolution, Uncle Sam will no longer be able to get you out of town. You are a local now. Good luck.

6.Pets. Meow that you have your paperwork in order, what about Fido and Mr. Whiskers? For our move to Hawaii we took our dog Baxter. Multiple shots, 6 months out with documentation and about a $grand$ later he could fly in without making a 3 month layover in quarantine. Yikes.. or Meow…and that was still within the U.S. Keep that in mind when making the quick get away. The local embassy or country website you are moving to should be able to provide answers to most ,if not all questions, about pet import regulations.

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7.Local laws and crime stats. New country, new government, new rules. In Amsterdam, you can get all the Mary J your burnt out noodle can hot box. In Indonesia, 1 roach blunt is punishable by death. You might want to look into that if that is your thing. Also, making that wrong turn at night into the Rio de Janeiro favelas might have you ending your night in the mortuary. True story for an elderly couple who’s rental car GPS led them astray. Find out the no-go spots and how to stay out of jail.

8.Ouch! I just got bit by a clown fish riding big surf in the lagoon out the front door of my hut in Indonesia. Do they have Obamacare here? NOPE! Better put a tourniquet and salt on that wound. I would start my adventure off with having some sort of vacation insurance . I print out a copy, laminate it (waterproof) and keep it on me at all times. That will get you going for the short term. Where to go for a medical emergency is something you should iron out during your test run. How do I fill my prescription? What if I need a dentist? How do I pay them? Does the beach bar I work for offer employee insurance? Where do I get Insurance or is that a thing in this country? Find out!

9.This Place is Awesome! I want to live here forever! I did everything above. I’m making hundreds of dollars a month at the beach bar. What’s next? Bank account! You need to put that fat stack of pesos somewhere, get a auto loan for that local beater to blend in and a home loan for the palm trees you attach your hammock to on the beach. Plus side, you may get a higher interest return on your savings. Some as high as 7% unlike US banks that offer 0.9% #yeswegetscrewed… Bad side, most overseas banks do not service American clients. And, if the account reaches $10,000 most banks have an agreement with the USA to report your account to the IRS. Shop around, keep the account low and have a good time.

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10.Taxes. If you ever plan on coming back to America then get a tax guy and pay your taxes. I have one and he cost $320 a year, but he has saved me a mint. Worth every penny. I have claimed Expat status before. Rules change, but here is the gist: 330 days outside of the U.S. in one calendar year gets you $96,000 tax-free. After that, it is taxed as normal in whatever bracket. AGAIN… Get a tax guy and make sure. (I am not a tax guy).

11.Land. Know before you go. My buddy had to buy his condo in Thailand all in cash as they do not give out loans to foreigners. Foreigners are also not allowed to own land in some countries. You can marry a local and put it in their name to get around that, provided you don’t already have a spouse. That could get ugly. Foreigners can lease land for 100 years in Mexico, but never own. Same deal. Something to know before you eyeball that perfect beach house or chateau.

There you go. I think I covered the meat and potatoes of moving abroad. Do your homework, get your passport, pack light, stick with the expats, don’t get into trouble, don’t get yourself killed, pay your taxes, have fun, eat, drink and be merry. I hope you find what you are looking for and where you belong on this earth. And remember, sometimes where you were born is where you are meant to be, regardless of the current political leader.

Top 10 Locations to move to abroad:

  1. Singapore
  2. New Zealand
  3. Sweden
  4. Bahrain
  5. Germany
  6. Canada
  7. Australia
  8. Taiwan
  9. United Arab Emirates
  10. Switzerland

Top 10 cheap locations abroad for retirement or whatever:

  1. Belize
  2. Thailand
  3. Philippines
  4. Nicaragua
  5. Malaysia
  6. Panama
  7. Vietnam
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Colombia
  10. Nepal

CODE NAME DAD…OUT!

Fortify the Home 101

Whether you are building new, buying old or renting, you can bet the illusion of security is in the fine print. Most homes are far from secure – with doors that can easily be kicked in, windows broken and few deterrents. I like my stuff and love my family, so keeping the stuff mine and my family safe is a high priority. How do you fortify your home? This post will show some basic add-ons to physically securing your home that will help you sleep at night.

Active security measures:

1.Get a big dog:  Train it

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2.Exterior doors:

-Change the locks – In the event that there are other keys out there (ie. previous occupants or construction workers). American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certified Level 1 deadbolt (pick and bump proof) and a lockable door knob for residential or upgrade to commercial grade locks. Top pick

-Fortify the frame with 3” screws and metal shielding. Top pick

– Add a wide angle peep hole.

– Use a metal or wood dowel to block the sliding back door from opening or Foot latch.

– Add a deadbolt (ANSI Level 1) to the door between the garage and living space. Use it.

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3. Windows:

– Add a 3” screw to each side of the window frame to keep the whole thing being ripped out with a Halligan tool.

3M Safety & Security film bonded to the window frame.

4. Garage Door:

– Remove manual garage door release cable. Store it nearby as to not lose it. Zip tie the latch to the frame. 

– Attach a garage door security latch

– Attach a padlock to the security latch.

Passive security measures:

5. Exterior lighting: Set up with timers when away. They do not have to be annoying flood lights. solar walk way, accent or drive way lights will do.

6. Security cameras with color and night vision. Wifi enabled to view from smartphone and record video.

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7. Monitored Alarm Service: Like ADT or whoever works in your neighborhood. At minimum have a sign out front saying you are monitored (even though you are not) as a deterrent.

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8. Really long driveway: Install a seismic sensor that will chime in your house.

9. Hide-a-key:  Use a lock box. Hide the lock box in the back yard or side of the house, anywhere except by the front door.

Feeling safe yet? I hope so. Minimal skill in needed to build a good foundation of home security. Your house will not be a Fort Knox but a burglar will need tools, skill and time to get your goodies. Good luck!

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Do you have any additional recommendations? Share them in the comments.

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DIY: Parallettes

DIY: Parallettes

Cost: About $40

Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Parallettes are great for addition to your home gym. Whether you’re into Crossfit, gymnastics or good ol’ fashion bodyweight routines, this is a must have for the home gym. You can use them for handstand push-ups, push ups, L-sits and many other exercises. Easy to build, lightweight and durable, parallettes are an everyman DIY project.

My wife, a personal trainer and owner of theskinnyandthethickofit.com, wanted a new toy for her bootcamp classes and put in her request. I have to earn my home-cooked meals somehow… I give you…home-built parallettes.

Materials Needed:

1 – 10′ x 1.5″ PVC pipes cut into:

12 – 6″ pieces

2 – 24″ pieces

1 – Can PVC cement

4 – 1.5″ 90 degree elbow joints

4 – 1.5″ T joints

8 – 1.5″ PVC caps

1 piece of sandpaper, to clean up edges if you use a hacksaw.

I was able to get everything from Home Depot. You can buy a PVC cutter in the same aisle or ask a employee to cut it for you. They have a high speed cutter that leaves nice edges, plus that’s less work for you. If you do use a hacksaw, you will need to clean up the edges with sandpaper 80-220 grit…shooter’s choice.

Step 1:  Cut the pipe to length and clean up the edges

  10′ x 1.5″ PVC pipes cut into:

       12 – 6″ pieces

       2 – 24″ pieces

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Step 2: Glue the 90 degree elbows on to the 24” pieces. Use light glue on the inside outer edge of the angle pieces so the glue is pressed inward.

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Note: The glue dries fast and you want the pieces to be aligned. Use the floor as a level and work quickly. The fitting is tight. Once the angles are on the pipe, give it a good tap on the floor to fully seat.

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Step 3: Glue the 4 – T-joints on 4 – 6” pieces

Same as before. Light glue and once seated, give it a good tap on the floor to fully seat.

Step 4: Glue the 8 – caps on the remaining 8 – 6” pieces of PVC.

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Step 5: Glue the capped pieces onto the T-joints.

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Step 6: Glue the legs onto the 24” pieces.

Note: It gets a little tricky to make everything line up perpendicular to each other. Use a angle, a scrap piece of wood or good ol’ Kentucky windage to help line it up.

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VUALLA!!!  You have yourself a nice pair…of parallettes. Easy peasy. Now get out your spray paint, paint pen and athletic tape or tennis racket tape to church them up, so you know their yours. Lastly put those bad boys to work! Soon you can use your new found muscles to monkey stomp anyone who even looks at your parallettes wrong.

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Let me know what you think. Post your parallette success story, hacks and mods. Good luck and have fun!

CODE NAME DAD… OUT.