Random Thoughts

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Personal Goal: Automate One Process per Week

One of my goals for the current 12 Week Year I’m doing is to automate more. I know I do a lot of things manually, and there are lots of things that I could be doing better. At the very least, there I are things I don’t need to be doing manually. In my master mind group a few weeks ago, one of the members said this to me: “I wonder what you’d be able to do if you had less to do.” So my homework was to make a list of all the things I could automate or outsource. It was a great exercise, and I learned a lot about my process.

podcast listeners

How Do You Listen to Podcasts? (Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card)

I’ve spent more than one post on this blog talking about podcast sponsorships. Today, I wanted to talk about podcast listeners. There are a lot of stats out there for website users – where they came from, what they do on the site, how long they stay, and a lot more. While there have been strides in the last few months surrounding stats on podcasts, I feel like I still don’t know much about my listeners. I’ve tried surveys in the past, but they didn’t go well. So I’m switching things up a bit.

Delivering More for Season 4 of How I Built It

Season 3 isn’t wrapped yet, but I’ve already started thinking of better ways to deliver for Season 4, coming in January. When I started How I Built it, I didn’t think I would see the success the show has had. It’s a formidable part of my income, it’s got over 100,000 downloads, and it’s growing in popularity.

When you first start anything, you are just finding your sea legs. Over a year in (and a fun obsession with this project), and I’ve got my bearings. I’m ready to go to the next level.

What are You Passionate About?

I was having a conversation with a friend recently that lead me to ask myself that very question. I’ve written about passion on occasion and have a general idea of what I’m passionate about, but the question struck me differently this time. I think it’s because the question wasn’t asked of me outright. It was posed this way:

…find something you passionately want to teach…

I started thinking about what I passionately want to teach and you know what? I came up empty. I’ve always taken a “demand-based” approach to teaching?—?if someone needs a course on something, I can make that course. I certainly bring passion to the classroom because I’m passionate about teaching. But what is something that I feel I need to teach? It’s a question I’ve been pondering since last week.

Thoughts from the book Essentialism

My summer of books is going pretty well so far; I’ve finished 4 and am 1/2 way through 5, which is my first fiction book of the summer. Last week at the beach, I flew through Essentialism, which I was excited to read. The general idea of the book is to make yourself an essentialist by saying Yes to the things you truly want to do, and no the things you feel like you have to for whatever reason. The short of it is I highly recommend the book. Here are some of my takeaways.

My Thoughts on the iPad Pro 10.5″

So I’m a bit of a technophile and an early adopter. Always have been; I had a Palm M100 in 9th grade because it looked cool. Plus it helped me keep my busy schedule of drama club and homework straight. Since then, I’ve tried to get new tech sooner rather than later. Sometimes I write about it. When the iPad Pro was announced, it wasn’t something I was able to buy. But I’ve been looking for a good way to draw on a screen since my first “tablet” in 2005. Well, I was able to get the iPad Pro 10.5″ this year; so how does it stack up?

Smoking Cigars with my Grandfather

I guess this is technically my first cigar.

This past June was the 8th anniversary of 2 significant events in my life:

  1. My grandfather (Pop, pictured above circa 1989) passed away.
  2. I started smoking cigars.

I thought about this while I was walking around my back patio last Friday, in silence, smoking a cigar. It reminded me of an iconic scene [in my mind] of Pop standing stoically in his long, steep driveway, smoking White Owl cigars. I’m told in his younger days he’d smoke much bigger ones while working construction in the city (New York City) after he came here.

Second Generation Immigrant

I, like perhaps many my age or older, am a Second Generation Immigrant by definition. Pop immigrated here in 1949 when he was just 19 years old.

He’s perhaps the reason I’m such a proud Italian. It was nothing overt he ever did — Pop was never overt about anything really — just having a close connection to such a historical country is what did it for me. It’s the reason I’m so interested in the culture, and country in general. I love being an Italian-American. It’s the reason I want to learn Italian.

When I was about 12 years old I had to interview him for a school paper; I asked him a bunch of canned questions about Italy and how and why he came over. If only I could redo that today with the perspective I have. I’ll never forgot what he told me when I asked what it was like living under Mussolini when I was in my 20s: “Mussolini did a lot for the country. He just got in with the wrong crowd.”

2 Wishes

The other day, when I thought about Pop, I also thought of 2 wish I also have as a result of that time.

The first is about the weekend before he passed. On that Saturday, my mom told me that I should go visit him since I hadn’t seen him in a while.

My brother Phil with Pop in 2009

I decided to put it off until Monday because I was going to be near his house anyway, so I could stop in and stay for a little longer before heading back to Scranton, which is where I was living at the time.

I didn’t get that chance. I don’t quite remember the exact time, perhaps the very early hours of Monday morning, but I was in a deep sleep when my brother Robby came into my room. He woke me up and told me Pop passed away an hour or so ago. I was filled with shock, followed by sadness, followed very quickly by regret.

I wish I had just gone to see him on Saturday when my mom told me to.

It was a bit sudden; none of us knew Pop was sick, if he was. Heck, he didn’t even bother his wife that night. He just said he was going to bed. That was Pop in a nutshell…he didn’t want to bother anyone if he didn’t have to.

Pop’s Final Stash

The 4 of us with Pop at Robby’s Communion

When Pop passed away, my brothers and I had the task of clearing out his stuff. There was a lot of great things — family history, knick knacks from a full life, and of-course, his last stash of cigars: 10–12 White Owls.

The 4 of us each smoked one that day. It was my first cigar, though I had puffed on one or two in the past.

My Start into Cigars

It was an activity I really enjoyed. Just my brothers and I talking about Pop, bonding and enjoying each other’s company. We would do the same thing in November of that year, on what would have been his 80th Birthday. It snowed but I didn’t really care.

I actually had smoked my first premium, broadleaf cigar a couple of weeks earlier for my own birthday. This was my first foray into cigars and I never stopped. I still have 2 of his cigars actually. I had one on me when I got married.

I actually owe a lot to cigars. Many of the connections I forged with people in the WordPress community, my previous full time job, friends all over the country; even though Pop isn’t alive today, I feel the effects he’s had on my life. This brings me to my second wish:

I wish I got into cigars a little sooner so I could have smoked with him, at least once.

I know each of my brothers think of Pop pretty frequently. He was our last grandparent to pass away and the one that we were closest with, likely due in part to him seeing us make it into adulthood.

I think of him almost every time I smoke a cigar because it’s such a pleasure in my life that has brought me a lot of joy, friendship, and even success in my career.

As a matter of fact, I think I’ll smoke one now. Thanks Pop.


Smoking Cigars with my Grandfather was originally published in Thoughts from Joe Casabona on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.