Hurricane Harvey – How to Help

The effects of Hurricane Harvey… it’s bad. I can’t find the words to describe how hard and heavy it hit and has directly affected millions of lives. And yes, it’s going to affect your life too. Maybe you know people directly affected, or if nothing else you better expect the price of gasoline and other petroleum-based products to rise. Houston’s a major city, and it being out of commission for weeks, for months, it’s going to be felt around the world.

The sooner we all pull together as Americans (and a world) to help our brothers and sisters get back on their feet, the better off we all will be.

So how can you help?

I put out a call, and friends, friends of friends, responded with a listing. This list is by no means comprehensive, it’s just a place to start. I cannot vouch for any entry on this list. The list is in no particular order. Please do your homework to ensure the group is one you want your money to go to. You can use a website like Charity Navigator to help you vet a group. Note that while Houston has been grabbing the headlines (and rightly so), coastal cities like Rockport and Port Aransas are devastated. Many smaller towns throughout south and east Texas have been hit hard by flooding. And many places in Texas that weren’t so harshly affected, like Austin, are receiving those escaping the flooding (including many pets and animals).

If you’re wondering what to give?


I know that feels impersonal, but it’s really the best option. Here’s a CBS News article that explains exactly why donating goods doesn’t always help, but money does. Yes, sometimes donating stuff helps. For example, when buses of evacuees arrived in Austin at the Toney Burger Center, it was suddenly hundreds of men, women, and children with nothing. Upon their arrival, donations of stuff like books, diapers, playing cards, clothing, toothbrushes, soap, towels, etc. can be useful. But after that, it can turn into a glut of supplies that cannot be used.

The donation of money allows those on the front-lines to provide for what’s best and actually needed. They know what they need, let them make the decisions. It’s the wisest way to help.

And remember: we’re all going to help in this immediate aftermath. But the pains and needs will go on for weeks, even months. Consider what you can do to provide ongoing help.

Finally, thank you for doing whatever you can do to help.


Hooray for modern technology!

I’m upstairs in my office working.

The dog goes off – obviously someone coming to the front door. Of course, I wonder who it could be.

A moment later? I see my iPhone light up with a notification from Amazon that my package (ordered just hours ago and delivered by Amazon and their same-day Prime service) was just delivered.

So now I know who Sasha was barking at.

Hooray for modern technology!

And as an iOS software developer, I actually take a moment to think:

  • Delivery person came to my door.
  • Scanned my package to acknowledge delivery.
  • Which went up to Amazon’s servers.
  • Registered through their whole shipping system.
  • Hit my account.
  • Which knows I have the Amazon app on my iPhone.
  • So it sent Apple’s Push Notification Server a notice.
  • And then Apple sent that to my device.

And I’m greatly oversimplifying. But if you step back and really think of all the things that go in here: the billions of lines of code, the hundreds or thousands of servers, the network infrastructure, the devices, the phone systems, the peripheral systems that support all of this (e.g. the whole DNS infrastructure), and zillions of electrons flying around – and how amazingly complex and involved is the thing that just happend… and happened in the blink of an eye.

It’s truly awesome.

Look for the good

Can you not see the good?

Does your hate blind you so intensely?

I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a posting by the wife of Slayer guitarist Kerry King. I forget the exact details but basically a dog had been hit by a car not 10 minutes from where they live, and she and Kerry left the house to go in search of the dog to rescue it. I don’t know Kerry at all, apart from his guitar playing and songwriting in Slayer. There’s lots of accounts out there that he’s an asshole. And maybe he is. But for him to disrupt his life to go in search of an injured dog to try to save it? That’s pretty awesome.

I’m no fan of Barack Obama. But I’ve seen many pictures of him with his wife, Michelle. The way he holds her hand, the way he looks in her eyes. This man truly loves his wife. So many people at that level of society have sham or failing marriages, but here’s someone that’s in one of the most pressure-filled jobs in the world, and she stands by him and gives him strength, and by all accounts their 25-year marriage is strong . His love for her is evident, if you just take a moment and observe. I think that’s pretty damn cool.

Can you do this?

Can you step back and look at the things you hate, and find something redeeming in them?

Find something human in them?

And if you can find one thing, can you find another?

This isn’t to say you should ignore the bad, but maybe if you spend just a fraction of time finding love as you do seething in hate, maybe that might help ease some of the pain and tension.

Life lessons from a weekend hunt

This past weekend I had the pleasure of going hunting with an old friend, Charles Coker of We were able to harvest 2 whitetail does and a feral hog. From the 48-ish hours together, I took a few things from it.

Sometimes you have to be a little impulsive if you want to succeed in life.

I’m a planner. Deer and hogs don’t care about your plans. They’ll be here one moment, then gone the next. You may only have a few seconds of opportunity, so sure… plan so you’re ready when the opportunity comes, but the moment the opportunity presents itself, you better jump on it.

But on the same token, if you’re not totally certain, let it go; rushing in can lead to failure.

Suppressors are good things.

Suppressors, silencers, whatever you call them. They have this stigma of being some bad evil thing that must be banned or at least heavily regulated.


You know what a suppressor is?

A muffler.

Next time some dude on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle blares by you with his loud-pipes and rattles your dental fillings loose – those are straight pipes, no muffler. That’s how loud engines are, and why mufflers were invented. That’s how loud your car would be if you didn’t have a muffler on the exhaust.

See why mufflers are nice and desirable things?

Same with suppressors.

Good friends are those that put up with your shit, and still want to hang out with you.

Charles has invited me out hunting on numerous occasions over the years, and most of the time I have to say no because I’m busy (day job commitments, or KR Training weekend commitments). He gives me some friendly and well-deserved ribbing about it, but he understands. And despite all my turn-downs, he always keeps the door open and keeps asking me.

On top of that, he was a top-notch and most-generous host.

Those are the sort of people you cherish in your life.

Thanx, Charles for everything.

Have more, be more

I’m not one for doing things because the calendar turns, I think if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing RIGHT NOW.

So with that: have more understanding, more patience, more empathy, more unitiy, more humility, more love. Not because 2017, but because we’re all in this together and life’s too damn short.

Be bigger. Be better. Be love. Start now.

Goodbye, Grandma

Last night my maternal grandmother, SHIN Joung Nam, passed away. She was 91.

To me, she was always 할머니 – “Halmoni”, Korean for “grandma”.

There’s so many memories.

Watching her squatting down on the floor making kimchi.

Always offering me corn tea to drink.

Spending summers at the Pine Park Apartments in Omaha (which they managed), with her, my uncle, aunts, cousins. Such a silly time.

“Ha-mi, go be-bo” – which was “Halmoni, take me to the basement”. Apparently when I was a small child, it’s something I always said to her and wanted to do with her.

Of course, when I was small enough, she would carry me on her back, piggy-back. “Ah-bu-bah”.

Every year, receiving our blessing on New Years Day. And a little gift of money. I remember that first time I went from $20 to $50: it meant I was finally getting older and not really a child any more. 🙂 Oh, and the ox tail “new years” soup that she would make each year.

Of course, always sneaking me gifts and other things.  Especially food and treats.

Being at her house, and always smiling at the propane heater and how she always kept a tea pot on top of it.

When I was getting ready to go off to college, she took me to the Korean market and bought me a little 4-cup rice cooker to ensure I had rice to eat in my dorm room. 🙂

Her coming to my wedding, and the first time she met my “soon-to-be-bride” my older sister introducing them and encouraging my bride to “go on…say it..” and the laughter shared at my bride speaking her first Korean words to my grandmother.

And even tho her English was broken and my Korean horrible, there was always one clear thing that came through:

“John-a, I love you.”

I can hear her voice right now, saying that to me. She said it so much, how can I not hear it?

Seeing her smile. Hearing her laugh. I will always treasure.

I love you 할머니

5 tips to improving discourse

It’s been a rough… couple of weeks? years? decades? Since the 2016 Elections I think a lot of people would say things have gotten worse.

At least when it comes to discourse.

In fact, I think a lot of people are feeling we no longer have discourse – just a lot of shouting and demanding.

Not much listening.

Not much progress.

Not much building.

Not much understanding nor empathy.

But we do have a lot of hate, anger, resentment, frustration, misinformation passed off as truth, etc..

I was reading an article about a recent confrontation: someone was getting in someone’s face, getting ugly, and the ones being confronted handled it with aplomb. The article referenced “The 5 Universal Truths of Verbal Judo”:

  • ALL cultures want to be treated with Dignity and Respect.
  • ALL people would rather be asked than told what to do.
  • ALL people want to know why they are asked or told to do something.
  • ALL people would rather have options than threats.
  • ALL people want a second chance to make matters right.

If you’ll forgive my clickbait title, for sure these are fantastic ways to improve discourse. It doesn’t matter the venue or the context – they are universal.

Part of me looks at those 5 truths and sees how the past some years have escallated in the lack of people adhering to these truths:

  • Only certain cultures or groups are being treated with dignity and respect; others are being attacked, demeaned, marginalized.
  • Certain people/groups are demanding and telling other people/groups how they must act, behave, what they can and cannot say.
  • If any explanation is given, if that explanation is not understood or is questioned, the conversation is shut down and the questioner written off.
  • There are no options, or any options given are false choices. And if someone chooses the “unapproved” option, threats are followed-through.
  • What second chance? In the world of doxxing and Internet mob justice, the moment you “step out of line” you are to be destroyed.

What’s worse is the above 5 failings are also universal. It’s happening on all “sides” by all “sides”.

You can’t change someone else’s behavior. Or can you?

Truly you can only change your behavior, and perhaps increasing our effort to adopt and manifest those 5 Universal Truths of Verbal Judo will be a good change you can make in yourself. And who knows. When you manifest them in your conversations with others, there’s a chance you might actually change their behavior too.

And things might actually get better.

Tiffany’s thoughts on BLM

Whatever your feelings, biases, persuasion – take a few minutes and read Tiffany Johnson’s thoughts on Black Lives Matter.

Since it may affect your choice to read or not: Tiffany is a black female. And if knowing that affects your decision to read or not, keep that in mind as you read it (and yes, it’s even more reason why you should read it).

The 5th Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference

Folks: the 5th Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference has been announced for  Saturday January 7, 2017 at the Cabela’s in Buda, Texas.

Click/Tap here for full details.

It’s only $60, and it covers a LOT of good stuff. Of the speakers list, I’m really looking forward to hearing from Jack Jania again – but that’s just the tech geek in me. 🙂

The thing I love about Paul? He’s a down-to-earth guy. “Prepping” isn’t about hoarding guns and food because zombie apocalypse – I know that’s the popular image (stereotype) that people get when they hear the word “prepping” or “prepper”. It’s about understanding that life brings about the unexpected, and with a little forethought, planning, and work, you can be prepared for “shit happening” and it won’t be so traumatic when it inevitably does.

For example, do you have a will?

Do you have proper insurance? both types and coverage levels?

Are you in good health?

Being a prepper starts with stuff like that, not stockpiling MREs and ammo. Yeah I know, it’s not sexy, but when things like Hurricane Matthew make landfall, having your ducks in a row BEFORE the hurricane hits – instead of how people run to the store for bread and milk the hours before stormy weather hits – can do your health and peace of mind a world of good.

Come to the conference. I’ve presented at 2 of them, and attended what schedule has permitted. I’m going to attend this one. I hope to see you there!