September Progress Report: De-Amazoning

In our first month of cutting our ties with Amazon, we have taken the following steps.

1. Spouse cancelled her Prime subscription

2. Shifted all book purchases to a trustworthy list of independent booksellers, with Powell’s as our primary go-to.

3. Cancelled all “subscribe-and-save” subscriptions and found new and economical sources or substitutes for those items.

4. Ceased purchase of all Kindle books and began buying used hard copy editions from independent bookstores.

5. Began transcribing my Amazon Prime Music playlists in preparation for terminating Prime and beginning a long term effort to acquire LPs, DVDs, and legitimate digital recordings of my favorites.

Now that he’s at UCLA, it has been a personal quest to take Aaron to all of the places I used to haunt back when I grew up on the Westside. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we could finally start that process. Fatburger was first, but Nate & Al’s was second. #AchevementUnlocked

Fixed the Grill

After spending a day cleaning the range and a lump of cash having professional cleaning of the hood and can above it, and then setting off the smoke alarm ten dinners in a row, I decided that it was time to start cooking outside on the grill.

What bliss to be able to sear, brown, and burn food to my heart’s delight without fear of making the whole house smell like a barbecue joint for days afterwards.

Overhaul

In the waiting room at Nissan while my baby gets a checkup. Air, oil, filters, fluids, rotation, alignment, and a full diagnostic. I don’t know what we’ll encounter on the road, but we’ll both be healthy when we begin.

Bucket List #489: Short-Term Camp Administrator

I am now officially overqualified to plan and lead a camp-out.

Seriously, though, attending National Camping School not only prepares me to run or oversee huge multi-day events like camporees, it also better equips me to plan and manage complex outdoor activities for our Troop.

I am chuffed as heck. This was a big bucket list item for me.

Bucket List: An Arrowman at Last

Ever since I was a Scout in the 1970s I have wanted to be a member of the Order of the Arrow (OA). The national honor society for the BSA is selective: candidates are elected by their troops from among Scouts who have reached the First Class rank, and once selected are then tested in a weekend-long process called an Ordeal.

I never made it into the OA as a Scout, and I never expected to make it as an adult leader. Adult leaders are elected as well, but their candidacy is not automatic: adult candidates are then reviewed at the Council level for suitability and for demonstrated commitment to Scouting ideals.

Quite unexpectedly in 2018 my name was submitted by my troop, and I was called out at a special ceremony at the April Camporee. I couldn’t even be there – I was in China on business. But I accepted (naturally) and presented myself on a Friday night five weeks later for Ordeal high in the Southern California mountains.

The specifics of Ordeal are a closely-held secret, known only to members of the Order. Suffice to say that while it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in four years as a Scout and nine years as an adult leader, it was also transformative in obvious and subtle ways that continue to manifest themselves years later. The introspection, the commitment, and the profound dedication to all that is good about Scouting all combine to work a special magic that leaves one profoundly renewed and without the need for mind-altering substances.

I would not be an Arrowman without the patience and help of others, especially my mentor Dan Estabrook, my wife Sunny, and my son Aaron. Becoming a part of the OA was one of my life’s great experiences, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.

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