Learn to Play the Ukelele

STUFF YOU SHOULD DO

Learn to Play the Ukelele

I took up playing the ukelele just a few years ago – My kids gave me a uke for Christmas, and it’s still the greatest gift I have ever received.  I can’t recommend it enough. The return in fun and relaxation compared to the investment in time and (virtually no) money is sky-high.  Here are just a few reasons why you should consider it.

  • It’s really fun – Ukelele pairs well with all the best things in life: campfires, beaches, boats, hammocks, beer, sappy songs.
  • People will sing with you – The uke makes people feel happy and comfortable.  It’s as unintimidating as you can get, and people really love to sing along. And, if you didn’t already know… singing together is just about the best thing people can do.
  • It is intensely chill – Takes me from a 10 to about a 3 in no time and drops my blood pressure by about 100 points… without fail.
  • It’s easy to get started – You can play a serviceable “You Are My Sunshine” with about 5 minutes of practice (seriously).
  • You can play some seriously cool tunes – Any Beatles song will automatically work, same with Willie Nelson and the Police. Standards all work too, of course (Stardust has some tough chord progressions but it is immensely satisfying and romantic to play). And, pulling out a Pixies song or two during an impromptu sing-a-long is about as rad as it gets.
  • It’s a great way to experience the benefits of dedicated practice – When you spend time playing and working at getting that really hard song down, you’ll really feel (and hear) the difference;  Very satisfying.
  • They’re cheap – You can get a uke for $20 that’s good enough to plunk around on and a really solid one for between $50-75.
  • They’re super portable – A uke will easily fit in any backpack, lap, or overhead bin.
  • It’s easy to find the chords for pretty much any song you want to play – Google has got the uke covered.
  • Over the Rainbow – 🙂

Brew Your Own Beer

STUFF YOU SHOULD DO

Brew Your Own Beer

CC - Sleeper Train Stout - Courtesy of Adam Wilson on Unsplash

It’s no secret. I love great craft beer.  I geek out trying different styles, talking about Belgian yeast strains, and testing the maximum IBU limit of my taste buds (haven’t found it yet). Heck, Prof. Rhett Brymer and I are even studying to sit for the cicerone exam.

But, you know what’s almost more fun than geeking out on tasting beer?  Geeking out on making beer!

To me, making beer is equivalent to other tinkering-heavy pursuits like woodworking, fixing engines, or gardening (to be fair, I don’t do any of those things, but I feel pretty confident I make beer for similar reasons.)  It’s something you can work on, do and re-do, and slowly become an expert. Given my strong belief in the value of dedicated practice, problem solving, and building expertise over the long haul, I suppose that figures.

Brewing beer also has an element of mad science to it because fermentation is a crazy phenomenon and it always feels a little like magic that it actually works.

Oh, and if you get really good at brewing, you’ll make lots of new friends.

If you’re interested, I highly recommend the book Brew Better Beer by Emma Christensen. It wasn’t my first book on brewing (not even in my first 10) but I think it’s great for beginners and intermediates (like me) alike. Also, it has the distinct advantage of starting you on 1 gallon batches which is much more manageable and affordable than the standard 5 gallon homebrew batch if you’re just getting started. Check out my recommendation of the book for more details.

Also, if you live near where I do, there is a surprisingly good selection of great beer in the Cincy/Dayton metro (see a short list at the bottom of this page for my personal favorites).  Sadly, we no longer have a local brewery here in Oxford, OH. Quarter Barrel, founded and run by my friend, Brandon Ney, is no more.  Thankfully, Brandon is still brewing, now at Common Beer Co. in Mason, OH.  This means his award-winning Chapeau Gris saison will live on.

Meanwhile, the beer scene in Oxford proper is utterly sad.  There are precious few taps running in town that are stocked by people who know beer.  Steinkeller is an excellent German beer hall and O’Pub’s beer selection is surprisingly decent given the kind of establishments its owner typically inflicts on our town.

RIP Quarter Barrel

Do a Startup Weekend

STUFF YOU SHOULD DO

Do a Startup Weekend

In about 48 hours, you can build the beginnings of a new business, non-profit, or other organization; No previous experience required.

You can learn an awful lot at one of these events. You’ll also meet a lot of cool and very smart people and have a ton of fun to boot.

We run multiple Startup Weekends on Miami’s Oxford, OH campus every Fall – you can even get course credit for doing it.  Check out what some of the past participants have to say about their experience (below) and go to the Miami Entrepreneurship website for more information (or just ask me about it). 

If you’re not able to join us at a Miami Startup Weekend, you can almost certainly find another one happening near you.  I recommend you do.