Project Sunken Treasure

You probably didn’t notice or care. But this site has been down since August 22nd. That’s 8 weeks to the day.  That was a rough day as I woke up to 8 inches of water in my basement.
I learned a few lessons that day. Here are a few of them.

1. Don’t store your computer tower on the floor.
2. Don’t put your hard drive in the lowest bay in your computer tower.
3. Your backups of your computer files should not be on the computer next to your tower.  (I wasn’t quite at the 3 – 2 – 1 backup rule.)
4. You’d be surprised how much junk you store in your basement that you don’t need.
5. Throwing away your stuff is emotional. (It was my junk!)
6. Thank God for insurance.

So despite that major setback in life, things have been crazy busy and the world drives on.

Project Sunken Treasure is the complete restore of my website from cached pages on the web. The hard drive was toast. Completely underwater.  A company wanted $1800 to try and recover files from it. But now my site is back live on a new linode server! I’ll be working to push out new updates and more content as often as my busy life will allow me to. Click the icons to the right or at the top or bottom of my page to interact and follow me on all my various platforms.

Here are some of the things I’ve been up to and some upcoming things.

1. Benjamin is now almost 9 months old!
2. I attended WOCS in April – May and appointed to Warrant Officer in the Army.
3. I traveled to Brazil in South America for the first time for a week of work.
4. My refrigerator quit working.
5. I’ve been busy packing and cleaning getting ready to put my house on the market in November.
6. I’m moving to Georgia for 9 months of Active Duty school for my Warrant Officer MOS job early next year.
7. I’ve still got 2 trips tentatively on the calendar and I’m looking forward to the holidays as well.
8. LetterboxD is an amazing social network for movie nerds and tracking all your movies you’ve watched. Connect with me over there!

As far as my list of goals for the year, I’m about where I expected to be. I’m behind on the reading and writing ones, but making good progress on the career and physical health ones.
Having 4 kids and planning a house move means I really spend all my free time just doing logistics. Food, daycare, school, work, projects, travel, etc are always on my mind. The two most useful tools I have are Google Calendar and You Need a Budget (YNAB) budgeting tool.  Click here for a discount! They are both very useful for making sure things get done on time and not breaking the bank.

And finally, here are some photo dumps from my phone. Mostly of my kids because honestly that’s all you probably really wanted to see anyways. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later,
Derek

Meet Benjamin Joshua!

On Friday January 27th, 2017 at 12:32am, My 4th child was born. Benjamin Joshua Creason. He is a pretty cool little kid and he is doing well. Both him and mom are back at home and settling  in nicely. Here are a few pics.

 

As many people know, I like to keep the names of my children a secret until they are born. This is usually for a few different reasons. Mostly its just fun and adds to the excitement.  For our 4th child, we chose to honor some soldiers with the naming  of our son. Here is the meaning behind his name.

Benjamin.  Benjamin’s 1st name was in honor of a fallen soldier named Seargent First Class (SFC) Benjamin Wise. SFC Benjamin Wise died January 15, 2012 from injuries sustained in combat days earlier. You can read a pretty in depth expose’ on him and his family and watch a 4 part video here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/2014/01/18/one-family-two-sacrifices/


I asked a friend of mine who knew Ben personally and had deployed with him to tell me what he meant to him.

“Ben was what I would call, the personification of the quiet professional. He was my team leader in the scout platoon way back when, and he never really yelled much. At times I wondered if shit hit the fan if he’d be any good, but he was, much more than others. When he decided to go SF (Special Forces), he didn’t make a big deal out of it like most others, he just did it. If people saw him working out or rucking afterwards and asked him why, he just said he was training for selection. He didn’t lie about, but he never boasted about. He was one of the smartest people I know. He got 18d (Special Forces Medical Sergeant) which is retarded hard, and his language was Mandarin Chinese, the hardest language to qualify for. Even when I saw him in passing up in Washington, he remembered everything about me. He genuinely cared about people. I’ve had leaders and friends I’ve looked up to, and every single one has failed me. But he never did, and he is still my role model as a leader, soldier, and father. End state: smart, empathetic, quite professional, good God fearing man.” – SFC Joshua King

My Response to Josh was that he “Sounds like an awesome guy. Everything we could hope and strive to be as leaders ourselves. I’m bummed I never had the opportunity to meet him.” Josh agreed as well and stated, “Yah, if I ever had a boy, he’s what I would want him to grow up to be. Doesn’t necessarily have to be in the military, just have that work ethic and personality.”

SFC Benjamin Wise had earned the following awards and medals.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze star Medal, the NATO Medal, three Army Commendation Medals , three Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, four Iraq Campaign Medals, three Afghan Campaign Medals, Global War on Terror Service Medal, two Overseas Service Ribbons, three Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.

Benjamin’s first name is in honor of a great fallen warrior. An American Soldier, through and through.

Benjamin’s middle name is Joshua. This is in honor of my best friend Sergeant First Class Joshua King. I have known Josh since we were both in kindergarten. We grew up together, although most often far apart by many states. We always stayed in touch through the years and visit each other often when we are in the same town for a few minutes at a time. I got the opportunity to be his best man at his wedding. During my toast to him and Luana, I got to explain a little bit of how Josh’s leadership has been an example to me. Now I can expound on it some more here.

My friend Josh joined the Army right after high school. He is still in and serving proudly. He has deployed 3 times to Iraq and is prepping for his 4th deployment. He has also been a Drill Sergeant and earned his Sapper tab. He recently was promoted to Sergeant First Class (E-7). While I was off at college earning my undergrad, he was working his way up through the infantry gaining experience in Iraq.

Josh is a super fun and easy going guy. He’s a no nonsense get the job done kind of guy who loves to be silly and crack jokes along the way. He embodies two aspects of character that I strive for. Bravery and the Never Quit mentality. If you ask Josh, he would probably deny having these traits. He would just say that he’s doing his job and embracing the suck. Josh continues to go when called for deployments. He is an 11B which is an InfantryMan. For those of you who don’t know, the Infantry have the hardest job in the Army. They get to do what other people don’t want to do or wish that they could do. He’s gone to Iraq 3 times. He’s fought in many battles. He’s lost fellow soldiers.

Josh has also completed some very tough schools in the Army. He became a Drill Sergeant and passed Drill Sergeant school. He passed Sapper school. He has attempted others schools such as Ranger school and Selection (Special Forces) and not quite achieved those goals he has for himself. This aspect is where I have learned much from him. I have had many conversations with him after he failed a high speed school such as Ranger school. I asked him, “How do you deal with failure? Especially when you wanted it so bad and trained so hard for it? Josh’s answer was simple. He said, “You give yourself a day or two to completely mope around, feel sorry for yourself, be sad, be mad, whatever. Then you get up the next day, and get back at it.” The mindset was simple. Experience setback, even major life or career setback,  get over it, and get back up and go again. I have watched Josh experience this a few times for a school that he really wants. It has been devastating to him at times. But I also saw him get back up and go to work the next day and do his best to achieve the next tasks that are given to him. That is the essence of the never quit mindset I spoke of. To get back up each day and start again. No matter how good or bad the previous day was.

Josh is also the bravest guy I know. None of my other friends joined the infantry and did 3 tours in Iraq. Josh would just say he was doing his job and got to shoot cool weapons. But it takes some courage inside of you to volunteer for a dangerous job like that and then to go out and do it over and over again. His willingness to serve and his ability to go do a very difficult job was one of the reasons that 8 years later, I went and enlisted in the Army myself. I hope to honor his bravery by doing the best that I can and learning to exhibit a never quit attitude during the hardships I face in the military. He is an excellent Non-Commissioned-Officer (NCO) and a leader as well a great friend to get to know.

Both SFC Benjamin Wise and SFC Joshua King are great men who love God, their families, and their brother’s in arms. They exhibit extremely high class character traits that I hope and strive to achieve in my personal life. In naming my son after them, I hope to honor them and remind myself to teach my son how to embody those character traits as he grows into a man.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13

Later,
Derek

Goals

So it’s a new year. Which means a new round of goals. No, not silly resolutions that you don’t take seriously. It’s time for you to sit down and spend a few minutes (if not hours or days) and think about what you want to achieve and what you actually can achieve.  Here are the guidelines I used for last year and this year.

  • Your goals must be specific.
  • Your goals must be measurable.
  • Your goals must have a time limit.
  • Your goals must be your own.
  • Your goals must be in writing.

I used the following categories and tried not to put more than 5 or 6 goals in each category.

  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Career
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Social

So I did this for the first time last year. I sat down and wrote out my goals at the beginning of January for the entire 2016 year. I tracked them in a spreadsheet and marked them off throughout the year as I achieved them. It was an interesting experience. I learned that some of my goals I listed were too easy, some were too vague, and some were too difficult to achieve. Sometimes I would look at my goal list every week, and other times I would forget about it for a few months at a time. I started with 26 goals for 2016. When I did my final calculation I realize that 2 of them were too vague and I ruled them out.

For 2016 I completed 14.1 of my 24 goals. Only a 58% completion rate. While you might not think that is good, those are completed specific goals. Not pipe dreams of “Well maybe next year will be better…” or “I wish I could do X,Y,Z…” Those are things I chose to pursue and accomplish. Many I did accomplish. A lot of goals that I didn’t complete are partially completed and some of them have become more specific goals for 2017.

Some of my completed goals for 2016 include the following:

  • Completed a 3 month workout program and exercised 6-7 days a week. (P90X3)
  • I got a raise.
  • I submitted a warrant officer packet.
  • I taught my kids specific skills.
  • I took 3 trips with my family.
  • I saved a specific amount of money.
  • I obtained my CEH certification.

For 2017 I have created 17 specific goals across the above mentioned categories. Some categories have less and some have more than last year. I’ve tried to balance them with what I forsee my situation being in 2017 to include variables such as a new baby, active duty time, moving, etc.

A few of my goals for 2017 include the following:

    • Obtain my CISSP certification.
    • Commission as a Warrant Officer.
    • Read 10 fiction books and 5 non-fiction books.
    • Tweet 30 times a month.

Those are just a sample of them. Some are more serious, and some are less serious. I would encourage you to do the same. People who are successful have goals. Not dreams. As the saying goes, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” So get out there, work hard, set some goals, write them down, track them, and crush them! The only thing holding you back from being successful is the person in the mirror. So get after it!

Later,
Derek

2016 Movies!

So we all love movies.

Here are my top 10 movies of 2016, my top movie awards, and a few honorable mentions.
Note: This is of all the movies that I saw in 2016. There are plenty I didn’t get to see yet that would probably make the list, but life is busy.
Top Ten Movies of 2016!
1.  Rouge One
2.  Free State of Jones
3.  Eye in the Sky
4.   13 Hours
5.  Hacksaw Ridge
6.  Captain America: Civil War
7.  Money Monster
8.  Nerve
9.  Deepwater Horizon
10. Zootopia

Derek’s Best awards!
Best Action: 13 Hours
Best Drama: Free State of Jones
Best Comedy: Zoolander 2
Best Horror: Purge: Election Year
Best Sci-fi: Rogue One
Best Kids: Zootopia

 

Honorable Mentions:
Whiskey Tango Foxtrox
Jason Bourne
Petes Dragon
Dr. Strange
Passengers

Hope you enjoyed my lists. Watch my twitter for more movie reviews!

Later,
Derek

Money

So after a few blogs on politics, let’s change gears. Let’s talk about money. Something everybody knows something about. Everyone has an opinion. Many people don’t want to deal with it or understand it. But just like knowing how to change a flat tire, or change your oil, if you have some basic knowledge you can be ready to deal with pop-up emergencies and keep your money working for you like a well-maintained engine. Ok. Enough car analogies.

So the basics:

I like money. I want/need more of it. How do I get it? How do I manage it to be successful? Here are 5 simple tips that are easy to say, and hard to implement.

  1. Live on less than you make.
  2. Don’t borrow money.
  3. Save Money.
  4. Prioritize your spending. (Budget)
  5. Give money.

1. Live on less than you make.
You’ve probably heard this before. But it makes sense. If you live on less than you make, it allows you to follow principles 2 and 3. This is easier said than done. But principle 4 is required to succeed at this step. You’ll have to adjust your lifestyle to match your income. This can be a hard pill for some people to swallow. The “I deserve” mentality that people have, and that creditors market so heavily can be deeply ingrained in people. Like it’s a foundational doctrine in their life. If you have ever spent time oversees in other countries, you can often realize that you don’t necessarily need all that stuff to survive and be happy. You can adapt to your income environment. If you don’t like the level of lifestyle that permits, then go out and change it! You can go work harder and earn more money.  My first tech job started at $14 / hour in 2008. That’s just over 29k annually. That wasn’t good enough for me and my growing family. So I worked harder, earned promotions and moved to better paying jobs. I don’t want to brag, but I make good money now because I continue to work hard and improve myself. Thus companies value me more and pay me more. No need to blame the economy for your income. Your work ethic can overcome a crappy economy. I am proof of that.

2. Don’t borrow money.
Do everything you can to avoid debt! I wish I had learned about this sooner. Often times the largest part of you monthly outgo is to debt payments. Student loans, cars, mattresses, etc.  When I started earning more money, I realized I wanted to be done with debt. Me and my wife had about 30k each in student loans! I was tired of so much of my monthly income going to Sallie Mae or Visa. I’d rather spend that money on my family or save it for something cool like a vacation or motorcycle. It took over 7 years, but we paid it all off. We paid off the last 45k in two years alone.  Not having stupid payments has really allowed me to do principles 3,4, and 5 much more efficiently. I’ve learned, I’d much rather save up for something and pay cash, then finance it and deal with the stress of payments, and interest. You really can do it!

3. Save Money.
This is another common sense thing people “know”, but don’t do. When you save money, it makes dealing with “emergencies” way less stressful. I know my property tax is due each year in December. So instead of waiting till December and going, “ah, crap!” I put $30-$50 a month in an envelope for that throughout the year. Then when the bill comes due, I’m ready for it. This year, I over budgeted and had $50 left over after paying that bill. I haven’t decided if I wan’t to leave it as a head start on next year’s property tax, or use it for something fun. But it’s my choice and I have that flexibility because I saved for it. Novel concept I know. But it works and it’s awesome! Same thing with car tires, car registrations, vacations, kids baseball season, etc. You can plan ahead and save money for these things. Saving money in 2016 has allowed me to cash flow a roof replacement, and cash flow a vacation to DC and NY. I was also able to plan ahead for Christmas presents so no credit card was needed for that either. I’ve got some active duty time coming up in 2017 and I know my income will be much lower compared to my civilian job. Guess what I’m going to do? Complain? Well probably a little bit, but I’m already planning for that and starting to save money so it won’t be a huge strain to deal with the change in income. I haven’t talked about 401k’s and Roth IRA’s yet. Those are both excellent tools to save for retirement. I’d highly recommend learning about them and using them to save money long-term. I’ve really enjoyed learning about investing over the last few years.

4. Prioritize your spending. (Budget)
Uh oh. I used the B word. But it shouldn’t have such a bad rap. It shouldn’t be feared. This is the single most important tool to be successful with all these principles. Having a budget is not difficult. Yes it does take time. Yes you will make mistakes. Yes you do spend that much money at QuikTrip. But it gives you so much visibility into where your money goes and your spending trends. It really allows you to analyze past performance and use that data to plan for future months. I’ve been using budgeting software for almost 4 years now. I switched about 18 months ago to YNAB (You need a budget) software. I love it. It has allowed me to be successful in paying off debt and saving money as well as realistically planning for the month ahead. I recommend using a zero based budget. I plan for each month individually. I adjust throughout the month (subtracting extra money from gas to add to groceries envelopes for example) and then reconcile all the envelopes at the end of each month to correct any over-spending. This is fixed by taking the money from another envelope vs a credit card. I also use envelopes to save for bigger expenses. I have a house maintenance envelope, and a car tires envelope that I put money into. Not every month, but when I can I contribute money into it. Especially if I know I will need new car tires in 8 months, I make that a priority to contribute to that envelope so that when it comes time I already have the $500 or so that I will need for new tires. No emergency! Just a normal errand to run that I have the money to do. This also equals less stress. Rinse and repeat, scale up and down as necessary for your money goals. It really does work. You just have to do it. Over and over and over again.

5. Give Money
This is another part of money I’m starting to really enjoy. Managing my money better has allowed me the opportunity to give more. I am able to support causes and organizations that I want to. I was able to double my Christmas budget from last year and give people more gifts. Being able to help people out by giving money is very rewarding. It’s often more rewarding that accumulating more stuff. Give it a try.

So there you have it. My 5 money principles for success. Have I mastered them all? Nope. Do I still make mistakes? Yep. Has being intentional with my money allowed me to be successful? Absolutely. I’m a huge budgeting nerd, so if you have questions feel free to ask me. I’d love to talk money ideas with you and help you be successful with money as well.

Reference material and helpful links:

ynab.com

everydollar.com

mint.com

https://www.daveramsey.com/baby-steps

Intentional Living

 

Later,
Derek