In this thirty-sixth episode of the Not Dead Yet Show:
I’ve been working on the Hard Briefcase for seven years. It’s been really hard but I think we finally got it. I also show how we tan and finish our leather.
I’ve been working on the Hard Briefcase for seven years. It’s been really hard but I think we finally got it. I also show how we tan and finish our leather.
By Nick Bridwell
Things are getting heated here at Saddleback HQ. Just like the rest of the country, we are utterly divided over our votes for President. Half of Team Saddleback is passionate about a certain boisterous blonde who can’t help standing out in every single conference room. The other half is certain that the best candidate is the practical one that offers experience, function, and compartmentalization.
Of course, we’re talking about candidates for The Saddleback President of Bags, 2016.
In the Red Corner:
Weighing in at 8lbs, at 18″ Wide, 13” High, and 9″ Deep, the XL Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase is built to hold more BS than a Washington politician. This guy is a noise maker. Walk into the room with one of these and you’re going to meet with either applause from everyone in the room or you’re going to offend someone with your obvious disregard for what so many people colloquially refer to as “the norm”. The Classic can pack a pistol, a pipe, and a pin hammer and still have room for a 17’’ laptop and a notebook. The bag evokes another time that the Classic’s campaign manager calls “better”. Vote Team Classic and “Make America Classic Again.”
In the Blue Corner:
Weighing in at 7.5lbs, at 17” Wide, 12” High, and 7” Deep, the Large Front Pocket Briefcase is for the philosopher and the multitasker. This one gets things accomplished with a little bit of something for everyone. Those exterior pockets make the Front Pocket capable of keeping life highly organized and therefore highly effective. “If you’re looking for a President of Bags who can make your life easier,” says the Front Pocket’s campaign manager, “you’re going to want to go with the only candidate who has actual experience organizing different things in different pockets.” Vote Front Pocket and “The Future is in your Pocket.”
Whether you’re an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” sort of fellow who says what he thinks and does what he wants regardless what everyone thinks and is subsequently adored for this behavior, or an “I better stayed organized if I want to take on the world” sort of person who prefers to calculate, curate, and ameliorate, there’s a candidate you can count on here at Saddleback Leather. Wouldn’t that be something to see other places?
Vote here for your choice of Saddleback Leather President of Bags 2016:
May the best bag win…
Nick Bridwell is the author of The Ties That Bind: https://amzn.com/B00O1CCC90 and a regular contributor to Saddleback’s Blog and Plano Magazine.
Please join us in congratulating our Summer 2016 Photo Contest winners.
Best Overall: Aviran Benjamin “prickled” our attention with this shot of his Classic Briefcase in Tobacco taken in Tel Aviv, Israel. He’s our Overall Winner and gets a $500 Gift Certificate.
Best Pet: Bronson K Silva’s pal Miki almost steals the spotlight from the Classic Briefcase. Hopefully he didn’t get too much drool on your Briefcase 😜
Runner Up: Justus Dirkus’ well-aged leather pile earned him a Runner Up prize. Fantastic shot, Justus!
Runner Up: Tabitha Twietmeyer’s “family” catches a sunset on the beach.
Runner Up: “It’s behind me isn’t it?” Alain Baburam is one of our three Runners Up.
Congratulations to our winners! Go here for more info on the Photo Contest and how to enter.
By Liz James (Customer Service)
It’s way past Mother’s Day, I know. But then, I think brilliant mothers should be celebrated every day. At least that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!
So, as you’ve probably gathered, my Mom is brilliant. And I’m not just talking about her going for her Doctorate at the very young age of 35 (may or may not be her actual, physical age). It’s not just because she seems to know everything and helped me correct my papers in school. While she is all these things, I’m the most proud of her showing the world how badly she’s kicking breast cancer’s butt.
This isn’t the first time, either. Back in 2006, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was just getting out of high school at the time, so things… I don’t think they really clicked for me. Cancer was scary, yes, but I was never really overly concerned. Plus, as far as cancers went, her type was pretty mild. Her initial treatment was done in about six weeks or so, and then it was done. Yup, a little surgery, a bit of radiation, and bam, cancer went away.
When cancer goes away, it’s not supposed to come back. I mean, my paternal grandfather fought cancer several times before it took him away, but he was an exception. Lightning isn’t supposed to strike twice. But then Mom called me one Saturday in late January. She had her yearly mammogram, and then a biopsy, and the news was that she had breast cancer. Again. I was fine on the phone with her, but later that night as I was telling some of my church friends, it became real when I spoke the words out loud.
This cancer was worse, and therefore the fight was, too. Starting in March, Mom went to MD Anderson for Chemo every three weeks. Chemo was a new experience, since her first bout with cancer didn’t require it. But we quickly realized that it, in a word, sucked. Mom’s hair fell out pretty quickly, and nausea and fatigue became usual feelings for her. Chemo changed her taste buds, so her usual drinks of water and tea are now unpalatable to her. It’s great she now likes Dr Pepper, since it’s one of the few drinks that don’t taste funny to her but it’s still weird to see her drinking it somewhat voluntarily. And since we never know what she’ll feel like eating, takeout has become the norm rather than the exception.
She’s fought cancer these past few months with dignity and a perseverance that astounds me and many others. Mom is on so many prayer lists, and we have felt those prayers every step of the way! And she’s going to have another fight as surgeons perform a mastectomy and she learns how to live with that. I know she’s going to do amazing, though.
Back when I first found out about the diagnosis, I wrote my Mom a poem and surprised her with it. And now, with her permission, I’d like to share it with you. Maybe you have someone fighting cancer, or you yourself are. I hope you take heart in knowing that you are not alone, and that “victim” is not your name!
By Liz James
A breast that once helped give me life
Is now poisonous to my Mom.
Now whether it stays or goes,
The decision is not fun.
But ‘tis not the boob that gave me breath,
Nor taught me to love a book.
It wasn’t the tit that helped me write,
Or fed me what she could cook
It was not her chest that comforted me,
When I was overwrought with fears
Nor did it hold me quite as close
When she wiped away my tears.
Cancer, you treacherous beast,
You think that you have won,
Ten long years you’ve waited for this,
Thinking this battle done.
You seek to defeat my Mom,
Say she’ll never be the same,
But though she’s been called many things,
“Victim” is not her name.
Try “Strong” or “Mighty” or “Beautiful”
And “Victorious” will work as well!
But you, cancer, you vile thing,
You can go straight to hell!
Get a sneak peek of some upcoming copper designs and hear how Suzette killed a copperhead.
By Nick Bridwell
For those of you who were visiting another planet in the late 90s, Pokemon are Japanese “pocket monsters”; amalgamations of different creatures both fantastical and historical. The original video games spawned a TV show, multiple movies, action figures, beach towels, toilet plungers and toothbrushes. This month, Nintendo (the geniuses behind Mario Brothers) released Pokemon Go, a brand new game for mobile phones. And the world will never be the same.
The game uses GPS and your phone’s camera to send you on quests around your neighborhood–yes the real world!– to find the 151 original Pokemon and capture them in your phone. After playing the game for two weeks, I am now determined that Nintendo wants to get me fired. So, Here are 3 Tips to Surviving the Workweek While Playing Pokemon Go.
I went out for coffee earlier in the week so that I could clear my head in a clean workspace. That’s an outright fib. I went so I could catch Pikachu at the bookstore down the street. Anyway, I caught the little bugger. Even if it did take 45 minutes to find him in the shopping center. But, when it came time for me to dial in to a conference call, my phone was dead as a doornail. If you’re keeping score, that’s: 1 Pikachu Caught; 1 Conference Call Missed. Don’t forget to bring a charger if you wanna catch ‘em all, because Pokemon Go is a battery zapper.
Posting snapshots of your newest Pokemon is fun. I’ve captured a Pincer, Drowzee, and Pidgeot in the nearby park, a Hydra in the pool, and a Bulbasaur near our favorite downtown pub. All of those catches went quite swimmingly. Awesome! You know what’s not awesome? Tracking a Squirtle to a grocery store parking lot and having to awkwardly explaining that you’re taking pictures of small anthropomorphic sea turtle and not taking pictures of a middle-aged stay-at-home-dad while he’s putting his groceries away. Awkward Squirtle. Do yourself a favor and take a look around before you start your new photographic essay on your favorite Pokemon.
Pokemon Go is an innovative concept. It’s a video game that gets people out into the community. That being said, the environment hasn’t evolved quite at the same pace of video games. In the old school Pokemon games, you would walk to a river’s edge and have to select “Swim” in order to actually go swimming. This is the real world, yo! Look up from your screen or you might literally end up: a.) Backstroking with Blastoise b.) Roadkill with Rattata or, c.) Walking into Walls for a Weedle. Look before you leap!
I’ve got a hot lead on a Charmander, so I’m outta here.
We are amazed and better people with greater vision because of our visit to Chick-fil-A headquarters to give the Monday morning devotions.
by Caroline Bengali (Customer Service)
I went to the mall this past weekend, for the first time in years. I went because I had to, the mall is not my favorite shopping stomping ground.
There were so many people walking around, and now with Pokemon Go, everyone is bumping into each other even more :). I decided since I had to be here, may as well try and not hate it.
I got a honeydew Bubble tea, (if you’ve never had one, you’re either going to love it or be completely freaked out by the tapioca balls) and sat on an empty bench to wait for my husband.
I feel this push from the side and think it’s just Richard being funny, then I realize some guy is running down the mall with my purse! I yell for him to stop then realize why would he so I yell for someone to stop him. I have on my Nike’s and the sugar from the Bubble tea has kicked in. So, I run after him. If he has a gun I will deal with that scenario later, or maybe just not get too close. Now I know this is not a great idea and that somewhere there is a security guard or 2 but at the moment I can’t seem to find any. Following this guy, who is now walking quickly because I’ve stopped yelling, is my best option, I can point and nod once I find a security guard. The mission is to not lose him.
My phone beeps and it’s a text from Richard asking where I am, I text him back fully hoping auto correct will not fail me because I cannot walk, stalk, spy and text at the same time.
I still have the guy in my line of sight. Why isn’t he going to an exit? He is literally stopping to look in the Hallmark store. Why? Is he planning on sending me a ‘sorry I stole your purse’ card? He totally could since he has my wallet and my address. Ugh.
I decide it’s now or never. I see a security guard and make the hand gestures to indicate that that man took my purse. He raises his shoulders. I try again, he gets it, I think. But purse robber man sees him and takes off, my gazelle like instincts and my turtle like legs make me spring into another run to get my purse. I know he is now going to leave the mall. Behind me I see the security guard talking into his radio but he’s not running! I end up running into the back of purse snatcher man and knock both of us down on the ground. He starts yelling that what am I doing and crazy lady (he used another word that rhymes with itch) and he’s trying to crawl away but I manage to pull his leg…. Like I’m pulling yours.
By Renee Cain (Customer Service)
I live in a little mountain town just about an hour from a big city. Our neighborhood is very small and there are no sidewalks, but the woods and big lots make up for it. I remember joking with the real estate agent when we first drove in here that you would need an oxygen mask just to take a short walk because it’s so mountainous, haha! I do love the greenery here and the views and secluded yards finally sold me on the place. I’m a city girl at heart, and I love the electricity of the city, the noise and the pace. Moving here, the middle of nowhere was quite an adjustment for me to be sure. I’m a bit of an introvert and it’s pretty easy to get lost in the city. You can shop, go to restaurants and even movies alone and no one even notices. I’m pretty independent and I love that anonymity. But here, well, it’s different, in a charming way that took a minute for me to embrace. For instance, our first week here, the mail lady rang the doorbell and introduced herself and chatted for more than thirty minutes. Haha! It’s just that way here.
You know, thinking back on it, when I lived in the city, in an apartment, I didn’t even know the porter’s name. That makes me sad to think about now. Wish I’d stopped long enough to get to know the man who was the gate keeper to where I slept.
Anyway, the personalized mail delivery wasn’t the only surprise here. Another delightful surprise was the Friday night concerts in the park which are held in town where everyone brings collapsable chairs and blankets, snacks and drinks (some even sneak in local wine from the winery nearby) and the children play and the adults chat, enjoy the music and each other’s company. The music is fantastic too. I mean sometimes the bands aren’t great, but it doesn’t matter because we’re hanging out and being together and it’s a great way to spend a Friday night, you know.
We have a beautiful post card ready town. We love going to one of the restaurants and sitting on the balcony outside looking over the dogwoods, red brick buildings and smiling people going about their business. It’s peaceful and delicious! One day, around Memorial Day, I had to go “to town” to the post office and sitting at the traffic light, I was stunned to see white crosses lining both sides of the street. It was that way all the way through town, every street. Each cross had an American flag, and the name of a veteran who had died. It was amazing to see and my heart swelled at this charming town which spent countless hours, no doubt, to erect these memorials. Shortly after when Fall arrives, the town and outskirts explode with radiant color! I do love that time of year with the crisp Fall air and smell of burning leaves. And then as if the town performs an encore, the lights go up for Christmas and this little town is more alive and vibrant than ever.
We’ve been here now almost ten years. I’ve grown closer to my husband, to my church, and to small town living. I feel like I belong to a community of family and though I’m still a bit of an introvert, I look forward to bumping into my “family” in the grocery store and my mail delivery visits. I read somewhere that life is all about perception and I think there’s a lot of truth in that. A small town community doesn’t mean you have to be born there, you just have to open your heart to it, and embrace it and live it. For the first time ever, I’m home.
by Nick Bridwell
Ask most professionals to make a list of the most important factors in their productive day and right at the top, you’ll find: “A Comfortable Workspace”.
The human mind can be annoyingly hierarchal. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and that fun pyramid graphic (fig 1) that basically tells you that you are unlikely to achieve actualization if you don’t have food or a roof over your head. That concept totally applies to a productive work day.
If you sit down at your desk to work on a project and find your beautiful mesquite desktop is covered in layers of paper, three grueling days worth of empty coffee mugs, a novelty day calendar showing a date from three weeks ago, and a sympathy card from when you lost your dog three months ago, you are unlikely to start your mission with a clear head. You won’t be able to actualize your work, because the roof overhead is crumbling!
Looking for an easy solution?
In the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, author Marie Kondo makes two points that really stand out. I know this, because my wife has been chasing me around the house saying, “Remember what Marie said about…”
1. Only keep what brings you joy.
So, that sympathy card for when you lost dear old Uggy the Pug? That’s only reminding you of a painful moment. Trash it. Oh, and last year’s Pictures of Paris, France calendar was awesome and you loved it. This year, your sister decided to get you Pictures of Paris Hilton and it’s just not that funny. Trash it, too!
2.Have a Place for Everything
This one makes so much sense that it’s hard to understand why it never clicked. It’s so much easier to pick up after yourself if you know where everything is goes.
Make sure you have places to stash your day-to-day folders and documents. That probably means clearing out a drawer or two. Oh, and clean off a shelf for those mugs, too!
Now, your work space is clean and the first thing you think of when you sit down is “What awesome work can I do today?”
Organization is pretty easy as long as you don’t mind getting rid of stuff you don’t like in the first place and finding a spot or two for the stuff you do.
Nick Bridwell is the author of the novel The Ties That Bind and a frequent contributor to the Saddleback Blog and Plano Magazine.