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This year, I have been thinking a great deal about household management because of the coincidence of two books that came into my life simultaneously — Home Comforts: the Art and Science of Keeping Houseby Cheryl Mendelson and Economicsby Aristotle.

Philosophical reflections have been a part of this process. I have thought about the Greek concept of household management called oikos and how it is more important than we think. It can be the foundation of eudaimonia.

A part of this reflection was also practical. Kate and I, in our 19 years together, have managed our household pretty well. Our home is clean and tidy. We keep our family well organized and our budget balanced. There’s always something to improve, and I have been searching for ways to be a better housewife.

Charles MacPherson was a professional butler who I interviewed for a podcast. MacPherson suggested creating a tool which is part of the arsenal of every professional butler: The Butler’s Book.

The Butler’s Book – The Instruction Manual for Your Home

In Victorian times, the Butler’s Book is where the butler recorded all of the household’s information: the staff schedules and maintenance schedules; the inventory of china, silverware and food preferences; the measurements for clothing and other items.

Butlers and household managers in wealthy homes have a similar book to the Butler’s Book. They call it a “household procedures manual.”

Modern butlers use a manual of household procedures to track all contractors who maintain the house, the information on utilities, the inventories of supplies and possessions, and the maintenance schedules for major appliances. These books also include emergency preparedness protocols and instructions on how you can plan and execute dinners and parties.

After learning about the Butler’s Book I wanted to make my own.

The main problem I have with managing my house is that I am always on a scavenger-hunt to find out information about household matters:

Who do I contact to fix my Trane furnace if it breaks down? What about the Carrier on the opposite side of the home? When did we replace the windows and by whom? Do we have any Sternos from the previous party left to use for the next one?

The Butler’s Book will help you keep track of all the questions you have and what you need to do to run your house efficiently. You don’t have to waste time and money trying to locate things, or repurchase items you forgot you had.

I searched online to find out if you could create a Butler’s Book in your own home using digital services. Many household management apps are available, but they were difficult to use and clunky. All of them try to do too much. You can manage your family’s schedule, track your appliances, manage your home maintenance schedules and pay your children’s allowance. It’s too much!

I didn’t enjoy having to tap-tap into the platform of my smartphone keyboard. It’s very tedious.

MacPherson suggested creating a physical Butler’s Book. I took his advice and did it. It’s great because I can personalize it to include the information I want. It is also easy to use. I can easily flip through the pages by pulling it out. Do not discount tactile information you can physically heft.

Many Butler’s Books/household procedures manuals cover standard operating procedures (e.g. how to open a pool), but I wanted my Butler’s Book primarily to contain information on all of the major appliances and systems in my house. That’s it.

The following sections have been added to my Butler’s Book:

Water/PlumbingNatural GasElectricalHVACWindows and DoorsRoofGuttersSafety and SecurityHome NetworkSwimming PoolAppliancesEntertainment Inventory (Kate and I host a couple of big parties each year and have accumulated a large number of folding chairs and tables and

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Sunday Firesides: But How Are You Doing on a Tuesday Morning?

While on vacation, you’re sitting on the beach and watching your kids play in the water. Everyone is smiling and full of sun. You tell yourself “I have a wonderful family here.” We’re doing okay.”

You have another thought. You recall the times you spent on family vacations as a child and how much fun you had. Your parents divorced and you and sister stopped talking. The good times spent by the sea did not foretell good times to come.

Usually, we take stock at important moments of time. Sometimes, we take stock of the state of something at a significant moment. They can also be crises or emergencies where we see how a group pulls together (or not).

You can learn a lot from these peaks and troughs. The more mundane moments of life can provide a better gauge of your health.

You and your wife may be feeling renewed excitement on your Barcelona trip, but do you feel the same on a weekday evening at work?

Your church did a great job supporting a grieving parishioner. But how many people attend regular Sunday services?

How are people doing in the midst of their everyday routines?

The little habits we have every day are what determine the course of our future. How you behave in everyday interactions can predict the future of a relationship. You can use your Tuesday morning performance as a predictor of the future.

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Odds & Ends: July 19, 2024

Odds and Ends header v3.1 2

A vintage metal box labeled

The Knotty Death of the Necktie Adam Gopnik examines the decline in neckties, which began around 20 years ago. The rise of WFH due to the COVID-19 epidemic has accelerated this decline. Gopnik also uses this article as a way to reflect on the cultural significance of neckties throughout history and to explore what fashion tells us about culture in general and how we use our style to communicate our values and beliefs. Check out our article from 2021, in which we asked style experts if the necktie was obsolete.

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishiimi and Fumitake Koga: How to Change Your Life and Achieve True Happiness. Recently, I listened to the book while walking in the morning. It was enjoyable. The authors explore Alfred Adler’s psychological theories through a fictional dialogue between a philosopher and student. The book taught me that all problems are inter-personal problems and many of these interpersonal problems result from us or others trying do other people’s life tasks.

Beulah. I discovered this band recently and enjoy listening to it on my car rides. Beulah was a regular on my 5-disc player in my 1992 Smurf blue Chevy Cavalier in 2000. Their unique indie sound includes horns, stringed instruments and a positive attitude. I love horns and strings in pop-rock. A great band to listen to in the summer.

Greyson Sweater polo from Marine Layer. Sweater polos have a moment at the moment. These shirts are a great option for smart casual summer wear. The Greyson sweater-polo by Marine Layer is a handsome addition to this category. When I wear it, I feel like Frank Sinatra at Palm Springs.

Quote of the week

Action is often the only way to save a man in danger. In order to dull emotions, a person must act; to be immobile or to stagnate, in body or mind, is to give up without conditions. Movement, any work, can help him to overcome those feelings that are a traitor to his better nature. The man in the balloon who had little else to do than sit in the middle a target was more likely to crash than the observer on an aeroplane. However, the observer’s vulnerability was greater than that of the pilot. It was harder to sit in a trench under heavy bombardment than it was to fight openly.

Lord Moran

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A Field Guide to Military Hand Signals

To maintain surprise and avoid enemy detection, soldiers often operate in silence.

They still have to communicate.

How do they communicate their message without giving away their position?

Hand signals are used to communicate.

In the last century, the military developed hand signals to allow their members to communicate while in stealth mode. Hand signals are also used to communicate when the noise level is too high for the comrades’ ears to hear.

During WWII, the U.S. Army developed its first uniform hand signals. The vocabulary of the visual language grew over time. The Army was the first to develop hand signals. Other branches followed suit. The latest hand signals of the U.S. Army can be found in TC 3-21.60. Many of them are used for different situations, such as patrol, convoy management, ground-to air communication, etc.

Harrison Anderson is a former Green Beret and fellow Okie who served 12 years in the Army. He is now a retired Colonel in the Army Reserves, and he’s finishing his business studies at OU. ).

Guide to Military Hand Signals

Even if you don’t find yourself trying to sneak by Charlie in Vietnam, knowing a few military signals can be helpful for civilians.

Harrison said, “Hand signs can be useful if you need to remain quiet while hunting.”

You can also use them if you are not a hunter. For example, when you play capture the flag or paintball with your brothers, or try to avoid being discovered by a horde baby-eating Barbarians in the event of the apocalypse. They’re also cool to have.

Here are some basic military hand signals.


The Army developed a system that allows soldiers to use only one hand when indicating numbers.

The hand signals are simple, with each number being represented by one finger. When you reach 6-9 you extend the number of fingers that you are adding to 5. For example, two fingers is 5 + 2, or 7. Closed raised fist equals zero.

Useful patrol hand signals

Slow down. Slow down.

Halt. Raise your palm forward and raise your hand to signal someone to stop.

Freeze. Make a fist instead of the usual halt signal. Freeze is a signal that tells someone not to only stop but also to remain still to avoid being detected.

Stop, Look, Listen, Smell. Put your hand open behind your ear and tell your crew that they should pay attention to the environment.

Assemble. Raise your hand vertically, palm facing up, and create a circle. This is the signal to use when you want your friends to gather around you and talk about business.

Double time. This signal will tell your crew that they need to get moving. This is a fun thing to do. You can do it by pumping your fist as if you were trying to make a trucker blow his horn.

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