Pandemic haircuts

Cutting hair when you can’t get a haircut.

“I need a haircut,” he says. “Dad, can you cut my hair?”

COVID-19 closed all the hair places down. I was assigned hair cutting duties since I am a cutter, of sorts, but not of the hair cutting kind. If you need a tree cut, I’m your man. Hair though? That’s hard with a chainsaw.

Ever since the pandemic started we’ve all had to do things differently. I hate it when my hair gets in my eyes, and I use that basic measure to determine when to get a cut. My wife and I have three sons, 4, 6 and 8 years old, and our 6-year-old has decided that what works for Dad is good enough to work for him.

“Look, it’s in my eyes Dad,” he pulls his hair down in front of his eyes.

“Oh man,” I say, “how do you see with that mop on your head?”

“Ya, I know. Can you cut it?” he says, dropping the mop and giving me a look.

“Ok, sure,” I say. My personal philosophy toward the hacking of hair is: if I mess it up bad enough, we can just shave it off. And after you shave it off it’s gonna grow back. Why not give it a go?

“Dad. Hair.” he says again.

“Right, let’s go upstairs then and see what we can do,” I reply.

Here’s what we need to cut hair: an electric razor, 13 weird-looking clippy-type guards, a second razor with 5 different cutting attachments, 5 additional weird-looking clippy-type guards, a comb, 3 pairs of scissors, and an extension cord to reach the tub.

“Ok, get in the tub,” I point to the tub. He jumps in.

What happens next is my best attempt at copying what I’ve seen done about 137 times at various hair places. We agree on one of the electric razors and a clippy-type guard. I start at the bottom and run the thing up along the side of the head, pulling up right where the skull starts to curve to flat. I won’t go past the curvy point unless I’m doing a shave job and Mom has made it very clear that a shave job is only to be done as a last resort, so I’m being careful. I go around all the sides and stop at his face.

“How’s it feeling?” I ask. Always make sure the customer is comfortable.

“Good,” he says. “But I’m a bit itchy.”

Ah. I had him strip to his underwear to save getting hair on his clothes so now there’s hair all over his shoulders and down his back. “Hold on,” I say.

I grab the small hand broom thing from one of the razor kits and start brushing away the hair on his shoulders.

“Ouch,” he says.

“That hurts?” I ask.

“Ya,” he replies as I’m jamming the thing into my arm to test it out. Ouch. That hurts.

“Ok, I’ll be more careful,” I say.

The next step is to get the hair wet. I’m not 100% sure why but the hair place does it, so we do it, too. “Time to get your hair a bit wet,” I say and grab a handful of water from the sink on the other side of the room. I kind of slap it down on his head and pet him like a dog to spread the water out. He picks up what I’m trying to do and starts running one hand through his hair, back and forth and back and forth, to help soak his mop.

“Looks good,” I say, “now I’m going to take some off the top with the scissors.”

“Ok,” he says. I’ve gotta give him credit, he’s brave.

The top proves harder to manage than I expect. I’m trying to grab bunches of wet hair with the fingers of my left hand and cut with the scissors in my right. The problem is that the wet hair is sticking to his head. Then I remember that the hair people usually have a comb, too.

“I need a comb,” I wipe my forehead and start looking through a colorful basket on the back of the toilet with a hairbrush and about 45 moisturizing-type spritzing things in it.

“Dad, there’s a comb in the razor bag,” he says.

“Razor bag?” I raise my right eyebrow. “Where…?”

“The black thing,” he points somewhere.

“This thing?” I grab a plastic case with 12 weird-looking clippy-type guards in it.

“Ya,” he says.

The case is open, so I rummage around in it and see a thick black comb. “Here,” I lift the comb up to the light to make sure it is what it is.

“How did you know there was a comb in there?” I ask.

“I saw it,” he says.

“Smart boy,” I say, moving back to the tub to get back to it.

The comb seems to help. I’ve got the scissors on my right hand, hooked to my pointer finger and thumb; these fingers are also holding the comb. I find the comb works well to scoop up the wet hair up to my left hand which can then pinch the clump kind of like I’m holding a hard shell taco. I pull up a bit with the left to keep the hair off the skull and do a juggling-type move with my right hand, rolling the comb into my palm with my pinky and ring fingers and cutting the hair with the scissors on my pointer finger and thumb. Snip.

I work my way around his scalp, trying to cut the hair the height of the pinky finger, the ring finger and the middle finger on my left hand all stacked up. Keeping the scissors from cutting my own fingers or his head takes up all my focus. Soon, I decide to ditch the “three finger measure” method for the “ballpark measure” method.

We’re about an hour in at this point and there’s no going back. The hair is drying out and I find that the dry hair is easier to work with. I’m not sure why the hair people get your hair wet before cutting it, maybe they like a challenge.

I go over the whole head with my left hand ballparking everything to make sure it’s the same length. Small snips here, small nips there.

“We’re looking good,” I say. No obvious chunks are missing and there’s no blood or tears which means we’re winning.

Time to move onto the bangs. These are super easy.

“Ok, close your eyes, I’m going to do the front,” I say.

“Ok, Dad,” he replies.

I take the hair over his forehead with my left hand. Put the comb down with my right and make sure I’ve got the scissors on tight. This close to eyes you’ve really gotta watch out. Holding the scissors vertically I make little stabbing-type cuts, back and forth and back and forth, all the way across his forehead, grabbing new clumps of hair with my left hand as I go. The little stabs back and forth give the finished hair an uneven, messy kind of appearance. I think of this as the “trendy look.”

Another way of cutting bangs is to cut them in a straight line right across the forehead. I think of this as the “robot look” which is pretty healthy but not what we go with today.

“Right, looking good, eh?” I ask.

“Ya, Dad, but I’m itchy,” he swipes a gob of hair off his shoulder. “Can you do that blower thing?” he asks.

“Blower thing?” I reply. “What blower thing?”

“You know, the one Mom has,” he says.

“A hair dryer?” I ask.

“Ya…” he answers.

I stand up, wipe the obvious hair off my legs and open the bathroom door. There’s a blow dryer on the bed so I grab it and bring it back into the bathroom.

“This?” I ask.

“Ya,” he says.

“Good idea,” I plug in the blower thing, point, and shoot blasting all the hair right off of him.

“Ok, almost done. Hold on tight and don’t move,” I say.

We’re nearly home free now, just gotta clean up the edges. I trade the first electric razor for the second electric razor and switch the cutting attachment over to the one that looks like a little mini razor head. I triple check the instructions to make sure this is the one that doesn’t cut skin when you touch it. I found out the difference in cutting heads the hard way, one time I got a bit too close with the wrong one. Don’t want to make that mistake again.

The key to cleaning the edges out is to keep part of your hand anchored to the head. You can slowly and carefully trace the outside edge of the hair to give it a clean look. Hair over the ears is my second big indicator of needing a haircut, so I make sure to carve those ears out real well. You’ve gotta be careful going up over the ear though, it’s really easy to get carried away, cut in too high too deep and then end up needing to throw away all your hard work by salvaging with a shave job.

I restrain myself and the back of his head cleans up pretty nicely.

“Well, what do you think?” I ask.

“It looks good,” he replies.

“Now,” I say, “you want to cut mine?”

“Ok,” he says.

We agree on one of the electric razors and a weird-looking clippy-type guard. I strip to my underwear to save getting hair on my clothes and get in the tub beside him and kind of hunker down a bit.

“Here’s how you turn it on,” I say, pointing to the sliding black switch on the side. “Make sure you don’t push really hard because you could pop the guard off and cut me. Look, try popping this thing off,” I say, pointing to the black guard.

He tries to pull the guard off and can’t. I find that a bit comforting and hope it means he’s less likely to snap the guard off and dig the razor directly into my head.

He turns the razor on BZZZZZZZZ and starts making little baby bird pecks with it.

“No, not like that. Like this,” I say, making a longer smoother motion with my hand.

“Ok,” he says.

I try to keep as low as I can sitting in the bathtub so he can cut wherever he wants. It doesn’t really matter what he does, since he’s giving me a shave job. He might as well have some fun with it, you know?

BZZZZZZZZ, the razor echoes off the bathroom walls, surrounding us.

Hair falls like snow all around me. I’m looking at the bottom of the tub, hunkered down. All I can see are his tiny, little feet shuffling back and forth and back and forth, working to get the best angle. The hair is sticking all over his feet which makes them look like a hairy man’s feet but shrunk down to 6-year-old size. These are the feet he’s going to have when he’s grown, when he’s a man.

I’m warm and cold. We’re slow dancing in a bathtub during a pandemic that shut the whole world down. Me with my boy and his hairy little man feet. Maybe he’ll have kids, when he fills his feet. I wonder what he’ll be like. How often will I see him? These feet, they’ll change the world. Hairy little man feet that could be anything, that could do anything. He keeps shuffling, back and forth and back and forth. I think he’s humming.

BZZZZZZZZ, the vibrations are like music, filling us.

I don’t know what the future will bring. It’s big and it’s scary. I know there will be love and laughter, pain and tears. For some reason, a chill creeps over me. My stomach pushes itself up it into my throat. Lots of people are dying right now. What if he doesn’t make it? What if I’m not there?

Not now. I’m losing myself. People are always dying. People are always living, too. These things are life. I can decide which road to take, so I choose the path that brings me back to slow dance with my son.

Presents. The razor. The bathtub. My son. My self. The dance. The pandemic. Time.

Here, together. Both of us in the bathtub, both of us in our underwear. The razor singing. His hairy little feet dancing. And I am remembering to never forget our pandemic haircuts. This might be the closest we ever get in our whole entire lives.


We all have the same power, it lies within each of us. What are you going to do with it?

My goal is to contribute to society at scale. What contributions would I like to make? I want to eliminate mindless, unnecessary work. I want to inspire people to become self-aware, to stop working for a wage and start working for themselves. I want to teach people. I want people to believe in themselves. I will seek out, connect to and work with like-minded individuals to amplify my impact.

I have the audacity to think I matter. I believe that one person can change the world. I believe that we need to stop looking to others to find the next Nelson Mandela, the next Muhammed Ali, the next Seth Godin.

We all have the same power, it lies within each of us and I am willing to lean in and embrace the tremendous responsibility that it requires. I navigate life using a moral compass, and work to help others find their way leading by example.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” right?

I am ready.

Let’s get to work.

Leaders wanted

I’m tired. Tired of
– unreliable and under-performing coworkers
– putting in the effort but getting let down
– contributing more and getting paid less
– seniority getting rewarded over production

“James, don’t complain. You own a business. You signed up for this.”

Ya, you’re right. I do own a business. And it’s about time I take ownership and start acting like it. My days of compromising are done. I won’t apologize for holding myself to the highest standard and I won’t settle until I’m working with a team of others who do the same. I’m not going to feel bad about having a positive attitude. If you don’t love the work, go away. I appreciate and respect the hell out of anyone crazy enough to work with me and I expect that road to run both ways. Limits are made to be pushed, skills are meant to be developed, people are meant to grow. If you can’t deal with that then this isn’t for you.

I used to be scared. A lot of people are scared, addicted to hiding from real life in phones, in games, in booze, in drugs, in excuse after excuse after excuse. You see it out there, the culture of ‘I don’t give a shit’ saturates everything. And it’s lazy. I’m prepared to step up. I’m willing to stand up, to say, “I give a shit” and deal with the struggle, the heartbreak, the challenge and the triumph that comes along with it.

How about you? Are you ready?

Look, I could mail it in like 99% of other companies and tell you that I will trade you $18/hr if you can chip a lot of trees. I’m not wired like that. You’re worth more than $18/hr. Life’s too short to trade your time for money. Let’s do something better. Let’s work together to make an impact, to put a dent in the world. Why don’t we eliminate mindless, unnecessary work – work like management. People can manage themselves, let’s build a company that cuts them free, lets them fly and then watch what they can do. Let’s teach people to stop working for a wage and to start working for themselves. Together we can help people take ownership, teach them how to become owners and build something bigger than ourselves from the ground up.

What do you think?

“James, that sounds terrible. I want to sell 8 hours of my life everyday until I can retire so I can do nothing.”

Ok, go work somewhere else.

“James, that sounds awesome. How do I do this?”

Let’s start with what we have. We own Precision Tree Services Ltd, a tree company that specializes in tree work with a purpose – to build a team that controls our own future and specialized in wicked tree work. Precision works full-time, year-round and strives to keep our awesome team working where we live – at home. We are currently executing Long Term Agreement work for BC Hydro, and are in charge of all BCH vegetation maintenance from Courtenay to Port Hardy. And we’re looking for leaders like you. Hell ya, right?

Do you fit here? We love:
– how essential our work is to our families and our community
– working on a wicked team
– using technology and data to do more work with less effort
– being disciplined and managing ourselves
– setting financial targets and going after them hard
– sharing profit
– laughing at weird jokes and ourselves
– challenges like climbing mountains and fractions
– being outside, away from artificial air and plastic people
– adrenaline-inducing activities not for the faint of heart
– being healthy
– comics and/or superheroes and/or supervillains

We want to work with new team members to develop skills and earn certifications in:
– first aid
– traffic control
– operating a chainsaw (slashing, felling)
– driving a commercial vehicle
– climbing trees
– aerial lift operation
– Certified Utility Arborist, ISA Certified Arborist, Falling Bucking Endoresment
– arboriculture
– business
– financial literacy
– tree care, assessment, and maintenance
– being an even awesomer human than they are now

We take pride in pushing the limits of skill development, providing a complete Skill Development Checklist and accompanying training from experience industry leaders. We have a standing offer to all people to train them from the ground up to the sky. Think of Precision as a ladder to your success. We are building a team that less than 1% of people out there will qualify for. Once you’re in, we will do whatever it takes to help you get to where you want to go. It doesn’t even have to be tree work in the end, helping the best people get to where they want to go means that not everyone will end up with Precision. That’s just reality and we might as well be straight up with each other right off the bat. The trade off? You act like an owner – you show up, you give a shit, you are ready for work (and leave work ready for work) and you own and take responsibility for your mistakes. Simple? Hardly. Worth it? Damn right.

Steel toed boots are mandatory, all other safety equipment provided. You must have a valid driver’s licence to qualify for consideration.

Our company is a non-smoking workplace and this position is for non smokers only.

Our pay structure looks like this: Precision Tree Positions 2019/20 Position Rate + Profit Share Level (% of additional pay available as bonus if max target reached) = Total Possible Rate (wage plus max profit share)

New Hire (probation) $17.50 + 13% = $19.78
Groundman 1 $18.24 + 13% = $20.61
Groundman 2 $19.58/hr + 13% = $22.13/hr
Saw Operator 1 $20.48/hr + 14% = $23.35/hr
Saw Operator 2 $22.56/hr + 14% = $25.72/hr
AUA 1 $24.05/hr + 15% = $27.66/hr
AUA 2 $25.65/hr + 15% = $29.50/hr
AUA 3 $28.82/hr + 15 = $33.14/hr
CUA 1 $30.44/hr + 16% = $35.31/hr
CUA 2 $32.06/hr + 17% + $37.51/hr
CUA 3 General Foreman $35.66/hr + 18% = $42.08/hr

Benefits available after 6 months. You give your time, we cover the cost of training.

Position Agreements outlining requirements for each Position will be provided.

Shortlisted candidates will:
1. Be e-mailed
2. Get a phone interview
3. Have references checked.
4. Get interviewed in real life
5. Earn a try out with the team
6. Have a second debrief interview
7. Get offered a Position, which will require reviewing and signing a Position Agreement prior to commencing work.

Please include a cover letter telling us what you will do to improve our team. Maximum effort yields maximum results. Don’t half ass it. Low/No effort applications – ie those without cover letters – will be reviewed with equal effort. Which is none. Which means we’ll trash them without a look.

Thank you for taking the time to read to the end of our really ridiculously long posting. Maybe you should apply.

~James, Team Captain, Precision Tree Services Ltd

Carrot juice

I changed today

but nobody saw it.

One of those “AH-HA” type moments

vibrating along the wires.

You might have kids, but you’re not a father.

You might have a wife, but you’re not a husband.

Not until you act like one.

So, how do you act?

Do you stay at work, consumed with opportunity?

Do you get angry and yell, or give time and teach?

These things, these things that you do, you do it to yourself

you do.

Don’t you?

A teammate quits.

Can you blame him?


It’s your own damn fault. Too busy measuring, planning, scheming.

You think it’s all fine, as long as the bus is travelling down the road

Forget the fact that the wheels came off awhile ago

and you can’t stop

and there are babies in the road ahead.


You did.

Too focused on that carrot

you chase

every day.

You’re going to run the babies over. And lose them all.

Don’t change for the better.

Change for the present.

It’s all rented

your couch

your expensive dogs

your white fireplace

your library of books

your fast car

your jacked up truck

your big clean house

your shiny watch

your trendy shoes

your spotless driveway

your holy underwear

your wedding ring

your fucking job

your stress sweat

your scars

your itchy crotch

your stubby fingers

your perfect finger nails

your frizzy hair

your slanted smile

your slightly crossed eyes

your friends

your feelings

your diagnoses

your disease

your sickness

your wellness

your health

your notebook

your money

your name

your time

your things


these things

these things are

these things are all

these things are all rented


you own

you own nothing

you own nothing except

you own nothing except

you own nothing except



The reward

To succeed, you must believe you can succeed

Belief inspires actions

Before you become

You must do

To become successful

You must do the things successful people do.

You must persist.

Because the walls are difficult to climb

Be grateful for the challenges,

for they allow you to show how bad you want it.


Persistence is imperative.

Doing comes before being.

You need to do love

before you feel love.

You need to do success

before you are success.


Don’t get confused, intimidated, down.

The walls are a part of the process.

For nothing in life is free

And no great achievement comes

without sacrifice.


In the end your reward is not a thing

Things come and go

You’ve earned more, that thing which cannot be taken away,

What is it, after the




The reward

in the end

is you.

Could be

I chased it around town

And, to my surprise

Caught it quite easily

They tell you it’s supposed to be hard

That you have to bleed and sacfrice and hurt

And chase, and chase, and chase and chase

So I did

And got tired and sick and lonely

So I quit

I threw it all away

And went for a walk

And found it

It was quite sunny, unusually warm for the morning

I picked up a coffee

I walked

Not fast

Not slow

Just walked

And there it was, at the end of a beautiful morning

Sitting on a bench beside the water

So I sat beside it

Here’s what I found


Could be

You could be one on someone’s wall

A pinnacle of yourself


You could be the one they call on and ask


You could be a friend

Trusted, loved

You could be beautiful

A pinnacle of yourself

Your unique you

You could smile

And share your beauty with people who aren’t your friends yet

Could be

Growing, asking, questioning, learning


You could keep it all inside

You could miss it all

And die alone and bitter and sad

You could

Could be happy


Are you?


Find a patch of sun and lay in it

Frankie’s key to a successful, happy life.

Early morning. Sitting in my chair. Drinking coffee.

Our 3, 5 and 7-year-old sons are continuing the slow demolition of our house. My wife is reading. I’m searching for the end I need to begin with to be a highly effective person.

“Look at that dog,” my wife says. Frankie, our French Bulldog, is laying in the only patch of sun around. Totally at peace. And then it hits me.

The key to a successful, happy life is to find a patch of sun and lay in it.

In order to achieve this pinnacle of success is to:

  1. Find a patch of sun
  2. Lay in it

Do not accept anything less than a fully engulfed, blazing patch of sun. Quality is of the utmost importance. Your life, your success, and your happiness are worth the effort.

Then lay in it.

Do not:

  • plan your future
  • reminisce about your past

You must be. Let the warmth penetrate your skin, feel it in your core.

Now, carry the feeling you feel at this very moment throughout the rest of your life

and be that sun for others.

Old Man Strength

Don’t take shortcuts.

I like lifting heavy things.

The gym, you can find me there.

Lots of weight.

Every day.

Warm up. Push weight. Cool down.

Eat. Consume.

Warm up. Push weight. Cool down.

The rhythm builds strength.


Old man strength. That’s what I call it. That’s what I want. The fathers, they have this ridiculous strength. They can lift more weight. They can outwrestle. Outlast. I work hard and hope

Warm up. Push weight. Cool down.

I’ll get it.

Warm up. Push weight. Cool down.

Eat. Consume.

Warm up. Push weight. Cool down.


Don’t take shortcuts.


I like lifting heavy things.

The home, you can find me there.

Lots of weight.

Every day.

Dirty diapers. Do dishes. Bedtime.

Feed. Give.

Dirty diapers. Do dishes. Bedtime.

The rhythm builds strength.


Fatherhood, that’s what I call it. I do the things that need to be done. I don’t like doing all of them, necessarily. But my disliking is subordinate to the strength of my purpose.


I must lift more weight. Survive. Work hard and hope

Dirty diapers. Do dishes. Bedtime.

I’ll make it.

Dirty diapers. Do dishes. Bedtime.

Feed. Give.

Dirty diapers. Do dishes. Bedtime.


There are no shortcuts.

Warm up. Push weight. Cool down.

Lots of weight.

Dirty diapers. Do dishes. Bedtime.

Every day.

Giving yields the greatest gains.

I am the strength of my purpose.


I am you

What we are

I am you

There is no me

I am.

You hear me,

And I speak.

You feel me,

And I am here.

You see me,

And I am.

It’s black. Filtered light. Grey. White. The lungs expand, sucking in air. I become alive. The eyes open, taking in the light. I become aware. The neurons fire, recognizing my bedroom. I become human.

I am not I, I am you.

I look toward my wife and become a husband. I hear my children waking and become a father. I build my house as I walk down the stairs. I take it on. I become. I am.

Only without you, I do not exist.

I get into my truck and become a driver. I am not a driver, I am the driver, the one. I are many.

I participate in labor and become a worker. I am. Maybe you know. If people listen, I am called their boss. If people do not listen, they are called my boss. But I am.

If I are you, then we are we, and the table turns on its head. The upside down place. We are here right now, you and I, I and I, we. The mirror lies because it only shows us what we want to see. Go and look. See.

What belongs to I belongs to we. Shared. The language means something. Our lives mean something. But alone I mean nothing. As a we our lives mean everything.

So share. Be kind. Share. Respect. Help.

Because when you do it, you’re doing it for you.

Not because I am I.

But because I am you.