Monday, April 26, 2010

The quiet red sky in the morning

After getting the exercise disks I see it is based on a 7 day schedule with the last day being stretching (i.e. an easier day). So after talking with Lisa I decided to make Saturday the easy day so I would be free to work on the house or other family activities. That would mean a Sunday start for the big P180X experiment, and it also meant I had 5 days to “get ready”, what ever that means. So over those five days I took steps to get my diet in line, because the sad truth is no matter how hard you “bring it” you cannot out exercise a bad diet. That is especially true as you get older. Heck my ability to out metabolize my diet ended at 22 years old thanks to some stellar genetics.

The other thing I did was work through the stretch video three times as I figured it couldn’t hurt and just might help. I could handle just about all of it except for the plow as it cut my breathing off. It will be interesting to see as I progress how that improves. Anyways I really like the structure of the DVD with the countdown clocks, and the slight banter between the participants. I am sure I will have it memorized before I am done. But Tony, Pam the blam, Shauna the super freak, and the seething Phil go from head to toe over the course of an hour. Actually I don’t know if Phil is seething but I was amused to find a lot of online speculation about his hidden anger, mostly due to his stone face expression.

I also took a before photo but that isn’t coming up unless I get a decent after to go with it. The beginning numbers are 256#’s and 35.1% fat, but that is spread out over 76 inches so it isn’t too bad, he said wishfully. The only nagging injury I have is some slight ITBS on the right side, but that requires some pretty unique positioning to aggravate.

Glass Houses and Such

The sad part of procrastination is that one day the piper must be paid. I had this discussion with my son just the other day about getting into and paying for college. You can have all the fun you want in high school but all it ends up doing is increase the cost of the next phase of life. For him that meant he had reached the 100% point of putting his paycheck towards college. If he continues to waste time that would mean he will need to forgo his freshman year and work fulltime. I am alright either way but I wasn’t sure he was. I guess time will tell.

But this post isn’t about him, or his choices, that is his story to tell. I have procrastinated my health so long now that I crossed over the 100% line. Not taking care of your health as a young(er) person just means you will be less energetic, tired, and overweight; but definitely not anything dangerous. But I am forty now, the dangers for me are legitimately scary. I am easily old enough for a heart attack or a stroke. I am hitting most of the risk factors pretty solidly.

So I was sitting in a hotel the other day getting used to live television and I ended up watching infomercials, specifically Tony Horton and the P90X system. I am always doubtful of infomercials, especially when it comes to my health; but this looked pretty straightforward. Plus I have a few friends who have successfully used the system, so I know it can be helpful. After a little online research I was pretty sure it could help for three reasons. First I already had the equipment I need to do the program at home. Second it seemed to integrate a lot of bases; strength, fitness, and flexibility. Third, and probably most important to me, it is highly structured and visual.

I also realize the results shown on the commercial are not really within my reach at this time given the amount of weight I want to lose, but I have seen enough evidence to feel confident that two rounds would be pretty dramatic, so a P180X so to speak. My goal for this first round of 90 days will be to lose 30-35 pounds, be able to keep pace with the videos (more on that later), and generally to be ready to get super intense for round two. I realize some might feel I should be “intense” from the get go, but trust me at 50 pounds overweight and generally not exercising (besides the bike) for the last two year I am more concerned about not injuring myself until the rust falls off.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

You can call me Hay Bale

The Set Up:

JT has been JT his whole life (Jay Tee) though his actual name is Joseph Talmage.

The Pay Off:

I was reading with Cenny the other day, or rather Cenny was reading aloud to me when the character in the book said: "My name is Alexander, but you can call me Al."

Except Cenny didn't say Al (rhymes with Pal), she said AL (rhymes with Hay Bale).

This make me happy, and I might have to call Cenny Hay Bale from now on. It's a pretty good nickname.**

**yes, I am proud of the correct usage of It's versus Its

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Scars of Youth

I noticed today one of my interactions has been permanently inf; influenced by my Mom. A scar so to speak that has changed me. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying this in a negative way, more just a neutral observation.

Whenever I hear Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd the first thought to enter my mind is my Mom ranting about how terrible this song is and how irresponsible the band is because they use BAD GRAMMAR!!

"It is clear that these kids really do need education. 'Don't need no'; I mean, really!"

And on and on she would go for the whole song. Through some Pavlovian training I cannot enjoy this song at the highest level because my interaction has been damaged. I cannot hear it without also hearing my Mom too.

Not necessarily a bad thing, just part of the weird mixture that is me.

What scars are you toting around? And are any of them indirectly affecting your more meaningful interactions?

Monday, April 19, 2010

About Last Night, or Not Really A Bucket List

As I said in a previous post I am not really thinking in terms of a bucket list, but I do admit that I need to make changes to my general health if I want to have a long life. I was actually thinking in terms of just making changes to my outlook on life, or rather, the way I interact with it. I had my first opportunity last night to implement these changes.

So several months ago I read a book called Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (but for some reason I cannot find my post on it). In it Gilbert posits that we as human beings are absolute crap at predicting what will make us happy. We set these very narrow standards at what will make us happy and when we vary off that target we predict we will be unhappy. This sets us up for a lot of self fulfilling prophecy of sadness in which we end up missing opportunities for joyful moments. Please watch the video below where Gilbert discusses various extreme events (paralysis and winning the lottery) and which makes people happier).

Anyways an example from my own life is pears. My exposure to pears growing up was limited to fruit cocktail in the can. We had that for dessert about 3 times a month growing up and I absolutely detested the pears (favorites in order are cherries, grapes, pineapples, and peaches) in so much that I would pick them out. Now that was no easy task given their small size and very similar color to the pineapples. I hated the pears so much that I went 35 years purposely avoiding them because I DO NOT LIKE PEARS. It was part of my identity.

Then one day I saw some Anjou pears for sale in the grocery store. They looked so good I bought a few pounds for the kids, but then they tempted me. I tried one to confirm that my core being hadn’t changed; I hate pears. But major paradigm shift later and now I am the guy who checks the fruit section of store EVERY TIME I go shopping to see if they have any Anjou pears in stock. What is the point of this story? Well I wasted 35 years of my life based on the prediction that eating pears would be an unpleasant experience and thus make me happy. Or conversely I believed that avoiding pears would make me happy and I was wrong.

Here is another shorter example for you to mull over. More often than not are truly great moments of real happiness come from unpredicted, unplanned events. Assuming you are in a happy relationship, think back to how you met your significant other – planned or random? It was completely random set of events that led me to Lisa (and vice-versa) and that has led to twenty years so far of the happiest moments of my life.

So what does that mean for you and me? We need to spend a lot less time setting up all these arbitrary standards for us to be happy, and more time finding happiness in all the moments we get. Stuck in traffic – don’t worry, be happy. I was stuck in traffic on I35 driving to the Twin Cities a while back. It was very frustrating to have all the construction slowing us down. Now while I turned off to go to the St. Paul side, I have to wonder how many people who where stuck along side me avoided the bridge collapse that happened just a few miles up the road from where we were that same afternoon? If my clueless school counselor hadn’t have passed the buck on writing my recommendation to the one teacher I had had verbal altercations with (and even filed a complaint about), maybe I would have made it into the Coast Guard Academy and then I would have never met Lisa. (of course I had never been on a boat either I have since learned I get violently sea sick). I was angry at the time but what a blessing that has turned out to be. Ms Mayers where ever you might be – I owe a lot of my happiness to your crap teaching, man hating, personality disorder – who knew?

So long story longer, what did I do? Two things I believed would never lead to happiness, first is a choir concert, and second is a long bus ride with people I don’t know. These are things I have been avoiding since forever and I totally could have avoided again. But as I told Lisa I wanted to go just to see if I could give up my narrow views and to see if happiness could be found in any moment. So last night Lisa and I rode the parents coach up to Minneapolis to see Gunnar and the AHS choir participate in a 6 choir show. You know what, I had a good time. It was fun, the performances were great, the venue was beautiful, and we had a great conversation with our neighbors on the way up, and met another parent at the show. Plus our son was very happy for us to be there.

What are you avoiding? Reframe it; What moments of great happiness are you missing out on because you are too busy being unhappy?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Haven't Forgotten

The annual Most Challenged Books List has been put out by the American Library Association again. These are books certain individuals want banned from libraries because they are incompetent parents and all around priggish busybodies. How many of the top ten have you read? (I have read the bold ones)

1. ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

It looks like I have a few books left to read this year. How about you?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Dad would be so jealous

One of the benefits of our little town is the Austin Artist series. This organization schedules 5 concerts through the year and they are always wide ranging in their appeal, but almost always fun and extremely talented. Last night was no exception as we closed out the 2010 season with Riders in the Sky, an old school singing cowboy western band. I was a little surprised at how many of the songs I knew, but in retrospect this is the music I grew up with as a kid as my father loves it (Think Gene Autry).

Anyways, they have been playing together for over thirty years so it was fun to watch how easy they made it all look even though you could tell they were technically brilliant. Of course their banter and jokes were spot on, but I always wonder how many times they have told the same jokes over their nearly 6000 performances? The kids had a good time, especially as they went through the medely of Disney songs they did for Toy Story (Woody’s Round-up being the best known). All that was missing was a banjo picker, but maybe that doesn’t fit into the genre.

The other big news was the announcement that next season will include a group from the cities perfroming the musical Forever Plaid. I don’t know much about it but one of my last college roommates absolutely loved it. On that alone I am looking forward to it.

The Likeness – Book #27

Title The Likeness
Author Tana French
Genre Mystery
Pages 466
Publisher Viking
Copyright 2008

Synopsis (from web-site)
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestselling psychological thriller In the Woods Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She’s transferred out of the murder squad and started a relationship with Detective Sam O’Neill, but she’s too badly shaken to make a commitment to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case: a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin. The dead girl’s ID says her name is Lexie Madison “the identity Cassie used years ago as an undercover detective” and she looks exactly like Cassie. With no leads, no suspects, and no clue to Lexie’s real identity, Cassie’s old undercover boss, Frank Mackey, spots the opportunity of a lifetime. They can say that the stab wound wasn’t fatal and send Cassie undercover in her place to find out information that the police never would and to tempt the killer out of hiding. At first Cassie thinks the idea is crazy, but she is seduced by the prospect of working on a murder investigation again and by the idea of assuming the victim’s identity as a graduate student with a cozy group of friends. As she is drawn into Lexie’s world, Cassie realizes that the girl’s secrets run deeper than anyone imagined. Her friends are becoming suspicious, Sam has discovered a generations-old feud involving the old house the students live in, and Frank is starting to suspect that Cassie’s growing emotional involvement could put the whole investigation at risk. Another gripping psychological thriller featuring the headstrong protagonist we’ve come to love, from an author who has proven that she can deliver.

Why I read It
Even with all the frustrating editorial decisions the author took with her first book, In the Woods, her writing was excellent.

What I Thought About It
Well you have to accept a really, really, really big premise; but after that it is a great book throughout. The writing was engrossing again, not as many open plot points at the end (but there are some still there), and the characters are still likable. I will definitely be reading book three when it is released later this year.

Mormon Mentions

Author Biography

Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She trained as a professional actress at Trinity College, Dublin, and has worked in theatre, film and voiceover.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It has been a long time

Between the pneumonia, the week I spent in bed, and making up that week at work; I have been busy. Isn’t it always the case that it is exponential for making up work that you have missed? That is it takes two days to make up one missed day. So a week off was a killer to catch up. Plus it wasn’t like I was well when I got back to the office; I was just able to sit up for an 8 hour day.

Then last week I had a four day short course at the University of Minnesota; An Introduction to Food Science. That was more work missed, but at least this time I knew it was coming. By the way that course was really a misnomer. I went to school to become a therapist (double major in Psychology and Family Science) and then went on and got a masters in Organizational Management (yes, I am a degreed MOM). This job working with food was one I took at the time to make money after spending so much time in school (I was on the 9 year bachelor’s program). Well that was fifteen years ago and besides Food Allergies, my actual detailed food knowledge is severely lacking.

So I signed up for this course thinking it might give me the basics to get started. Instead it was more like “So you really know your Chemistry, so let us talk about the specialty of FOOD Chemistry.” I really liked how to make it “easier” the teacher would draw chemical compound diagrams on the board. It wasn’t a total loss because I learned quite a few superficial things, even a couple of really neat things, but ultimately I did get one truly important lesson.

I learned how much I didn’t know, especially since I work in R&D. As a 40 year old with 14 years into a 30 year career I realized I am not just doing this job to earn money before my “real” job. This is my life right now, this is my real job and I shouldn’t really be wasting anymore time. To that end I have decided to take advantage of my local community college and all the online courses now available and learn Chemistry and Food Science.

I am reminded of a brilliant woman from my mission, Sister Pass of Runcorn England. She earned her college degree in Art when she was 90 years old. She was interviewed on National TV at the time and the presenter asked her “Why get a degree at 90?” Her reply has always stuck with me. She said she figure she could have a degree at 90 or not, so either way she would still be 90. Why not have the degree.

So in ten years I will be 50, still stumbling along blindly in my career waiting for my life to begin or I can actually start living it today and get something done. As my secretary used to have as her screen saver, “Life is what happens while you make other plans.”

Maybe it is my midlife crisis, but I really want to start making changes to my life. Get ‘er done before I miss it. I do have a few nagging goals and desires that I will post later, but unlike Lisa I don’t think that will include skydiving.