Monday, April 30, 2012

On Struggling

If you've read some of the previous posts on here this year, you may have come across my discussions of "future me". I got the original inspiration for that from a lot of places, but one of them is a post on procrastination from a blog called "You Are Not So Smart" (YANSS, for short).

A cartoon site called "Formal Sweatpants" did a cartoon derived from that procrastination post from YANSS recently. I think it is brilliant (and here it is....)

It also categorizes the struggle I've had for the last few weeks. Current and Future Me have been duking it out just about every day for several weeks. The two of them struggle with each other and go back and forth over who is right and who should do what.

The end result is that they both lose.

Even though it may seem that Current Me wins the argument, he still loses in that he IS Future Me. Check and mate, sir.

I'm chalking it up to a dog pile of stress that seems to come with this time of year. It's not just one thing - we are a very busy family in general but the end of the school year just seems to stack things right on top of one another.

It's not overwhelming or catastrophic. It's just more. And one of the things that gets stretched the farthest is my resolve/willpower to stick with the eating program and exercise. Excuses are easier to come by and "later" becomes a dumping ground for a lot of those personal decisions.

I don't have an answer or keen insights on this. It just is a thing right now.

So, not only did I miss posting this on Friday but I've all but avoided the scale too. I know the number has got to be up this week but I didn't check it at all. That sucks....

Do you have any of these periods you go through? Leave a comment and let me know what it is or how you typically handle it....

Friday, April 20, 2012

On A Good Story

I love a good story. I think most people do. I was reminded of how much a good story matters recently from a place that many people might find odd.

This one involves a high school boy, a friend with an Apple ][e, and a penchant for imagination.

Let's start in 2012 - I love checking out Kickstarter to see what kinds of things people are coming up with. I've even backed a few projects on there (some successful and some not). But one that really grabbed my attention was a project to develop a video game. Not just any video game, mind you. This game was touted as being the long awaited sequel to one of the grand daddy computer role playing games of all time: Wasteland.

For those of you who either weren't around in the 80's (some of you) or didn't play computer games back then (all the rest of you), Wasteland was one of the first games that took on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre and did something good with it. The game was pretty awesome. Especially to a teen boy who read every sci-fi book he could get his hands on....

Now, you might be asking "What could have made a game from 1987 so good?" I get that. I mean, we're talking 8-bit stuff here. The graphics and sound would barely pass as graphics and sound by today's standards. You controlled everything with the keyboard - no mouse or touch anything. It even required a *gasp* physical booklet (that came with the game) to play. The game, at certain points, would direct you to read a certain numbered paragraph from the couple of hundred paragraphs in the booklet. Old school, baby....

So, what's the deal? In a word - Story. Sure there were a few (for 25 years ago) tech advances. But the thing that really grabbed people (and it got quite a few) was the story. The player was quickly and easily immersed in the world of the game, mainly via text descriptions and paragraphs. The graphics and sound (such as they were) brought just enough to let your imagination grab ahold and run with it.

The sequel to Wasteland never surfaced and the game began to fade. It got a little boost (mainly in people's memories) when the game Fallout hit the scene a decade later. That game was a huge hit. Probably bigger than Wasteland mainly because of the growing number of home computers and gamers with paychecks (those teens in the 80's were young adults with jobs in the 90's). The tech was leaps and bounds above Wasteland but the story was basically drawn from the older game. Fallout rocked too.

But, Wasteland proved to me, and many others, that a good story is something that people really long for. Sure there are somethings that work fine with out a good story (e.g., Angry birds), but when you get a good story you can grab people and stay with them.

So, I backed the Wasteland 2 project on Kickstarter. And then I went and got an Apple ][ emulator and a disk image of the old Wasteland game. I had forgotten how good it actually was until I started playing again. I got hooked on the story once again....

On Waist Land
(see what I did there....)

I'm still not running but I hope to pick it back up next week as my foot is about 100% better than it was.

In the mean time, I 've tried to buckle down on the diet side of things. That has led me to the scale once again where I found:


Another pound. At that rate (1lb/week) I'll be pretty close to hitting the 200lb mark by the end of the year. Of course, I'd like it to happen a little quicker but I know it's slow and steady that wins this race.

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Being Busy

What a crazy week and weekend. No real info to post or deep insights other than to say that, Dads - ALWAYS take your little girls (no matter their age) to the Father-Daughter dance when the opportunity comes up. You will not regret it...

Friday morning I hopped up on the scale. I wasn't sure what to expect since my running was still offline with the foot injury and I had basically gone 2 days without eating after being sick over Easter. So, I looked at the display and it said:


That's about 1.5lbs from the previous week. I blame being sick and I definitely DO NOT recommend it as a weight loss strategy. Ugh!

Friday, April 6, 2012

On Good Friday

It seems like an oxymoron to say that the day we remember the murder of someone is Good Friday. It is only because we either a) don't understand the importance and can gloss over it or b) full understand the importance and rejoice in the outcome.

In either case, the events of the day that Jesus was crucified are often overlooked. The suffering that He endured, the sacrifice that He made, and the actions and reactions of the people around Him are amazing.

The thing that always draws my attention in reading about it or in discussing it are some of Jesus' last words on the cross:
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. (John 19:30, NLT)
"It is finished." What is it that was finished? Why does it matter? Did something else begin?

I look at those words and am reminded each time that the work to defeat sin and death has been done. What Jesus finished was the atonement necessary to cover the sins, past and present and future, of all of us.

That's an amazing thing when you think less about the cosmic importance of it and contemplate the personal meaning of it. It is finished. The work is done. There's nothing left of that job. I don't have to try to do the work myself. Jesus did it for me. He did it for everyone.

Not that any of us could ever do that work anyway, but we also don't have to worry and stress about it. And the fear of the outcome is gone as well. And I can get on with living the life that God intended me to have. One in which I can have communion and close relationship with Him. One where I am not separated by the pall of sin, of being unclean before a holy and pure God.

That's not to say that there isn't sin in the world, in my life. It will be here until God draws things to a close. The key here is that it doesn't have to drag me under and separate me from God. I don't have to follow it down the path of death.

That is really Good News.....

On The Quest

My running program took a forced hiatus this week, and maybe next week too. I injured my foot on Sunday trying to pretend that I'm about 20 years younger than I am. So I've had to take some time off.... again.

Anyway, the foot still works well enough to step on the scale so I did that this morning:


A gain of half a pound. Ugh. Here's hoping I can get back to running sooner rather than later....

Photo credit to glasgow's finest on flickr.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On Faith

Last night was really cool. I got invited to the Confirmation dinner at our church where I sat down to a meal with several friends. The meal was a good time but the key event of the night was the presentation of the statements of faith by the 8th grade students that had completed the confirmation class.

Ok, what is a confirmation class? It's a class that spans several months in which young people are confirming their baptisms. A very large number of families in our church baptize children when they are infants or toddlers. Most people that age aren't really in a position to make an affirmation of what baptism represents. So, starting at 8th grade, the young folks are able to take the confirmation class in order to "confirm" their baptism and their acceptance of their faith.

The class incorporates pairing the youth with a more mature mentor and several classroom sessions on church history, doctrine, biblical teaching, and open discussion about following Jesus. At the end of the period, the Youth (called confirmands) put together their statement of faith and present it to a collection of church elders, clergy, and advisors. That's what happened after the dinner.

It was an amazing time. I have known many of the confirmands since they were toddlers and watched them grow up. It was great to see and hear their statements. I was blown away by how these young men and women talked about the concept of faith and how it has and does impact their realities. Too see that a group of people often characterized as ADD or immature could approach something with this much insight and caring was very inspiring to me.

Along with being very happy for these young people, I was challenged to take a deeper look at how I express my faith. How do I talk about it? How do my actions reflect what I do/don't believe? How do I server God in my home, my work, and elsewhere in my life? Do people see God in my life or is He a well kept secret?

Not sure what the answers are to all of these questions. As I dig into them more over the next days and weeks, I'll post more about them.

Have you ever developed a "faith statement?" What struggles have you had trying to describe your faith to someone?

On the scale

I'm 2 weeks into doing a 5K training program and have run about 11 miles in the past week and a half. That seems to have helped move things along as the scale reported this today:


Another pound towards the goal of 200lbs. That also brings the pledge amount to $40: $20 for Love146 and $20 for To Write Love On Her Arms. These are two great organizations and if you feel called to help support one or both of them, please let me know what you would like to pledge - a flat amount, a number of dollars per pound I lose, etc. Thanks in advance....

Photo credit to The U.S. National Archives on

Friday, March 23, 2012

On Sons

Having been a son my whole life (after being born at such an early age), you might think that I would be an expert on the subject by now.

Turns out that's not really the case... at least for the dealing with the early years.

It should go without saying that boys are different from girls in a lot of ways (I'm not going into most of the differences - this isn't THAT kind of blog). But somehow I'm still surprised by certain things my son does that his older sisters didn't.

Two of these things are 1) a strong desire to basically try to destroy just about anything at least once and 2) an inability to sit still for more than about 7.5 seconds.

This came home in a very clear way when he had to take a steroid medication recently. The doctor said that it could "increase his activity level a little, so don't give it to him right before bed." Had I been more in tune with things at the moment here's what I should of heard, "This will be like throwing gasoline on a fire. A really big fire."

Wow. Within 30 minutes of the 1st dose, we had a small human buzz saw in our living room. His sisters, who are used to him trying to use them as jungle gyms, practice targets for lightsabers, and good training for Nerf guns, were exposed to a new level of terror. I was fearful for my own well being a few times (I did not escape unscathed...)

This lasted for at least an hour before subsiding to a more manageable level of mayhem. The next dose (only one a day Thank God!) was a little less dramatic, but maybe because most everyone cleared the area when they heard it was medicine time.

But these meds, and steroids in general, list side effects that can include "anger and frustration". What does that mean? It means that coming down from the brightly burning energetic phase leads into a slow, smoldering fuse that can flash into life and ignite amplified emotions.

This means that, after the immediate danger of the whirling dervish of 3 year old terror has subsided, we have a tantrum time bomb waiting to go off at the first utterance of the words "No" or "Time for bed."

I tell you all of this not to try to garner sympathy or show you just how much better you parenting skills are than my own (you are welcome). But instead, I wanted to say that I realized two things out of this situation this week. The first is that I'm sure I probably owe my parents some deep apologies for the ways I acted and the things I did over the years that I didn't even realize were "bad".

The second thing is that I realized that, regardless of how old we are, most of us have the ability to be an amp'ed up 3 year old. Not necessarily on the activity level or with the wanton destruction of physical items but more at the root level - we want what we want, we want it now, and we deserve to have it or be able to do it when we want and how we want.

Many of us restrain acting on this, at least publicly, because of decorum, laws, reputation, etc. But that is just training ourselves to act a certain way or play a part. We haven't done anything about the real issue - our hearts.

In Proverbs chapter 4, King Solomon is giving advice to his children. He speaks often of the importance of seeking (and gaining wisdom) and then, down in verse 23 he hits on the thing I have found to be most important:

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)

In other words, it really matters what's under the surface (in your heart) and not just your public actions. As Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke:

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Luke 6:45, NLT)

We must pay attention to the things within us, understand where they come from, and ultimately deal with them. It ain't easy (or maybe even possible) to do it on your own. We just aren't made that way. As hard as it would be for my young son to do it, even adults can't often do it because the issues and causes are so deeply rooted in the human existence.

But there is hope and help, in my personal experience. I've been learning, and still am learning, to look to God to help me. By understanding His love for me and what He wants for me (not just from me), I better understand that there is something better. To quite the Lord speaking through Ezekiel:

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)

 It's not about following some moral code or set of rules to show that I'm good, or even good enough. It's about reacting to the love that God has for me and accepting Him and that what He has for me is greater. This leads to a change of heart and a desire to follow - instead of a reluctant outward adherence to a set of laws.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on matters of the heart as well as any stories you have about God changing a heart (yours or someone else's). I'm also open to any questions on the matter as long as you understand that I'm not a pastor or Bible scholar...

From matters of the heart to matters of the waistline....

The scale told me this today


Another pound. It feels good to have 2 weeks of forward progress. I'm looking to make it more....

Photo credit to The U.S. National Archives on

Friday, March 16, 2012

On Dads

In the past week, two friends have had their fathers pass away. It shakes you up to see this happen to people your own age and then think about the similarities in age to your own parents.

At the service for the first gentleman, I was blown away at the things that people had to say about him. He was a pretty amazing man and, as a football coach in his younger days, was able to make an impact in many people's lives. He never really stopped touching people's lives even after coaching either and several people, former players and coaches, as well as simple friends, talked about what kind of man he was.

But it was the incredible moments during which one of his daughters spoke that moved me to tears and gave me a lot to reflect on during my long drive home. The young lady had written a letter to her late father and she read it at the funeral services.

Within a tale of the unconditional love that her father had for her, she pointed out things about his character and about how he taught her life lessons through the way he lived.

I won't go into all the details but I will say that I drove home with a pretty big sense of, what was it? Was it guilt? Fear? Worry? I'm not sure to be exact. But the main thing on my mind was "Am I doing all that I can to be the best father that I can be to my kids?"

And especially for my daughters. I call them out because I feel that, with them, it is the easiest to mess up. Why? Because daughters don't just look to dads for lessons on what kind of behaviors and character to have, they also look to their dads to show them what a "Man" is supposed to be like. Ultimately, how they see me will probably greatly influence the sort of man they look for as they grow into women.

I will admit right here that I don't often intentionally think about how I'm impacting the emotional life of my children. And that's a big (huge) shortcoming and not fair to them at all.

I'm wide open to suggestions and encouragement from those of you that have daughters out there. What have been your successes and failures in this arena? What are you doing there day to day?

The Quest Continues....
Another week and another trip to the scales. From looking back on the week, I feel like I did better this week. There was some "cheating" on the weekend but nothing like before.

I also looked at the LiveStrong data for te week and see that, indeed, I did do better overall for the week.

So, then, I looked at the scale to see what it had to say about the week. It's reply?


Apparently, the scale is in agreement with the rest. That makes 1.5lbs for the week. I'll take it!

Here's this week's LiveStrong data: Week 10

Photo credit to The U.S. National Archives on

Friday, March 9, 2012

On Being Useful

I've got this hang-up about being useful. Call it codependence or a need for acceptance and validation or some other psych terminology. I'm aware of it and deal with it in some good and some bad ways.

That being said, here are 2 things on being useful that came through my feed recently.

The first is from a pretty well respected blogger/author who has had a long career in software development and made the jump from programmer to technical management. That's the same basi trajectory of my career: Graduate college and get hired to write software. Lead a small team. Lead a bigger team. Run a department. VP of Engineering for a software company.... There is a prevalent concern with folks in that track that they will cease to be "productive" and, therefore, not useful. Here's what Rands says on the matter:

My deep-rooted fear of becoming irrelevant is based on decades of watching those in the tech industry around me doing just that - sitting there busily doing things they’ve convinced themselves are relevant, but are just Faux-things-to-do wrapped in a distracting sense of busy. One day, they look up from their keyboard and honestly ask, “Right, so, what’s Dropbox?”

And then I found this piece written by Oswald Chambers in the daily devotional "My Utmost for His Highest":

The issue is never of being of use to God, but of being of value to God himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time. 

Just a few things to ponder...

Now, "On being Fat...."

Yeah, I'm in a mood today. Guess why....


That's a half pound gain for the week. And no wonder, the weekends are killing me. I gotta figure out why eating is such an overriding thought for me this time. In 2010, it just wasn't occupying so much of my thoughts but now it's on my mind all the time... Ugh.

Here's the LiveStrong data for Week 9.

Photo credit to contemplative imaging.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Anti-Social Media

No, I am NOT against social media. I've had a Facebook account for years as well as being one of the earlier adopters of Twitter.

What the title of this post is shooting for is the idea that being connected isn't really being connected. That is, I can have 500 friends on Facebook and 400 followers on Twitter (what do you do on Pinterest? I have no clue.) and be no closer to having any real relationships.

What I've noticed about myself lately is that I'm not doing much of anything on any of the social media sites except for browsing/scanning what's there. I might pop a "Happy Birthday" to someone if Facebook reminds me. I post links to this blog each week. But I'm not engaging anyone on there.

I think a lot of people do the same thing (and a whole lot don't). It's just too easy to hide from people on social media. Being face to face with a monitor or phone screen is nothing like being face to face with a person.

Plus, it takes some time and effort to meet with someone or at least have a real time discussion with them (phone, skype, video chat) without multi-tasking (like chat and IM). And most people feel valued when someone takes time or puts some effort into them.

So, back to the title, while some people absolutely love that Facebook, Twitter, etc can connect them to a lot of people and give them avenues of engagement, there are a lot of people who push deeper into being "anti-social" because of it. For me personally, I've pulled back a lot because it's easier to "hide" than it is to engage and, honestly, part of me wants to know who thinks I'm worth the effort.... Selfish, I know. But it is how I feel.

On to the Quest! I started this week off with a one-two punch of being disappointed with last week's results and with having a weekend with friends at the house. That turned into a "cheat" weekend that involved a combo meal from Zaxby's, pizza and cheese bread fromLittle Ceasars, and something called a Super Sonic Bacon Double Cheeseburger (nom nom). I felt so bad on Monday that I wondered if I should just throw in the towel.

But, I rallied and got back on track keeping the rest of the week right at or below the new 1700 calorie per day level. So, with much trepidation, I stepped up on the scale this morning and saw


Whew! I finally cracked the 240 mark. And didn't completely blow it with the wanton weekend. I don't think I'm going to make the cheat a regular part of the plan but it was good to see that I'm not back into my old habits of "Well, I messed up a little so I might as well dive into the mistakes all the way." Old me would have stretched the weekend into a week. And then the week into a few weeks. And so forth...

It's a good thing future me has current me looking out for him....

Here is the link to this week's LiveStrong data: Week 8

Photo credit to Krypto

Friday, February 24, 2012

What is Integrity?

We've all probably heard about people who have integrity. Or people living lives of integrity. But what does it really mean?

Being the engineering type, I of course look for the proper definition:

Integrity [in-teg-ri-tee] - adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty

I like the second definition from a little better: the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.

It all sounds pretty simple until I think about what it means to be whole or to adhere to principles. Don't you have to have something to compare to? Isn't it subjective then? And if integrity is subjective, can it be used as a measure of a person?

By my way of thinking, the real issue with integrity is what you use as your standard of comparison. Most people would say that as long you adhere to a consistent set of "good" principles, you have integrity. Or as long as you are consistent, then you can be said to have integrity.

It all comes down to what it means to be whole, entire, sound, undiminished when compared to something bigger than yourself. Some standard that isn't just "am I better than my neighbor."

And it has to be tested to be shown true. As Peter wrote in the New Testament:

For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. (1 Peter 2:19-20, New Living Translation)

Just "doing good" because you will be punished for doing bad doesn't show integrity. Intelligence, yes, but not necessarily integrity. Doing what you know to be right, especially in the face of options and pressure to not do it, reveals more of the wholeness and soundness of a person.

I bring all this up because I've been feeling a lot of pressure lately to compare myself, my life, and my family to others. I feel like there are things that I/we do that "don't measure up" to what others are doing. I feel pressure to go with the flow, so to speak.

And I have to keep coming back to what I believe, what I know, to be right and maintain my integrity as best I can. It isn't easy and I'm surely not perfect at it but I'm not giving up on it....

Speaking of not giving up, I stepped on the scale again this week. Here's what I saw:


Another half pound. Progress but still disappointing. I think it's time to kick it up a notch....

Here is this week's LiveStrong data.

Photo credit to contemplativechristian.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Power of Will

Over the past few weeks I've been frustrated with my ongoing attempts to bring my weight down (again). After a few weeks of no discernable progress, I'm about ready to throw in the towel on this and see what minimal changes I can make and still maintain where I am.

Basically, how can I eat what I want and at least not gain any weight....

Now, I did say "about ready" and not "I'm going to", so don't give up on me yet.

At the root of all this is my desire to eat what I want. And I want food that isn't exactly good for me - cheeseburgers and chili fries for example. But why is that?

For me, I'm finding (again) that this sort of eating seems to give me some sort of comfort/solace/respite. It's harder to deal with "eating right" the more stress or anxiety or fatigue that I have at any given moment.

I know I'm not alone in this behavior and this isn't some deep insight special to me, but I find that I have to remind myself of this time and again. For me, staying on track with eating right (or at least eating better) is an exercise of will power. A series of articles over at one of my new favorite site, Art of Manliness, talks about will power - what it is, how we use it up, and how to conserve/improve it. Check out the articles here:
Thinking about it as something like this (finite and changeable) can help me to plan for the up times and the down times. Knowing what and when the stress or the fatigue are, I can work on preparing for them. And, like building muscle or strength, I can take some deliberate steps to get stronger. Especially around the things that test me the most (think chili fries again...)

More to come on this topic, I'm sure.

As for the weight thing, I finally got the scales to move this week. And, yes, in the direction that I want them to...


At least it's something. Not much when I look at 1 pound in almost a month. But progress nonetheless.

Here is this week's LiveStrong data: Week 6

That also adds to the tally for Love146 and TWLOHA. $12 each so far. I'm still looking for some other folks to make a pledge for one or both of these fine organizations. Every little bit helps...

Photo credit to The U.S. National Archives

Friday, February 10, 2012

Still Questing

Some how, trying to lose weight this time seems harder. I'm not sure why....

I'm shooting for 1.5lbs per week where I was doing 2lbs per week last time. That means that my daily budget for calories is higher now than it was when I hit the 240's last time (by nearly 500 calories a day - that's basically an extra meal!).

The thing is, I'm not hitting the 1.5lbs a week results even though I'm hitting the calorie budget reliably. So, I'm going to drop the budget some more. Probably by 250 / day (which should equate to 1/4lb a week). I'll experiment with that for a few weeks to see what the results look like....

Anyway, it should be obvious that this wasn't a great week for the numbers. And that is discouraging. Well, for me it is. The past few Friday's I've looked at the progress and told myself that this week will be the time to get increased physical activity. And so far, I've apparently been wrong about that.

Oh well, enough complaining about it. Here's this week's number from the scale:


Yup. No change from last week. Ugh.

But, I'm still resolved to continue my Quest for 200. It just might take a little longer and be more work. But the alternative is less attractive to me than putting in the work to get where I need to be.

To borrow from a quote I heard recently (can't recall the source at the moment):

A year from now you will wish you had started now.

How very true. Hey Future Me - I'm looking out for you, buddy....

EDIT: Here is the link to this week's LiveStrong data.

Photo credit to sheeron

Friday, February 3, 2012

What I'm reading

I like to read. I've been an avid reader for a long time. I used to pick up a book and consume every word in it as fast as I could. There were times that I would do nothing between the time I opened to page 1 and the time I finished the book other than read.

I've started and finished more than one book in a day (no, they were not Dr Seuss books...)

I tell you all that so you get a feel for how much I like to read. The time I have each day to read has diminished a good bit over the past several years. But I do find (that is, make) time to read the things that I deem "read-worthy." For example, after being turned on to George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series by watching "Game of Thrones" on HBO (awesome series but don't watch it with kids in the room...), I got the 5 books currently out in the series and read them all in about 8 weeks (The books average over 800 pages each).

So, my love for reading is still there even if I don't indulge it in the same way as much any more. What I tend to do more of now are more like quick hits of reading. I probably read more short articles on-line than I do long pieces now. Also, when I do open a book, it's usually to read 10 - 25 pages.

So, back to the title, "What I'm reading"

Besides waiting very impatiently on the next "Song of Ice and Fire" book to come out (c'mon George....), I've got a few reading activities under way:

"Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor E Frankl
I picked this book up at the suggestion of Brett McKay on The Art of Manliness site (and author of one of the books below). I'm just starting it but it looks like a pretty heady psych book about some of the things that drive (primarily) the male of our species to do much of what we do. Look forward to getting deeper into this one.

"Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred" by David Erik Nelson
This is a fun book about DIY that you can both involve your kids in and learn a lot of neat skills that can come in handy in other areas. Subtitled "Seriously geeky stuff to make with your kids", it gives you the how-to for a lot of different projects at the same time pointing out the skills you will be learning as you do them. Each project includes a set of suggested materials and tools an, often, things you can use if you don't have things in the list.

"Building a Discipling Culture" by Mike Breen
I got this book because it is being used in a men's group I joined last year. The group is built around this concept of "discipling" as laid out, and commanded, by Jesus in the New Testament. Breen's book describes what discipling is, how to work it into the culture of our daily lives, and a language and structure for it. It can be pretty dry at times as a stand alone book but using it to help lay the foundation of our small huddle is helping.

"The Art of Manliness - Manvotationals" by Brett and Kate McKay
As mentioned above, I am a visitor to the Art of Manliness web site that Brett and Kate McKay have. Their site is aimed at rediscovering and promoting what true "manliness" is all about. The primary focus being on character and substance, as opposed to mostly machismo and style. The Manvotationals book is  a collection of writings and advise from the ages on 7 virtues of manhood: Manliness, Courage, Industry, Resolution, Self Reliance, Discipline, and Honor.

"Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson
From one of the long-time experts in raising children, this title focuses on some of the specific, and sometimes unique, things associated with raising sons today. I've started this one on the recommendation of my wife who just finished it herself. I'm not much past the introduction so I don't have much to say about it yet but I've got high expectations.

So, how about you?
What are you currently reading (or recently finished reading)? How was it?

On to this week's weigh-in. It's been a tough week for making progress on the Quest for 200. Sleep has been hard to come by and that affects my resolve/will power during the day - mainly the evening time around and after dinner. I also think my caffeine to water ratio is out of whack. I need more of the latter and less of the former...

So, today's number from the scale is:


A whole pound. Well, it's better than last week but still below my target of 1.5 pounds each week. I need to get my daily activity level up again. That means not just hitting the stationary bike or running (if I ever start back) a couple of times a week. It means doing more than sitting all day at work, sitting in the car for my commute, and then sitting at home. Gotta put time in there to get 5 - 10 minute stretches for just walking around a few times a day.

We'll see how it goes....

UPDATE: Forgot to add the link for this week's LiveStrong data. Here it is...

Photo credit to Flickr user hddod

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just a little bit...

This week has been a bit frustrating with respect to diet and exercise. The scale gave me some kinda disappointing news and I felt like it had been a good week overall.

I came in pretty well under my daily goals for calories everyday. I even got on the bike for 45 - 60 minutes four times this week. And in the end, I saw very little movement on the scale:


Not even a pound. Ugh.

So I started looking for a reason. Well, actually, an excuse. I started thinking about how much sleep I've been getting (not much). I was thinking about how much I was on the bike (not enough). And even started down the path of thinking about how much fluid I must be retaining.

But when I pulled the data for the week from LiveStrong, I was faced with the real reason. And it's just like most times... the simplest thing is usually the answer.

Sprinkled throughout the data for each day are little servings of M&Ms, Mike & Ikes, and peanut M&Ms. But they don't contribute much to the daily totals and I still came in under the line, so what gives?

What gives is that I put in the 1/2 of a serving of candy when i first reached my hand in the bag and pulled out 10 pieces. But I didn't record the next 3 pieces.. or the 5 pieces I got fifteen minutes later... or the other 8 pieces right after dinner...

The point is, I justified not putting all those in because they were so small. But in the end, I didn't have 100 calories of Mike & Ike's that day. I had more like 300 or more by eating 30 calories at a time....

Again, ugh.

I know better than this. I've fought it before. Many times before. And it's time to get serious about it again if I really want to make progress.

What sorts of little things creep in and derail your progress?

Photo credit to Jenn and Tony Bot. (Definitely check out their photos over on flickr... Awesome stuff)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Taking Note

As I have been working on getting back on track in my Quest for 200, I realized that one absolutely key aspect of my previous successes in losing weight was zealously tracking what I ate. And I mean everything that I ate. As some of you know (and have heard me talk about way more than you wanted to hear...), I've been using to do this tracking.

I credit the time last year where I was gaining the weight back, in part, to not being habitual and brutally honest about taking note of my eating. So, as this year starts, I have been reflecting on how it is easy to observe things but often hard to take it all in. What does that mean? Well, for me, it means that I was always aware of what I was eating at the time but, without keeping track of it, I could easily "forget" about it later. This led to rationalizing each time I went to the fridge, or the drive-thru, with things like "It's just this one time" or "It's only a litte bit - it won't hurt me."

That's why I got back on the wagon with tracking everything, everyday in LiveStrong. It's also why I paid attention to something I was seeing among friends and others. Keeping a notebook or journal regularly. I've never been big on journalling (or really writing as the faithful readers here can attest....) so I was more interested in the pocket notebook idea. The idea being that you carry something to write on (and write with) that is easy enough to fit into a pocket. This way it is accessible and ready for you to scribble notes, ideas, sketchs, thoughts, whatever no matter where you are.

I chose to get a couple of small note books from the Field Notes line. Specifically, the County Fair 3 pack for my home state of South Carolina (picture at the top of the post.) I've been using it for almost 2 weeks and I love it. I'm amazed at all the things that I write down that I otherwise might have a) missed completely, or b) not recalled later on.

Now some of what I write down is not what you might call "important." But some of it is. And all of it, in some way, allows me to keep track of not just the past, but of the here and now. To quote the makers of Field Notes:
I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now.
 So, in the vein of keeping track of things, here is the number for this week:


Not a lot, but a little keeps adding up. I'll take it.

Here is the link to the data for Week 2: Week 2 LiveStrong Data

I got another supporter for the Love146 and TWLOHA causes this past week. That gives us $4 per pound lost ($2 for each cause) for a total so far of $12. Again, it doesn't look like a lot but the little keeps adding up.

It will add up faster if more people can add their "little" to it. If you want to help out either of these wonderful organizations (or both) please let me know and I can add you to the donor pool. Drop me a comment below or contact me through email, twitter (@scbubba), or facebook (

Friday, January 13, 2012

Something bigger than you

I hold the belief that it can't be all about me. Some part of what I do each day/week/month should be devoted to something bigger than just me, and even my family. I don't mean just helping another person, although I definitely think we should do that too.

I'm talking about finding something that matters to you but doesn't directly benefit you. All of the efforts are directed at making things better for people somehow. And do it for the long haul and not for just a few days or weeks.

I'm not trying to tell you what you should do or who you should help. Just giving you my thoughts on it.

Working to rescue victims of human trafficking and trying to end it is no small task and won't happen just because some people feel bad about it. It takes commitment and action. As many of you know, I've been a supporter of Love146 for a couple of years. Mainly through financial contributions and more recently by getting involved in trying to form a Task Force in my local area.

I'm doing this because I believe that Love146 and the work they are doing can make this world a better place in some small (and hopefully one day a very big) way.

I have also become a supporter for an organization called To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). The story behind TWOLHA is very compelling and recommend you go read it yourself here (I'll wait....)

I tell you all of this so you will, hopefully, join me in trying to help folks who help make the world better. My quest is to lose at least 48 lbs this year. I'm pledging $2 per pound lost, $1 to each of these organizations. So, if I hit my goal Love146 will get $48 and TWLOHA will also get $48.

It doesn't sound like a lot and, honestly, I know it isn't. That's why I would like to ask you to also make a pledge of some sort to help out one or both of these fine groups. Any pledge amount is awesome. Last time, several folks pledged $1 per pound and a few made lump sum pledges. All in all, this community raised around $1400 for Love146.

I think we can do something like this again but not without your help. Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook, or Twitter. Or any other means you can think of...

So, how was the first week on the Quest for 200? Let's take a look at the numbers....


That's about 2.5 lbs for the week. Better than I was expecting but not all together surprising. In the past, the 1st week or two always seem to have better than average results and then things settled into the slow and steady...

Several folks have said they were interested in using Livestrong like I do and wanted to know what I did/ate to get results. Since Livestrong lets me produce a report of my "diary" for the day or week, I'm going to be putting a link up with each weekly post for those that are interested in the data.

Here is the Week 1 data.

Thank again for following along and I hope that you will strongly consider donating to one of both of these great causes.

Photo credit to dixieroadrash

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Quest for 200

Alrighty then, let's get this thing started.

In the spirit of 80-60-40 and 210 in 2010, I'm kicking of "The Quest for 200" this year. What is that, you ask? (Let's pretend you asked that...)

It's my goal to get things back under control with respect to my weight and health. 2011 wasn't the best year for either of these areas as you can see from how it started to how it ended....

I want to be done with excuses and stop leaving so much to chance and circumstance. I was so successful the first time (in losing 105lbs) because I made S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-boxed) and then made the conscious choice each day to work towards them.

Sounds easy and hard at the same time. Well, it is.... But I made the decision that I like the future me as much as or even a little more than the current me. So I'm going to do what I can to make sure future me is getting the best opportunities.


Think about it this way, if you knew that your actions/choices had a direct effect on someone else's life, how would you decide on what to do? Would it be any different than if you thought that the things you choose today wouldn't affect anyone?

Seriously, if the things you chose to eat meant that your wife/child/parent/sibling/friend could have medical problems or a lesser quality of life, would you make different choices? I definitely would consider my choices carefully.

And if I would look at it differently for other folks, why not for "future me"... Isn't the guy I'm going to be in 12 months (aka, future me) an important person in my life? Shouldn't I consider what my choices would do to that poor guy?

Ok, maybe this doesn't resonate with you, but it does with me. And I've been seriously neglecting "future me" in several areas. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty ticked off at "a year ago me" for what's he has done to me... :-)

So, here we go. I'm on a quest to to get below 200 lbs by the end of this year (2012) so the "me" in January 2013 will have better things in front of him (i.e., me).

I've met the criteria for S.M.A.R.T. goals with the Quest for 200. But my experience has shown that it isn't enough for me in this arena. I need to add accountability to the mix to be successful with this (no clue if I should make a new acronym or not...) So I'm going to be putting weekly posts up here with my progress so far. That means a weekly weigh-in with the numbers going on the blog.

I haven't decided on whether or not to tie this in with fund raising for either or TWLOHA (two incredible organizations that work on causes near and dear to my heart), but I'm open to any suggestions from y'all (aka, my 3 loyal readers).

Here we go with this week's weigh-in:


That's 31 lbs above where I ended 2010. Not something I like or am proud of but it is reality at the moment.

I would love to hear about your goals this year and/or how you deal with reaching goals that take a while. What are you trying to achieve this year?

Photo credit to brianjmatis.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Second Chances...

Another year. One whole year gone by....

Amazing what kinds of things can happen, or not happen, in a year.

The last time I posted here, I had grand designs on 2011 and all that I would achieve. I was heady with the successes of my weight loss and charity fund raising. I was tearing it up. And I was gonna keep going...

Let's just say that 2011 was NOT a year of achieving my fitness and health goals. Not only did I not do the Cooper River Bridge Run, but I pretty much dropped out of running all together for the majority of the year. I allowed an aggravation (stress fracture of my foot) to become an excuse that lasted long after I had healed.

As for the USMC PFT, I started the pull-up workout by purchasing a bar that works in a doorway. I got it assembled and hung it up. Beyond that, not much there. No real progress on the sit-ups or push-ups either.

And then, to top it all off, I bailed out of the LiveStrong approach to losing weight that had been so successful for me before. In about March, I read "The 4 Hour Body" and liked the look of what it had in there about weight loss and muscle gain. I did pretty well for about 6 to 8 weeks with it and then found ways to "cheat" the program. Of course, I was only cheating myself....

By Thanksgiving 2011, I had gone from a low of 216 lbs (around Christmas 2010) to right at 240 lbs. Not the right direction....

So what does it mean now? It means I lost focus and need to get it back. My goal is still to get below 200 lbs. I'm targeting the end of 2012 for that. I should be able to average less than a pound a week to make that. I'm setting up my LiveStong account to count calories as if I was going to do 1.5 lbs per week to see how that works for a couple of months.

I'm disappointed in myself and I know that these set backs are not permanent. They don't define who I am or what I can do. I see my successes in the past and know what I am capable of.

So, as I start of 2012, I'm taking a second chance. We all get them. We don't all give them. And many of us won't take them.....

How was your 2011? Do you need to take a second chance?

Logo/image credit to