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When it started…

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq was when I became more aware of it. I knew there was bias in the news, could handle watching CNN, MSNBC, Fox – they were all slightly unique. They covered the events that eventually led to the war, they covered the congressional approval debates, that authorized the President to use force to expel Saddam Hussein . They covered when Bush sought UN Approval, citing all the times Saddam violated the sanctions against him without repercussion. They covered the coalition of the willing that created a joint force to do what needed to be done, oust one of the most horrific dictators in the world.

Then the protests started, then the news began to change. The biases solidified. That’s when it started.

It got worse, the longer the war dragged on, there were calls to support our troops, but they started maligning the President. Comparing him to Hitler, over and over again. When Bush won reelection the bias got worse. The Republican congress got bold, and started spending, budgets started to burst, and conservatives sat back a bit shocked. When the mid-term of Bush’s second term started, the power shifts, Republicans were no longer in power in either house. Bush was a true lame duck.

The bias got louder. It wasn’t just the news shows, it was Comedy Central, Late night television, pretty much piling on the sitting President and denouncing the conservative party as dead.

The run up to the 2008 election it got worse, dissent became “racist”, you couldn’t have a thought that wasn’t “correct” without being labeled as racist. President Obama ran on a platform of unity, of trying to bring us together. Days if not weeks into his Presidency it was apparent that unity meant only the unity of those with the proper thoughts, not ones opposed to the agenda of the Democratic party. We were going to get a healthcare bill.

Dissent, was shouted down. The Tea Party, that started up as a conservative response to Republican overspending, started to protest the healthcare bill. I attended a rally in my town. I got home from the rally, glad to have put my voice into a political movement. I came home and turned on the news, what would they say about this protest, after so glowingly covering the war protests.

I was called a racist. The whole tea-party movement was coalesced into that one phrase, “racist hate mongers”.

That was when it became apparent to me that the narrative on the nightly cable news shows wasn’t ever going to be fair.

So I tuned out. I retreated from being political. My voice didn’t matter. The new wave was upon us.

Then the primaries for this year started. Trump was all in the news and the news was all bad. The chorus was “he was a hate filled bigot that hated women” – sounded familiar. I was never a fan of Trump. He never earned by vote. But I could understand there were people like me out there, that would want to vote for him. People that had been told repeatedly by Cable News, Comedy Central, Late Night TV, SNL, that their views and values were outdated, they weren’t enlightened. People told through the summer of BLM, that they were racists. Then in the final weeks of the election, oh the social media… being told how to vote by all sorts of celebrities. Respected directors and actors, putting out videos shutting down one side of the country.

I just wanted to crawl into a hole, I was silenced, I gave up ever trying to be understood.

That’s how I felt when I tuned into election night coverage. I don’t think my story is singular, nor do I think it fair. I don’t think my views are always correct. I need to have my narratives challenged, I want to see an issue in its entirety. I hope that this election will start to change the conversation.

Though it feels like all the places that silenced me, are doubling down in their aggression for the “one true thought”

Now you talk.

 

Categories: Politics (ugh) Tags:

It’s ok, you can let go…

May 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Two years ago I watched the last episode of LOST, having spent the previous year re-watching, tweeting, blogging and just about inhaling the series on an almost daily basis. I walked to my bed that night, satisfied with the ending. Not just satisfied, but joyful over the way it ended, and brought the story of LOST full circle with the closing of the same eye that opened the 6 years of enthralling television.

The show met me in the time of my life where I had many successes and lots of regrets. The stage of my life that I lived in the summer of 2009 was an uproar of my own making, a plane wreck if we want to speak metaphorically. I was trying to fix myself, I my life had become unmanageable because of an addiction, and at that time I was white knuckling the withdrawals and trying to fix myself. In a way, the reason LOST finale resonated so well with me, is between the end of season 5 and the beginning of season 6 I had reached the end of myself, and started seeking the help of a recovery community. There, in that community of messed up souls, I found a connection with fellow strugglers, that resonated many large themes of LOST. It very well may be that seeing LOST through the lens of that experience I’m reading my own struggle into that work of fiction, and I’ll admit it. Because face it, we all do that.

As a confessing Christian, I also viewed LOST through those glasses, and the themes of forgiveness, loyalty, redemption, sacrifice and community certainly made those facets of the show more vivid to me. The symbols of light and dark, water and fire triggered many things I’ve learned from the scriptures, and helped me to form a tighter understanding of my own faith.

I’ve used LOST scenes to teach some of tenets of recovery, the need to come to grips with our past, what ever happened, what I did, sort through them, then let them go. The reason the finale of LOST resonated with me, is I saw all of the characters I loved pass through that as they remembered the island and the important things that happened to them. Those characters and their shared experience (both the good times and the bad times) are what saved them. Not from the smoke monster and his quest to extinguish the light, but from themselves and their willingness to ignore the light.

When Hurley drank the water Jack offered as a rite, and became like Jack is, I knew the Island is in the best of hands. It will continue to be a place where messed up people like me can find other people to hold on to, to struggle with, and to over come. We all need a place like the island, a place where we can be together.

I can let go of lots of things in my life, I need to let go of a lot more, but the lessons I learned through LOST about love, life, forgiveness and endurance… Those, I’ll hold onto.

Categories: Faith, Television Tags: ,

Hunger Games – Character Thoughts

March 23rd, 2012 Comments off

I went with two of my kids to watch The Hunger Games for the midnight showing. I think I came across the books from reading tweets of my LOST friends, and determining to give them a read on my Kindle. Then I found out that both my daughters had read the book, and my son was trying to get through it. I ended up getting engrossed with the story, and soon devoured Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and really enjoyed the story and the characters. Taking a good book story and making it a good movie story is a difficult task, but something I think the producers, director and cast of The Hunger Games did extraordinarily well. At least well enough to get me to write a blog post, which lately has seemed monumentally difficult.

I write this book as a reader and a movie goer, and while I won’t spoil the movie, I can’t really discuss the characters without getting into some plot points, so if you haven’t at least read the books stop before the fold. I hope this post helps you enjoy the movie as much as my kids and I did.

The story of The Hunger Games is told through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen and her experiences after growing up in the severely impoverished District 12 of Panem. Panem is set in a future North America where all the power and riches have been consolidated in the Capitol, which were victors in a savage battle for power. To keep it’s boot on the neck of the Districts, the Captiol requires an annual reaping, the selection of one boy and one girl from each of twelve Districts to enter a game where there is only one survivor. That is the setup of for the story of Katniss Everdeen, the older of two sisters, whose father died in a mining accident. Katniss is forced to provide for her family after his death in part because her mother checked out emotionally when her husband was killed. Katniss learned to hunt at her father’s knee, and her skill with a bow has been the only thing that has put food on their table. I think knowing how disparately hungry the Everdeen’s are is key to understanding the story, and something that I think wasn’t played up enough in the first few scenes of the movie. With that let’s get to the characters. Caution ahead if you haven’t seen the movie.
Read more…

Categories: books, Movies Tags: , , , ,

Happy National Running Day!

June 1st, 2011 Comments off

I run because I am happy… I run because I am … la la la la la laaaaa.

I don’t think a year ago that I would be celebrating National Running Day by getting up early and getting in 2.64 miles in 34 minutes. But I did. These next couple of week will be fun, as I have a 5k run on Saturday night (June 4th Firefly Run) and then the following weekend a 10k run Sunday Morning (Wounded Warrior). So the training continues, as does the diet (after a 1 week hiatus where I needed to go up to maintenance because things just weren’t working, and I was stressing about it too much.)

What I learned on maintenance, is that really bad food choices while staying at maintenance calories don’t have a horrible effect on the scale. Which is a good lesson to learn. A better lesson to learn is to make better food choices and still eat at maintenance (where the higher calorie budget made me think, “Hey, cheeseburgers are really yummy!”). Still it was good to put a week of “I don’t really care” under my belt, and still not have 20 kazillion pounds to burn back off. The last half of May was just a train wreck, so I’m looking forward to starting a new month with a new happier attitude.

But this post is about running, and to complement my running training, I invested in a road bike ($159 at Walmart – BOOYA!) and have put in a few longish rides and it feels great to be back in a saddle (though I’m a bit sore in the saddle area). I used to bike quite a bit in high school and college, and it’s true what they say about riding a bike, you just don’t forget how to do it. I’ll like it more when my belly is smaller, but for now it’s gonna work well as a recovery day exercise that will give me a good lower-intensity aerobic workout without a lot of stress on my joints.

How are YOU going to celebrate National Running Day?

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags:

Zero’s don’t mean too much.

March 2nd, 2011 Comments off

Why am I’m posting a song about Zero? Because if you look at my daily weigh-in numbers, and records the starting weight on February 1st, and then the weigh-in from February 28th, that is how much weight I lost the whole entire month.

Yet, I’m counting it on one of my most successful months since I started. Why? Because I’m tracking so much more than just the scale, and all those numbers (even the apparently non-budging scale) is going in the right direction.

Some examples from February:

My energy is up, I’m doing things with my kids, my wife, and the people I love. I’m engaged and productive at work.

So why, if I’m doing everything right, does the scale say I stayed even? Because the scale LIES! It is a lying liar that lies about lying too!

Here are my daily weigh-ins for the last 4 weeks:
Dialy Weigh-Ins for February
The purple circles are the beginning and end of the month, and they both are 290. What happened? Superbowl party, Stressful week at work, Valentine’s Day. That week was rough, and I tried doing it with less calories than my allotted budget. In other words, I got greedy.

I changed my calorie goal the last week of January to subtract another 250 calories a day from my budget. I was thinking that’s what I’m usually under, so why not make that match. First week, great success, the next few were a struggle very spikey ups and downs, and my hunger was much more evident. I readjusted to what LoseIt! calculated on February 15th and I think the results speak for themselves.

On February 25th, I met my intermediate goal of losing 8 pounds, and set a new goal of losing 15 more pounds. But I’ve adjusted my plan, instead of trying to lose 2 pounds a week, I’ve adjusted that up to 1.5 pounds per week. I’m gonna let that ride until I’ve met the 15 pound goal, and then see what to change for the next goal after that (16, then 23, then 42 then i’ll be at goal weight).

Don’t let that Zero mean so much to you, count all the other things you are doing right in your journey, and pay it forward.

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags:

Glee! – serious readers only.

September 29th, 2010 1 comment

My wife mentioned to me last night that I had left off a major part of my weekly (24+ hours)  television viewing.  I forgot to put Glee in my dietary catalog of shows.  So I should at least cover that oversight.

I’d put Glee as part in the Junk Food/Good Fats category.  It’s very much like that irresistible Hostess Fruit pie, I know the “real fruit” advertising on the packaging is stretching the truth, and the pie crust isn’t, but one I have a bite I omnomnom the whole thing with a smile on my face.  Such is Glee.

Why do I watch it?  1) It’s a show my whole family enjoys, the songs we play on our iPods, sing in the car, connect with the characters, so if I didn’t watch it, I’d be missing some great relational times with my kids. 2) It’s funny quirky, a life without Brittany S. Pierce wry observations or without Sue Sylvester’s put downs or unique takes on American history.  3) It’s just plain fun to watch.

So given that, I enjoyed last nights Britney/Brittany episode.  The intertoobs are taking Glee to task for a lame plot last night.  It’s not that I disagree, it’s just I don’t flip on Glee and open my notebook filled with character sketches and plot arcs and expect a full night of note taking.  Glee can bring the drama, and the plots, when it wants too (see Kurt’s arc last season with his Dad) but it can often stumble in deftly handling the awkward teenage plot lines as well.  Does that make it less of a television show?

People, people, … please ( ripped out of the Amanda Show)

1) the ensemble cast and creative characters all have roles to play, and the plots of their characters have to mesh.

2) they have to bring the sing-a-long music that makes the kids happy, and the parent’s remember the first time they heard Don’t Stop Believing

3) they MUST bring the one-liners and comedy.

That is something that Glee does consistently, and to keep those three plates spinning means sometimes one of the three wobble from time and again.  Some of the characters I don’t connect with, I want to see more Tina and Brittany than Quinn and Emma.  More Puck and Arnie than Finn and will… I cheer for underdogs (see my twitstream for my regrets to Lone Star’s cancellation).

That said, it’s good that people have some strong emotions about Glee (both good and bad) because it’s a show that fun to talk about, whether you hate it or enjoy it.  Kind of like that Hostess Fruit Pie.

Categories: Television Tags:

Losing IT! Crunching the numbers

September 28th, 2010 3 comments

I’m been doing this weight loss gig for half a year, and the balanced eating habits and exercise routines are taking a hold of my weekly living.  I feel cranky if I don’t get my exercise in, I feel bloated if I over indulge, these are good things.  I’m also trying to take a analytical approach to my journey, by tracking food intake, and exercise outtake.  Trying to quantify calories in versus calories out.

I started using WeightWatchers and had great initial success, at my start weight I maxed out the daily points at 42 points, with 35 weekly points to use or not use through the week.  The online WW program, adds calories to your Weekly Points and the program will only tap into those points if you go over your daily points.  The first three months I tried to ‘bank’ as many weekly points as I could while still eating reasonably, and not feeling hungry.  What I remember from reading the online WW articles, it was important to eat your daily points to keep your metabolism going.  In the three months using weightwatchers.com I lost 25 pounds.

I also started walking regularly in April, and using the same sort of in the cloud recording of my activity to track my progress.   Is use two sites to track my runs, the first Runkeeper.com is an application I use on my iPhone that tracks my outdoor activities using GPS to give an accurate account of distance traveled.  Runkeeper also lets you enter manual entries, that lets me put all my midsummer treadmill work into my profile.  The other site I use to track exercise is DailyMile.com, where I pretty much duplicate the same information. Why? because DailyMile is more social networking friendly, had nifty reports and graphics.  So it’s worth it to me to double track my activity.

In June, I let my WeightWatchers account lapse and started tracking my calories in the iPhone LoseIt! application, which also has a great website (for people without an iPhone, all the features can now be done on the web). With LoseIt.com I daily track my calories. With the ease of using my phone, I try to enter my food in before I eat each meal, the discipline has kept me aware of my intake, as well as how expensive my old habits of drinking soda and candy because I was hungry in the middle of the day were.  LoseIt! has some great reporting views, with the ability to download my data of calories consumed and exercise calories into spreadsheets.

I switched to LoseIt! in June, and since that time I’ve lost a total of 6 pounds.  So the problem I’m trying to number crunch through is why has my progress slowed, or is it just one of the natural plateau’s that happens during the normal course of life.  The slow down also happened in the middle of the summer, is there a seasonality to it?  I started traveling (3 trips in 3 weeks in August), did that effect my habits?

One other thing is just the difference between WeightWatchers and LoseIt programs.  WeightWatchers is about points, with 50 calories being approximately 1 point, with high fat foods increasing to two points, or high fiber foods reducing to a half point.  LoseIt is just calories.  WeightWatchers, as noted above, has a weekly bank of points and activities.  LoseIt add calories burned in activities to the daily balance, so when I exercise it appears I can consume more calories to hit my daily calorie goal.

With WeightWatchers I tried to bank my weekly and activity points, which if I banked 35 points a week, means I should bank about 1750 calories per week on LoseIt (since it appears to spread the 35 weekly points across all 7 days caloric goals).  Because of the way LoseIt adds exercise to each day, my exercise points get lost in the shuffle.  So I think I’ve been eating more while exercising more since switching to LoseIt.

I’m looking at the numbers, which are highly available thanks to obsessive record keeping these last 6 months, and have come to this conclusion.  I need to exercise to burn around 1500 calories each week, while trying to bank ~1500 calories consumed each week.  Using that as a benchmark for the next 3 months.

On the exercise front, I finished my first 5k when I ran the Corporate Challenge 5k.  My plan was to run 5 minutes then walk 3 minutes until I finished, and I mostly kept to that plan.  My time of 42:10 was almost 3 minutes faster than my off the top of my head goal of 45 minutes (which is my 15 min per mile workout average,) which pleased me abundantly.  I’m continuing my training, but going to shift my training C25k sessions and catalog those as runs, and try to get outside for a mile each off day and count that as a walk.  Which means nothing really, just shifting to a different category in runkeeper and dailymile as my performance improves.

So there you go, what things do you use to track your goals?

Categories: Life Tags:

Biggest Loser Principles that helped.

September 22nd, 2010 1 comment

I watched the Biggest Loser last night with Angie.  She loves the show, I like the show a lot.  I snark at the overtly obvious product placement portions and generally watch the”game” with a bit of a cynical eye.  The producers have to have a mix of “gamers” and people that are genuinely looking for life change to make the show interesting to watch, and the cynical part of me has some knee-jerk hate response when a gamer gets the better of one of the life changers.

Watching last night’s preamble and cast selection show was revealing because I realized that they have some pretty consistent principles for the contestants to get them on the road to a healthier lifestyle right out of the gate, principles that I unconsciously applied when I started down my path in April.

  1. Own your weight.  Every contestant has to do the first weigh-in. At the beginning I needed to own a number.  We have a futzy scale at home that I never used, and so one of the first steps in my journey was to find a scale and use it consistently to measure progress.  I went to the gym, and found a good consistent scale (actually two at two different gyms).  The identification of a starting point and owning up to the weight you are was an important first step on my way.
  2. Understand your why. All people that are trying to change the way they live have to understand WHY they are making a change.  For the contestants they all have intriguing stories to tell, that’s why they are on TV, that’s why they get selected to be on TV.  But each of us have a story too. You can share it publicly, you can start a blog, or you can, like me journal it, share it with my support group at Celebrate Recovery.  I know that if I didn’t understand my why, week x would be hard to find the reason why I don’t drink Coke Classic any more.
  3. Have a support team. Last night, each person that was featured were surrounded by supporters.  Some might be #teamBiggestLoser volunteers to help with that first challenge, 500 steps, or 1 mile run, but they also had family and friends that supported the life change decision.  The rest of the season their support group becomes each other, fellow competitors, and is one of the things that ‘irks’ me about the competition is that the support team are also adversaries.  My support team is my family, as well as the larger group of people I social network with.  Twitter and Facebook friends, as well as my church family, and my Celebrate Recovery friends.  Also growing niche networks on dailymile.com and runkeeper.com help keeps my exercise regular.  I know I can’t do this alone, and a large support group keeps me going, when alone I would be drifting.

So take these three principles and start your own journey.

Categories: Life Tags:

Nourishment…

September 12th, 2010 Comments off

A man wiser than me once told me when I asked, “Why do you run?”

I run because, frankly, I love to eat food.

Which is probably as good as a reason as anything else.   In the past 42 years, I’ve eaten a lot, and if I was honest, I recognize that I’ve avoided pretty much anything that would balance the scales to make my lifestyle anywhere close to healthy.

If you’ve followed my social media streams, you may have noticed that I’ve made a turn this past May and started incorporating regular exercise in my weekly routine, for one reason to help in my goal to lose weight, and the other is because, frankly, I love to eat food.

This morning at church, our pastor (interim) encouraged us again to study the bible.  I’m a sunday school teacher, so I do that, each week.  But if I’m honest with myself, it’s not really studying.  It’s more like saying, I walk from the car to the elevator, and calling that exercise.  The phrase about running, because he loves food echoed in my thoughts, and I had an epiphany.

I love television, perhaps too much, perhaps in the same way I love food.  Loving food isn’t wrong per se, but when my love of food is out of balance it becomes unhealthy.  Same with consuming popular culture, out of balance and it becomes spiritually unhealthy.  I need to give myself some balance.

Sort of like my weight loss plans, I cut down on the intake, making better food choices, and incorporated exercise that allows me to still enjoy eating food, and also delivers the exertion that my physical body needs.  So in my spiritual diet, I need to cut back on my popular culture intake, make better choices as to how I consume television, and have something spiritual to offset the dose of popular culture and provide my spirit a connection with the Almighty that is needs.

So in that endeavor, I’m going to get back in to a regular bible reading plan.  As a way of using the social media that has been helpful in my physical life style improvement, I plan on blogging about what I read. I don’t promise a daily epiphany, or even any words of wisdom, more just a bit of my thoughts and the scriptures I peruse.  Again the purpose here is accountability to myself, not preaching to you, my readership.  If these posts don’t satisfy, just skip them, just like you might my exercise and weigh-in updates.

Categories: Faith, Life, Television Tags:

Who do YOU Write Like?

July 20th, 2010 2 comments

I write like
Edgar Allan Poe

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Categories: /dev/null Tags: