Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yer Out!

A story that was buried on the bottom of the ESPN web page the other morning caught my eye. It was definitely not your typical, or for that matter, expected news story. A 23-year-old outfielder in the Oakland Athletics minor league system had decided to retire from baseball and enter the priesthood. What makes the young man's decision even more powerful is that he was considered one of the top prospects in the A's system and had just been named most valuable player in the 2009 Arizona fall league. In a couple of years, this athlete was on a course to move up to the major leagues and claim his million dollar annual salary. Life would have had all the luxuries and trappings that any young man could dream up. Instead, Grant Desme made a decision to honor his heavenly father and to follow, perhaps, a less glamorous road in the eyes of some folks. In the eyes of others, or at least of One, it was his destiny, his true calling.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Quality Time

Oooh man, I was looking forward to this. I could not wait to be with her to have some quality "together" time. My mind had been active and looking forward to it all week. I can't think of a better way to unwind and to grow close to her, to reconnect, to let the pressures of the week just melt away. This is my idea of really good, clean, wholesome fun. A cure for what ails me and a perfect way to strengthen our relationship. Some consider what I have in mind to be "going all the way". I agree. I could not think of anything better to do with the one I love. Is there a better way to really show my deep love for her? To demonstrate in no uncertain terms that I am a man? Uh-uh. No way.

At this point most folks probably have one thing on their minds. While we all understand how good that can be and how important that is to a relationship, I don't think it is what really shows love. What about the bonding afforded by going grocery shopping together, running errands together, hanging out at the library together, cleaning the house together, or just going for a walk. It doesn't really matter what that is, it can be most anything. All you need to do is invest your attention solely on each other and make them the center of your world. That is my definition of quality time. That is my idea of going all the way.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grind My Gears 13

I strode with a quiet confidence as I made my way from my car to the storefront. I hopped over the gravel partition that separated the formal parking area from the through-road. The density of people and the buzz of activity started to pick up the closer I got. Eventually I was forced to weave and bob around the busy shoppers who had just made their exodus through the automatic, sliding doors.

I approached these same doors with all the cocksureness of an experienced fry cook. I hit the sensor pad at full speed and, ..., and, splat. I walked face first into the immobile door. Did I mention that this door was supposed to open automatically? Can you even begin to appreciate the humiliation that I was subjected to doing a faceplant into a glass door in front of dozens of other shoppers. I do believe that I am scarred, ..., for life. I can still hear the muted giggles and guffaws. I can still see the fingers pointed straight at me. I can still smell the, ..., the windex! Do you not understand that a door that does not open is technically called a wall? So, today's post is dedicated to those automatic sliding door calibration technicians. You really grind my gears. Given the already shady reputation of folks in this line of work (they were wholly implicated in the White Water scandal as being in cahoots with Hillary Clinton), I would not be surprised if this episode actually was done on purpose, that I was made to be the butt of some sicko's perverted joke. How can I ever be expected to go shopping again?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Defining Moment (More)

Yesterday's post (see Defining Moment) was meant to be a standalone entry as I awaited my appointment with my onchologist. I ended the blog with the statement "Today will be a defining moment of who I am no matter the outcome." After letting that statement sit out there for a bit, I convinced myself to say just a few more words on my own thoughts.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of my dear friend Paul (who just so happens to be an A+ pastor), I have learned a bit about what it means to be a Christian. Not a Christian who is defined by his attendance at Sunday worship, but a Christian who has developed a strong relationship with the most high God. When you have seen some of the things that I have seen and lived through some of the situations that I have lived through, you develop a deep trust in Him (well, at least in some areas of your life). This trust was behind my statement from yesterday's post.

Let's consider the two possible outcomes of a cancer check. The first is that you are found to be free of the disease. In this case a prayer of thanksgiving and praise is in order. Thank you Lord for looking over me and keeping me healthy for another season of my life. The second outcome is that the disease is back. This represents the perfect opportunity to trust God with everything that you have that the surgery and your recovery will go well. It is the time to demonstrate your Christian mettle. All talk and no belief makes for a christian, not a Christian.

By the way, the above paragraphs were written before my appointment. Now, after the appointment, I know that I was fully prepared for either outcome. As of now, I have been given a clean bill of health. Praise God.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Defining Moment

I lost my divine status in 1996. It was then that I became fully mortal. It was just at the time when famed astronomer Carl Sagan, one of my childhood heroes, died from a long and difficult battle with myelodysplasia. You see, Dr. Sagan and I shared more than a love of science, we both were afflicted by the same disease. In many ways, my diagnosis of cancer (see Invincibility Lost) in 1996 has shaped who I am and my outlook. The carefree days of youthful invincibility are long gone, replaced by much darker tones and thoughts. Every new pain or symptom is no longer dismissed as irrelevant. It is just another reminder that I am human, that I am, indeed, finite. Cancer survivors tend to live, at some level, by marking time. We know the beast will return again, it is not a question of if, it is a question of when. I know from personal experience. Since my first two surgeries in 1997, I have had four recurrences. Number five will come at some point. The question is simply when. Today I will know if I can at least hold back that monster for another season. Today will be a defining moment of who I am no matter the outcome.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Relationship Status

Many of my friends use social networking sites like Facebook. It is a way to sorta, kinda keep in touch with folks that we don't see everyday. Really, this medium is a poor excuse for a relationship conduit, but it can serve as a means to broadcast bits and pieces of news like the birth of a child, an upcoming event, or random happenings and thoughts from our lives. Now, those of you who use Facebook and the like will really appreciate my statement about random bits and pieces. Some folks, including myself at times, post such silly and off the wall things, that one might fear for our sanities. However, it is just us being us, spreading an emotion and, perhaps, a smile.

When you join one of the social networking sites, you are initially asked to fill out a profile. This amounts to some basic facts about you, your favorite books, your hometown, where you live, etc. You also fill in your relationship status. The system then broadcasts this out into every corner of cyberspace and other parts unknown. This got me to thinking, wouldn't our lives be so much better if we had something that we could check to truly know the status of our relationships. For some couples, the status would be very much like the Doomsday Clock. It would indicate that they were in severe trouble and their world was very close to coming to a nasty and explosive end. For others, the status update would just serve to remind them of the effort a relationship takes to be successful. It could serve to give them a gentle nudge, "Hey idiot, when was the last time you showed your wife how much she meant to you" or "Perhaps you could at least make the slightest effort in looking good for your partner, perhaps even retire that danged stained muumuu and put on something a bit more stylish." Of course, this last reminder would be for the women. However, if it was applicable for a man, it could flash on your screen followed by a couple of exclamation points. What do you think? Am I on to something here?

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Writing for me has always been a cathartic and healing activity. It allows small seeds of insight or inspiration within my mind to blossom into realities of understanding or conviction. My writing gives me courage and clarity of thought to express what I could not through the spoken word. Cornered and pressed, I become mute, paralyzed, and deaf. Given time by myself to ponder, my pen pulses with activity and life and depth and considered emotion. It's a medium for expressing my mind and my heart through the blues, the reds, the greens, and the blacks of life.

I once read about the internal conflicts within the band Fleetwood Mac during the preparation of their album Rumors. The plot lines involved make your typical soap opera script look tame and unimaginative. However, out of that conflict came an album that, at one point in time, was the biggest selling in the history of music. The creativity and musicianship and brilliance displayed, was only one part talent, but two parts emotion and release.

So, you see, I write my blog not just for fun and hobby, but to experience that healthy and healing release needed to clear my mind and my soul. My topics are usually not chosen at random or capriciously. In fact, I can write about some of the most personal emotions and thoughts that I possess, but couch them in a way that they are hidden just below the surface. This is a bit of a self-protection mechanism I guess. However, oftentimes, my thoughts and my mood are more obvious. So, what have you noticed here in the past week?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Quest

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you made yourself sick? I would bet that, at one time or another, we all have worked ourselves up into a frothy lather over something. What about that toy you wanted as a kid or your first car? Perhaps it was your first house or that promotion at work or an award? Have you ever carried on for so long over something that it became your white whale? Perhaps, like me, when you did not get what you wanted and thought that your dreams might never become reality, you fell into a deep-seated, life-sucking state of depression. I would suspect that we have all been in this position at some point in our lives. I would further venture to guess that the "something" is more often a "someone" than not. Perhaps you pursued someone who turned you away, or you focussed on a person that you did not have the courage to approach. In my case, the quest is for someone to share my life with. I have gotten to a point where I am so sick of being alone that it hurts, deeply. I think that nobody else could ever possibly feel as bad as I do, could ache as much as I do, could feel as lonely as I do, or could feel as unworthy and unlovable as I do. Instead of spurring me to seek out life and enjoy the adventure, depression has driven me deeper into hiding.

However, sometimes at our nadir, for no clear reason, the sun breaks through the clouds and shines on our face, replacing the lingering darkness. In an instant, mere existence can transform into full-fledged living. You get that toy, that car, that house, that promotion, that award. Sometimes, you find that someone. The quest may seem to have come to fruition. However, sometimes, even though the quest has reached its conclusion, the journey has just begun.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cookie Jar

I see the porcelain jar sitting on top of the fridge. The raised letters on its face and its bright pattern somehow pull me in. COOKIES. I don't know how many times that I have been told that the contents of this jar are forbidden, totally off limits. No, no, no. Clearly these words have not registered, and I'm certain it's not because I'm an anarchist. Sometimes when folks hear "no", it just drives them do "it" anyway. No, I want what is in that jar because I have tasted the sweet and delicious goodness of what lies inside. I know how good it can be when things are right. The more I think about it, the more I want it. The more I want it, the more I think about it. In the world of electronics, this is referred to as a positive feedback loop. Actually, given the usage of the phrase in our culture, the type of positive feedback that I am alluding to is actually a negative. It toys with my mind and my body. It tosses me around like a rag doll in the mouth of a rabid dog. It makes me want to do things that have cost me dearly in the past. I try to convince myself that I just need a small taste. What harm could it really do? I have learned from my past mistakes. What is so wrong? I won't let it take over my life again and destroy the foundation that I am working so hard to lay down. It's not that big a deal. After all, I'm just talking about COOKIES, right?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Kiss

Butterflies fill the air as they exchange their first words in this new way. The uneasiness and trepidation initially present, slowly ebbs and subsides into the aether as the two friends become something more, something deeper. Thoughts and questions and feelings that had built up over the years, finally able to be expressed aloud to the other. Eyes meet and looks linger. Hearts are slowly opened and minds connect. Laughter and conversation and coffee build a foundation for, perhaps, something more. The coffee shop closes, but the night is still too young. Neither is ready or willing to let this magic come to an end. Walking and talking. Sharing dreams and hopes. The past, the present, and the future. Finally, the hour grows late and the reality of tomorrow's responsibilities must take precedence over the reverie of the evening. No, ..., too soon. Shhh, another night. For now, a simple, intimate kiss under the moonlight will bring this night to an end. It has, for now, acted as a panacea for every hurt, pain, burden, and wound they were bearing just a few hours earlier. A simple kiss brings these souls closer and connects them in a way that, heretofore, they had only let themselves ponder in their dreams.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life as Nature IV

Like an image from a distant world or a computer-generated landscape from the latest special effects movie, this photograph stands apart as too wondrous to be real. Its majesty is overpowering, its natural beauty simply takes your breath away. I'm sure that when God forsaw how this little portion of his Earth would develop in time, he was well pleased. However, if you think about it, there is limitless beauty in our world, and it surrounds us on all sides. It is always there, and always around the next corner. However, unlike these beautiful geysers, sometimes for beauty to emerge, we must plant some seeds, and then watch over them with love and care to allow them to grow and develop. Whether this is striking up a conversation with a stranger, making yourself available for your friends, putting in that extra effort to get the job done right, or giving of your time, energy, or money, seeds can be sown everywhere around our world.

(Part 4 of 4)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Life as Nature III

Sometimes when I am weak and feeling alone, a photograph can spur and remind me that quite the contrary is true. The same God that made the universe with its billions and billions of galaxies, is the same one who created this awe-inspiring field of basalt columns. This is the same God who created you and created me to be in right relationship with him. To him, each of us is so much more important and precious that any "thing" else he created in the universe. So, you see, the truth is that we are never truly alone. Our heavenly father is always present and always ready to engage us. In time, we will all come to understand our divine purpose in his creation and his divine love for us. Then we will ultimately understand the beauty and majesty that was within us all along.

(Part 3 of 4)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Life as Nature II

Sometimes I sense that this photograph is an accurate representation of who I have become. Isolated and alone. A heart completely encased in cold, cold ice. From the outside I can seem aloof, unfeeling, and unapproachable. On the inside, I so desire to open up and reach out, but am all too often incapable. All too often frozen solid with fear and panic and uncertainty. It's kind of odd that those who are closest to me now, who know me as well as anyone else, would not guess this serious issue that I live with, a problem known as social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder results in an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others. The fear is only compounded by the fact that I lack social skills and experience in social situations. Too many times to count, this condition has manifested itself in a serious panic attack. Some even link symptoms of this type of psychological disorder to the autism spectrum.

It's kind of ironic that my disorder, which has led to the destruction of several personal relationships in my life, is also likely responsible for my analytic nature, my keen insight into problems, and my skills in science and mathematics. I have even read that, for better or for worse, my disorder is probably responsible for my "unique" sense of humor and observational wit.

So, before you dismiss me as hard and unapproachable, unfriendly and unfeeling, broken and unworthy, know that I struggle with who I am and how I experience life and those around me. Life is a struggle, but every once in a while, someone comes along who sees through the thick layer of ice and can touch my heart and awaken my spirit. To those past, present, and future, I give you my thanks and my love.

(Part 2 of 4)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Life as Nature I

Each relationship that we develop in our lives is as beautiful and unique as a snowflake. I would hasten to add that each is also as complex and as delicate. Sometimes it is appropriate to sit back and admire the beauty of the snow as it falls down gently from the sky. However, other times call for us to run out into the weather, stick out our tongues, and sense the beauty directly. It is much better to have the snowflake melt on your tongue, savoring its coolness and texture, than to have it melt on the ground, appreciated only from afar.

(Part 1 of 4)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Today, too many "Christians" feel that they have earned their salvation and are simply marking time, coasting along on what they once had. Their Christian lives now involve only the hour that they begrudgingly give once a week on Sunday. Somewhere along the way, they lost their passion. They lost their deep overwhelming thirst and awestruck feelings for God. They stopped listening to the urgings and comfortings of his Holy Spirit. Now, they are mere shells of the Christians they once were. They are the lost souls of Christianity.

In his new work, Primal - The Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, author Mark Batterson asks us to look back to the time when we met God and God met us. There was him and there was us. A season where our heart broke with compassion, our soul was filled with wonder, and our mind was filled with holy curiosity. We need to break through the fog that enclouds our minds. Wipe everything away. Focus on the simple, primal commandment given to us by Jesus:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, Mark 12:30

Jesus wiped the myriad old laws of the Pharisees away with this simple requirement. Primal reminds us of what faith, obedience, and compassion really look like:
  • Faith equals God-ordained risks in the face of fear.
  • Obedience equals God-honoring decisions in the face of temptation.
  • Compassion equals Spirit-prompted generosity in the face of greed.
Remember, it's not about what you can do for God; it's about what God has done for you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Pink Cloud

I sometimes find myself living in a place where I am surrounded by a pink cloud. I find the atmosphere cloying and heavy and depressing and controlling. It sneaks up on me when I think that I have gained more control over my world than reality will allow. It has a way of opening my eyes and reminding me that I am not in command of my own ship. Just when I think that I am nearing the safe haven of a sheltered port, with its welcoming lights and hum of laughter and community, I actually find myself fully off course, far out to sea. The mirage reveals itself only when the pink cloud dissipates.

Of course I should have guessed this from the start. Those on the path to recovery from addiction, regardless of how long it has been since they last fell or last gave over to it, must realize that they are never safe. Never more than a weak moment away from being forced back to the start. Alcohol, gambling, pornography, negativity, hatred, drugs, cigarettes, food, shopping, work. It doesn't matter what your anchors are, we are all in danger if we think we can make consistent and constant progress on our own.

The pink cloud describes the time when an addict senses a release from the struggles associated with initial recovery from addiction, whatever it may be. It is a temporary euphoria as the addict begins to understand what costs the addictive behavior has had on their life. The sense of being free from the addiction causes overwhelming excitement. Addicts then begin to believe that they are now finally in control. Without the constant pain as a daily reminder of the recovery process and the discipline it requires, the addict tends to forget about what it took for them to fully embrace recovery. The seeds of relapse can then be planted in fertile soil.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Have you ever thought you were doing really well at work, meeting all of your deadlines, giving of your time and energy, and then received a low evaluation from your boss or supervisor? Have you ever given fully of yourself in a course at school, only to receive a barely passing grade? What about your relationships? Have you had the experience of giving what you had to a relationship only to be rejected or derided by the other person?

You can seek answers to questions like this in all of the different areas of your life. Sometimes, we think we are doing just fine, only to find out that we are just getting by. Satisfactory. Average. Mediocre. I don't know about you, but when someone labels my efforts as just so-so, it burns me up inside. It stings. I am lead to feelings of hurt and embarrassment. I don't think it even matters if they are right or they are wrong. For some reason, being labeled as mediocre at anything I do just doesn't sit well with me. It fires me up and makes me take stock of where I am, what I am doing, and where I am going. I perform a full system review of my plans and strategies and efforts.

My pastor recently delivered a message on how we so often settle for mediocrity in how we live. He talked about how this can ultimately be a fatal course in our lives. The fact is though, that usually we don't end up living there based on one overt and clear decision or choice. We end up there after a serious of much more subtle compromises. Decisions lead to decision lead to decisions. Choices lead to choices lead to choices. Slowly and insideously, the course of our lives change. Emotionally, relationally, financially our foundations are weakened by the slow erosion of our choices. Reversing our course takes conscious effort. It takes hard work. It requires making difficult decisions. It takes strength of mind and strength of spirit. It takes an active prayer life and, most importantly, it means willfully and purposefully giving over control of your life to God.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Smurfs vs. Ogres

Somewhere out there in this world, there is a team of people who are paid to think about things like fat, calories, RDAs, riboflavinoids, and the like. Based on their extensive backgrounds in human physiology, they make recommendations on how much we should eat, on average, at any given meal. If you look at any food-type product sold in our grocery stores, you will find this information on every package. They list what a typical serving size should be. It doesn't matter if it is a bag of Funyons, a canister of Cheesy Chews, a box of Lucky Charms, or even a can of soda. I would guess that the people who do this type of work for a living are only about the size of a full-grown Smurf with the metabolism of a sloth, because the listed serving sizes are usually miniscule. A typical can of soda is listed as containing six servings, a canister of Pringles quotes a serving size of 2.5 crisps, and a typical box of breakfast cereal should apparently last for a full year. I wrote a blog about an aspect of this a little while back (see Oh Nuts!).

However, there is apparently a disconnect between these folks and the different species who work in the next office and make the same serving size recommendations, but for fast food restaurants. A typical meal is served with 5 lbs of hamburger meat, a bushel basket of french fries, and a gallon of soda. Perhaps this group consists of ogres or perhaps republicans. Who can say? I am surprised that apparently the ogres and Smurfs have not even met to exchange ideas and theories on what they base their ideas on. Wouldn't you think that this would be a sensible thing to do to provide some consistency? Well, on second thought, maybe this isn't a good idea. I can foresee that an ogre would believe a serving size of 10 Smurfs would make a good snack.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Destruction of a family.

I love yous whispered but never heard.

Vitriol replaces warm embrace and loving eyes.

Only deafening silence to replace the normal household hum.

Regret for things unsaid and undone in numbers to fill an ocean.

Corruption of vows and promises.

Erasing of all good memories, history rewritten in black.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Grind My Gears 12

When we were youngsters, a penny meant a lot to us. It could feed a family of 17 for months on end. See how shiny and round it is. Oh you disk with a raised surface on both sides, how good you feel against my bare cheek! Nowadays, pennies serve only to hold us back. They fill our pockets and weigh us down. We we notice that they have caused our pants to fall down around our ankles, we remove said pennies and scatter them on the ground like so much bird seed. How many of us have coffee can upon coffee can filled with this now clearly comical monetary device. The simple copper penny went out of style with the 8-track tape and the mood ring (hyperlinks provided for you young punks who have no idea what I am talking about).

Be all of this as it may, I am sickened by the OPEC oil sheiks and the gas company "executives" who feel that they can ridicule the 1¢ piece with even further devaluement. Drive past any gas station in this solar system, and, in fact, in other parts of the western Milky Way galaxy (go ahead, I'll wait), and you will see typical gasoline prices per gallon listed as $2.50 9/10 or $2.509. Do you see what is happening here? Do you truly understand? An entire industry has moved to a new monentary unit consisting of one-tenth of one cent. The new coins are presently being developed by the U.S. mints in Denver, Philadelphia, and on the island of Fiji. Do you have any idea how much shelf space the coffee cans filled with these new coins are going to take up? This whole thing really grinds my gears. It is time to put a stop to this. I hear you say, "But how, as an ordinary citizen, can I make a difference?". Well, clearly, you can't. But the first thing you need to do is to stage an old-fashioned sit in. I'm not sure what that is, but I believe it is something that the former Beatle John Lennon used to do on a regular based. Look how far that has gotten him.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

That's "Mr." Coffee

I would like to think that I am master of my domain, king of my castle. My household is not run like a democracy, it is a staunch dictatorship with a noticeable draconian flair. Oh, and in case you do not yet understand the gist of my nub, I am ensconsed as the supreme poobah. If I want to scarf down pudding cups for supper, gosh darn it, those beauties will be mine. Vegetables? Hah, I scoff at them. They will gain no foothold in my kingdom. If I wish to go swimming after eating without waiting a full 30 minutes, there will be nobody to say one thing to me. I will even run from place to place with scissors in my hand if I so choose.

The other morning, as I was getting ready for work, I was patiently waiting for the coffee maker to finish its perk, perk, perk-olating. I just wanted to grab my cup o' java and get on with my day. As I was standing there, I noticed a label on my Mr.-Coffee-brand coffee maker that pointed out its desireable and stealthy "sneak-a-cup" feature. Hey, wait just a cotton-pickin' minute. Did I miss a memo or something? If I want a bean-infused beverage in my own home, I will not sneak around. This is not like the kid furtively approaching the cookie jar in search of a forbidden treat. If he were to be busted in this endeavor, then he will instantly develop an attitude of shame. He knows that he will receive a strong rebuke and subsequent harsh punishment. As for me, I refuse to be subservient to a coffee machine! I will have my fill of the dark mud when I want without the "man" (i.e. Joe Dimaggio) making me feel like I am doing something wrong.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resolutions 2009

Just as I did after the passing of calendar year 2008 (see Resolutions 2008), I sat down and went over my list of resolutions made for 2009. Good or bad, wins or losses, I find it important to see how much or how little I have achieved in this regard. This exercise helps to give me perspective either way. Successfully achieved resolutions sure can make me feel better about myself. They also help to temper the sting and self-rebuke of those resolutions that were not achieved.

While I view yearly resolutions as a private matter, I thought it would be helpful to those struggling with the realization that they did not get very far on their lists for 2009 to see how a fellow traveller did. You will certainly notice that I did not meet all of my goals, but I can assure you that it was not for lack of effort. So, here is my list with a brief commentary for each item.
  1. To ask a woman out on a date - I asked a friend of mine out (see Rejection) back in February. Goal met.
  2. To go out on two or three dates before the year is over - I failed on this one as the one person I asked out said no. Presently I am not close enough to any other women to pursue them.
  3. To buy a new house for me and my daughter - Back in February, this one was checked off. (See my House Series - I, II, III, IV, V, VI).
  4. To exercise the whole year - I did quite well on this one. (See my progress on Mr. Puddin' Belly II from just a few days ago.)
  5. To make several new friends - I lost several good friends this year who moved away; this took a lot out of me. As I have talked about in this blog on several occasions (see most recently Give and Receive), I really struggle to make new friends. However, this year, I would say that I have only a few new acquaintances. Hopefully these relationships will evolve into something deeper.
  6. To grow closer to God - I continue to seek out God each day through prayer and other spiritual disciplines. However, I am not sure if I am any closer to God today than I was a year ago. Probably because I am too focussed on me and my problems to truly look outside of myself. I will continue to work on this.
Now I will prepare my list of resolutions for 2010 and make my plans for how to be successful on each one.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Prescription Drugs

You will find that as you get older, the number of pills that you take each day increases exponentially. Each morning I take two oblong horse pills, two medium-sized red pills, a small pink pill, a pin-head size white pill, and a brown, speckled caplet. I have lost track of what these pills are actually for, but my doctor assures me that they are essential for her to keep getting her commissions from the big, gluttonous, capitalist-pig, drug companies, ... errr ..., my long-term health. I grew suspicious last week when she stated with a straight face that I should immediately fill a prescription to help me with my lactation and to reduce my chances for coming down with flu-like symptoms in my fallopian tubes. At this point, I just shrug, say baaaaa, and run to the drug store. It feels like every one of the clerks there knows me by name. "Norm! How do your fallopian tubes feel today?".

It used to be in the old days, the days where we walked uphill both ways carrying 50-lb sacks of potatoes in each hand, in the days before your fancy intranet and magic talking picture boxes, that the prescription bottles actually said what the medication inside was trying to combat. For example, take two pills every evening with warm buttermilk for consumption, or choke down 10 pills every hour with roast duckling to prevent scurvy. It was so much simpler then. Now it seems like my doctor doesn't even need to see me and calls in random prescriptions for me on a weekly basis. Now, I must be off, I think I feel a tingling sensation in my fallopian tubes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mr. Puddin' Belly II

Just about a year ago, I wrote a blog on my work to lose some weight (see Mr. Puddin' Belly). As they say, it's now time to face the piper and to pay the truth. Did I ever reach my weight goal (190 to 195 lbs)? If not, what happened? If I did, how well did I do in maintaining and/or controlling my girth? Enquiring minds want to know? Well, the follow graph shows the full, unbiased truth. I have plotted my weight as a function of day. First you will note that as each data point represents a workout, I have been very good about maintaining the frequency of my workouts. Also, my workouts last for at least 45 minutes and with each one, I burn between 850 and 900 calories.

The good news is that, indeed, I reached my weight goal. This occurred roughly in the third week of March 2009. I was able to maintain my weight in my target range for about 2 months before it started to increase slowly and steadily. So what happened? Well, I had been on the South Beach Diet for most of the first part of 2009. When I stopped this diet, I thought that I had modified my intake sufficiently that I could maintain my weight. To be clear, I thought that my eating habits were pretty good before I even started on South Beach. I do have a weakness for potato chips and I like a few spoonfuls of sugar in my coffee, but I limit red meats and fat. Obviously some aspect of my diet was leading to weight gain.

Starting in the middle of November 2009, I made two simple changes. First I went to using fake sugar in my coffee (Stevia extract) and I replaced the bread in my lunch time sandwiches with tortillas. You will note that since this change (at Day ~500), I have lost 3 lbs. Hopefully I can get my weight back to where I want it to be in the first part of 2010 and find a way to live with a diet that will not make me feel guilty for everything I eat. Clearly, for me, my weight has more to do with what I eat than how often and how long I exercise.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I gave my daughter a small magic kit for Christmas. It wasn't very expensive, but it was the kind of thing that would hold her attention for a few moments and give us some laughs. After opening the box, she searched out the trick that had the shortest instructions and quickly read through them. She did not want to try any other tricks because that would involve reading, and, after all, she was on vacation and NOT in school.

I gave her a few moments to practice the illusion and to work out her presentation. The trick involved someone from the audience (i.e. me) giving her a coin ("No Daddy, not a penny, it has to be a quarter" - the price of this magic kit just keeps going up). The talented magician would then slip the coin into an enchanted box and the coin would disappear, ..., into thin air. Jinkies! After a few moments of oohs and aahs, the coin would then reappear in the magician's pocket. The room would then be filled with amazement and applause. ... Don't look at me that way. That is what the instructions clearly stated.

My little wizard tried a couple of times, but the coin kept getting stuck in the enchanted box. The one time that she got it out, she dropped it and it hit the metal support of our accent table, resulting in a loud and obvious clang, clang, clanging. So, things were not going so well at this point. The crowd was getting restless and wanted to go get his coffee. But wait, please, ..., one more try, O.K.? O.K., one more try. This time, she asks for a coin from the audience (the old one would not do, it was used). The audience coughs up another coin. O.K., now close your eyes. (With eyes closed, I hear the coin go into the magic box, the magic box then got shaken several times - violently, followed then by a sort of gnawing sound - like a young child chewing on a magic box). Finally, I am told to open my eyes. Ta-da, the coin is gone! David Copperfield, eat your heart out.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day 2010

Today I celebrate my daughter Maddie. It is her 12th birthday. Time sure has gone by so fast since you came into my world. I could not imagine my life without you and the special blessing that you are to me. I thought I would share some aspects of my definitions of love for you.

Love is:
  • Driving to the drug store at 4:00 a.m. to pick up your prescription.
  • Taking you to Subway for lunch.
  • Helping you to prepare for a big test at school.
  • Long hugs after we have been apart for a while.
  • Praying with you at bedtime.
  • Making your bed after you are gone.
  • Smiling when I hear your laughter.
  • Believing in you even when you have given up on yourself.
  • Letting you pick out the potato chips.
  • Celebrating the different seasons of your life.
Happy Birthday angel face!