Tuesday, January 31, 2006

5 Critical Steps To Take Control Of Your Body

This post was inspired by a friend’s blog post about making a personal plan. I strongly agree with idea, and having written on the subject of goal setting in the past my self I decided to bring you this post about planning and goal setting with a little twist. The blog which inspired me can be found here: http://savingmyself.blogspot.com/2006/01/how-to-write-personal-plan.html

Have you found that for whatever the reason, your motivation to obtain a certain goal is just not there? You have already thought about what it is that you would like to accomplish; you have a mind eye's view of what you want to look like when you get to your goal. But for some reason, you cannot get out of the starting blocks!

The fitness and weight loss goal is one that collectively, many Americans want to tackle over the next few months. Most people start their programs in the first week of January (the New Year). If you're the type of person who has good intentions but doesn't act on them, then read on.

Don't Pre-Contemplate
Psychologists will tell you that when one starts thinking about a particular goal or accomplishment that they wish to achieve they are in the "pre-contemplation stage."
Goal setting is something that we are all asked to do.

Athletes are asked to set goals for the season. Teams set the goal of winning the championship, and athletes, coaches and trainers plan the tactics to get the team to their ultimate goal. Before a season starts, teachers, coaches, management and of course the players think about what they wish to achieve (this is pre-contemplation) and this naturally leads to putting together the specific action plan that will allow the goal to be obtained.

If your goals involve things such as weight loss, getting into an exercise plan, learning to read food labels, how to meal plan and so on you have already pre-contemplated, so once the idea pops into your head, move ahead to the next stage "making a plan."

Formatting the Plan
Let's say, for sake of argument, that you have been longing to lose weight and get into better shape, but have not really done anything about it. How about grabbing a pen, a piece of paper or even your PDA and writing down what you wish to achieve?

Leave plenty of room for elaborating on each goal between your bullet points of your ultimate goals. Use this time to contemplate exactly how you can (and will) achieve your goals. Your plan needs to be specific in other words, allow yourself to have methods of determining small or short-term goals, medium-term goals, long-term goals and of course, your ultimate goals.

For example, if you are looking to lose weight, one might plan to learn how to read a food label, learn how to count calories, determine realistic meal plans, weigh in once per week, setting realistic weight loss goals (1-2 pounds a week), and other such related ideas.

The plan for success at any endeavor needs to be written. Writing out your life plan (or weight loss plan or fitness plan, etc.) will empower you to be accountable to yourself for planning, staging, achieving and accomplishing each rung on the ladder to success. Planning allows one to learn in-depth about the topic or area that one wishes to achieve. Having a coach, a trainer or a partner to join you in achieving the goal can only help by providing a natural support system for success. Have you ever observed a winner who achieved any goal solely on his or her own? It's okay to have a team in your corner too.

Take Action
Let's say that by now you have written three of four realistic goals that you wish to achieve over the next few months or one-year. Also, let's add that within each of these goals, you have formatted the plan of attack to achieve your goals you have taken the correct steps so far, but there is more to do.

Now that you are armed with a global and a specific plan, it is time to enact your plan. It is time to take action. Be bold and do not be shy. Go grab yourself information on what the taking action part of your plan means. This may be information on a personal trainer or a new pair of running shoes, plus a subscription to a magazine or an online coaching tool to help motivate you week in and week out.

For example, if one of your goals is to gain muscle, your action plan would be to start keeping a log of your workouts, to read and implement strength gaining routines into the workout, and other such simple ideas.

The gist is simple; you have the ideas, note your action plan, then make the action a reality. Do whatever it takes to get on the road to success. Five easy steps are all that it really takes to be on your road to success, no matter what the goal is.

The Five Steps of Action Success:
1) Lay out a realistic short and long-term plan.
2) Keep a diary of your progress on the plan so that you can reformulate your plan as needed.
3) Utilize professional services so that you have assistance and a support team in achieving your goals.
5) Repeat the actions that it takes for you to achieve your goals until these patterns become part of your normal routines (this can help from back-slipping and losing your achievements).

Breaking down the "Actionable" Steps (using weight control as an example):
Goal setting
Each week you must set two small nutrition and fitness oriented goals to achieve that week. Setting small, but obtainable goals and reviewing these goals at week’s end will allow you to mark your progress towards your larger goal.

Planning ahead
It cannot be said enough, "those who plan, achieve. Those who fail to plan, fail!" With weight loss or lifestyle enhancement, nothing happens by chance. Your first right step was in seeking information. Now, it is up to you to continue planning through goal setting and menu planning. If you plan ahead what you are going to eat for your meals/snacks it will make it that much easier to achieve your goal.

Positive attitude
Having the belief that you can obtain your goal is the first step in getting there. Once the mind commits, the body follows.

How to Pick a Support Team
Have you ever watched a medical drama show such as ER? In these types of shows there is always a physician or three, nurses, medical assistants, clerks, therapists and so on. When you look at the whole as just described, this defines a support team. The lead physician running the code or a surgery or whatever has the support of other physicians, nurses and so on.

Let’s take that analogy to you and your goals. In our drama, you and your goals are the lead physician and all of the other team members are the assistants there to help you achieve the goal. For weight loss, a Registered Dietitian or nutritionist and smart nutritional foods are in order. For exercise, a strength and/or running coach top the list; for flexibility, perhaps a yoga instructor; for mental health a psychologist, and for many a life coach can help coordinate keeping the life in order.

Of course, you can do all of this yourself. Just find someone that you trust that you can be accountable to on a weekly basis. Even the most seasoned athletes have assistants that keep them in top shape, why shouldn't the person who is just starting out on the road to fitness of wellness do the same?

Key Take-home Points
1) Do not let yourself become stuck in the quagmire of “pre-contemplation.”
2) If you have an idea, something you wish to obtain or change, write it down and elaborate upon it.
4) Inform your friends, partners and others about your goals, get their support.
5) Make sure that you use a support website and the ideas within this book for formulating and achieving your own success.

Continuing with the fat-loss/health improvement theme, lets expand on how to go about goal setting and achieving success. Many times achieving your goals requires behavioral changes, changing your habits. Changing the rules you follow in your life.

Now I’ll admit it. Changing the rules and changing your habits is difficult. Not only does it take a desire to change – “want to” – but it takes a strategy for change – “how to.” You’ll, most likely, need some help. Surround yourself with all the things and the people which will allow you and help you with these things. Eliminate all the things and the people who will work against you. What you need to do is to build a support system which will help you do just this, to change your rules and change your habits.

In changing these rules and habits, everything changes – the way you’ll eat, the way you’ll sleep, the way you’ll look, the way you’ll feel when you wake up in the morning, and the way you’ll perform in day-to-day activities.

Habits are more powerful than momentary desire. Habits are more powerful than information. Habits are more powerful than guilt. And only a concerted, conscious effort to override habits will lead to success. So, in some respects, better nutrition is more about altering lifestyle habits and less about the food. Sure, you’ve gotta know which foods are good to eat and plan to eat them But, as GI Joe said, knowing is half the battle. Even if you know what’s good and expect to eat good foods, if the good foods aren’t around when it’s time to eat, you’re doomed. In other words, preparation is the other half.

Immediately attainable
When setting goals of any type and for any purpose you should have two things in mind. First an idea of what it is that you eventually want. In other words, the purpose of the endeavor, your long term goal. Second is the short term goals you will use as the steps to climb the mountain of success and reach the summit of your ultimate happiness. These short term goals should be in very small increments. You know, “baby steps.” By making your goals very short term you insure the perception of progress and will thereby be encouraged by the feeling of accomplishment. At the same time, don’t make them so small they become trivial and lose their significance all together.

Write out your short and long term goals
How many times have you vowed to lose a few pounds? How many times have you lost those pounds only to see them creep right back on weeks or months later? In addition with a few extra! Next time; don’t set your goals by the scale. Your weight on the scale fluctuates from what you had for dinner last night, to what you had for breakfast, to your monthly cycle. It isn’t representative of body composition, and the number can be very discouraging. Instead, try setting behavior based objectives such as S.M.A.R.T. goals that can not only help you stick with an exercise and eating regimen but can be used in almost any area of your life.

S.M.A.R.T. is:

Make your goals measurable, not generic like simply losing weight. You’ll then be able to evaluate whether you’ve met your goal and adjust accordingly. Ensure that your goals aren’t so lofty that achieving them seems impossible.

Ease Into It
Don’t try to eat perfect all of a sudden as this will just send you into a cycle of severe restriction and bingeing that will become increasingly more difficult to control. Eventually this leads to worse eating habits than you probably already have. Choose one aspect of the eating plan and concentrate your efforts on achieving that single simple thing and making it a habit, second nature, before moving on to the other aspects. Take it one step at a time and one day at a time and you will soon find that you don’t even miss the things you’re missing.

Do something Better than you have been
Anything Better is Good. By the same principle as above, don’t try to completely quit eating every perceived “bad” food all at once, “cold turkey.” Instead, slowly restrict these foods. For example, if you normally drink five cans of soda a day try to resist the urge to drink a soda once a day. Soon you won’t miss that fifth can and you will be drinking four a day, however continue trying to resist as much as possible. Soon you will be down to three then two then one or even none at all. You can make this easier by replacing the soda with a naturally squeezed fruit juice, caffeine free tea, or, best yet, water. I call this method “La Resistance!”

The point here is keep the big picture in mind. You may not be able to be perfect now, but with perseverance you can get close to it one day soon. You have to strive everyday to do one thing better, that brings you one small step closer to perfect, than the day or week before. You know what needs to be done. You know where you want to be. You just need to find the path which you can follow, without stumbling too much, to get there. Vive La Resistance!

What you do is more important than what you know
Most lifetime dieters can recite grams of fat and calories by memory and have read everything from Atkins to The Zone to South Beach. However, when it comes to fat loss, what you do is more important than what you know. You can read all the information in the world, know the precept of every diet plan ever created, and have the lowdown on all of the latest in exercise techniques but if you don’t have a clear, concise, easy to follow plan of action, you are doomed to failure. You must be able to consistently and continually follow even a basic set of nutrition and exercise tenants in order for change to occur. Therefore, you must insure that the course of action you select to follow is one that you will be able to keep up with over an attenuated duration. If you create a plan of action which is unrealistic or difficult to follow, you won’t. You’ll fail.
Lesson: Make sure your plan is built around YOUR life. One you can and will follow day in and day out.

Change your habits before you worry about the food
Make sure your basic eating habits are solid and in the right place before looking to the details. Don’t get caught concentrating on the minute details when the basic axiom of your diet is off target.

Failure is not an option
Most important, don’t throw in the towel if you skip a workout or eat too much cheesecake. Get right back on the wagon with the next day’s tasks. Remember it’s all about changing behaviors. It doesn’t happen over night. You have to continually attempt the momentarily impossible in order for real change to take place. Keep trying and keep at it, sooner than you think these “tasks” will become habit and cease to be so difficult to accomplish.


If you are interested in finding a plan to follow which lays all the variables out on the table and discusses strategies for success, you should check out my "Plan For Success" series located on my Health and Nutrition blog. I've just posted the third installment and number four is on its way. In it I discuss everything from the basics of health and nutrition; to exactly what, when, and how much to eat; to logistics strategies to fit a healthy lifestyle into your already busy life. Later in the series I'll discuss exercise protocols and strategies. My Health and Nutrition blog can be found here: http://pjlusa-nutrition.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 30, 2006

Points on Life

• ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
• TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
• THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
• FOUR. When you say, "I love you," mean it.
• FIVE. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
• SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
• SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.
• EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
• NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
• TEN. In disagreements, fight fairly. Please No name calling.
• ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.
• TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.
• THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
• FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
• FIFTEEN. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
• SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
• SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
• EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
• NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
• TWENTY. Smile when picking up the telephone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
• TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone.

The Bill of Non-Rights

"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and others.
We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights."

You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, , intentionally , or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.
You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from.

You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!!!!

Reasons Why The English Language Is Hard To Learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Pretty Weird:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in
waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the
frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but
the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig, huh?


During the revolutionary war General Washington declared that any slaves who fight for a time of one year would be granted freedom and paid five shillings for every month they fought. Upon hearing this one enlisted slave said aloud, “Only six more months…” A soldier then turned to him and said, “What the hell are YOU gonna do with freedom?”
I now pose this same question to you, “What the hell are YOU gonna do with freedom?”

Friday, January 27, 2006

Testing, testing....

This is a test emailed to me by a friend. I found it very interesting and very telling. Here it is, hope you enjoy it as well.

Self Improvement

Rate yourself on essential performance attributes.
Each of us is equipped with a number of talents and abilities. However, it's not what you have under the hood that counts, but rather what you do with what you have that is important and that determines your level of self-fulfillment. Are you using your unique talents to the best of your abilities? When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Are you living your life so that when you die, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying? To help in that journey of self-discovery, take the following quiz and find out where you stand. Then determine which of your assets to emphasize and which of your liabilities you need to improve.

Setting priorities.
Do you know what and who are the priorities in your life? Have you developed a personal mission statement, complete with written goals and objectives that you use to guide your daily decision-making process?
1. Have no idea what you're talking about.
2. Have thought about writing a personal mission statement.
3. Have written one but seldom do I refer to it.
4. Can produce a written mission statement that guides my daily decisions.

Time management.
Organization is not checking off some trivial "to-do" list but rather creating time to achieve those elements of your life - professional, family, social, health, intellectual and emotional - that bring the greatest return. Are you organized to get done those things that are important or do you end up each day, each week, each month wondering where the time has gone and promising yourself that you're serious about doing it, whatever "it" is?
1. Don't even make a grocery list.
2. Check off a to-do list but it just contains my daily chores.
3. Do a pretty good job of making room for those elements in my life, but I've gotta run now or I'll be late for the gym.
4. The balance in my life would make a tightrope walker jealous.

Hard work.
The best players are outworking -- and outthinking -- their competition. Never rest and never tire from pursuing your objectives. One of the best coaches of all time, Vince Lombardi, said, "The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Do you give it your all?
1. I'm waving the white flag right now.
2. I know the value of breaking a sweat but would rather watch somebody else do it.
3. I break a sweat, but don't always have to shower.
4. I could play for Vince.

Do you constantly look for ways to improve yourself in all of the major aspects of your life - professional, physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual?
1. I'm as good as it gets baby.
2. I'm always running out of time to self-improve.
3. I do some things to improve myself, but it's not a top priority. It's nice to have not a must-have.
4. It's part of my daily routine.

Do you really enjoy all aspects of your life? Do you have the dream job, the dream body, the dream mind, and so on and so on? For as Jack Nicklaus, whose name is synonymous with golfing, said, "It's difficult to excel at something you don't truly enjoy."
1. I golf, always did and always will.
2. Jack's right. I want to get excited about my life, but I'm not right now.
3. It feels good, so I'm doing it. But the earth hasn't moved yet.
4. Just had a hole-in-one!

In a related vein, you don't seek happiness - you create it. Happiness lies for those who cry those who hurt, those who have searched, and those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives. Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want. Where do you stand on happiness scale?
1. Still looking for happiness in all the wrong places.
2. Got the plans but haven't started building.
3. Building the house of my dreams.
4. Living in the house of my dreams.

It's not the load that breaks you down; it's the way you carry it. One day, a donkey fell into an old abandoned well. An old farmer, passing by, said, "The old well is abandoned and the donkey isn't worth trying to save," so he started to shovel dirt into the well to bury the donkey alive. After the first shovel full of dirt came down on the donkey, the beast of burden realized something: every time dirt landed on his back, he could shake it off and step up. The farmer kept shoveling and the donkey kept shaking it off and stepping up. This went on for some time, with the donkey shaking it off and stepping up, shaking it off and stepping up. And it wasn't long before he stepped out of the well exhausted but triumphant. No matter how difficult the situation, no matter how bad things get, no matter how much dirt gets dumped on you, how well do you shake it off and step up?
1. I'm covered up with all of life's troubles.
2. I've got to get moving.
3. I'm stepping on up.
4. I'm out my hole and charging ahead.

Most of the events in life had their origins in a dream. Somebody dreaming of a bigger, better or brighter future. "If you can dream it, you can do it," said Walt Disney, who made a future out of bringing dreams to life. Do you, like Walt, dream of a brighter tomorrow?
1. I woke up screaming from a nightmare.
2. I can't remember my dreams.
3. I dream, but only in black and white.
4. I dream in living color.

People don't care how much you know until they know h/w much you care. Can you put yourself in other people's shoes? Do you try and understand how they are feeling?
1. I wouldn't be caught in anybody else's shoes.
2. I looked but their shoes don't match my outfit.
3. I tried, but got blisters on my feet so I took them off.
4. I put a pebble in them and walked another mile.

Are you good at connecting with other people? Do you listen twice as much as you speak? Do you fully engage others with the idea of finding out what's really on their mind?
1. What did you say?
2. I spend more time talking than listening.
3. I'm learning the art of communication.
4. I seek first to understand, then to be understood.

The strongest tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun. Despite our own personal struggles, are you strong enough to bend?
1. I'm sawdust.
2. I'm an acorn.
3. I've survived some severe weather.
4. I'm strong enough to bend and can weather any storm.

All things being equal, people like to do business with people they like. All things being unequal, people still like to do business with people they like. Are you easy to get along with? Do people enjoy your company?
1. Hey pal. I don't have time for all this psycho mumbo jumbo.
2. I was wondering why I always was a day late and a dollar short.
3. Guess I could do a little better business.
4. I'm fighting off the customers. Take a number please.

Are you able to think outside of the box? To look at issues and problems from a fresh and unique perspective?
1. Is there life after the box?
2. I'm a prairie dog. I pop up and look around once in a while, but the box is cozy.
3. I get out from time to time but I always keep the box in sight.
4. I've been out of the box for so long that I couldn't tell you what it looked like.

A first-time novelist sends out his manuscript and gets 121 rejections. Sending it out one more time, Robert M. Pirsig gets his first "yes", and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance goes on to sell more than three million copies. How much stick-to-itiveness do you have?
1. When the going gets tough, I don't.
2. I look for the path of least resistance.
3. I stick with it pretty well but I've got several things I haven't quite finished, if you'll excuse me.
4. Like a fly on flypaper, baby.

Do you shape things before they shape you? Do you take initiative, or do you merely react to the situation? Writer and educator, Leo Buscaglia, said it best, "To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure. But risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, live or love. Chained by addictions, he's a slave.
He has forfeited his greatest trait, and that is his individual freedom. Only the person who risks is free." How good are you at taking a risk? If you don't take a chance, you'll never stand a chance.
1. I'm sitting this one out.
2. I'm scared to take a risk.
3. I like to work with a safety net.
4. Who needs a safety net?

"No pessimists," Helen Keller said, "ever discovered the secrets of the stars or sailed to uncharted lands or opened a new heaven to the human spirit." Why? Because they see the possible in the impossible - just like the two boys escorted out to a stable only to find a stall full of horse manure. They started digging feverishly, saying that with all of this crap in here, there's got to be a pony somewhere!
1. I don't even want to go to the barn because it smells so bad.
2. Sure is a lot of manure in this stall.
3. I'm looking for a pony.
4. I'm riding that pony.

The African impala can jump to a height of more than 10 feet and cover a distance of more than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a three-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us. Do you give faith a chance to take root in your life? Can you let go of the flimsy enclosures that bind us?
1. Life's a zoo. My jumping days are over.
2. I'd like to leave but they treat me pretty well here.
3. I'm straddling the fence.
4. I left the zoo a long time ago.

Will to make a difference.
There's a beautiful story of a man walking along the beach after an especially high tide had washed a number of starfish up on shore. Up ahead, he notices a small boy; picking up a starfish and throwing it back in the ocean. Incredulous, the old man catches up to the boy and says, "Son, I applaud your kindness, but your task is impossible. There are literally thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly make a difference." The boy looks at the old man, bends over, picks up a starfish and says, "To this one, I just did." And proceeds to throw it back in the ocean. Like that boy, do you feel called to make a difference? Against sometimes impossible obstacles?
1. Starfish are dumb, spineless organisms. That's why they washed up on the beach.
2. That's a great story.
3. I toss a few back in when I have the time.
4. I am that boy.

When an archer misses the mark, he turns and looks for the fault within himself. Failure to hit the bulls-eye is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim – improve yourself. Do you have the ability to tune out all of the daily distractions and concentrate on achieving your objectives?
1. I never liked archery.
2. The target moved.
3. I keep missing the target.
4. Bulls-eye!

Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to . It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up; you had better be running. When you wake up, do you hit the ground running? Dreams intentions, plans and objectives all sound good, but do you actually walk your talk?
1. I don't even talk about it.
2. I talk a good game but when push comes to shove, I keep talking.
3. I take action most of the time, but I want to do more - acting not talking.
4. I act, therefore I am.

Develop and stick to an intense routine. Remember that if you're not disciplined, someone, somewhere is and when the two of you meet, given roughly equal ability -- and sometimes given unequal ability -- they will win. As Lao-tzu put it, "Mastery of others is strength; mastery of yourself is true power."
Be powerful.
1. I'm the 90-pound weakling pictured in those health magazines
2. I read those health magazines.
3. I'm working out.
4. Arnold better watch out.

Give yourself one point for each time you checked the first answer.
Two points for the second answer.
Three points for the third.
Four points for the final answer.

Add 'em up!
21-42 points = You've got your work cut out for you.
42-63 points = You're on the right track.
63+ points = Keep up the good work! Now go back and target each category where you rated yourself a "2" or less and develop an action plan to improve those areas.

Friday, January 20, 2006


My latest issue is that my sisters car broke down. I am now her ride to and from work at 2pm and 11pm respectively until I fix her car. It is, of course, my personal responsibility to fix the car of every single family member I have within a 60 mile radius, you see. Furthermore, I am also responsible for their transportation during the period of time it takes me to finish the job. As well, I am liable for any complication of the situation due to the timeframe involved with the repair of said vehicle. Keeping in mind of course the conditions in which I have to make the repairs are, of course, irrelevant. Dirt drive ways, rain, snow, and temperatures are to have no bearing whatsoever on the length or quality of the job. Nor does the difficulty or complexity. I am the omniscient, omnipotent magical fixer of all things automotive with the wave of my wand... Apparently.
My sisters car, you see needs a fuel pump which is located in the fuel tank. Removing and replacing a fuel tank on a 1990 Chevrolet Caprice (ex police car) can be challenging in a garage on a lift. This is a Michigan car and as such rust is a very big factor. The bolts holding the tank straps will no doubt be rusted and seized in place. Also the straps them self will most likely be rusted to the point that removal will cause sufficient damage to ruin them and therefore will have to be replaced, which falls under my liability for not being able to reuse them and therefore cost more for the repair. Once the tank is drained, released, and lowered, the fun doesn't end. The tabs on the fuel pump/fuel sender unit will no doubt be rusted as well and may or may not hold up to the brass drift pounding required to twist and unlock the unit from the tank. This is a tedious procedure in itself. The installation of the pump and the reinstallation of the unit into the tank and the tank into the car should be straight forward, however keep in mind that I have to do it on the ground in the dirt, or snow, outside in the late January Michigan weather.
So now I can not retain gainful employment until I finish the repair of my sisters vehicle.

I wouldn't mind working on family vehicles if it weren't expected, or rather demanded.
I am usually more than happy to help anyone with their vehicle concerns, but on my terms. Is that an unusual expectation? Does this make me selfish or uncaring? I don't feel so.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Osteoporosis -- The Silent Epidemic

Although you won't currently hear much about it in the press, there exists a disease that threatens almost 30 million Americans. Ten million Americans already have the disease. To make matters worse, it's a silent disease that typically doesn't show any signs or symptoms until the victim already has a full-blown case of it. What is the disease? In case you didn’t read the title, it’s osteoporosis.

The disease is so prevalent and severe that it causes over 1.5 million fractures every year, almost half of which involve the spine. In case you're rusty on your anatomy, the spinal cord runs through the spine. So that's not a place where you'd really want to have a fracture. In fact, it’s probably the last place.

Yes, I know, we tend to think that only frail elderly women suffer from osteoporosis, but that's not the case. In fact, over 2 million men in the U.S. already have the disease, and one out of eight men will eventually suffer a fracture due to the disease. And these are not necessarily benign, uncomplicated fractures. Because of frequent hip and spine involvement, many osteoporosis-induced fractures result in death due to complications.

Osteoporosis, which literally means porous bone, results when the formation of new bone is slower than the resorption of old bone. Bone is not at all an inert tissue like one might think. In fact, it's a very dynamic tissue - much like skin. When we're younger, bone formation virtually always exceeds resorption. That is until about age 30 when bone mineral density tends to decline.

Various factors affect how rapidly bone mineral density declines. Hormonally speaking, a decrease in estrogen typically corresponds to loss of bone mass. For that reason, the most drastic loss in bone mineral density in women occurs after menopause, when estrogen production virtually ceases. In men, declining testosterone levels can contribute to a loss of bone mass. While testosterone levels don’t drop as suddenly in men as estrogen does in women, levels do tend to gradually decline beginning between ages 25 – 30.

Certain medications can also decrease bone mineral density. One of the most common culprits is the long-term use of glucocorticoids, which are used to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions ranging from arthritis to inflammatory bowel disease. Numerous other medications have the same possibility to decrease bone mineral density like barbiturates, some anti-seizure medications, and even excess thyroid hormone.

One of primary factors that leads to osteoporosis is a diet that is chronically low in calcium and vitamin D. Though this is fairly common knowledge, nutrition surveys show that many people still don't even get half of the 1,000 to 1,500 mg of calcium recommended per day. Likewise, it is recommended that people consume 400 to 800 IU of Vitamin D per day. Because the skin makes Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, less exposure to the sun necessitates a higher dietary intake and vice versa.

Being bed-ridden, or voluntarily choosing to spend your waking hours on your rear, will also decrease bone mass and increase ones chances of suffering osteoporotic fractures. Lastly, there are a couple of "sinful" behaviors that decrease bone mass: smoking and drinking. Now you have a couple more reasons to avoid these two vices.

Treatment and Prevention
When it comes to alleviating just about any ailment, it seems that our first instinct is to ask, "What can I take to make it go away?" Although medications to treat osteoporosis should only be used after or in addition to more natural means of treatment, there are some FDA approved medications that can effectively improve osteoporosis. Estrogen and calcitonin are hormone treatments while alendronate (Fosamax), raloxifene (Evista), and risedronate (Actonel) are synthetic pharmaceutical preparations.

A more natural way to treat osteoporosis, and one of the best ways to prevent it, is to ensure adequate dietary intake of the aforementioned nutrients calcium and vitamin D. As with any nutrient, it's considered ideal to get them from food. The best sources for calcium are, by far, dairy sources. This includes milk, cheese, and yogurt. In addition to dairy sources, some good sources of calcium are almonds, sardines, salmon, white beans, tofu, oranges, sweet potatoes, and most green vegetables like broccoli and turnip greens. As for Vitamin D, cod liver oil, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products are some of the best dietary sources; but don't forget the best natural source - sunlight.

In addition to vitamin D, which enhances calcium absorption, vitamins A, C, E, and K are vitally important in the formation and maintenance of bone tissue. Another nutrient that’s of utmost importance to bone formation is protein. I’m going to assume that you already know the importance of consuming adequate protein and already do so. So for now, I’m going to spare you the “eat more protein” lecture.

Let’s talk minerals for a moment. As already mentioned, calcium is vitally important in the formation of bone tissue. There are a couple of things you should know before you begin shoving calcium pills down your pie-hole. For starters, calcium absorption is optimized when consumed in smaller doses. Taking your daily requirement in one sitting will likely leave you deficient. Instead, spread your calcium intake out throughout the day. This applies to both calcium supplementation and calcium from food sources. So practically speaking, it’d be wise to take any calcium supplement with meals that are low in calcium. Don’t take your calcium with your cottage cheese. Instead, take it with a meal like meat and yams that is inherently low in calcium.
Other minerals that are essential to bone formation are phosphorous, magnesium, silicon, boron, zinc, manganese, and copper. Let’s discuss the most important of these: phosphorous. While phosphorous is absolutely vital for the formation of bone, too much phosphorous is the most common problem. Let me be more specific. Too much phosphorous in relation to calcium is commonly a problem. When too much phosphorous and too little calcium is consumed, the body will leach calcium from bones to correct this balance. Obviously it’d be a lot better to consume less phosphorus and more calcium in the first place than to have it taken from your bones! For the record, the optimal ratio of calcium to phosphorous is considered to be somewhere between 1.2:1 up to 2:1. That means that for every mg of phosphorous that you consume, you should consume between 1.2 to 2 mg of calcium. To keep this ratio in check, avoid processed meats and sodas which are high in phosphorous. Red meat is also high in phosphorous, but I believe that consumption of lean red meat is still advisable – though in moderation.

One of the best, but often forgotten, ways to improve bone density is to engage in weight-bearing exercise. Yep, good old-fashioned exercise, but not just any type of exercise will do. The more stress that the activity puts on the bony skeleton, the denser the bones will become. This is analogous to weight training stressing the muscles and them responding by getting bigger and stronger. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses are some of the best bone-density-building exercises around. As for cardiovascular exercise, opt for walking over bike riding for improved bone density.

Nobody Move!

by Lonnie Lowery

As I sit here in the airport waiting, I'm once again exposed to the reality that most Americans just don’t move. At least not under their own power. Mostly we just like to sit motionless. I sometimes look for the guy holding the gun, for surely some type of "holdup" must be going on.

Earlier in the day I was walking down the street and some kid on a "razor" scooter puttered past me. I looked on with approval — hey, I used to skateboard everywhere — until I noticed the engine at the scooter’s base. I was reminded of that commercial from not too long ago wherein a cool-breeze scooter guy putters from his door, down the street, and right into the elevator of his office building.

As the commercial progressed and he rode up to his office cubicle (which, again, was actually presented as cool), I used to wonder if some kind of butt-forklift was going to appear, hauling his utterly sedentary butt right over to his comfy office chair. The dude must have thighs smaller than my arms due to disuse atrophy. This is what society has come to. And we wonder why 60% of us are over-fat and fully one-third of us are actually obese!

Let’s take a look at the modern day facilitators of weakness that I kept coming across in the airports:
• Moving walkways
• Golf cart type shuttles (not just for the handicapped anymore!)
• Wheels on even the smallest of luggage
• Escalators
• Valets ("Can I get that for you, sir?")

You get the idea. Have you ever turned down a valet and gotten a snide glance — just for being man, or woman, enough to carry your own stuff? I suggest we might as well have fun and roll with it. Try replying, "No thanks, I like the delt pump I’m getting" with a totally straight face. He will, of course, think you’re crazy. But who’s crazier in the long run — the bean bag chair of a man next to you who "properly" hands over his bags — or you?

There's no limit to the social processes and devices we invent to avoid physical movement, despite our genetic programming to do just that. Have you seen the attempts by the Feds to "sell" physical activity in their "Verb" commercials? Yes; it's really come to this. The days of kids actually going out to play "just because" appear to be gone. I vividly remember being a kid. We didn’t need a commercial to urge us to leave the bloody living room!

And yet we are told by certain authorities to shrink meal size and exercise constant portion control to stay lean. Fussing and fretting over 3-ounce steaks and postage stamp-sized pieces of cake seems preposterous to me. I’m a man and I’m going to unapologetically eat like one. Here’s an alternative. Get off your fat arse. It takes true strength of character to accept the truth when it hurts — and even more guts to actually do something about it.

Hey, if the "manzier" fits, wear it. In fact, here are some verbs for ya: walk, lift, mow, trim, play, clean, paint, climb, help, carry, push, swim, build, shoot, catch, etc. (For the record, grab, thrust, and pump also come to mind.) The simple fact is that we have to rise above the majority of mainstream society and be vigorous and vivacious not "physical cowards" as it was once phrased to me.

And yet we constantly hear fat folks blame their metabolism and/ or genetics. I like to refer to something called "the Pie Chart of Hope." It summarizes the proportions of contributing factors of obesity. Among accepted contributors like socio-economic and genetic factors, it’s still lifestyle ("non-transferable factors" like physical activity and nutrition) that contributes most. This is also true of mortality/ longevity.

Genetics certainly do influence body fatness but they account for 25-40% of the incidence of obesity, not 100%. The rapid rise in obesity in the U.S. over the last 20 years can't be attributed solely to genetics (which don’t change that much in a culture over so little time). These facts are good news for anyone willing to take personal responsibility for their body. Yet most Americans want to melt-off 30 pounds overnight while they sleep. (Again the absence of movement theme!) They’re constantly blaming any conveniently un-modifiable factor for their sad state.

And yet we evolved to move. Any fit person can’t stand to sit utterly motionless for very long, without purpose. For over 99% of our time on this earth, humans were hunter-gatherers — nomads and wanderers. It was only relatively recently that we settled into our comfy, overweight, sedentary, agricultural social structure. Although learning to be lazy can actually be a good thing for ectomorphs desperately trying to gain weight, the opposite is true for any of us wondering why we can’t lose that extra fat, despite our workouts and dietary practices. As we’ll see, most of our calorie burning day is spent outside the gym.

Now let’s go back to my trek through the airports of America. Let’s see how many kcal could’ve been spent by those poor souls compared to what they chose to do…

Lifestyle Choice/Approximate kcal Spent
20-min. Walk to work /125
Motor scooter to work /45*
10-min. Cycle to work /70
10-min. Walk through airport /65
10-min. Walk through airport with 10 lb. of baggage /75
Take the airport moving walkway /10*
Take the stairs /50
Take the stairs with 10 lb. of baggage /55
Take the escalator/ elevator /10*
*Slightly greater than a resting value but admittedly not zero; 80 kg person; durations and loads are reasonable estimates.

Based on these estimates, the sedentary folks I‘ve been chastising who rode the motor scooter instead of walking, then rode the walkways at the airport and took the elevator instead of moving their own carcass and luggage, burned just 45 + 10 + 10 = 75 kcal during these "activities."

Had they walked to work, then carried their own bags as they walked through the airport and up its stairwells, they’d have burned 125 + 75 + 55 = 255 kcal. The socially indoctrinated wussies have missed out on a total of 255 — 75 kcal = 150 "free" calories burned without even considering a treadmill or exercise bike. And this rough estimate only examines a tiny portion of their waking day.

Accept it or not, we are rapidly becoming blobs of crap — brains hauled around by machines. Listen, if you hate cardio, take a look at your non-exercise physical activity (NEPA). Are you stuck on a weight loss plateau? Take a look at your NEPA. Are you afraid to cut your dietary kcal any lower? Take a look at your NEPA.

If you think this is a joke, I would’ve agreed with you years ago. A logical first impulse is to poo-poo NEPA as insignificant compared to gut-busting workouts. Parking an extra few spaces from the grocery store or taking the stairs to get in some extra calorie expenditure is a concept strictly for old ladies, right? But ask yourself if you can keep up a gut-busting workout for more than an hour or two each day (not that you’d want to).

Then ask yourself what percentage of your time is spent doing various daily activities versus those brief gut-busting workouts at the gym. It’s about 90:10 for most of us. It’s simply a temporal accumulation issue. You’re outside of the gym 22 hours per day — perhaps 14 of them awake — and that’s a long time. By reasonably exerting ourselves and being physical creatures all day long (as opposed to solely in the gym) we become ever-leaner and more "physical-looking." Form follows function. Non-strenuous physical activities add up to a leaner physique — especially for one that’s endured enough rigorous dieting to slow itself down in a self-preservation attempt.

The beauty of this is that carrying one’s own luggage, or walking to the gym or store, or taking the stairs, or using manual yard work equipment can be done at an intensity low enough not to interfere with muscle recovery. This is to say nothing of some "horizontal aerobics" with your significant other. Heck, even chewing gum can add up to about 100 kcal "burned" throughout the day!

This whole low-moderate intensity NEPA concept is similar in principle to my personal choice of walking uphill on a treadmill each morning instead of doing wind sprints or long-duration weight workouts. Mild but ongoing activities burn calories without crossing endocrine and metabolic thresholds that sacrifice glycogen and muscle tone as we strive for leanness.

Consider this: Back in the day, I used to eat 4500 kcal per day when bulking up but I never got over-fat. I actually prepared foods by the half-dozen: six servings of oats, six beef burritos, six servings of pasta — I was hell bent upon supplying a surplus of muscle building nutrients. At the same time I had no car and had to walk two miles each way to the gym and neighboring grocery store. I never considered the walking anything but a transportation necessity or perhaps a time to prepare for the weights.

It wasn’t intense enough to even cross my mind as exercise, per se. But the fact remains that I oxidized hundreds of kcal per week in transit — and the nearly fat-specific fuel that propelled me thusly allowed me to grow rapidly without looking like a sumo wrestler. See? NEPA does matter.

And so ends another tirade about the sad state of Western society and how we might rise above it. There is a famous quote that says "Beware the forgiving and spoiling grandmother, for she will not make you go to school if you feel reluctant. Instead wish for the harsh instructor, for you will be strong and grateful in the end."

Think about this regarding your daily activities outside the gym; think about this the next time a valet approaches. He’s going to offer you weakness along with those open arms and polite smile.
Tell him "No thanks, I’ll carry my own damn bags."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Target Stores

Wasn't it last Christmas that Target refused to let the Salvation Army ring their bells in front of their stores?

Dick Forrey of the Vietnam Veterans Association wrote.

"Recently we asked the local TARGET store to be a proud sponsor of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall during our spring recognition event. We received the following reply from the local TARGET management: " Veterans do not meet our area of giving. We only donate to the arts, social action groups, gay & lesbian causes, and education." So I'm thinking, if the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and veterans in general, do not meet their donation criteria, then something is really wrong at this TARGET store. We were not asking for thousands of dollars, not even hundreds, just a small sponsorship for a memorial remembrance. As a follow-up, I E-mailed the TARGET U.S. Corporate Headquarters and their response was the same. That's their national policy. Then I looked into the company further. They will not allow the Marines to collect for 'Toys for Tots' at any of their stores. And during the recent Iraq deployment, they would not allow families of employees who were called up for active duty to continue their insurance coverage while they were on military service. Then as I dig further, TARGET is a French-owned corporation. Now, I'm thinking again. If TARGET cannot support American Veterans, then why should my family and I support their stores by spending our hard earned American dollars! And, have their profits sent to France. Without the American Vets, where would France be today? They, most likely would be speaking German and trading in Deutsch Marks.

Sincerely, Dick Forrey
Veterans Helping Veterans

Sunday, January 15, 2006


"Applied knowledge, when structured properly, brings the greatest possible results." -John Berardi


"There are men in the ranks who will stay in the ranks. Why? I'll tell you why, they haven't the ability to get things done." - Wallace Haight

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ups and Downs

"Let the ups be longer than the downs. So when you're on a down, do something to stop it." -Mike Babcock


Success or failure depends on how you respond to the drama in your life. -LL Cool J

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


"It is a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

America The Lazy

Regardless of which side of the TC fence you're on, very few of you realize that I played a big part in kicking the Soviet Union's ass. Sure, Reagan gets all the credit, but it was me and thousands of other defense industry workers that brought those godless commies to their knees back in the late 80's.
We didn't necessarily do it through innovation or superior technology and we definitely didn't do it through hard work.
Instead, we did it by pretending to work. Tens of thousands of us sucked vigorously on the government teat while doing virtually nothing else. When a few hundred men were needed to do a particular job, the government hired thousands so the commies would think we were like tireless, malevolent army ants intent on destroying their miserable way of life. The Russians didn't have the money to keep up with this monumental level of pretense so they folded as quickly as a surfboard shop in Minsk.
I'm not kidding about this. I worked on a cruise missile program for General Dynamics for two years and the vast majority of us did exactly as we were asked to do, which was pretty much nothing. Heck, finding something productive to do required the imagination of Da Vinci and Stephen King combined.
Most of us would finish our tasks for that day before mid-morning coffee break and spend the rest of the day coming up with ways to look busy. My favorite tactic was to clutch some papers in my hand and walk really fast with a scowl on my face as if I were late for some terribly important meeting, even though I was usually just on my way to the snack machine.
As long as we at least looked productive, kept our desks tidy and didn't cut out early, General Dynamics and the government were happy.
Granted, the damn cruise missiles got built, but there was more pork in that program than in a Nebraska housewife's Wal-Mart shoppin' ass.
The shoulder patch worn by the Air Force personnel that tended to our Ground Launched Cruise Missile. Note the Cold-War logo: Moscow in the morning.
Actually, I have my doubts as to whether that whole pretending to work thing was what Reagan had in mind. He probably just didn't realize that the productivity of the American worker as a whole had degenerated to such a point that we needed three or four men to do what used to pass for one man's honest day's work.
I'm not sure I have an explanation for this demise in American productivity, but I can think of an example that might give us some clues. Just after Hitler started accumulating all that lebensraum in Europe and right after the Japanese gave us a Hirohito hotfoot, America kicked into overdrive. The will and might and economic power of America became the Arsenal of Democracy, punching out an extraordinary amount of battleships, aircraft, tanks, guns and ammo in a remarkably short amount of time.
Compare that to the aftermath of September 11th, 2001. America kicked into overdrive alright, but her manufacturing might took a different direction. The nation's presses, conveyor belts and inkjet machines started pumping out untold numbers of...mugs, ashtrays and T-shirts commemorating 9-11. The stacked-up height of the rolls of Osama Bin Laden toilet paper (help "wipe out" terrorism) probably rivaled that of the defunct twin towers. Flag manufacturers began running triple shifts to feed the jingoistic fever.
You know, of course, that if you don't profit off a tragedy, the terrorists win.
While the two situations WWII and 9-11 were quite different, I think it at least hints at the problem, and the problem is both the beauty and curse of America.
In America, everyone thinks they're eventually going to make a lot of money. Unless Americans think they can conceivably get rich doing a particular job, they do it half-ass. Most jobs are regarded as an annoying necessity; something to pay the bills with until the real thing comes along.
It seems to me that part of the education problem in America stems from the fact that a good percentage of our teachers took the job because they haven't yet found the one that's going to make them a pile of dough. Sure, there are no doubt plenty of dedicated teachers out there teachers who should have goddamn statues built to honor them but none of the ones I know take work home, spend any time outside of school hours making lesson plans, or even try to emulate the dedicated educators that we occasionally see in TV shows or movies.
Nope, they're working on screenplays, flashing beaver on personal pay-for-porn sites, or sending resumes out so they can get out of their dead-end jobs.
The other half of the education problem is the students themselves. Who wants to bust a gut stimulating a student body that, to a boy and girl, thinks that school is a waste of time because they're the next Bill Gates, LeBron James or Ashlee Simpson? Yeah, the fact that you can get to level 5 on Doom 3, dunk a ball on your rickety 8-foot-high backyard court or sing La La in the shower is irrefutable proof of your star power.
Dream on slacker.
It bothers me, too, that I can I think of at least 4 people I know who are on permanent disability; people who either faked or exaggerated some injury and bilked their companies and the government into paying them to hunt, fish, or pursue some other hobby (the one that's going to make them a ton of money someday).
I've got a friend who owns a cafe but he gave up hiring Americans a long time ago. They're chronically late, spend an inordinate amount of time talking to their boyfriends, and think nothing of calling in sick at the last minute because they partied too hard the night before or because Skankapalooza 05 is happening at the Civic Center this weekend.
Instead, he hires Irish exchange students and Brazilians. They're never late. They work hard. They realize that boyfriends are for when they're not working. They don't ask for days off, and if they're sick get this they don't call the boss, they find coverage for themselves! Not only that, but when I hit on them, they don't drop their tray, point at me and make that high-pierced shrieking sound like the pod people in the remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
No wonder so many companies are outsourcing. Apu in India takes his job seriously. He probably takes pride in it. He realizes he's lucky to have it. And even if he does have "bigger plans," he's going to work hard at this job because by accepting his job he's entered into a tacit agreement with his employer: I will work hard and in exchange for a good day's work, you will pay me the agreed-upon rate.
Maybe America needs some hard-work role models. Too bad they're few and far between. One need look no further than our Commander-in-chief for what is probably a less than stellar role model as far as putting the nose to the grindstone is concerned. I don't want to enter into an argument about whether he's a good President or a bad President that's not germane to the conversation.
Consider, though, the image he presents to young Americans: a man who pretty much skirted through life, who pretty much failed at everything he did in life prior to becoming President; who was elected Governor to a state where the Lieutenant Governor is the more powerful position and where the Governor's chief duty is photo ops and presiding over an assembly that meets once every two years for 140 days; a man who gets elected President but rarely works past 5 or 6 PM and who's taken more vacation than any President in history who allegedly spends two hours a day playing video games.
None of this stuff is especially damning, but it's not exactly an Abe-Lincoln-as-a-youngster-walking-miles-just-to-borrow-a-book story.
If the average kid after being lectured by dad about how hard work will pay off were to bring up George W. Bush as an example to the contrary, dad would surely sputter and insist that junior shut up and eat his peas.
There's something to be said about not accepting your station in life and having high hopes. That's the good part of the American Dream. It really is true that virtually anyone can become rich. But what a wonderful place it would be if everyone, for the sake of integrity, just decided to do a good job, whatever his or her current station in life.
Who knows? Bill Gates might notice that you did a helluva' job applying the special sauce to his burger and decide that you've got the right stuff to head up his new European software division.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy F-ing Birthday

First Published in "Random Thoughts" on 12/31/2005

"So you say it's your birthday. It's my birthday to yeah. You say it's your birthday. Happy birthday to ya!"

So here it is my 30th birthday. A milestone from which I thought I'd be reflecting upon my accomplishments thus far. However, this is not the case. I seem to be living my life on a yo yo of bad decisions. There seems to be some fatal flaw in my thought process. I don't know what it is exactly but I think I have narrowed in on it through some deep introspective. I lack the necessary drive, motivation, persistence, perseverance,and discipline to be successful. Discipline and motivation are the big ones! Motivation is the easiest of the two. Discipline is my biggest weakness in life. I've never had any. I was never taught, never given an example. Now here I am just figuring out that it's a problem and having to implement it of my own volition.
The thing is, I know how to be successful, in theory. I have the knowledge of the steps necessary. I simply need to find my motivation and start employing some discipline into my life.
I think my biggest problem with motivation has been my lack of interest in any professions. My serious dismay with our societies emphasis on "proud" careers has been a very big hindrance in this area, see "Definition By Career". However, as of late I've come to the thought process that the job itself is irrelevant. It's the capacity it gives you for a full and happy life outside of the job which is the important thing. Having finally come to this conclusion I think I'll be able to apply some motivation as well as some discipline and get on with my life.
Finding myself at this crossroads at this point of my life is frustrating. I don't have a job, I don't have my own place, and I don't have my own money, even, right now. It is very difficult to be in a relationship when your life is not in order. At this point of my life I find myself wanting a relationship. Steady and stable. No more young girls, no more games. It was fun, but now I find myself craving maturity in a woman. I have potential prospects, but how do I propose to start any type of healthy relationship from the place I'm in?

Indeed. I must apply myself. I must discipline myself. I must motivate myself. I MUST dig myself out from this hole I've stumbled into.
I need a plan. I need goals! Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time bound goals.
I must get to work, I MUST persevere!

- Patrick