Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rhythm & Hymns

I haven't been to church in years, but I was tricked into going by my friend Brandin Reed, when he mailed me a copy of his brand new CD "Rhythm & Hymns".

I used to think I was just reminiscing talking about Brandin, but now I feel like I'm "name dropping" to say we used to lead worship for the youth group of Portland's New Beginnings Christian Center, now well over mumble mumble years ago (just under 100 years ago).

I know I should listen to it several more times before writing about it, but I can't wait.

I am sure my neighbors think I am weird(er) because I'm wearing my wireless earphones, bobbing my head, swaying, shivering on my back porch in the wet Oregon cold while smoking a cigar and drinking scotch listening to gospel music. Whatever.

Brandin recorded and dedicated this to his dad, Pastor Larry Reed who was for many years a street preacher / evangelist and can be heard a couple times in the songs on the CD from old live recordings, preaching up a storm.

If you have ever been to a pentecostal / charismatic / Holy Ghost church more than once, you know their music has changed a lot over the last 25 years.

I remember when playing an electric guitar in church was gradually and cautiously accepted... AS LONG AS THERE IS NO DISTORTION!

I also remember my playing the very first distortion guitar solo during church services in at least two different churches, which went over really well and was met with equal parts excitement and disgust.

It wasn't long before CCM (contemporary christian music) was sounding more and more like U2 or Dave Matthews and we were even doing reworded covers of Beasty Boys and MC Hammer. Yes, ON PURPOSE.

But CCM has changed a lot since then, as has most genres, branching out with more and more influences and finding its own way.

Many if not most charismatic churches now have teens / young adults leading their worship services with everything from rock to Indie influences... but there is just something about the Hymns.

Back when I first started going to pentecostal churches almost 3 decades ago (I am old), electric guitars were anathema (see what I did there?) and hymns were still king.

They still are.

I can't do a write up about Brandin's CD justice, but the first thing I notice about a new CD is whether I will listen to it again and again, and this is one. It has crazy smooth and sincere influences from gospel, country, blues, R&B and even "Nawlin's jazz" and Brandin's patent falsetto and vocal riffing. Never forced and always from the heart.

There is a big difference between singing and playing your instrument really well and even singing with some soul and emotion... or having all that and also singing from experience, the heart and with anointing.

Brandin's still leading worship services a lot further away in Texas or some weird place and apparently now making really great CDs. I can attest he is a good guy with a good heart, beautiful family and has a good voice and a great ear.

Well, I am done with my cigar listening to the Rhythm & Hymns and my hands are so frozen I can barely type anyway, so time to head inside.

If you go to church, you should listen to this CD. But if you don't go to church, you should probably still listen to this CD.

Check him out:

Rhythm & Hymns on Amazon

Rhythm & Hymns on iTunes

I didn't think Brandin would sneak me back into church tonight, but I'm glad he did.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Newark is for the birds

If you've read my blog before, you know that I cover a wide range of topics from travel, working out and my dogs. But to not always be one-dimensional, I will also sometimes stray off into talking about going places, exercise and my pets.

I don't know why flying anywhere makes me want to write about it, but my guess is it allows me to vent about the nuisances and freak happenings as an alternative to punching someone, which is apparently still against the law in Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts AND Maine.

When I landed in Newark, New Jersey to get my connecting flight to Portland, Maine, I immediately could sense everything was smooth sailing and going my way, when the flights reader-board had a couple "Delays" here and there and just one huge, bold, flashing, red colored "CANCELED".

It was not followed by "JUST FOR PAT - LOL!", but it did have my connecting flight number, so I trudged over to United Airlines customer service where some of the brightest and most helpful employees in the world were nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, they did have a couple people who looked like they were rescued just in the nick of time from the soul sucking machine of The Princess Bride.

The gal who waited on me easily had several years of life left and was very helpful in clarifying that my flight was canceled because of "who knows for sure". She also said they at United, the biggest airline in the world, could very easily just print me a ticket for an alternate flight that I could never actually board, since there were no empty seats available.

And if THAT failed to work out, which she assured me it would, then there was one other flight to a completely different city and even state (but same country!) than the one I wanted to go to, if that would work out for me.

Then, a %^&*ing pigeon walked by.

No, seriously... I have been to a few airports and that was the first one I had seen allowed birds to walk about so arrogantly. He stopped and tipped his head as if to say, "dude, she is not going to help you" and walked off. (I didn't ask if she saw the bird too, in case I had imagined it.)

I asked if we could still aim for landing somewhere in Maine, since that was the state with my co-workers and she said absolutely, they could definitely get me there a day too late for my meeting. So, we had options, is the thing.

I reluctantly accepted the flight change to Massachusetts, since it also started with an "M" and a two hour drive would give me time to try to relax and look up current state laws on punching people.

I had 5 minutes to grab a water and boxed salad (two words that together always = yummy!) and at the checkout register, I looked down to see another pigeon walking by. I say "another", but he might have been following me.

Newest Jersey Shore cast member

As I boarded the smallest plane that United owns (I think it was a 5 and a half seater), I walked to the very back where my half seat was located and I immediately understood why nobody had booked it. I have sat close to the airplane bathroom before, but this was actually IN the bathroom.

My unofficial job was to hand out toilet paper squares (no more than 2!) and to "avoid eye contact". They could only pay me in little bottles of scotch, so there was that one positive note. I also looked around, but there was a very noticeable lack of pigeons on board, which was a nice change.

As we started to land in Manchester, Massachusetts (a real place), I noticed all of the city's buildings had been replaced by forest, which instilled even more confidence and excitement in me.

As I walked up to the rental car desk, I said "you would not believe the day I'm having" and she assured me that "things can still get much, much worse, how can I help you".

She said she had no record of my reservation waiting in Maine to transfer over here. When she said their computers records were not interconnected at all, I asked her if she knew what their company name "National" means or the word "irony". I also asked if she had a sister in New Jersey or knew about their pigeon infestation epidemic and she called over the manager.

When the manager assured me that they would do their very best to explain they could not rent me a car, since I was a "walk-up", I asked if she was going to watch the Presidential debate that night and if she had any idea whether her own Governor Romney had finally lifted that pesky Massachusetts ban on punching people. She asked me to "please wait a moment".

She came back and said they could possibly rent me a mini-van, rickshaw or finally, a piggy-back on a homeless guy named Billy who was really good with pigeons.

Since it was still a two hour drive to Portland, Maine, I chose the mini-van and handed her my credit card and man card.

I did not get checked in and eating dinner until late, but I was able to have dinner in the hotel restaurant and relax at a table in the corner with just my quiet thoughts and the 4 big screen TVs blaring the Presidential debate.

Now that the business meetings are over, I have one more night until I fly down to JFK until tomorrow. The law of averages dictate that everything will go perfectly without another single problem.

I hope so, since it will be another 4 days before I get back to Oregon and can write about my dogs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Snarling, hissing death on a fence

I think one of my favorite things about living on the edge of "the country" in Oregon City / Beavercreek is that if you drive around enough, you can find several places that don't have skunks or possums.

My back yard is not one of those places.

On some of the back roads, you can even drive several hundred feet without smelling Pepe Le Pew, but only because the skunk stationed there accidentally wandered off and got lost in my particular 20 foot by 20 foot patch of suburbia and somehow could not escape again.

They traversed 10 miles of forest and yards, but the 6 foot fence they already climbed over to get in my yard suddenly becomes impenetrable to them on the way out.

And if we (Amy) aren't coming out with the dogs in the morning to stinky, cute animals ("you can call me Flower if you want to"), then it's slightly less stinky, ugly animals like possums.

I think when God was creating the animals and got to possums, He said, "Look, I'm late for a tee time with Gabriel, so let's hurry up. You know what, let's just make this one hideous to mess with everybody's heads. Yup, even the baby ones."

One of Mother Nature's ways of saying, "KEEP AWAY FROM THIS. Don't even come within 10 feet. Especially with a camera phone with a flash, you idiot."

I was almost out the door for work at 5:00 this morning when I heard the commotion. Amy's usual reserved "shhhhh" at this hour was replaced with, "Chloe! CHLOE! ChLoOoOeEeE!!!!"

When I came running out, Amy was bent over at the waist, running in circles with her arms outstretched while the loudest dogs in Oregon City, possibly the world, easily darted around her and evaded her grasp and cussed in Welsh at the ass-ugly intruder on the fence.

Luckily, I rejected my first impulse to casually ask her, "do you need a hand?" because I knew she could catch me much more easily than the dogs.

You may not know this, but Welsh Corgis are the world's smallest herding dog, are surprisingly fast and can bob and weave quicker than Walter Payton, especially if they have one of your shoes in their mouth.

I was able to first capture the older, non-insane dog, but only because we both went after her and somewhat cornered her as she was distracted with panicking and swearing at Captain Ugly Fangs.

As if it wasn't stressful enough that our dogs were waking everyone in a 2 miles radius at 5:00 AM, we had to try to recapture all this hell that broke loose while that demonic teeth-dirt-fur thing stared calmly down at the four of us doing our best Benny Hill rendition.

I am sure it would have been laughing, if it wasn't plotting how to best pounce on one of our necks and infect us with rabies or West Nile Hepatitis or whatever.

After both dogs were inside and the panic subsided, I was fortunately quick witted enough to remember that all things big or small in my life must be recorded and chronicled on Facebooktwitterinstagram and so I approached the furry little satan, armed with only my Android and a healthy dose of stupidity.

He stayed there motionless and with a calmness that said, "this is my place now, you have 48 hours to pack and get out".

When I came back in, Amy said "I hope you know I just watched you flash the neighbor's place 5 times".

And I also lit up their yard and house with my camera flash!

Luckily, they were probably already awake from our precious pets, Bullhorn and Megaphone. I bet they send us a fruit cake for Christmas this year.

I better test it first on the possum, if he let's me back near his house again by then.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why so Siri us?

Time is of the essence and our schedules are busier than ever. There are times I want to let people know how I am doing and what's going on in my life, but I am too busy to stop and update my blog.

Well, that's no longer a problem, thanks to my new iPhone!

This marvel of technology is simply amazing. It has the world's most accurate voice to text feature and to save time and show my utter confidence in it, I am going to speak the rest of this blog into it:


OK, her ghost. Pee pull always say that one of the bust things about a pill phones are how a carrot there's peach to Texan.

What scolding on in my wife lately? A lot!

On the home french, lots of stuff is happy knee. 

I am tent a leave going to fly out ptomaine again in October. Hopeful leave I'll gut two sea family why lout there on the ease toast.

Also, lay Tilly, with a cup all frenzy mine, I helped start a new die and exercise blog called "Hell's Neat Underpanties".

We give a vice and encourage men to pee pull how to shit pounds and keep the moth!

My friends Martha Jessup have lots of great inflammation to share and are master motor baiters.

Are dog olive her is as crazy as Canby. We have tubey car full not toilet him outside when the nipples dog is achoo or they will bow spark like crazy!

Well, that sit porno. Hopeful leaf my iPhone trannys let this a carrot leave.

Undead next time! See yell ate her!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to keep your political enemies even closer

All of us are constantly looking for ways to estrange our friends and family, but sometimes it seems like an uphill battle.

It can take years to make all of them upset with you and even longer to make them too angry to ever speak with you again, in preparation of winning the Powerball.

But with the advent of the Internet, it's possible to enrage perfect strangers and your loved ones, often dozens and even hundreds at a time.

Sound too good to be true? Nope.

Thanks to free sites like Facebook and Twitter, it takes literally just one beer too many to post something so offensive that it can even get you fired from your AFLAC duck voice job... or get you, your underwear pic and unfortunate last name all kicked out Congress.

 This guy goes together with the Internet as perfectly as peanut butter and cigarettes.

But what if you are picture-shy, have a normal voice and aren't looking to necessarily get fired just yet?

This is where most people forget one of the most unchanging and powerful truths of all time:

Whatever you believe about politics and religion is right and everyone else is wrong.

Also? They are stupid and quite possibly bad people.

Seriously... they're like... "punch a nun and the entire basket of puppies that she's carrying" evil. They probably don't recycle either!

They want to take away all your rights, even the ones you don't know about, and turn America into an oligarchy. Or anarchy. Something ending with "archy" is the thing.

So, with the 2012 Presidential election coming up, this is the perfect time to anger and alienate a solid 50% to 75% of people you know and even strangers, all who are thankfully similarly addicted to their computers and Internet.

A couple useful pointers:

Do NOT actually engage anyone in religious or political discussion. This a rookie mistake! Always speak in absolutes and only mention their viewpoints in retrospect as stupid and/or evil. Examples:

WRONG - Why exactly do you think lowering taxes would help the economy?

RIGHT - If you understood the first thing of Keynesian economics, you would already know how your argument is completely flawed and idiotic! Also, you obviously ate paste as a kid and would elect/marry Hitler if you could.

One of the only drawbacks of tearing someone down on the Internet is the inability to actually yell, throw things or use real life special effects, like punches and explosions.

This flaw in written communication has been known for some time and small modifications in how and what we write have had be made to try to compensate.

One tried and true method is TYPING IN ALL CAPS. Another is to only type in caps for SOME of your most IMPORTANT words.

This is surprisingly useful for gently and subconsciously reminding your reader how flamingly stupid they are for not already understanding things as correctly and clearly as you. Try it. Trust me, it WORKS.

Another useful method of paring down your Facebook friend's list closer and closer to double digits is to "get involved", "support your candidate" and "try to make a difference".

In the old days, this often involved giving to charities or volunteering our time in our own communities.

But again, thanks to the Internet making this a smaller world and bringing us all closer together, we are much wiser now and understand that there are so many amazingly colorful and different types of people out there that we hate and would never, ever want to be with in the same room.

For years, those who already knew this had to tell other people they were stupid/evil from a distance by using bumper stickers. Fortunately, this is still a booming industry, but we no longer have to swerve in and out of traffic and cut people off to share our viewpoints.

Imagine forcing them all together at once every single day to sit in a classroom while you write about how wrong they are on the blackboard. Awesome, right?

Now imagine them being so addicted to social media and making the mistake to keep you in their newsfeed that they DO IT ON PURPOSE. That's right... DO it ON purpose.

(Dangit, I put the wrong words in caps.)

Try some these handy conversation stoppers:

  • Have you already read all 72 Bible verses about Melchisidek? Good, 'cuz you're GONNA.
  • Have you ever seen a crudely photoshopped picture of your favorite candidate with carefully thought out arguments on how he is retarded and probably stomps on baby bunnies? No? How about 14 pages of them in a row? Enough to make you wonder if your mouse scroll is broken? Well, get ready!
  • Have you ever seen food before? Well look at mine! THIS IS WHAT ACTUAL FOOD LOOKS LIKE. YOU'RE WELCOME.

Now look... both I and the group gathering on my lawn with pitchforks will be the first to admit that I too am a complete narcissist. Fortunately, I work hard to balance that out with heavy doses of utter, rambling nonsense.

Which brings us to the worst kind of self righteous updates: DIET AND EXERCISE ones.

Oh, you went to the gym 3 days ago? And the next day? And yesterday? AND today? Wow! That's very inspiring, but were you also aware of the fact THAT NOBODY CARES?!?!

Sweet Betty Boop on a pogo stick, if you post one more shirtless "before and after" pic, I swear I will invent a way to punch you through Facebook.

Remember, status updates are supposed to just be a quick way to relieve others of having to insincerely ask "How are you? What have you been up to?" It is very useful in that respect.

We're just not used to real life people answering those questions by loudly blurting out, "MY DASH SAYS IT'S 101 DEGREES. THAT'S HOT!"... , "LOOK AT THIS PASTA I ONCE ATE"... or "OBAMA IS A MUSLIM!"

We used to have to work up to that in conversation, gradually applying both reason and alcohol.

So when Zuckeberg is snuggling himself to sleep tonight, wrapped in a blanket of sewn together $100 bills, just remember how much we all owe him.

Now, get out there, dust off that keyboard and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Curiosity has gotten the best of me

It is difficult to not wax philosophical in the face of such spectacle.

While England spent over $15 Billion toward and was in the middle of a world sporting competition, the world's New England spent just a 6th of that to artfully set 2,000 pounds of our most advanced technology onto the surface of Mars.

This, after a mere 350 million mile trip in less than 9 months.

One could easily be constantly drawn back to imagining the wonder and exhilaration of the first person to eventually stand and look out across the red planet.

We simply cannot shake the fascination, the compulsion, for one of us to finally be there, to stab the ground with our flag.

It's the same compulsion that drove us to the almost 9 mile high peak of Everest and the almost 7 mile deep trench of Marianas.

How long have we dreamed of walking on Mars?

From Gustavus Pope's novel from over 120 years ago to any one of our many modern day CGI driven tales, it is almost certain that far more years dreaming are now behind us than remain before us, when it will become reality.

Most agree manned missions to Mars will land in less than 25 years. Most of us will almost certainly live to see it happen.

It easily rivals the world's collective focus on the much nearer but equally enchanting, barren and desolate lunar orb, back in 1969.

For that next one, half a century apart, the world will again come together to hope and pray for its passengers' safe journey, but this time we'll hold our collective breath for 6 months to a year, instead of just 4 days.

But what ultimately drives that adventure? It surely is far more than a craving for notoriety or accomplishment. It is not merely something we would do, it is something we must do.

The attendant sense of curiosity is insatiable. The sense that it is something we have an obligation to see and learn from. The unspoken feeling that we might even find some kind of answer.

Answer to what? What is it we're looking for?

And will it ultimately far outstrip the passion, sense of accomplishment and contentment of the countless combined who've already traveled there, aided alone by fiction?

Is it possible for a man to travel to every corner of the globe or even the solar system and yet still go to his deathbed empty, unfulfilled and thus overfilled with regrets?

And is it equally possible for a forever nameless, unsung man who has never strayed more than 20 miles from his slum in Calcutta or jungle village in Uganda to have already experienced far more color, wonder and awe than one who has been said to have seen everything?

Could such a poor soul have already seen immeasurably more beauty, satisfaction and adventure in the universe, deep within himself and his faith in God, hidden openly in the embrace of a woman he truly loved and the shared laughter and compassion of his few friends and family?

Maybe. It seems today, almost anything is possible.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Flying talons of death

With the 2012 Presidential election rapidly approaching and other critical matters like the recent Chick-fil-A / gay marriage protests, I didn't have to go far to find something serious to talk about for this newest blog post:

My dog (again).

You know that famous old saying "I need a mentally unbalanced puppy like I need a hole in the head!"?

Well, this isn't really a saying... but now, thanks to their knife like claws, you can have both!

I discovered this seconds after stumbling to the bathroom mirror last night while yelling, "oh god, what just happened?!?!".

Corgis are the 11th smartest breed in the world and so our older, non-insane one knows when I say the words, "do you want a..." that it signifies "treat" and will bark excitedly in response.

The younger one is actually equally or even more intelligent and only needs to see me looking their way and ask the word, "do...".

He then knows this is his cue to strategically and carefully LOSE HIS FREAKING MIND.

Now I know that this can then be followed by him flying magically 15 feet from the corner of the room, over the older dog and onto my head while making sound effects like a Tasmanian Devil attacking a bullhorn.

If you've never had your temple punctured before by Velociraptor like talons, have you considered adopting a puppy?

Words to no longer say around Oliver: "Do", "You", "Want", "A", or "Treat"

I hope this at least heals up nice and ugly... I heard chicks dig scars.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sage, smelly ponderings

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I find more and more that I'm asking myself questions I never did before: "will people think I was a good person after I'm gone", and "have I made a real difference in the world" and "how young is too young for a puppy to have scotch and a cigar".

I've enjoyed whiskey and cigars for more years than I can count (that's not true, I have counted up to a hundred before) and admit I have enjoyed them more often recently, since I no longer partake at all in the traditional American vices of deep fried sugar coated sugar lumps and all you can eat pasta with butter soaked dough globs. (And a diet Coke, please.)

 So, they are really my only two "vices". OK, that and sometimes accidentally swearing like a construction worker. And hitting random strangers. But that's it!

 "Scotch and cigar time" is a time honored tradition, dating back thousands of years, invented by wise, wise old men who delicately and expertly crafted the most bitter, nasty smelling and tasting substances in the world that would gross out most women-folk enough that the men could finally have just a LITTLE time to themselves. Horrible, nasty stuff that tastes GOOD. Alchemy at its best.

Honestly, the only thing I do not like about cigars and whiskey is how horrible they smell to my wife. And that I have to give someone money to get them.

 But my older dog is smart and... well... good. It took us getting a second dog to realize that she is actually one of the most obedient and morally upright dogs in the world. So she respects the sacred boundary set long ago by Scots and Cubans. And she also recognizes FIRE... BAD. Just like Bambi and every single other normal mammal.

 But the younger dog is retarded. OK... "spirited". Whatever. He immediately wants to shove his snout in the glass and up to the cigar smoke. I KNOW he knows it is not actually food, since we don't set most of his on fire. And even in dog years, he is barely seven, so I am pretty sure he is not "legal".

After my repeated reprimands and empty threats he backed off and I am now watching as he is carefully seeking out the smelliest patch of grass and rolling in it. About a month ago, I discovered it was in the remains of a cigar butt he stole from my ashtray the second I turned my back. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. I don't need to read a book on Corgis to know this.

 Now, I know what you're going to ask: "what the heck is he talking about, does he even have a point?"

 I am glad you asked. No, I guess I am just figuring that we all have our ways to unwind. Maybe it is eating a half a... oops, whole... pizza... or setting expensive Honduras leaves on fire and puffing their tasty, tasty, nasty fumes ON PURPOSE... or rolling in the stinkiest patch possible and somehow being proud of it.

 I think it is a guy thing. I have to admit that watching the puppy run around, enviably free and unencumbered by the restrictions of adulthood and brains... at least his vice isn't $7.00 a pop. Maybe he isn't stupid.

 OK, he just vaulted the fence to attack a dog four times his size, I take it back. I gotta go.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mother's Little Helpers

Dandelions are not poisonous. In fact, apparently humans can even eat them, if they're the weirdo, Whole Foods shopping, NPR listening type.

I know this because I had to Google it when my new blog material (a.k.a. our new 6 month old Corgi, Oliver) decided he wanted to eat them along with everything else in the yard. That includes eating worms, frogs, dirt, fencing and the last little bit of Amy's patience.

Now when I start to type in the question, "Is it ok...", Google knows it is me and just automatically starts filling out popular puppy eating questions:

  • Is it ok for my puppy to eat popsicle sticks?
  • Is it ok for my puppy to eat remote controls?
  • Is it ok for my puppy to eat other puppies?

We are scheduled at the end of this month to take him to see a specialist who is an "animal behaviorist". It's official... we have a "problem child".

Oliver has a pretty focused and basic philosophy for a 6 month old (almost 4 in human years) and that is: "is there something you would like me to NOT do? Then I would like to do THAT. A lot."

This was my philosophy as a kid too and I also saw behaviorists, so I definitely recognize the tell-tale pattern of spending 80% of the time making your parents insane and the other 20% acting just barely cute and and endearing enough that they don't throw you away.

The puppy class teacher (who starts every class and "play time" by singling him out and picking him up just out of demonic snarling range of the good dogs) is the one who suggested we schedule the appointment with the specialist, which fortunately just like the classes is free with the Hannah Society adoption and membership.

He also said his obnoxious aggression during playtime is because he simply wants every single other dog in the world, regardless of size, to know that he is the alpha dog. Period.

And although the teacher pulled us aside later and said he cannot advise it lest he get hurt, it might actually help to put him with much bigger dogs who would help adjust his attitude by kicking his ass a little. He said it much more professional sounding though.

Since the behaviorist we're going to meet has been a specialist in the animal rescue adoption and training field for literally decades, we are already writing down some of the more important questions we want to ask him:

  • what the hell is his problem?
  • can we move up the scheduling of him being neutered? To today's visit?
  • his whole being 20% adorable thing is totally an act so we don't sell him to gypsies, right?
  • instead of like a cute puppy, why does his voice sound like Darth Vader had a baby with a velociraptor?
  • what sedatives did you give him right before we first met him to make us think he was not insane? Can we have some? Can you throw in some extra ones for Oliver?
As I just now hit backspace to undo the gibberish from him jumping on the laptop seconds ago (no, really) I think back to how I've always wondered why I was not rewarded by karma with either of my kids also being total hellions, like I always was for my parents.

I realize now that I am getting back every little bit of stress I ever gave my folks, just by a little brat who has a lot more fur. And unfortunately like any textbook pyscho, he's just not naturally afraid of anything, let alone me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kicking It Old School With Mario

I am never one to brag, as everyone totally knows, but I personally invented and manufactured a super cool, portable gaming system this week.

It is a small, old school Super Nintendo controller with every single Nintendo and Super Nintendo game ever made snuggled neatly inside. Yes, SNUGGLED.

Oh, and it is able to plug into any computer in the world to let you instantly play them. Did I already mention that? Yeah.

I say "invented and manufactured", but I had a tiny bit of assistance from my friend Joseph.

I did the much more technical and labor intensive steps, like buying the parts he told me to. I reluctantly allowed him do some of the more menial tasks, like soldering the circuit board to the doo-hickies and knowing what the hell he was doing.

I also put myself in charge of the obviously hardest and most critical job of taking pictures of the process between bouts of pacing to the other side of the room and muttering while his soldering iron heated up.

The reason I built this with his almost negligible help is because as soon as I saw his prototype and played a couple old Mario games, I instantly knew I would not mind having one (needed one or would die).

I have not told Joseph yet, but we will totally make one for anyone that asks us for just $300 or $400 each. Call me.

But since Joseph himself actually came up with the idea and steps to build this, having made one for himself first, he warned me not to reveal his patented secret of connecting a USB Nintendo controller circuit board to a mini USB hub and mini 4GB USB flash drive that has every Nintendo game ROM copied on it, which I assured him I was not stupid enough to let slip.

I assured him the photos would be for our eyes only and you are the first to get a sneak peek!

This is the first USB Nintendo controller we bought that had a dead circuit board.
We were very careful to not test it before ripping it apart and spending an hour soldering stuff to it.

I kept asking Joseph how long he had owned his soldering iron, clip stand and circuit tester thingy. I pictured a 2nd grade version of him with thick glasses, held together with tape in the middle, as he was soldering his action figures heads together.

But he kept assuring me with vague responses that he has only had it "a couple years or so". I am sure he's telling me the truth and will still totally ask his mom the next time I see her.

The mini USB hub, after many minutes or hours, FINALLY soldered to the dead circuit board that was a wonderful loss of $10.

The good, working mini USB hub and the mini USB flash drive (the black dangly bit) with over 300 games of pure nostalgia and potentially time well wasted.

My Creation*. Made with brawn and steel.

(*With minimal help from Joseph)

Oh yeah.

After test playing a couple games, I brought it home to Austin and let him know how I had selflessly shelled out lots of my hard earned money and then had to use my massive arms to frighten and coerce a friend to make it. JUST FOR HIM.

I am never one to brag, as everyone totally knows, but I came off pretty awesome.

And of course, by employing the time honored tradition of male gift giving, I now have the dual benefit of giving Austin one of the coolest presents he's gotten, while I can borrow it every other day and forget to bring it back!

Now I just need to go over Joseph's house to help him with a server he's having trouble with. I guess that seems like a fair trade for letting him help me build this cool toy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Continuing Adventures Of Psycho The WonderDog

As it is advised in all abusive relationships, preserving some kind of evidence to show the authorities is recommended.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to use my phone and show our dog trainer a one minute video of our older Corgi running around the living room with the new puppy's teeth firmly latched around her throat, flinging around like some kind of furry, mutant necktie.

He said this was normal.

This is the same puppy who only barely and reluctantly pretends to respect our authority, because he knows we are his food supply. It's his begrudging "Give Us This Day Our Daily Kibble" prayer.

We missed a puppy training class last Saturday, because he was home recuperating from his injured leg, which everything points to being caused by flying on and off things three times his height.

When we showed back up at the regular place and time, we discovered they had rescheduled the class for bigger dogs without telling us. The gal at the desk looked at us a little perplexed that we did not psychically know they had switched class times, but said we could still join the class if we wanted to.

Play time had already started and we put Oliver down with the six other Labs who were about three times bigger than him. They were still pretty young ones and approached him with their regular, playful exuberance.

At this point, the police report states... kidding... at this point, Oliver responded with his own kind of exuberance that bordered on vile and reprehensible.

Amy and I just kept yelling, "he's not our dog!", but nobody was falling for it.

You probably remember the cartoon character Taz, the Tasmanian devil. When rushed by the other dogs, Oliver acted similarly, but spinning a lot faster and with a much more gravely voice. (He's 5 months old and his voice is already deeper than mine).

He then proceeded to chase all 6 Labs to their respective parents who looked at us like we just unleashed a rabid wolverine upon their little darlings. At the time, I told the dog trainer that Oliver sounded a little like a demon possessed T-Rex / Wolf hybrid.

He said this was normal.

I asked what "not normal" might look and sound like, so we could keep an eye out for it.

I know Corgis are from Wales, but Oliver reminds me of a short, drunk Scot who is so self conscious of his height, he spends his life getting into fistfights.

"Hey, look at me! I'm a cute, normal puppy!"


Do not approach. Call authorities immediately.

Today he decided to unleash some more of his exuberance on the world by rushing to the neighbor's fence and at their yipping, yapping, completely naive and in for a surprise rat-breed of some kind. The kind with little bows. A small meal for a rabid wolverine.

When Oliver discovered he could not rip the wood planks right off the fence, he tried burrowing next. So, we set up a doggie fence further up the yard, so he could not even get to the neighbor's fence. This modular doggie fence / pen has served us well for years with Chloe, our normal Corgi.

But like the Velociraptors who never hit the same part of the electric fence twice in Jurassic Park, Oliver set about to negate this so called doggie fence with this frightening precision and strategy:

1) First, he hit the doggie fence full force with all of his massive 12 pound frame. This somehow magically knocked it over for the first time in 4 years and he was back to trying to rip planks off of the wood one.

2) Next, he hit the now reinforced doggie fence full force with all of his massive 11.5 pound frame (calories burned). It did not fall over, but was skewed enough to now burrow under, which he did. We immediately covered Chloe's eyes and rushed her inside, because this had never occurred to her in 4 years to ever try herself and we did not want Oliver giving her ideas.

3) Lastly, Oliver rushed the now steel and titanium plate reinforced doggie fence and suddenly revealed that he never meant to hit it in his previous attempts. What happened next is hazy and reports vary, but the word "flying" was used more than once.

Oliver is 9 inches tall and the now obviously useless doggie fence is about 2 feet tall. We theorize that he might have cleared his body and then clipped the top with his feet, but we're not sure. This would account for making it over the top and landing on his back, though.

Amy asked if I thought sedatives would work and if so, how many should she take.

But as humans, we are much smarter than these common beasts and I assured her that the quickest solution is to just simply ask the neighbors how much money will it take to get them to move.

In a few weeks, Oliver goes in to get "fixed". (God, I hope that *I* never get that broken.) We'll see if that takes some of the wind out of his sails. Or Red Bull out of his wings or whatever.

I hate to imagine paying lots of money for an electric fence, just to admit "Clever Boy" when he finally gets passed it and we end up finding a cute little doggie bow in his next poop.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thumb Wrestling With Your Teeth

Amy and I found out today that with a little preparation and careful planning, giving your 5 month old puppy his prescription medicine is barely any more difficult or stressful than the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Oliver originally only needed medicine for a cold, until Friday night. That is when he was enjoying the regular daily display of his superpower of leaping 5 feet through the air, straight onto the 3 foot high couch back, spin midair, somehow without touching down, and back onto the floor.

That might not seem terribly impressive for a lesser animal, like a cat, but Corgis are the unwieldy tractor trailers of the canine world.

He is only a foot long (hot dog joke goes here) and 9 inches tall. I am not great at math, but I am pretty sure that is the equivalent of me taking a running leap onto the roof of my house and back down.

Our son Austin used to jump off things twice his size when he was a kid. (Admittedly at 5 years, not 5 months) and had similar results.

Little ones must spread their wings and fly at this age, as a time honored passage where mother nature gently teaches them how to really hurt themselves.

Austin had 3 separate casts by the age of 6 (yes, they let us keep him) and Oliver had his first x-rays last night.

His mild limp from Friday night progressed to the point he could not walk and finally screamed out in pain while he was trying to lay down and he wouldn't stop crying and shaking for several minutes, so they told us to come in.

Luckily the x-rays showed no broken bones or anything out of socket (Corgis are prone to hip dysplasia, but he's too young for that), so they diagnosed soft tissue injury and prescribed an anti-inflammatory, some pain medicine and not flying off of things 3 times his height.

Chloe worried about her lil' bro after he went to doggie ER.

I got home about an hour ago and Amy asked if I could help give him his pain medicine, which is when we suddenly found ourselves trapped within an alternate universe "Two Stooges" movie.

First, we discovered my "healthy lifestyle changes" are compulsive and borderline OCD, when I said I didn't want to try to hide his pill in a piece of hotdog, as I loudly and uncontrollably blurted out, "they're toxic, they're poison!"


So, we tried peanut butter and after a couple unsuccessful tries, we have most of it cleaned off the cupboards, stove and front window.

I was CLEARLY told my job was to hold him like a baby and cradle him while she made sure that he magically projectile spewed the pill from the back of his throat onto the front of the fridge.

But when that failed (succeeded) 3 times, my cradling him like I was CLEARLY told to do was suddenly now "wrong". I am not pointing fingers or naming names, but it was another individual in my marriage other than me.

After one more try with him less upside down, and holding his mouth shut, he finally swallowed it.

And that finally allowed us to search once more for the original missing white pill, which somehow completely vanished before our eyes onto the white linoleum.

We eventually discovered that the mostly dissolved pill did in fact disappear off the floor, having completely splattered on my shoe, now making it the most disgusting thing by far to land on my work dress shoe, presumably until Oliver figures out a way to poop on it. While running passed and laughing, I'm sure.

So now we are trying to follow the doctors orders (Rx: Twice a day, somehow stick the genie BACK into the bottle) by not letting him run or rough house too much. But he has not gotten to play with Chloe at all for two whole days, so I just now gave them a few minutes to play gently.

Gently was rapidly upgraded to NOT gently, so I didn't let it go too long. I don't know if other dogs do this, but Chloe and Oliver have an adorable game they play that is just like one of our popular human kids games.

It is called "thumb wrestling", where the winner pins the loser's thumb (neck) with his own thumb (teeth).

And I am way less concerned with the Wild Kingdom overtones as much as I am with a 13 pound dog who could barely walk on three legs 12 hours ago always pinning the 30 pound one.

He seems to be perking back up a bit.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who's In Charge Here?

I keep forgetting to not seek out new reasons to look and feel old, so I am constantly hounding Brittany and Austin to hurry up and produce me cute grandkids to spoil and send back home to them.

Amy's much more thought out and reasonable reply to me on this one is, "shut up".

Tired of waiting for an excuse to get up every two hours in the night, we went out and bought a puppy.

When we first met him at the adoption agency, we knew right away that his more laid back personality would be a perfect match for our first Corgi, Chloe

We found out afterwards that this was because it was not his real personality.

Exhausted for 6 straight hours by much less deserving couples, by the time Amy and I arrived, his real personality was safely hidden away from his future parents and their desire to open up their hearts (wallets).

Perfect example of Oliver pretending to be normal and not criminally insane

Chloe and Oliver have a game they play, where he gets her to chase him, growling and barking full blast around the house for a few minutes. If Oliver could speak, he would call this "pretend I am not in charge".

Since Corgis have only bodies with feet and not legs like real dogs, their top speed is only about 65 mph.

After a few minutes of this, Oliver will stop suddenly, growl and bark back at this menacing behemoth 3 times his size and Chloe is rudely brought back to reality. This is his way of saying, "let's get back to the topic of me taking over everything in the world, starting with your house".

The literature assures us that they will acclimate a lot more after another week or two.

Who knows, after two weeks, we hope to even see - assuming Oliver has not eaten them - where the cats have magically disappeared to.

I am joking of course.

I totally hope he ate them.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Metal Tube of Death

Getting an MRI is just like a Disneyland ride, if you take away the fun and motion and add extra claustrophobia. The part about spending all your money to wait in line for and hour and then being shoved into a tight confine you cannot escape from is still there, though. Even the "taking off your pants" part is the same, if you've ever been kicked out of the magic kingdom.

"Magnetic Resonance Imaging" is what Wikipedia says it supposedly stands for and they are similar to x-rays, but take much higher quality pictures. A much newer method, the procedure did not even come about until a full 60 years after x-rays were invented, when our technology reached the point that we could finally combine medical science and sadism.

Unlike x-rays, they give you earplugs, a panic button and offer you sedatives. That part is not a joke, believe it or not.

Since my shoulder injury has not changed in 4 months, my doctor suggested taking the space age pics. They shoved me in the metal tube, the exact size and shape of "not a big person" and the tech came over the internal speaker to say, "just lie back, close your eyes and try to enjoy it", which I thought was awkward. But that was quickly forgotten.

After reading the Wikipedia article, the nearest I can figure how it works, is once you've been inserted into the metal tube of death, they flip the switch and start with little people banging on the outside with hammers, Darth Vader farting into a bullhorn and a full blast skipping CD of Metallica. Don't get me wrong, I like Metallica, just not the same note over and over.

I actually have had quite a few MRI's over the years, so I am not sure why they are bothering more and more as I get older. I'd like to think it is not simply because I am increasingly concerned with my mortality and so I cannot stop thinking how similar it is to the "buried alive in a coffin" scene in Kill Bill 2, but I'm no psychologist.

"Just lie back and close your eyes..."

But I suppose I'm grateful this pseudo-science exists. Here's hoping the quarter a million dollar a year salaried doctor can progress passed telling me, "yup, you got a shoulder ow-ee".

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'm Fat, I'm Nationwide

(Slightly less old guy Pat Shene featured within)

Now that I am being featured in this month's Muscle & Body magazine, I can say that I have finally arrived and start asking people, "do you know who I am"!

Luckily, after my amazing good looks, humility is one of my greatest traits.

That's because I long ago learned that if you ever are stupid enough to pray that God would give you humility, He is more than happy to supply you with children.

My daughter read the editor's proof of my article with my before and after pictures and was so excited and proud of her dad that she asked if I ever noticed that one of my "nipples is a lot higher than the other?"

And before that I was self conscious of how balding I am in the pictures. I hardly notice that now!

I thanked her for her candor, let her know she was only the 7th person to point it out and that she was grounded. (It is not easy to ground an adult child away at college, but it can be done.)

After my 2nd time through P90X, my GNC store manager asked for my before and after pics to send in. Shortly afterwards I also sent GNC an email, letting them know what products I have had good results from and how much time the guys at GNC had given to me.

Managers Kyle and Charles had taken hours to answer dozens of my questions over the last year, from supplements to diet, etc. Both are very fitness conscious, lift weights and never tried to oversell anything. They were great.

About a month later, I got a call from the managing editor of GNC's magazine Muscle & Body. She said she was called by GNC corporate who said they wanted the magazine to do a two page Achiever column story, instead of the usual one page story.

Part of the reason was to focus a little more on my back story, as I have been a chronic pain sufferer for over a decade, my journey of coming off all the medicine I had been on and my making a commitment to try to instead manage my pain as best as possible with diet and exercise.

The other reason was the sheer amount of page space that was needed for the huge, full color, high definition picture of my uneven nipples which are now in every GNC store in America and maybe the world.

The editor Pam was a genuine pleasure to work with and she quickly found out in our phone interview and sea of emails back and forth that having enough content to fill 2 pages was not going to be a problem. (Apparently I can be "loquacious".)

I don't think the article leaves much unsaid, but I would stress a couple things.

Firstly, I would say that that the most important ingredient to fitness is mental. You simply have to make the decision to go for it.

Secondly, I would say that "firstly" doesn't sound like a real word. Firstly. Firstly. I probably should have just gone with "First of all". OK, I will totally go back and fix that.

But fitness really is mostly mental. Most people simply have to finally get to the point that they make the unwavering decision that eating right and moving their butt is more important than eating wrong and parking their butt.

Sadly, for far too many, it takes a dramatic and frightening health scare. I wish it was not that way, but for many it is just that.

In our lives, we waste so much precious time and forget that we should not do that because "time is the stuff life is made of". Years actually do seem to go by faster and faster as you get older (I am almost a half century, which is just ridiculous).

And decades of inactivity and poor eating will unquestionably catch up to you.

I was partly pushed into focusing on fitness because I lost such an amazing amount of my quality of life for so many years, missing out on time with family and friends and knew I had to try to take control of a miserable situation with my pain condition.

After being off of the medicine for over a year, eating right and exercising, I overheard my wife tell someone that it was like "finally having him back".

I am still in pain every single day, yet despite that am more fit and happy than I've been in years.

But I sometimes wonder if I still would have started to turn my health management around, if it had not first gotten so bad in the first place.

What does it take for the average person to choose health and fitness?

There is a great joke/meme popular on the Internet now that makes fun of Americans and other first world people complaining about their petty "first world problems".

Then move your butt out of the line!
I've had to stand over a whole minute and I'm exhausted!

The irony is that because of how most Americans have disposable income and the glut of inexpensive, easily accessible junk food, our actual first world problems are very real and not a joke.

They are just self-inflicted problems. They are the many preventable diseases that cut our lives short and overburden our health system.

And I am not just a health nut preaching. They are actually called "diseases of affluence".

Also called "western diseases", they include heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

They are by far the most common causes of death in modernized countries, and yet also most easily delayed and prevented by our simply eating a healthy diet and exercising. They stand in stark contrast to "diseases of poverty", which include much more simple and traditional things. You know, things like gunfire, dysentery and starvation.

Huge portions of the world are dying from not having enough food and yet we are dying from stuffing too much of it into our ever widening doughnut holes.

OK yeah, that was preaching.

The irony is that eating healthy does cost a little more, but almost all of us could still very easily afford to budget it, if we simply made that choice.

Eating healthy and exercising and how much better they will make you feel are their own reward. Don't wait for something tragic like a personal loss, physical ailment or health scare, to jar you into making the right choices.

The biggest part of fitness is mental and your simply choosing to do it. So choose to start today.

Secondly, I would hope it is already mostly implied in the article that good diet is by far the most important ingredient in fitness. (Well, I guess after "mental", which obviously is firstly.)

Eating right is not a mystery. The recommended daily allowance for fruits and vegetables is 5 to 9 portions a day, which for most Americans is approximately 5 to 9 more portions than they actually have.

Even if you only walked 30 minutes a day, I can guarantee you will burn calories and body fat like crazy if you simply were to follow the recommendation of first filling your plate at lunch and dinner half full of fruits/vegetables before you put anything else on it.

I have been doing it for the last year and I know it works. And the long term health benefits are huge.

Thirdly or nextly (ok, there's no way that is right), moving our bodies, even if it is only walking every day, is the next most important thing after good diet.

We already spend a whole third of our day/lives unconscious and not moving in our beds. Why would we spend another fourth or third of it, motionless on the couch and equally brain dead? (I'm of course referring to watching Jersey Shore.)

Laziness is overrated. Our bodies are meant to move! You can be motionless when you're asleep and again when you're dead, so don't do it the rest of your life too!

At the end of your life, you will not regret what you did anywhere near as much as you will regret what you did not do.

For instance, regretting not actually getting off your butt and living life, but instead spending it sitting on your butt, watching Snooki and eating cheetos.


Lastly (which is totally a real word, I checked), I would refer to my mention of supplements in the article, but reinforce that they are only useful as an added fuel to an already burning fire.

If food is firewood and exercising is matches, then (some good) vitamins, supplements and shakes, bars, etc. are like adding a little gas to the fire.

That's it. There are no shortcuts.

If you think you can just take diet pills or shakes, continue to eat terrible, not exercise and somehow still be healthy and fit, it will be as useless as dumping gas onto the dirt.

You might even lose some quick weight, but it will always be short lived and come right back with a few extra pounds. It certainly will not add years, energy or quality to your life, which should be the first goal in fitness.

Our bodies are amazing machines that can run incredibly well, but only if run regularly and given the proper fuel, which first and foremost is good food (hint: they usually look, smell and taste like vegetables).

Pam gave a whole section to me in the article just for diet, so hopefully everyone reading it understands what I think is the proper place that powders and supplements play in a healthy lifestyle.

I sent her an email with a full rundown of everything I eat on a weekly basis and she said it was "perfect and we only have 2 pages, Pat". But I think we made the point.

That's it for now. I'll be continuing to blab here about diet and exercise on occasion. I just finished P90X for the 3rd time through and I will probably find a way to somehow ramble at length about that and what I will do next.

Since this blog has admittedly evolved into an almost solely P90X blog over this last year, I will also be helping start up a dedicated diet and exercise blog with a friend of mine who is a certified personal trainer, called Healthy Understanding.

We have another friend who lives in Timbuktu or some odd place that is not Oregon that has also made great strides in her life with diet and exercise. She will write some blogs with us too, and she is almost as funny as me.

It will not be a "we know it all" blog, but rather, "we know enough to offer guidance and tips and are working hard at this too" blog. We hope others will join in.

I am sure that I will still regularly talk about health and fitness on this blog, since it is a passion of mine. But this other new blog we're starting will finally free up this one here for other passions of mine, like offending people with politics and religion.

And posting obviously photoshopped, fake pictures of me with perfectly even nipples.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Good talking is key

The infamous "they" say the most vital part of a healthy relationship is regular and open communication.

I can attest to this, as next month Amy and I will celebrate being married almost a quarter century a wonderful number of years.

And the fact that 80% of our communication is now text messages comprised of only the letters "Y" (yes), "K" (ok) and OTW (on the way) still counts.

Typical conversation:

Her: u there?
Me: Y
Her: ...
Me: ?
Her: OTW?
Me: Y
Her: K

But sometimes texting is not enough and we will break down and use Instant Messaging or email. Actually talking on our texting devices just feels awkward.

Just this week we discovered a new way to chat, which is smack-talking while doing the warm ups for P90X. We like to do this now, in between making fun of people in the videos.

We only have a couple weeks left and I suddenly realized and commented that we were totally able to smart mouth each other while doing jumping jacks and were not out of breath, which must be a good sign.

She said my "FACE must be a good sign" which is totally immature, so I just said "K".

Tomorrow is Day 1 of week 11 of my 3rd time through P90X and her first.

The only difference for me is this 3rd time through, I felt like every single day of it was one more day of going up against a pissed off Inigo Montoya.

I hurt my right shoulder pretty bad the day after I finished my 2nd round, almost 3 months ago. The only two things that make it hurt are moving it or being awake.

I am not a doctor, but I have the wealth of conflicting information from the Internet at my finger tips, so I decided the best treatment for it would be to just keep doing thousands of pushups, pullups and curls.

And I am happy to announce that so far this has worked out terrible. The best prognosis, if that is even a real word, that I can give at this point is that I THINK it has not actually gotten worse and I probably am not going to permanently maim myself if I continue.

That is why they call it PRACTICING (pretend, WebMD) medicine.

We don't yet know for sure what we're going to do in 3 weeks after we take a couple week break (either P90X again or P90X2), but I will probably finally squeeze in that visit to the doctor I keep threatening to do, to get pictures taken.

I'm just glad Amy will be there with me through the whole thing.

Her: ?
Me: Y?
Her: u there?
Me: Y, done
Her: MRI?
Me: N
Her: K
Her: K
Her: OTW?
Me: Y
Her: K
Me: Your FACE is a K

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Advice About Doing P90X

(My before and after photos from the first two times through P90X)

I am writing this because I am such an amazing example of what P90X can do for you.


I am writing this because I have had almost 10 people ask me for advice about doing P90X since I started 8 months ago.

I honestly do not mind taking the time to type out an individual answer each time someone asks, because I really do have a passion for seeing people take control of their health through diet and exercise.

But I thought it might be helpful to put together a post that includes my most common advice and summary of my experiences, so I can more quickly answer people by pointing them to this link.

My online P90X coach has encouraged me to online coach too, and someday I might feel knowledgeable and experienced enough and have enough spare time to do so. In the meantime, I just want to encourage whoever I can for free.


My advice about P90X? Do it. Or don't do it. But do something.

If you are not completely convinced that your current diet and exercise routine are giving you more energy, better moods and longer life... then change them.

I honestly do not know the percentage of people who have tried P90X and quit after a week or two, but I know it is fairly high. I know a handful myself.

Who cares. Who cares that you quit. Do something else. Plan to try it again. Or plan to do something else, to whatever comfort and energy level you can do right now.

Maybe it is walking for 15 minutes a day. Do that. You will feel better just from that, if you do not have an exercise routine. And that will give you more energy and then you can walk for 30 minutes a day!

We are meant to move. We only have so many years in this life to move. We already have 8 hours a night completely immobile. Why add another 6 hours glued to the couch watching terrible TV shows?!?! Move!

And eat good food. Our bodies are amazing machines that run incredibly well on good food. And stutter and stall and run sluggishly and poorly on poor fuel.

We have spent thousands of years eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains in moderation. Lack of modern convenience, supply and standard of living decided that for us.

Yes, lack of medical advances meant some had shorter life spans (plus wars. And bears. Bears were EVERYWHERE), but people felt better and moved around more.

Now most of us in the Western world, rich or "poor", have the convenience, money, time and outlets to eat terrible and not move.

We get up in the box of our bedroom, climb into the box of our car, sit in the box of our cubicle, back to the automobile box, sit motionless in the box of our living-room and then back to the box of our bedroom to start it all over again.

So many of us don't experience or appreciate life or the beauty of the world and outdoors in general, because it it so cheap and easy to get junk food from drive-thru windows and numb our heads with 6 hours a day of TV and Internet while plastered to the sofa.

And we wonder why we're still bored and feel terrible.

If you want to feel better, look better, do more and live longer, you only have to do two things:

1) Eat better
2) Move more

OK. Enough motivational screeching. Now for P90X specific advice.

The 3 biggest things I would suggest from my experience with the program and the degree of success I have had is this:

1) Work up to it for a month or two by moving more and eating better in general, even if it is just small and incremental improvements and changes

2) BUY IT. Do not ask for copies or pirate it. I honestly believe it was a big part of the reason I did so well with it and even finished it at all (two and a half times through now). I considered it an investment and one that I would either capitalize on or squander and lose my $120 on if I stopped doing it.

3) Decide. Commit. Succeed. That is their slogan and it is honestly true about succeeding at P90X and pretty much anything else in life. I already had this attitude from the start, but it is hard to say it better than this.

Now to expand on these 3 things a little more.

- As for working up to it, I started walking every day. My doctor suggested I try a gluten free diet a year earlier for a chronic pain condition and it helped, shed a few pounds and gave me more energy.

Even if you are not allergic to gluten, many of us eat too much bread and pasta. Again, for thousands of years we ran better on more fruits, vegetables and then in more moderation, lean meats and whole grains. Start watching what you eat, because if your diet is horrible when you try to start P90X, switching to theirs will help, but also be a shock to the system. Eat less, eat better. You need that energy to do any fitness program.

- Not much to expand upon the topic of buying it except, again, you should not look at it as some little thing you are going to try. You need to change your mindset as it being a part of an investment that you will keep pouring more time and money into from now on.

- Decide. Commit. Succeed. Worth repeating. I remember a few people warned me it might be too hard or I spent money on something I would not finish. I joke about it a couple times in my blog posts along the way. But the truth is I KNEW I was going to finish it before I typed my credit card number into the webpage.

I had spent years wanting to work on diet and exercise, but could not because of health problems and all the medicine I was on. When I finally got off all the pain medicine, I was in more pain but had a little more energy.

And that is when I started to CHANGE MY MIND. You can choose to think and do whatever you want to do. I chose to change my diet and exercise to get more energy, help my pain condition with natural, non-prescription means and invest in my long-term health.

The last one was huge to me. With experiences of friends and family and black and white statistics, it became clear I was going to sabotage my future chances of being mobile and somewhat healthy as I got older, if I did not start moving more and eating better.

Dramatically increased chances of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and pain, just to name some of the big ones, were in store for me if I did not start eating better and exercising.

So I basically made a vow, if you will, to finish it no matter what. I made a promise to myself to make it all the way through and not miss one single day, unless it was physically impossible to not miss it.

The first time through P90X, I worked a whole week with an injury to my knee and another whole week with an injury to my lower back. I was in terrible pain, but I still did the hour to hour and a half workout every day, six days a week, just being careful to not make the injuries worse. And they healed up. The yoga even helped the lower back pain more than once.

I really injured my shoulder recently (not at P90X) and am still doing P90X every day. I hurt it much worse than the other two injuries which healed up, because it is still hurting now 2 months later. But I am again just being careful to not hurt it worse and it is very slowly getting a little better.

The first time through P90X, I worked out while burning up with a fever and congested with a bad cold. I had to do this again a couple weeks ago.

This is because I have the willpower of superman!


It is because I remind myself that I will still feel better if I keep moving and eating right, than if I do not.

And I made the promise to myself to keep doing it no matter what. I refused to miss a workout, unless it was impossible, because I knew if I started making and giving in to "big and good" excuses, I would soon after be giving in to "small and bad" excuses.

I also knew I had spent DECADES not eating particularly well and not being very active. When you spend a whole lifetime doing it wrong, you really have to work hard to reprogram yourself. But you can!

And that is the key to succeeding at improving your diet and exercise. Plan on it being for the rest of your life - eating food that is good for you and moving more.

If you are always just looking for a quick and easy fix to lose some pounds, instead of making a lifestyle change, you set yourself up to quit and fail. Don't do that.

Finally, some specific advice about doing the workouts on P90X (or any other one you might choose).

- I said it already, but do NOT keep eating terribly, thinking you can have your cake, eat it too and not get fat from it.

If you do not eat better foods, you will not have the energy to workout well and your success will be very limited, if at all.

The P90X program has a great book on nutrition to retrain and educate yourself. Even if you choose to not follow it verbatim, read it and start to learn about what is good and what is not.

But it's not rocket surgery.

Even the nebulous food pyramid of old has been replaced with an unbelievably easy to remember "plate".

For example, at dinner fill up half the plate with vegetables, then a quarter of the plate with whole grains and the final remaining quarter of the plate with lean meat.

Start eating better for at least a couple weeks leading up to any fitness program, especially one as challenging as P90X.

- Take it easy at first. Pace yourself. I not only threw up on the first day, I had to stop the DVD on the second day, because I was seeing stars and falling over.

And that was despite the fact that I was already walking every day, running a little, lifting some weights and eating better for a couple months beforehand.

But I honestly believe ANYONE can do P90X, if they pace themselves. Especially the first week, so you can gauge exactly how much it takes to make it all the through the entire 60, 80 or 90 minute workout.

They recommend a heart monitor. I do too. Get one of those watches. I often still push it too hard and the BPM helps me know I need to back off.

If you cannot afford a heart rate monitor at first, check your rate on the aerobic workout days with a regular watch. Feel your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get your Beats Per Minute (BPM).

Here is a good link to look at how to calculate your target zones:

How to use your heart rate monitor

Also, consider investing in a body fat scale. The first 2 months in, I did not lose one single pound, but my body fat dropped dramatically, as I was doing lots of aerobics and weights.

Muscle weighs more than fat and I was burning a lot of fat and adding muscle at the same time, for the first few months.

It is not just about losing pounds. It is about losing body fat and gaining lean muscle. This will boost your metabolism, give you more energy and make you healthier.

- And finally... just push play. Every day. Some days you will feel like working out. Some days you will not. Workout on both types of days, regardless. You'll be glad you did.

We do not have control over a lot of things in this world, including how much money we make, who we work with or drive next to or even who we have to be related to!

But almost every single one of us, especially in first world countries, have complete and total control over how much we move our butt and how much and what kind of things we stuff into our gaping maws every day.

If you set your mind to move more and eat better, you can then graduate up to moving a lot and eating as well as possible.

You will feel better, look better and probably live longer. And you will also realize that you have a lot of power to do almost anything you set your mind to do.

It is very empowering to make even small changes in your diet and exercise. You not only begin to realize you can do what you set your mind to, but you are then empowered to make even more changes.

You do not have to start off at a "full sprint" of change. Just take a step. And then another. And keep walking. Move.

I hope this encourages people to do just that. If you have any questions, please contact me and I would love to try my best to give you information, advice or encouragement.

Day 1 - 192 lbs, 26% body fat
Day 180 - 168 lbs, 14% body fat