Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What's That Smell?

This morning, Caleb got up early and requested to get breakfast at McDonald's before catching the bus for school.  We had not done that in a while, so off we went.  We ate inside, and then hurried back to the car.  As we were both getting in the car, I smelled it.  Caleb suddenly asked, "What's that smell?"  Simultaneously I said, "Ewww.  Did you poot?"   He said, "Yea, I did.  But I didn't think it would be THAT bad!"

Friday, September 13, 2013

A West Meckenburg Indian Looks at 30

As I write this, I am aboard the Amtrak Piedmont Train #73 bound for Charlotte for my 30th high school reunion.  Lori will be driving later to join me for the weekend’s festivities.  I had planned to enjoy the solitude by reading.  But here I sit, overwhelmed with a burden to write.

I can’t help but be reflective about this milestone.  I guess this is the first reunion where the former high school students now mostly have high school students (or beyond) of their own.  Some have grandchildren.  Few have toddlers.  We’re grown up and mature now.  At least we are supposed to be.  We’re thinking of paying for college for our kids, and wondering how on Earth that became so expensive.  We’re thinking of retiring.  We’re thinking of health.  We’re thinking of blessings received and opportunities missed and loved ones lost. 

As I was always Kenny Kodak with the camera, I am thankful to have many pictures to remind me of our high school days.  As I’ve gone through the photo albums the last few weeks to scan pictures, I am fondly reminded of many memories. 

First of all, there’s the theme of math & science versus the arts.  By arts I mean dancing, music, reading, writing, and history.  In high school, some of my friends and I expressed outward disdain for the arts.  I guess you love the stuff you’re good at doin’, and despise that at which you are not good.  Or is it well?  We simply loved math and science, and found anything else to be an unnecessary distraction or annoyance.

Hopefully, my ability to construct an effective, nearly proper, and grammatically correct sentence must have improved some over the last 30 years.  Alas, I have had to repent of my anti-arts sentiments.  While I still can’t dance a lick, I have found that I’ve enjoyed all types of music - except jazz - including classical and even some specific types of country music.  I attended, and even generally understood, a ballet of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Sydney Opera House.  I enjoy reading voraciously, writing passionately, and learning history in epic proportions.  I’ve even taught a 7th grade Language Arts class the importance of “Language Arts in the Real World” where I demonstrated the criticality of reading, writing, and communications as a key to career success - even in a technical job role such as engineering.

But this is not about that. This is about people.  As I’ve reviewed and scanned photos, I am reminded of friends and other classmates.  Some were close.  Some were merely acquaintances barely known or mutually tolerated.  Some are married, remarried, single or divorced.  Some are no longer living.  Some were camera shy and had to be caught off guard to be photographed.  One friend complained he was not in our (my) photo album enough, and so I took a picture of him complaining. 

There are pictures of the things we did to have fun, like Frisbee in the courtyard, or handball in the hallway.  There were poses reminding me of inside jokes or relationships gone bad or mocking others, in fun of course.  There were goofballs and flirting and foolish behavior.  There were teachers we loved and ones we despised.  There were student lobbyists making their case for a better grade.  There were sad people and happy people.  There were girlfriends and one-time dates. 

Andy Stanley has said that your friends greatly influence and sometimes determine the direction and quality of your life.  I feel very blessed and fortunate to have grown up on the west side of Charlotte, NC, with one of the best circles of friends a kid could have.  I have been influenced academically, relationally and musically by the few dozen or so classmates I was closest to during those formative years.  While we were not angels, we generally stayed out of trouble, and certainly our competition academically was healthy for all involved.  I owe a lot of my blessings to having known the many guys and girls of the West Mecklenburg High School Class of 1983.  There are still a few friends that we have not located, but I do hope to give more attention to these friendships established some 30+ years ago. 

Now, I’ve got one hour left before I arrive.  Time to read.

Monday, August 12, 2013

No Rules for Paw Paw

This morning, Luke and Caleb joined me for a walk around Bond Lake in Cary.  As we were finishing, I let Luke get ahead, as I was planning to encourage Caleb privately.  I told him how proud I was that he made it the entire 3 miles.  Then, I then wanted to remind him that he and I both needed to get more exercise.  In fact, it sort of runs in the family.

"You know, Caleb," I said, pointing to our respective guts, "you, me, AND Paw Paw, all have one of these bellies and we need to..." 

He cut me off right there.  "Paw Paw is Paw Paw and he doesn't need to do anything at his age!"

Hard to argue with that.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Channeling a Little Bit of Forrest Gump

Mama always did tell me I should get some exercise... so I am approaching 110 days in a row of walking or biking at least 30 minutes. Any time I walk, it's at least 2 miles, and that's most of the days. Biking days are 6-8 miles.

Thankfully, the pains I was experiencing around days 1-59 have subsided. It seems like day 60 began a time when there was not much pain in my leg, butt, back, foot, etc. Sure, I'm still a little stiff when I first get up after sleeping or sitting, but I shake that off pretty quickly now, and I don't have to stop mid-walk and stretch out my pains. For that, I am grateful.

I seem to have reached that zone where I get the endorphin rush. Ie. by the end of each day, if I haven't walked, I have the urge to walk. I need to walk. I want to walk. I like to walk. Unlike running, I don't dread walking. Sure, I run a "little" while walking, but within 50 feet I am reminded that running is not something I could do every day. At least not yet. So to a great degree, my walking "habit" is a success.  I also think the consecutive day pattern I'm in is wise.  Walking 6 out of 7 days, or 45 out of 50 days, for example, is just to tempting a "compromise" for me to make.  So I don't skip.  I walk.

The only downsides I am seeing with walking are (a) finding time and (b) boredom.  And I think I've done well to address both those matters. I have generally planned each day with my walk in mind. Somehow each day, I make sure I can get away for 30-40 minutes to walk. This often involves walking when I otherwise would have been "waiting" such as at soccer practice or tutoring. This has not cut into my reading time, normally enjoyed during those long waits, because I have downloaded  audio books to enjoy while walking. Additionally, I've registered for free online US History courses through Hillsdale College, which can be delivered via audio. So, mentally, my walks are fulfilling.
Visually, I've aimed for variety. I try to walk a different course every day. If I had to walk a track or the same route each day, I would have quit by now. I also take advantage of being in new places and finding walking time while there. Also, while walking, I've seen all sorts of things to which I would not have normally paid attention.

I've had some close calls on getting my walk done each day. Weather has been a mild obstacle, but I see the cold, wind, rain, ice, sleet, and snow I've endured as challenges to overcome, not excuses. I think the hardest walk I did was at Windy Hill Beach in driving rain and sand and 30+ MPH wind. I needed goggles that day! I have to say, this has been the coldest Spring I can remember. I hope it translates into being a mild summer. Frankly, if anything does me in, I predict it will be the hot humid NC summer.

A recent wintertime business trip to Chicago presented scheduling difficulties, both with my flight in and out, as well as after work, and before business meals. Despite walking in as much as 6" of snow, and a fall on the ice, I did log walks or workouts every one of those days.

Other than the satisfaction of recording each walk or ride with the "mapmywalk/ride" GPS app, I have enjoyed other benefits. I honestly feel better. I don't get tired when walking stairs, or doing other routine physical activities. I think I also have a better mental attitude. Additionally, for the times when Lori has walked with me, we've enjoyed having some time together to talk without interruption. She does really good to keep up with me being that her stride is not as long as mine.

The benefit I was expecting to experience in abundance is weight loss. Unfortunately, until a few weeks ago, I had not lost much at all. I attribute this to my snacking to make up for the additional hunger I am feeling from burning some calories each day. I've made some course corrections on my diet such as eating high protein Greek yogurt as a snack, instead of junk food. I also have resumed the use of Alli, and have doubled up the strength for major meals. Those actions seem to have kick started the weight loss. I am now down about 10 pounds.

Walk, Blain, walk.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Walking This Time

It's been months since I posted anything to this Blog, and years since I posted anything reflective or substantive. Facebook is half to blame. The iPad on which I type this is the other half. Facebook - because I have otherwise been writing and sharing my pithy thoughts and ramblings in the "status" box of Facebook. iPad - because there is so much to do on this thing... read a Kindle book, play Words with Friends, check email, check the weather, play Words with Friends, etc. Who has time to write?!

Today marks the 30th day in a row I've walked at least 2 miles. Along with that has come a feeble attempt at eating better. Combine the two, and there's yet another diet in the works. I knew I had documented my Diet of 2008 (D08) pretty extensively, and this afternoon I went back and read my Blog postings about it.  Someday I need to do a postmortem on that adventure and try to learn something!

Since D08, I've also lived through D10, where Lori and I spent a few thousand dollars at Metabolic Research Center to lose weight together. I think I lost almost 30 pounds then. We took a couple of pictures of our new selves, then headed back in the other direction. Then there was the short-lived D12, where I tried to go "au naturale" and actually just eat a healthy diet, while also consulting a psychologist for "mental help." When I told him my theory of how I equated diets to relationships, his eyes got real big.  I think he determined he was over his head. Well, at least I did.  I think I lost about 12 pounds during D12.

Anyway, this time around I've been walking. My theory is that I need to pick a healthy habit that I can do every day.  I can't run every day.  I can't run occasionally, and increase my duration or speed.  Well, I could... But it just doesn't last.  I'm thinking if I set a bare minimum goal that is relatively risk-free of injury, and also has no pressure to do more or faster, then I can stick with that longer.

That's all for now.