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Monday, September 30, 2013

WUMF: September 2013 Edition

Where the hell did September go?

The Steelers
How can a team put up such great offensive numbers still be 0-4?
Defensive Suckage
Lack of cohesion

Take away all the games for the whole team, not just the rookies.
You can’t sit there and blame the rookies for not doing things the Steeler way if the rest of the team isn’t doing it either.

The Pirates
In the past, I have tried to temper my bandwagonning with the reminder that it has been 20 years since I was able to proudly call myself a Pirates fan.  The last three years I have been sucked back into being enthusiastic, only to be hurt again like a battered spouse.  But this year was finally the year.   The curse of Bonds/Bream is gone.  The 20 years of losing are gone.  The “We only put a profitable team on the field, not a winning one” is gone.  So, now the question remains… is this one game playoff series with The Reds going to be a step towards St. Louis or a step towards Moneyball when Minnesota trounced the A's?

The Penguins
The long road back to Lord Stanely begins.  Still not sure about Fleury. Vokoun nearly died from blood clots.  I've already forsaken the Steelers for Pirate games.  Will the Pens take the place on Thursday?  I kind of hope not...until November.

The Duck
Look at it.  The Duck has cometh.  The thing is huge and it needs to be moved to be in order to be seen on camera during tonight’s game.  My hopes is that only Pirates will be launching the long ball in hopes of connecting with the Quacken.

That being said,

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YouTube Update
Because this month has been so damn busy I have been remiss in putting up some videos.  The Sims3 is still being worked on as is Minecraft.   The problem is, with Minecraft I’ve been involving my daughter in some videos because she’s so stoked to see the stuff I’m doing.  That means a lot of footage has to be edited and I can’t be my normally vocal self.  So, be patient and get some views in so I can keep doing this.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Alone Time

I recently watched a clip of Louis CK on Conan where he talked about not getting his kids a Smart Phone.   I’ll embed the video so I don’t have to paraphrase it.

The basic gist is that we are constantly reaching for technology when we find ourselves in a moment of being alone.

It really is sad to think that we, as a society, are too hooked into social media and technology that we can’t sit with our own thoughts for five minutes without wanting to text 20 people just to get a response.

I’ve found myself in the same situation, but to Louis CK’s point, I wouldn’t just randomly text people while I’m in my car driving.   Besides being illegal, I’m somewhat of a luddite when it comes to texting (I have 250 text limit). I tend to only text when it’s absolutely necessary.  There are times when I go a little crazy and get close to that limit but it’s still usually because there is something that actually needs to be addressed.   And there are times I just want to say something because I am feeling that loneliness, too.

What did we ever do before cell phones or the Internet allowed us to be only a few bytes away from getting a hold of someone?  We used to hand write letters and mail them.  Now, depending on the distance to that pen pal, it could be a week before they actually receive the letter, read it, and then write you back.   Then, you’re talking two weeks from the time when you mailed that first letter until you get a response.  And we were OK with this process.  Do people even write letters to one another anymore?  Do people correspond in handwritten, random life event telling letters to each other?  Isn’t that what email has become?  Hasn’t the postal service been relegated to delivering holiday or occasion cards to friends these days?   Today, as long as we have access to technology and the Internet we can reach out and simply say HI, send a picture, or share a video.   And in the time it takes to say “Reach out and touch someone” we can get a response.
But why?

There are times in life when we need to be alone.  We need to be with ourselves.  We spend so much time building profiles and likes and showing the world who we are.  Do we even believe it?  Are we really our online selves?  Do we like the things we REALLY like, or do we like the things that make us more likable?

Maybe being in the spotlight is what has destroyed our sense of selves.  There’s a concept in sociology that our self image is  simply made up of perceptions of who we are by other people.   And we are constantly looking for that approval.  We constantly put our lives out on the Internet, looking for someone to respond.  I do it.  This blog is evidence enough of that.
I primarily write to hear myself type.  It’s a writer thing.  I like to write to TRY and keep my skills somewhat more than blunt.  I don’t have nearly the amount of time needed in this world to hone those skills.  I also don’t have the life that would deem anything I write worth reading, but I do it.  Sometimes I think about things in Pop Culture that amuse me and I write that.  That’s definitely a “look at me” moment.  I’m showing off my Pop Culture prowess in an effort to prove to the world that I am talented and clever and need a job in the industry.  Well, if anyone actually this stuff they would say, “Yeah, and you wonder why no one reads your stuff?”

Other times I reflect.  I reflect on what life has thrown me and I try to make sense of the things in this world by way of Pop Culture.   Finally, I write from the place just below my gut and above my ass.  That’s where my head usually is.   These are things I write for myself.  You are just privy to them.  But, by posting them, knowing that people aren’t reading them, I’m focusing on that alone time.    Half of my hour long commute involves me frantically switching stations for good driving music.  Revelation; there isn’t any on today’s stations.   The other half is me thinking.    If I’m not listening to NPR, I have the radio off most commutes.  I run through thoughts in my head.  Concepts.  I look for meaning and worth.  I also argue a lot.  Fictional arguments or debates with myself are the norm.
And while I probably never miss an opportunity to comment on something, I try to listen.  Granted, I am probably a HUGE offender in the Facebook First Responder club.  Every time that little green light goes on next to one of my friends I immediately think of something to strike up a conversation.   I’m like that kid that shows up at your house the first day of summer vacation and doesn’t leave until the street lights come on.  I am Dennis the Menace.  I am trying to not be alone.  And while I am not alone, I have a family after all, the times when I do these things are when I am usually by myself.  Technology has given us the greatest gift, engagement.  We never have to be alone ever again, and yet sometimes I think we are more alone than ever.   After all, technology has removed the biggest obstacle to being alone, physical presence.  We don’t have to go to stores and engage with other customers or employees.  We can just shop online.   We don’t have to go to bars or public places to meet people in person.  We have   Hell, we don’t even have to meet down in the park to play chess.  We have online gaming.  Dennis the Menace just squatted on your newsfeed for the next 20 minutes.  Being alone means you have to deal with yourself, though.  And when you are alone, do you like what you see?  
Strip away the opportunity to post a lyric, a video, a quote, or to comment on someone elses life and who are you?  
That’s what you need to find out.  Alone is a good thing.  Alone allows you to feel life.  Alone means you’ve got nobody to impress but yourself.  And if you can do that, then you are ready to not be alone.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Patience Is a Fickle, Yet Necessary Bitch

My six year old daughter relies on us for many of things, still.   When it comes time to go outside or get her a drink, she asks us for it.   If it’s not exactly time or we’re in the middle of something, she gets a bit perturbed when she’s told to wait.  Granted, when it’s her turn to be in the middle of watching a show or playing with her toys, and we ask her to do something and she says, “One second”,  it upsets us.   I guess it’s a vicious double standard and we all need to learn some patience.

Patience is a funny thing.   On one hand it makes you appreciate things more.  If it’s something you really want and you wait to get it, that build up of anticipation makes the reward all that more sweeter.   Conversely, when you have to be patient in a situation you cannot control or feel helpless to control, you find yourself exhausted to be at the end and the relief is almost a punishment or a slap in the face.

I’ve said before that we have become an “Instant Gratification” society.   Technology has shifted from innovation towards making life better to making life faster.  We can do everything online these days with little to no wait.  There’s a joke somewhere about how long it took to download a simple jpeg in the 90s, over a dialup connection.  That was a long time to wait for porn in those days.     In the 80s you used to have wait all day and all night to hear your favorite song on the radio so that you could quickly record it onto a cassette tape.   If you were lucky, you were prepared with a blank tape and one touch recording.   Sometimes, I used to have the tape ready to record, and only the push of a pause button to set things off in earnest.   If I was truly blessed, the DJ didn’t talk over the intro or outro of the song.   These days there’s YouTube and Spotify and Playlists and iTunes and all manner of playback choices to have your favorite songs, in perfect clarity, ready to go in a moment’s notice.

But back to the horribleness of patience.

We sometimes confuse patience with reluctance.  Just like we confuse impulse with initiative.    When you’ve taken a position of inaction for so long, not wanting to upset the balance of things, you find that opportunities pass you by, and it pains you to see what could have been go away.   On the other hand, it’s so hard to know what things are worth it and what are merely impulse moves.  If you’re lucky, you have friends around you that can help temper your patience.   They may not seem like they are well versed in your life, even as subjective as they might be to your whims, but they are outside the bubble.  Time moves differently from their perspective and that, in and of itself, is why their advice should be given a lot of thought.  They aren’t as close to the situation as you are.   They can see you wrestle with adversity and know that it’s not fair.  They want what’s best for you, too, though.  They just have a better handle on the impact it will make in your life.

It may seem like the world will pass you by if you don’t act, but patience needs to be exercised.   While you may deserve the reward, there are many things to consider and if it is truly a reward that deserves you, it will be just as sweet, if not sweeter when you finally have the clear path to acquire it.   If it isn’t then it’s not worth your time.

When you are patient, your position is clearer.  When you are patient, your moves are smoother.  When you are patient, your path is less obstructed.  And when you are patient, your effort is noticed.  If you rush into something, you appear haphazard and unsure.   You aren't taken seriously.  You seem easily disinterested and that can lead to losing out on what you really want in life.  Do not confuse laziness with patience, though.  If you sit and wait for things to happen, you will lose out.  If you plan and act and plan again and learn and move forward, even at a slow pace, your momentum will still carry you to where you want to go.

Now, you can say that maybe it’s not fair to expect patience from other people.  After all, inanimate objects don’t expect you to be patient, punctual, or cautious in your dealings.   People are just as fickle as patience is and we are living in that “instant gratification” society.  But, if they truly feel it’s worth their time and that they deserve it, they will afford you the chance to be as patient as you need to be to make the reward that much sweeter for you both.

Just don’t drag your feet.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lesser Man Project Reborn

A few years ago I embarked on a quest to lose a shit ton of weight.   I even put a little widget in the corner to track my progress.

Well, I failed. 

I failed because I became bored. I started right after Halloween and lost twenty pounds by December.  Then, Winter kicked in and I couldn’t get outside and the holidays came in and destroyed my attempts to not eat as much.   By October of 2012, not only had I gained those 20 pounds back, I also packed on another 15 and looked horrible.   Granted, I wouldn’t have looked great no matter how much I lost.

In any case, December of 2012, I came down with a severe case of bronchitis and my kid had the stomach flu, which made me not want to eat anyway.   So, I thought it would be a perfect time to start over.  I immediately lost 10 pounds just from being sick and avoiding food for fear of throwing it back up.

But, this time, I hit that plateau right where Spring kicked in and I could get outside.  Then, in July, I started feeling that complacency and the weight was started to trend back towards 275.   So, I kicked it back into gear and started walking in late August.  Now, I walk nearly every day at work, before lunch.  What started out as a few laps around our office building parking lot has increased on a steady basis with distance and speed.  I am still working on portion control and that has been the biggest part of my being able to not crash and binge heavily on food.  
Now, I’ll give you the proof.  I'm usually not one for putting my big ugly mug up on the Internet, but I thought it was important to give you a look at how much difference 33 lbs. can make you feel about the way you look.  It's enough to make you want MORE!

This is four separate shots, using roughly the same position to show where I was in October of 2012 (Upper Right) through roughly four month periods until this month, nearly a year later.  Starting weight was 295 lbs.  Currently, it is 262.

So, it’s still going to be a struggle and my target date has now shifted ahead to accommodate my ability to not lose focus.   That’s the one thing you have to remember.  Don’t lose too much, too quick, or you’ll think you’re done.   You need to slowly move towards a new life.  Patience.  Perseverance.  Positive Moves.  Never let anything stop you.  Use any and all obstacles as a driving force.  Turn negative energy and thoughts into fuel.   Keep Going.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dress To Suppress

At the age of 38, I have come to the conclusion that I have no one to impress on a daily basis.  Unless I am looking to advance in my career or I am mandated by certain mores such as company dress code or acceptable for the event, I will dress mostly for comfort.  Now, granted, being a t-shirt designer, after work and on the weekends I’m liable to be wearing a tee I love or designed, which has a message or is used for marketing purposes.  In any case, the my morning goes like this.

I get up, shower, and then put on clothes that satisfy the following criteria: did I wear that shirt last week, and is it comfortable for the weather  Beyond that, I don’t put a lot of thought into the manner or style of dress.   However, if you were to ask the me that was 25 years  my junior, you’d get a vastly different answer.    There was no comfort involved.  It was dress to suppress.

Now, what does that mean?

Well, in the case of eight to ten year old me, I wore a good deal of hand me downs.    Being the youngest of three, by seven years, I was subjected to wearing the clothes my brother had from a previous decade.   Factor in that my parents didn’t have a huge bank account, I wore the same clothes for multiple years while they fit.

But at some point, I wised up.  I went to my mother and thanked her for my impeccable fashion sense but asked if my older brother could take me clothes shopping before the first day of 7th grade.   In my town, you had K-6 (Grade School) in one building, 7-9 (Junior High) in another, and then 10-12 (High School) in yet another.   You see, the division in schools also determine the threat level to one’s psyche from their classmates.  In grade school, you could get away with wearing sweat pants, a ¾ sleeve baseball tee, and Sears’ brand Velcro running shoes without drawing attention.  However, in sixth grade the natives begin to take notice and you prepare yourself for the inevitable catty comments about how you dress and how you look to your peers.   So, I decided to keep that from happening and turned in my running shoes for Nike high tops, just so I could keep up with the pack.   Then, in the summer before Junior High, I went on that all important clothes shopping trip to the mall with my older and infinitely cooler brother.  I came back with Ocean Pacific and Shah Safari shirts, Bugle Boys and Dockers pants, a pair of Chuck Taylors and assorted shirts from 80s mega trendy stores like Chess King and Just Pants (I’m kidding).

That first day of school was all about blending in and not sticking out.  It wasn’t about the clothes drawing attention.   It was about disguising myself to look like the enemy.  That way I could infiltrate their ranks and they could see me, not what I wore.   In those days, if your parents got your clothes at stores like Gabriel Bros. or Montgomery Ward, you were an easy target.  The cool people could zone in on you like a geek seeking missile, claws bared, ready to attack your fashion.  It was survival of the fittest.

By when you reach High School, the claws retract somewhat.   The rules are more relaxed.  In Junior High, the bodies and minds of teenagers go completely nuts.  All the instability of hormones and growing fight your ability to be comfortable in your own skin, so you lash out at others as a way to justify your own metamorphoses from ugly caterpillar to butterfly.   In High School, you stop focusing on how to take others out of the race and work to getting to the finish line first with flare.  It’s called preparation for college.  Soon, you start to compare acceptance letters to schools like you did with shoes or earrings, years before.  It’s not about how you dress, it’s about how you will succeed in your post High School career.  Still, I did do my best to keep up and went the route of the Boyz II Men, Olive Garden waiter route with jeans, white button down shirts, and ties.  Some days loafers, some days sneakers.     But I never got called out by the worst offenders from Junior High when it came to my clothes.   I mean I caught a glimpse of it in sixth grade with my clothing.  In Junior High, there was that one disastrous pair of blood Red Pro Keds high tops that nearly destroyed me.  Luckily, the poorest of the poor kids had on Moon Boots and the geek seeking missiles locked onto him instead.

Funny how, when you get to college, all of that goes out the window and you end up wearing pajamas to class or sweats with a ball cap, and you’re just fine.  Sometimes you wonder if uniforms in the education system help to tone down bullying or other harassment of not so cool kids in those years.    My argument for that is to a kid going through all the agony of adolescence, their clothes should be a coat of arms for their individuality.  I wouldn’t bow to inappropriate or obscene clothing, but as a form of expression and a way to help that transition, clothes do make the man they will become.  Why suppress that?

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