Archive for July, 2012

Aurora Theater Victims Were Denied Their Right to Protection

July 20, 2012

First, let me say that my heart goes out to the victims of the shooting that occurred at the theater in Aurora, Colorado earlier today.  The tragedy they endured touches far more lives than theirs.  While we don’t know all the numbers yet, I’m sure dozens and dozens of people lost husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers,  and sisters in the massacre.

I’m also saddened because these victims were rendered defenseless by the Century 16’s “no weapons” policy.  The truth is, while Colorado is very good about allowing the law abiding (who have been fingerprinted, passed a background check, legal written test, and shooting test) to carry a handgun for personal protection, Cinemark (the company that owns the theater) forbids them.

There are two exceptions to Cinemark’s ridiculous policy: law enforcement, and people who choose to disobey the sign. Thus, the law abiding who obeyed the “no gun” sign at the door were victims of the criminal who didn’t care what the sign said.

A local news site,, has an article about the tragedy.  There was one comment when I read the article, from “Vicki McMillan of Leawood, Kansas”:

When are we going to take automatic firearms off the “common” market…..NO private citizen needs an automatic weapon…..hand guns for protection yes, automatic firearmes NO….

While I applaud her defense of personal protection, I had to chime in with a response of my own:

While I understand that you mean well, please do your research. He didn’t use automatic weapons, and it’s already illegal to own any automatic weapon manufactured after 1986 when the ban went in effect. Pre-ban automatics cost $20,000 or more, so they’re well out of the reach of the “common” market.

It’s not all your fault – the article uses terms like “sprayed with bullets” to make it seem like he was unloading hundreds of rounds per minute, when that just wasn’t the case. If he had an automatic, there would have been no need to fire a shotgun or handguns.

I went on to explain the problem with Cinemark’s weapon policy, as I have above.  My comment never made it past moderation, and a couple hours later both comments were removed.  I guess somebody with an anti-gun slant at the site didn’t want my simple facts getting in the way of an emotional, fear-based response.  Again, I think Ms. McMillan’s heart is in the right place, but 9/11 taught us we pay the price when we’re willing to give up our freedoms for the “promise” of safety.

Sadly, we should have learned this lesson centuries ago, when it was obviously an issue.  That’s why Benjamin Franklin himself once stated:

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Pray for the direct victims of today’s attack, and their friends and family who are victims as well – victims who must live with the consequences of one man’s actions for the rest of their lives.  Don’t dishonor them by fearfully asking the government to take over.  Fight to ensure that in the future, the law abiding can defend themselves wherever they choose to peacefully assemble.

130 Chances: Week 1 Summary

July 10, 2012

My first week of chances went amazingly well.  My official weigh-in Monday morning put me at 303 pounds – down seven!  My plan is to be in the 290’s during August, the 280’s during September, the 270’s in October, and the 260’s for deer season.  That’s averaging 10 pounds/month, which is pretty ambitious to keep up several months in a row.

Luckily, I think I have a great head start this month.  I’m hoping to be in the 290’s as early as next week, which would give me over six weeks to reach my next milestone.

So far, I’ve done surprisingly well with the parts of my plan I thought would be the hardest.  I’ve gotten up every morning to work out, I haven’t snacked at all outside of meals, and I’m solidly in the habit of going to bed before midnight.  Last night, it was even before 11:30! That’s  a big deal for me, I’m a night owl.

Sunday, I had trouble getting lunch ready ahead of time, and ran short of time altogether.  I ended up getting a big mac meal.  Other than that, I was pretty solid with my rules.  I think the results on the scale proved that.

It’s amazing, as I write this it’s tuesday morning and I’ve only been on the elliptical machine nine times in nine days.  That’s not very long in terms of building muscle or lung capacity, but I started to feel better almost immediately.  Part of it is perception – I went from avoiding physical effort throughout the day to welcoming it.  When you’re actively trying to get fit, you appreciate the longer walk to the store from the back of the parking lot, etc.

Aside from the almost immediate psychological boost, I literally feel like I’m in better shape, just over a week later.  It might be because I’ve been down this road before, and my body knows the drill.  My muscle memory has kicked in, so the elliptical isn’t as effort-intensive as it was the first few days.  And losing even a token amount of weight makes me feel less “full” and bloated around the clock.

Not a bad start.

130 Chances, Day #3: Mostly Positive

July 5, 2012

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and I kept myself out of trouble mostly by working the first part of the day.  I got up, and did my workout.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I’m in that first patch of soreness where your body isn’t used to the effort *and* your muscles are tight.  I also tried something new: I added video to the routine.  Only video.  Let me explain.

A couple years ago we bought a tablet PC, like an iPad but cheaper.  I’m a computer geek (personally and professionally) and I was enamored that it was roughly half the price, but had twice as powerful hardware.  Unfortunately, it also had terrible software, and so we haven’t used it for much of anything.

One of the original ideas was to watch videos while working out on the elliptical machine, but all the big video outlets – Netflix, Hulu, Youtube – see this tablet as a “mobile device” like a phone, even though it isn’t. It can only connect to the internet through our home network, just like all our other computers. But because it *looks* like a mobile device to the Internet, the major players block a lot of content.  At the time, neither Netflix nor Hulu even supported the device, and probably still don’t.

I decided to play a little legal leapfrog here, and downloaded the entire series of Futurama from a torrent site. If you’re not familiar, I basically downloaded without paying.  However, it’s a bit of a gray area because we *have* a Netflix account that would let me watch every episode of the show on my TV upstairs. But Netflix doesn’t work on my tablet, so I’m just watching stuff I’ve already paid for the right to watch.

I’ve seen most of these episodes already, which is perfect.  I won’t be tempted to watch them at other times, but they will be interesting enough to help the time pass more quickly during workouts.  Futurama will be my workout-only treat.  Unfortunately, yesterday I got downstairs only to realize the video worked fine (like I said above), but there was no *audio* – no sound! I watched the pilot episode mostly lip-reading a cartoon (heh) and going from memory.  It still helped a little.  Later in the day, I fixed the sound issues, so tomorrow’s workout will be better.

The Food

I’m happy to say I stuck to almost all of my rules, and only fudged one.  I got my workout in, only ate during planned meals, and only drank water.  But I ate more at dinner than I should have, due to the table-wide 4th of July spread my wife put together. Lots of meat/cheese/crackers, chips and dip, etc.  Still, I think I usually did worse at my average dinners.  I also got to bed late, but not too bad.

Revised Rules

After living with the rules a couple days, I’m revising them:

  1. Work out for at least 20 minutes before anything else.
  2. High-protein or slimfast breakfast.
  3. Procure lunch before lunchtime.
  4. Stop eating dinner before you feel full.
  5. Eat no other meals.
  6. Drink nothing but water, reasonable morning coffee, and occasional alcoholic beverage.
  7. Avoid sweets, even at meals. They trigger a craving for more.
  8. Go to bed before midnight.

Based on these, I scored 6/8 for Day #3. I ate until I was full, and went to bed late.  Still a pretty good day.

130 Chances, Day #2: Success

July 5, 2012

Day 2 of any challenge is always a critical point, right? You’ve had a chance to sleep on the original idea, plus anybody can change their routine for a day. But will you do it another day, in a row?  I did.

Tuesday started out right away with an obstacle.  I woke up late, probably due to the cigar after dinner which kept me awake the night before. Now I was faced with a commitment test: I’m going to be even later starting work if I do my workout and drive to get my salad as planned.  But I managed to do it anyway, and it wasn’t too bad.

I have to look at it this way: it’s much more destructive to my productivity to stop in the middle of the day, get changed, and do my workout then.  Better to get it over with. Same with getting lunch.  I’ve noticed now that I’m getting it before lunchtime, I’m eating lunch *on time* instead of putting it off until 2-3pm.  That means I’m hungrier when dinner rolls around, so I eat enough that it’s easier to get through the evening without snacking.

I’d gotten in the habit of eating a light dinner because I’d only had lunch a couple hours before.  Dinner is when my life snaps back to reality and I’m on my family’s schedule again.  Working from home makes my days kind of free-form, which isn’t always a good thing for healthy habits.

I’m also refining my “no milk to drink” policy.  It’s really “drink only water”, with the exception of the occasional (2-3 times per week) alcoholic beverage, and a reasonable morning coffee.  No sugared up frappuccino from starbucks. This is easy, because we have an espresso machine and I can control everything I put into it.

FYI, if the espresso machine sounds fancy, it’s actually very practical.  If you ever get mochas, lattes, or cappuccinos from coffee places, you pay about $4-5. A nice machine at Wal-Mart (the best of the worst, heh) will cost you about $50-60. Even buying the *nice*, grind-it-yourself coffee at the grocery store, it’s going to pay for itself in the first 15-20 uses. If you have a wife, you can score some points and justify the cost even faster by making two every morning 🙂 The other big benefit is that it’s slightly more work than brewing a traditional pot of coffee, so you don’t overdo it.  I used to brew a whole pot of coffee, and end up drinking the whole thing throughout the day.  This way, if I really need an afternoon pick-me-up, I weigh it against the effort to make another serving.

By all accounts, today was a success.  I think I’m going to add another rule though, that I would have broken last night: go to bed before midnight.  So far so good!

130 Chances, Day #1: Success

July 4, 2012

Monday was my first of 130 Chances to get into shape for the most physically demanding week of my year – Deer Season in the Nebraska Sandhills.  Even though this was the very day I conceived of the challenge, I didn’t want to let the very first chance slip by.

I’m fortunate to work from home, so I took my lunch break on the elliptical machine in the basement before driving to my local grocery store for a salad.  I also setup some rules for my experiment.  After all, what constitutes whether or not I took advantage of a chance, or wasted it?  So I’ve posted the rules below.  If I achieve all of them in a day, I’ve succeeded.  If I miss a lot, I failed.  And if I miss one or two, I’ll have to make a judgement call as I go.

The Rules

  1. Workout first thing in the morning.
  2. Eat a healthy breakfast – high protein, or slimfast if it needs to be quick.
  3. Secure a healthy lunch *before* lunchtime. That means a salad most days, picked up *before* I start work for the day.
  4. Stop eating dinner before I feel full.
  5. Eat no other meals. Evening snacking is a big problem for me.
  6. No milk to drink, with the exception of slimfast shakes at breakfast. I tend to guzzle this stuff.
  7. No f***ing candy. Just don’t do it. You think you’ll stop, but you won’t.

The First Day

Monday was an unusual day. By luck, I ate a decent breakfast. And even though it was mid-afternoon when I got off my ass, I stopped work to work out for 20 minutes. That’s a lot at this point (sadly), and I don’t want to kill myself by overdoing it in the early, fun stages.  There will be plenty of time for pain.

I then got a salad, even though my inclination was to grab some junk from the kitchen. It was already 3pm, late for lunch, but I made myself go the salad route.  I knew I was going to have a late dinner anyway.

Mondays, I usually meet with a client in the evening.  After the meeting, he invited the small team out to dinner. I had a steak. This is not my normal life, this was quite a treat, and the steak was awesome.  It was also well-portioned, I ate the salad that came with it, and aside from a single small pimm’s cup (awesome british drink) it was all I consumed.

When I got home, there was an open bag of starbursts on the kitchen counter.  I grabbed a handful, poured some water, walked to the living room, put down the water, and walked back into the kitchen to return the candy. I’d picked it up without even really thinking about it!

After returning to my chair to watch some TV before bed (needed to unwind) I did a mental walkthrough of my usual routine. I’ll start with a small snack, but then there’s 10 minutes of the show left when I’m done.  So I grab something else to snack on.  The show ends, but I still have food left. No joke, I’ll go back and forth like this sometimes for 2-3 extra shows, eating the whole time. Yes, I understand just how stupid it sounds when you see it in writing.

In short, Monday was a total victory.  Onward and upward!

130 Chances

July 2, 2012

It has been a LONG time since I’ve updated this site, and I apologize.  Life has been happening. But now I’m back in the saddle, and on the rampage.  I’ll explain more below, but first, an update:

The chubby part of me has seen the ups and downs of two major weight loss efforts, but I’m currently back on the chubbier side of the fitness scale.  I was at my fittest last November during my home state of Nebraska’s deer season, where I tracked down a trophy (to me) mule buck. Then a few weeks later, I did equally well during Kansas deer season. How? A lot of hiking.  I wasn’t afraid to put on the miles in search of my favorite animal (on or off the table). But after those major undertakings, I started to slack off.  Sitting was easier than working out, and I fell into a rut.

Meanwhile, the survivalist part of me has been doing pretty good.  I still can’t survive in the woods for a week with nothing but a pocketknife and a ball of string, but I’ve really come into my own as a hunter, and I’ve been passing that knowledge along to my boys just as fast as I can acquire it.

So What Changed?

In short, shit got real.  This morning I received my annual e-mail notice that Nebraska deer permits will go on sale next week.

The first couple years I deer hunted, I did it with my dad’s group.  They’ve been making the annual trip to the Nebraska Sandhills for over 20 years.  They were very gracious to me and my brothers when we joined them, but it was clear that this is their group, and they weren’t looking for my friends to join up.  So I chose to duck out, and start my own traditions with my friends.

My best friend (going all the way back to 6th grade) is a guy who still lives in Nebraska, named Jonathan. Last year, I took him on his first deer hunting trip.  It was amazing, and not just because of the prize buck I took home.  Not living in the same state anymore puts a damper on casual hanging out, so a week of hiking, camping, deer, and beer was a blast. By the end, he was just as hooked as I was.

Now that we’re both relatively competent hunters, it’s time to expand the group.  This year, we plan to have 4-5 guys – some new to hunting, some veterans. Within hours, we had confirmation of our first new member.  I’m so unbelievably excited, and so unbelievably fat.  It’s time to get back in shape.

What Does Chubby Plan to Do About It?

I have four  months before deer camp.  That’s about 130 days to get in shape for about 130 hours of the most intense living I will do all year.  The Sandhills are brutal to dumb saps (ie, myself 3 years ago) who don’t prepare.  In 2009, I was so out of shape I could only hike about 10 minutes before needing to rest for at least five.  And although I *was* very out of shape, it’s the terrain that can humble even stringiest, walkeverywheriest vegan.

Normally, I’m a big (literally) fan of starting tomorrow.  But I’m fired up.  130 days before deer camp is 130 chances to prepare.  And I’m going to chronicle all of them.  Today, even though I got little work done after reading the news about deer season, I cleared the boxes in the basement from around the dusty elliptical machine, and I did 20 hard minutes.  Then after a shower, drove just up the road to my grocery store.  They have a great salad bar, and I brought home lunch. It was already almost 3pm, and normally I would have gotten something cheap and fast at a drive-thru.  Those days are done.  I’m in training.

My next plan is to check out my bike this evening. If it’s in good shape I’ll bike to the store first thing in the morning, to get my salad.  It’s fresh, so a couple hours in the fridge until lunch won’t hurt it.  And then I won’t be so wrapped up in work that I feel like I can’t take the time to drive/bike to the store in the middle of the day.  That’s the plan – I’ll have my healthy lunch and workout taken care of before I start the work day.

Let’s see how it goes.