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Keto Dieting during the Grateful Dead’s Anniversary Shows – Testing Willpower

After my success with the Lean Gains diet, mostly for leaning, not so much gaining- simply because I have trouble downing large meals in a single session. I remember being a “hard gainer”. The way I fixed that is with heavy squats and deadlifts. However, my hunger from those workouts kicks in 12-24 hours later, making it tough to get my calories in before the fast. I know people that can workout, and then sit down immediately and consume 4000 calories, but when my central nervous system is jacked up, I lose my appetite.

So I did lean gains for 2 months and found myself craving healthy foods, and since I was fasting for 14 hours a day, I had time to plan some really tasty meals which I’ll eventually share here. The thing is, a few good friends told me don’t lose any more weight, because I was losing muscle soon. See, once I get into a groove, it’s hard to break it. So, I quit lean gains, but I chalk it up as a success. Not only did I cut a ton of fat- so much you could see it in my face, as my neck and chin shaped up nicely, but I also learned a lot of new healthy meals that you can store and reheat during the week.

But I get bored and like to try new things, so this time I wanted to try a new diet. I recall an older bodybuilder, a man in his late 50’s who had a tons of experience competing, asking me if I’d heard of “keto”.

“No but it sounds awesome,” was my reply.

At the time, I looked it up online and saw the low carb aspect and decided it required too much macro nutrient counting, label inspecting and a big change of diet. I failed to see the benefits, the delicious food alternatives, the amount of healthy green vegetables, and the knowledge of food that you gain, by being able to spot unhealthy ingredients, excessive sugar content foods and best of all, learning how badly our society has been fucked over by the old food pyramid. I’m not going to cite my resources, and I’m just going off from memory, but wasn’t Grains listed as 10-12 servings per day? Do you think humans were munching on bread and baked sugary goods this much a 1000 years ago? That, in itself doesn’t indicate a problem, but a lot of disease and mental health issues we have lately might be. Whatever, my point is to say keto is unsafe is ridiculous. Meats, fats, leafy greens and vegetables sounds like a man’s diet to me. We had limited access to certain fruits, nothing like the sugar consumption we see today.

So, keto it is. I’m a week in and haven’t measured my ketones but I’ve seen my belly shrink and my pants no longer fit. A girl I dated saw me after being away for 2 weeks and confirmed I’ve lost a ton of weight. I told her, I love saying “no” when people offer me sugary desserts and pizza, so I’m perfect for this diet.

The real test came this past weekend, as the Grateful Dead 50th anniversary shows in Chicago happened. I also caught the Santa Clara shows, but Chicago blew them away. We streamed using both Youtube ($30/show) and OnDemand AT&T ($40/show). The cost was a little high for my liking, but we split the bill amongst friends and neighbor’s. On neighbor I met because he had Jerry Garcia Band playing in his yard one day. I introduced myself and told him the song I heard playing. We’ve been friends ever since.

OK no images but I’m relaying a youtube video of the light show on the empire state building to US Blues.  I forgot today’s audience has limited attention spans, but keep reading!

So here was my challenge: can I party on Keto? I heard alcohol effects increase and I had not drank in over a week. I’m also not even sure if I’m in ketosis, but my weight has clearly gone down. So here’ s what I came up with:

Main Course:

Steam Clams

Baby back ribs slow cooked then flame cooked with Dry Rub (no sauce)

Scallops seared on the grill, seasoned and drenched in Grass Fed Butter

Booze:

Espresso Martini : Café Petron, Regular Petron and Espresso

I got pretty hammered with the espresso martini by going heavy on the Tequilla. I guess it’s not technically a martini anymore, but delicious still. Just make sure you shake heavily to get the frothy topping and add a few ice cubes at the end.

Dessert:

The women watched me throw together a dessert without any directions. They were mocking my abilities, but I showed them. I basically put almonds in a blender, lined them in a pan. I mixed some crème cheese, grassfed butter, chocolate powder, stevia , vanilla extract and mixed that up and poured it on the almond base. After I refrigerated for 30 minutes, it tasted just fine.

Coup de grace:

Fortunatley, mushrooms are allowed on keto diet, and I had some special ones saved up for today. I waited until after I had some food in my stomach to injest them, because I lost my appetite within 30 minutes. It was a perfect dosage that set the stage for Friday night.

So Friday night was absolute fire… and hey, I caught my Fire on the Mountain I’d been waiting for.

A couchsurfer from showed up Friday, just in time to pregame with the shows.  A lovely, young, Vietnamese girl on her way to Las Vegas.  She actually got 2 nights out of me which is usually against my rules, especially a Sunday night/Monday night combo.  She had good reviews, though, and a great personality in her messages.  And, she kept me updated.  One of the most frustrating things couchsurfers do is to not contact you the day of arrival.  You have to suggest WhatsApp and Viber just in case they don’t have it.  It’s just the easiest way to get in touch.

She had never heard of the Grateful Dead so we gave her a brief history, and invited her to watch the shows. She was dancing around a little, although I could tell she’d never heard anything like that. Phil Lesh’s voice is going a little at his age, but Bobby provided a lot of great vocals. Trey filled in nicely, but I could clearly here Phish in his guitar. Except on Estimated Prophet, You’re going to have to sound like Jerry on that one.  I hope this show snuff’s out the idea that “the band died with Jerry.”  Oh yeah, how about when Pigpen died, or Brent, or any keyboardist?? Seriously, though, the keyboards were the hot seat of the dead.  Keyboardist just died off quickly.

One of my favorite parts about this weekend was calling songs.  I have friends that are magical when calling songs at Phish shows.  At best, I can guess a certain song will appear somewhere in a set.  But with GD50 I was calling songs left and right.  I didn’t get them all, of course, but the China Cat/Rider opener to start off got my confidence jacked up.

Sometimes I think my home setup really is ideal for couchsurfing. I offer nothing more than a couch, but once they arrive they see we cook great meals together, offer excellent entertainment, and are very laid back individuals. There is a garden, the beach, two cozy couches, and myself.  I’m grateful I’ve never had a negative experience with hosting. Just a few “hairy” ones, but I’m saving them for a book I plan on writing.

I wish I could post here more. I’ve been writing a lot – I have like 4 books in progress- probably a bad idea but , oh well. I’ve been reading Pillars of Earth, and Jack Kerouac lately, and I just got a side gig at Tunies, and I’ll be working in the produce section. Apologies for not including images in this post, I just don’t feel like it. I really just feel like writing. Heck, I’m just posting a rough draft this time. If anyone wants to share thoughts on Ketosis dieting or GD50 please feel free to share. I know there are a lot of misunderstandings about both topics. See ya!

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Working without my pants

The question I love to ask fellow remote workers is “What have you done with your new found time?”  I’m referring to the time previously spent commuting to and from work, which you can now use however you wish. It’s truly amazing to think about the personal growth I’ve been through over the last few years, and I find it interesting that I originally resisted the idea. I’ve become a huge supporter of the telecommuting movement. Of course, it introduces it’s own set of challenges. It requires the approval of the entire team, and certainly requires a lot of discipline, but for the right person it increases happiness and productivity. I’m going to share some of my personal experience working both in the offices and from my home, and I invite you to share feedback in my comments section.

I was still a relatively new employee when we had that team meeting with our manager at the time, and former VP of development, to discuss major changes in the software development cycle here at work. All of my team members were present and we discussed the change from a waterfall system to a new lean development system. This was all new to me, so I listened closely as he described the process based on a method used at Toyota in Japan. That process is called Kanban. At the time I thought it was a new fad that we would try and most likely phase out when people resisted.  However, I also reminded myself to keep an open mind, maybe this would set us apart from other software companies I’d worked for. Companies that are too stubborn to ever consider a change like this. I started to look at our manager with a new respect. He had a lot of balls to make a shift like that, and hundreds of employees would be adapting the new system so this was no 1small change. All of us would require training of Kanban methodologies. The good news for me was no more big meetings. With Kanban we have short daily meetings called “stand ups” where everyone answers 3 questions:

1. What did you do yesterday?

2. What are you doing today?

3. What’s keeping you from finishing your task?

This constant pinging of the status of the team was new and sounded exciting. It forced communication which makes problems more visible. It also makes you more accountable on a daily basis, where as before a problem might prevent a team from working for weeks and pass blame on others.

Towards the end of the meeting, he announced too that we would be the first team to work from home on a rotating schedule, and I immediately responded with a question. “What if we want to work in the office?”

To which he replied, “That’s totally up to you.”

Yes, it’s true. I enjoyed working in the office and the idea of working remote was a little unsettling. At the time, I though working remote would make you lazy. I also held the belief that if downsizing ever occurred, remote employees would be the first to go. The previous company I worked for stressed the importance of arriving and beginning the work day at a specific time (or earlier), and working until the end of your shift, regardless of progress or other external factors. That environment never really gave me incentive to push myself, but rather just produce enough value to keep my position. After the meeting we discussed the schedule and I would start with 2 days a week working from home.

I remember waking up in the morning during my first few weeks, realizing just how much time I spent getting ready and driving into the office. It’s about a 40 minute drive for me each morning. I’d wake up to a pot of coffee, which was a necessity, shower, get dressed and get in my car. I tried car pooling a few times but it never worked out, so for years I would make this drive alone. The person I tried carpooling in was a hug fantasy football person, so every day we listened to AM sports radio. Now don’t get me wrong, I love sports, but I could only take so many commercials targeted at middle-aged men, warning them of their decreased testosterone levels and balding heads and offering expensive “magic pill” solutions. It’s easy to pick up a phone and charge a credit card, rather than go to a gym consistently and push your body naturally.

A breakthrough occurred when I discovered audio books. For years I laughed at the idea of audio books, thinking that it was a cheap way to get out of reading. Meanwhile, I’m out of shape, smoking cigarettes and haven’t finished reading a book in years. So audio books revolutionized my commute. If my hands are on the steering wheel and my eyes on the road, at least I could use my hearing to learn. That was as good as it gets, or so I thought.

I began listening to streaming audio books on youtube before starting an electronic library of audio resources. I began with a few Chuck Palaniuk books, and I recall the first non-fiction audio book I finished was Richard Dawson’s the Selfish Gene. I began walking into the office with headphones on because I just couldn’t get enough. I was soaking up ideas like a sponge. Then I got into Steven Pressfield and a few of his books were very inspiring, about creativity and creating content. This lead me to one book that stands out in my memory, called the Artist’s Way. I admit, I gave up on that book about 2 chapters in. But in one of those chapters, I signed a contract to commit to writing what the author, Julia Cameron, calls “Morning pages.” Every day for 30 days, I wrote 3 pages of about anything I wanted. The point is to just get things out on paper. It’s not exactly a journal. In fact, you are never supposed to re-read anything you write in the morning pages. It’s sort of a brain dump. After that, you’re in a better writing mode, than if you just sat down and tried to force something.

So, with my new found time I was able to write and explore other areas of interest. I changed my eating habits as I had time to prepare better food at home, and I quit those horrible cigarettes I’d been smoking due to stress, and eventually found my way to a gym and signed up for a membership. I fixed up my old guitar that I hadn’t played in almost 10 years, and have been jamming on it ever since. One of my favourite things to do when working from home is to take a 10 minute break and sit there and play. And I think my neighbour’s cat liked it to, because she started visiting me every morning. I found my need for caffeine slowly diminishing. I still enjoy a cup, but it’s not like the pot I downed every morning just to function and get to work. Now I’m taking online courses studying Data Science and statistics and joined a writer’s critique group because these are areas I’d like to improve on.

Online blogs are a great resource for remote workers. I like to see what applications people are using, and I keep in contact with fellow remote employees heavily. There is a natural tendency to want to talk to people online a lot, to make sure they don’t forget I exist. It’s an urge I fight every day, but luckily I’m able to drive into Weston and go into the office to see everyone, if I feel lonely.

I continue to undergo lifestyle changes, and a lot of it has been due to my ability to work from home. Some people like to say working in your underwear, which is a funny way of looking at it. I force myself into the shower early to remind me of the old ritual.  Some days I dress up and go to the grocery store on my lunch break. And there is one more confession I have: I take naps. Every day. Well, almost every day. If I am not tired, I’ll meditate for 15 minutes. I’m pretty sure the employee handbook has rules against it, and I’m voicing my opinion to change this. People equate productivity with amount of time working, but that’s simply not true. were in technology like myself.

The key to working remote is environmental control. My apartment is usually quiet, but I can turn on ambient music (or blast some funk should the mood strike). Some days I’ll throw on the sounds of rain. It’s relaxing for me. Studies have shown the color blue is relaxing too, so I decorate my apartment with that color. A few plants add a splash of green. And at any time I can look out my front window and allow my eyes to refocus. Being able to see nature is important to me. That’s why I’ve always wanted an office with a view, which I now have.

I used to dream of having a solid cherry oak desk I could work on, or use to start writing my book.  After a few years of sitting I learned about the benefits of working while standing up.  My dreams of owning a large cherry oak power desk are long gone, and now I prefer and ergonomic approach.  I started working at a standing desk over a year ago. It’s amazing how working standing up can feel so draining at first. These days, I stand about 90%. I feel it’s improving my posture and makes me much more alert. It’s only after a big meal that I’ll lower it and take a seat.

In the future I see more and more people telecommuting as we become more digitally connected. It’s not for everyone, though. I know people that would not perform very well given the freedom, and there is also a resistance from people in the office who might think it to be unfair. The employee must be self-motivating and pro-active, especially with regards to communicating with the team.

I remember when I was 16 envisioning a future where I would earn money based on the software I produced, rather than on my physical presence. I also remember dreaming about working from a beach house. Both these dreams are becoming a reality. Now I just need to save up enough to buy some property and build a house.

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Smart Phone Junkies

It started off as “no cell phone sunday” when I would leave the phone at home and go out and explore the world.  It was a social experiment that turned into a philosophy.  Months later, I deleted Facebook.  Actually, I just disabled it, because the truth is I don’t despise it completely.  It connected me with some friends and I can’t think think of a better way to stay connected.  My alternative would be to keep a list of phone numbers and emails, but those change.  Also, I tend to lose my phone every few years, resulting in me losing all my contacts.  Some backup systems have helped, I think Google backs up my contacts somehow, but I just don”t take the time to figure out a system.  Thankfully, we have the cloud.  Technology will provide a solution.

The reason I stay off social media in general is that I don’t like the idea of being completely exposed online, and also the idea that I have to watch what I say because I might offend someone.  It’s way too easy to do that these days in America, it’s full of the social justice warriors looking to take something you say and twist it into an offensive blurb.  Feelings of jealousy and narcissism popped up whenever I went online, so I opted out.  A few friends asked “how can a guy like you, working in a technology field not be on Facebook?”  The answer to me is clear. It’s a huge time waster and displays the worst aspects of our culture.  Maybe it doesn’t affect everyone the same way it did to me, but I can understand why people claim it’s ruining their lives.  I’ve heard of relationships being destroyed, not just because of social media, but it was mentioned as a reason.  And the amount of advertising and self promotion on the site was enough for me to say goodbye to Facebook.

Behold the Nexus 5. The Greatest phone ever.

I am grateful I never became addicted to technology but I see it everywhere.  It used to annoy me, going out to lunch and everyone at the table cocked their head down to stare at their screen.  But me wanting attention is just like them for going on Facebook to broadcast themselves, so to get annoyed would be hypocritical.  I just wonder what’s going to happen to people’s spinal alinement.  I had horrible posture growing up as I never listened to my mom and to this day I stand up straight but I’m afraid I may never correct the issue.  I can understand how people are losing their ability to pay attention when you see them constantly checking their phones all the time even during conversation.  A girl I met online met up with me at a bar one time and I caught her checking her phone a few times habitually.  I mentioned it to her and she apologized and admitted she had a problem.  Next time she did it, I snatched that phone out of her hand and put it in my pocket and continued on with conversation.  She smiled at that one.  I owe my friend Don for giving me a similar lesson.  At a Panthers Hockey game my phone vibrated so I took it out while the game was going on.  He gave me a hard elbow, a cold stare and pointing at the game saying “Game’s down there.”  I got so pissed off.  How dare he tell me what to do.  But over time I realized, he made a good point.  We paid good money to watch that game and I don’t even remember what that text was about, it had such little importance.

I know people think they can multitask but humans can only really focus on one thing at a time.  I’ve tried and never been successful.  If you have a solution please let me know.  Now there is Phantom Vibration Syndrome, the false believe that one’s phone is ringing.  It just goes to show that these devices are affecting our nervous systems.  Not only that, but countless people admit that they could not live without their phone.  What’s going to happen when the internet goes down, or when you lose your phone?  People say they feel lost and disconnected in the absence of their phone, yet 20 years ago we didn’t even have them.

Some celebrities have turned to flip phones and I almost did the same after I thought I lost my Nexus 5 (best phone in existence, by the way.)  I would have missed the awesome android interface but I saw it as a chance to get rid of my data plan and save some money.  I really don’t need a camera and mp3 player, just talk and text would suffice.  Getting rid of GPS would be fun, it would be like an adventure every time I had to go somewhere new.  But, I ended up finding my phone on a trail on the disc golf course.  I was ecstatic because that thing cost me some descent change, but I was prepared to suffer a loss.  ANd it served as a reminder, delete some goofy photos on my phone, I don’t want strangers looking at those.

Then I looked up some youtube videos on facebook and cell phone addiction and it made me laugh.  We’re producing a generation of douche bags.  I gave up tv a few years ago, so when I look at it now I’m just completely lost.  Reality TV is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.  It’s completely scripted and sensationalized, and I can see why people are acting like A-holes everywhere.  THey watch the Kardashians act like they’re better than everyone else and so they repeat the behavior.  It’s infectous.  The level of narcisism online is ridiculously high.  I tried being an uber driver but the entitlement level of people is unreal.  I picked up 2 girls one time that just talked shit about their friends the whole ride, then changed their mind and had me drop them off down the street from where I picked them up.  They wasted $12 just because they could go on their phone and have a driver show up almost instantly.  But I’m not here to be angry or bitter.  I think people should be able to do whatever the fuck they want with their lives.

Then again, I have my own sense of entitlement and ego.  I think I’m better than anyone that constantly checks their phone.  Do you think I respect someone who would feel empty inside if they lost their phone?  You mean I can snatch that thing from your hand, smash it on the ground with my foot and you’lll lose your sense of self?  You pathetic weakling.  Hah!  Hey I quit smoking cigarettes. I recognized that they were a show of weakness and I don’t want anything to have that sort of power over me.  Carl Jung wrote “Those people who are least aware of their unconscious side are the most influenced by it.”  You decide how much power you let your phone have over your life.

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Cheaters

I still have an inclination to cheat.  It’s amusing now, and meditation has definitely identify it for what it is.

My company recently handed out these tiny tracker devices that monitor the number of steps you take.  A pedometer.  You can save money by hitting a certain number of steps (every quarter, I believe).  The company, in turn, saves money on health insurance (a total assumption I’m making).  My immediate reaction was “How can I trick this?”.  That first day I tried a few things, I threw it in the dryer with a load of laundry, strapped it to a ceiling fan, attached it to my car tire, even clipped it onto my neighbor’s dog’s collar.  The point isn’t to avoid being fit, it’s just to explore the possibilities of the device.  If you still want to trick it here’s a hint: figure 8’s.  Actually my first thought was, How much can I sell it for?  It requires an online account registration so I gave up on that idea rather quickly, however, my next thought was to pro-grammatically set the steps.  I’m not that bright, so I’ll wait for some 12 year old hacker to figure it out and I’ll listen to his squeaky voice on a youtube video while his parents yell at him to brush his teeth.

My cheating history goes back to school.  I did pretty well in school, and while I won’t admit to cheating on book reports or essays, when it came to test taking it was no holds barred.  Crib notes stuffed everywhere.  Not as bad as Chevy Chase’s character in Spies like Us, but it was fun to see what I could get away with.  My friends were ruthless as well, keeping books open on the floor and flipping them closed with their feet when the heat was on.  You end up bonding with other cheaters, kind of a honor amongst thieves.  I can only imagine what they are getting away with now that the internet is readily accessible via smart phones and tablets.  When I finally got a programmable TI-82 calculator, I’d enter math test answers and pass it around.  My calculator ended up at the other side of the room somewhere.  I’m  surprised I even got it back.  I was math student of the year that year.

I blame the school system.  Well, I take responsibility for myself, but my inclination is to blame the system.  We weren’t taught to learn, just how to test, and I did so in very dirty ways.

Cheating isn’t just for tests, though.  It can help a relationship.  If a guy is going nuts because he decided to give marriage a try and found his desire to seek other mates is driving him to hate his wife, then please get some on the side.  It will strengthen the relationship.  There are websites that are designed for this, so it has reached mainstream.  The whole institution of marriage has become a joke.

Forgive my off topic rambling, I haven’t posted for a while.  I’ll try to stay on track.

Honor has it’s place.  Like in the sport of Golf.  I just read the legend of Bagger Vance and there is a scene where character Junah’s honor is tested.  And I realized just how honourable the game is.  Do not watch the movie, by the way, it missed out on a lot of the philisophical aspects and the history of Bagger.  I hate to be that guy that says the book is better, but just read the part about the Knower and the Field.  You’ll see what I mean.  It’s a quick read, and Stephen Pressfield writes about topics very inspiring to writers like you bloggers out there.

Although I don’t play golf (ball golf), I play disc golf.  I made it out to the course yesterday after a few weeks off.  I need to enjoy it before the South Florida summer hits.  I really got in the zone by finding my authentic drive.  I was reminded of a time where I passed on a game because I was playing fantasy football that year and had to see the results of a Dolphins vs Jets game.  Ugh it was pathetic.  I played for 3 seasons of Fantasy football.  It’s just like it sounds, it’s complete fantasy it’s like Dungeon and Dragons for adults.  You stop rooting for teams, and even start hoping for player injuries.  That’s what it’s all about, fantasy football is based on injuries.  They make or break you almost every match.  I’m wondering if fantasy football has ever influenced the outcome of a game, either a player’s performance or a bogus call by a ref.  I still regret that day I passed up on a round of DG to do my fantasy team.  I made up for it yesterday.  Launched a couple bomb drives,nailed a few birdies with my laser beam snake-strike putts.

Back to what I was saying, meditation has strengthened me in many ways.  But most recent, it’s been the ability to recognize my inclination to cheat.  It makes me smile just thinking about it.  Travelling on South West- Why not print my own A-class boarding pass?  A new book I want- why not download it?  My conclusion is as follows, the dirty high you get from successfully pulling off a scam is just like the testosterone boost people get when their football team wins.  It’s fake.  Even worse, it’s unearned.  A real man does things righteously.  For every scam that works there is the potential of getting caught and the price you’ll pay.  And the embarrassment you might suffer (assuming your not a psychopath) will set you back.  Sure I feel like a sucker when I know I can get away with something but choose not to, but that feeling is diminishing as I strengthen my character through meditation.

Afterthought:  I recently heard about Transcendental Meditation via some videos starring David Lynch.  Apparently, he’s trying to raise money through the David Lynch foundation to teach TM to kids in school.  I think it’s great, but I wanted to find out more about it, and how it differs from the meditation I practice.  They claim hundreds of scientific studies have shown how much better it is from regular meditation.  Obviously, I’m interested.  However, from what I can tell, it costs a few hundred dollars and you must be taught by a trainer- you cannot learn it from a book.  Sounds sketchy to me, but whatever, they can charge whatever they want, and people are apparently paying it.  What turns me off is the celebrity following.  It sounds a little cult-ish.  Anyway, if anyone knows anything about TM please share in comments.

I’ve read that it’s based on a mantra, that is given to you by the trainer.  And that you meditate twice a day for 20 minutes.  I’m doing 20 minutes a day now, so I’m committing to 2 times a day for the next month.  I’ll have to work from home to get the time for that.  I don’t understand the mantra, and I don’t know what other differences there are.  Also, the fact that they don’t share their methods is rather strange.  Anyone that has info feel free to share.

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10 gym training lessons to Consider

The summer before I entered high school, I pretended to be interested in playing football so I could weight train with the team.  I did not look like a football player at all.  I was skinny and incredibly weak, and spent all my free time mountain biking and playing tennis.  I started lifting 3 days a week, doing all compound lifts- one’s that involve multiple joints and multiple muscle groups.  Basically the Big 3 (Squats, Bench Press and Deadlift).  I also had the pleasure of being introduced to a little explosive exercise called the Power Cleans.

I spent that summer familiarizing myself with the barbell and the iron plates which made them so much more intimidating.  I gained muscle fast, but after the summer finished and I revealed that I wouldn’t be trying out as a kicker for the team, I stopped working out.  To this day I regret not trying out for wide receiver.  Some people claim they live a life of no regrets and I could never understand that.  I’m grateful for the life I had without football, but a part of me really wishes I had been a part of the team.

I spent my free time hanging out with a new crowd and became a Dead Head.  Instead of playing sports, I listened to music.  We swapped tapes, laughed, listened to music and jammed on guitar sometimes.  My parent’s house became a hangout spot from the time school got out until around 5 PM when my parents would come home.  It was pretty close to the high school too, making it a convenient gathering spot.  Every day, I would have to clear almost everyone out around 4:30, but a few of us lingered and would play basketball in the driveway.  I didn’t have any cool video game consoles at this time, we basically hung out on the back deck or played hacky sack and listened to some tunes.

concept _2_

I didn’t touch a barbell again until the age of 30.  And I’m not lying when I tell you it was like meeting an old friend from the past.  I joined an old school gym.  It wasn’t a clean facility, and didn’t have much fancy equipment.  Certainly there was no pool anywhere to be found.  It was a place to lift.  I joined with 5 guys from work.  A few of them still workout but most are fat and lazy and are often sick.  One continues to push himself with running and Orange Theory, but I’m the only one left lifting heavy.  I saw this coming, and this is why I don’t advise looking for a gym buddy.  They will slow your training down.  If you could find a buddy that would be competitive, it might be worth looking into.  However, I found my friends all dropping out.

I’m not one to preach about exercise, and nothing is worse than listening to someone talk about their gym routine (even worse, a crossfit routine), but I’m going to throw out a few tips that I learned in my experience.

1 Pick a program.  Pick a goddamn program.  It should make use of compound lifts.  I like full body routines 3 days a week, or upperbody/lowerbody 4 days a week.  I will sometimes do just arms on a weekend, giving them a nice pump which I can show off.

2 Testosterone is the only reason I workout.  I don’t care if I’m small or big, it’s the hormone I’m after.  I am not comfortable with injections or knowing that I am depending on an external source, so I’m natural.  If you’re a natural lifter, you’re going to want to be doing the heavy compound lifts.  Learn to mother fucking dead lift.

3 You can teach yourself power cleans.  And you certainly don’t need bumper plates.

4 Work out alone.  If you want to start with a friend that’s fine.  Never be dependent on someone else to workout.  Also, by working out you are more likely to meet new people.  Learn to work-in with people.  Tell them you are amazingly fast at swapping out plates and they will hardly notice you are there.

5 Bring a gym back with everything.  You don’t want to have to quit your workout because you forgot a towel.  Pansy.

6 Stay away from machines and learn to love the barbell and dumbbell.

7 You don’t need a trainer, youtube has everything you need.  And people will often criticize your form but they don’t know shit themselves.

8 I’ve never been injured lifting.  It seems that everyone else has, though.  Maybe more people should listen to me.

9 Ask for a spot.  Every single time you bench press heavy you should ask for a spot.

10 Log everything.  Handwritten notebook style.  You’ll lose or break your phone and besides, you look like a nerd logging your workout on a phone.

I’ve been working out consistently for 5 years now.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have continued to lift in my 20’s.  I had a lot of fun those years, but I am really interested about what my statistics would be now if I had been more consistent.  After your newbie gains, you see how you hit a platue for a while, then go back down in weight and work back up slowly.  Your personal records show up in waves so you have to look at the big picture for overall performance.  Knowing this, you should continue to lift.  I haven’t even mentioned the benefits of lifting, this is just a nitty gritty guide to get your ass in the gym.

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Don’t Panic over GD50 Tix

Ugh, no luck.  Saturday morning I tried to score tickets for 3 nights in Chicago for the Dead’s final show.  Unfortunately, I didn’t score any.  Our dual laptop attack method failed as we waited for about an hour in Ticket Master’s queue.  The tickets are in extremely high demand, as they are only offering a 3 night event, rather than a 2015 final tour.  Scalpers know this, but they may not be familiar with the loyalty of Dead heads.

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If we hold out and don’t panic, the prices will drop.  It’s called a bubble in economics because the inflated value eventually drops or “bursts”.  We just have to be patient and find heads willing to trade tickets at cash value, which they will, I hope.  To give you an idea of the inflation, check out stubhub.  We’ve seen a 3 day pass going for up to $15,000.  That’s despicable.  Now, obviously scalpers didn’t just buy up all the tickets in an unfair manner, although I like to imagine them as greedy little trolls running bot programs and hacking the system.  Cheaters or not, there is a problem with the system.

Even if I got tickets, I wouldn’t disclose it until absolutely necessary.  It’s part of the reason I don’t participate heavily in social media.  It’s not in my nature to boast because of the attention it attracts.  Look, I’m from Connecticut.  The state is full of wealth, yet you see rich people driving around in Subarus and Volvos.  In south Florida, it’s almost the opposite.  Here, people display their wealth (even if it’s all on credit).  So I’m quite well accustomed to it, yet I choose to not be a part of the jerk circle.   It’s tempting and shockingly easy to brag online.  Believe me, if you got tickets I’m stoked for you.  And one thing I don’t want to do is come off as a bitter hater of social media, as I recognize that it’s a huge part of society.

After an hour of waiting, and hearing that most online retailers had sold out, I called it quits.  I was hungry.  And you know what I treated myself to?  A gourmet grilled cheese sandwich from NY Grilled Cheese.  And it was off-the-chain delicious.

Check this out from their site: American cheese, zesty horseradish chive Cheddar cheese, holey aioli, with our own slow roasted, premium beef brisket, & caramelized onions on country loaf.

It wasn’t until the very next day that I connected my craving for grilled cheese and an attempt at purchasing Grateful Dead tickets.  That made me smile.

Once my appetite was satisfied with a grilled cheese and tomato bisque, I decided to start planning.  I haven’t purchased airfare or hotel accommodations, but seeing as how I’ve never been to Chicago, I think I will.  It’s a great time to visit Chicago, as it will be summer time and closer to my preferred climate.  And it’s right around the time of the Taste of Chicago event.  Even more tempting is knowing that a sea of Dead Heads will be crashing in to the city.

Now, if heads hold out and don’t purchase from scalpers, and there is a bubble burst, prices will come way down.  Charging for a 1000% profit is disgusting, and we want face value.  I’m guessing we will see a dip in May or April, but it won’t be much.  I’ve decided to just make it public that I’m looking for tickets.  Put out the feelers and hope for the best.  I’ll also be wearing the shit out of my Grateful Dead shirts while I’m at it.  The more I write this, the more I realize I should hop back on to social media and look for any leads.

If you’re stuck like me, don’t give up hope.  There is still plenty of time.  But unless Jerry Garcia came back from the dead to play this gig, don’t go spending your good money on tickets at these prices.

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Build yourself a LAMP

I’m not a fan of the fantasy genre, and the word ‘guild’ usually makes me cringe.  It reminds me of online gaming, or people at a Renaissance fair that refuse to break character and only speak in old English.  And that’s a shame, because it’s a bad-ass word.  So, I was both excited and disappointed to see an email at work that someone was starting up a ‘Maker’s Guild’.  I love technology and tinkering with things, but I’m engulfed in the software world.  Other than slamming on a keyboard, I don’t get a lot of ‘hands-on’ experience.  And since I live in a small apartment, I don’t have access to a lot of equipment for tinkering.  I’m pretty much limited to a tool box, a can of some WD-40 and a roll of duct-tape.  Everything I should need, according to them movie Gran Tourino.  So these builder’s clubs are perfect for me.

The first meeting discussed the Internet of Things; the idea that we can integrate network accessible computer equipment into almost anything.  I read about an electronic yoga mat that will provide feedback on your poses.  Go figure.  But hey, I started doing yoga because they offered it at my local brewery (Funky Buddha) so as a techie guy I might be their target customer.  Feel free to send me one to test out and review.  The point is, they will find a way to put these device is everything.  They can record data, then send it off for analysis.  We went around the room coming up with ideas.  The first suggestion was a bathroom sensor to idicate when restrooms in the office were available or occupied.   Phenomenal idea, and apparently we aren’t the only ones desiring a bathroom control feature in the corporate world- there is already a how-to video on youtube describing the programming and setup of a Bathroom sensor.  This one uses a red light/green light system.  When it was my turn I shared a fitness-related idea.  Actually, I had 2.  The first one was a massive vision, the second could fit in your pocket.  So I am making a prototype now.  It’s just a little hack and just requires a little sewing, something I need help with.  I’d like to make a video of it, if’ it turns out to be entertaining.  So check it out, I’m on my way to learing sewing and video editing now.  Even if it does well, the patent application process looks intimidating.

So this particular guild at work will  be focused on technology gadgets and software.  One member showed off an RSS reader that he’s developing on a mobile app.  It works on Widows 8 technology and I almost vomited upon seeing it.  I’m not dissing his programming project, I’m dissing the Windows 8 layout.  It looks like it’s designed to feed advertisements to the user. I looked around and a lot of people had some form of Windows on their phone and laptops.   I tried not to puke and managed to ask a question to the group, “Do you guys run linux?”

Surely a member of the Guild would proudly chime with an affirmative response.  Instead, the response was “not since I was in school.”

I never got to learn Linux in school.  Heck,we barely even mentioned it in Operating Systems, and certainly never logged into a Linux server.  It wasn’t until I graduated that I started tinkering with it.  I mangled a lot of installs and I loved every minute of it.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve decided to completely abandon Windows.  The Windows 8 and 2012 releases haven’t been easy to learn.  Even if they were to have a classic mode, it’s too late for me.  I still have to support Windows at work, and I’m forced to use them, but at home I’m running Ubuntu Linux as a desktop and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s still a struggle.  I just noticed 2012 has the habit of forcing a reboot when updates are available unless you tell it otherwise. I learned a lot running through the setup of a LAMP server (Linux, Apach, MySQL and PHP) so I decided to go through a LAMP build myself to re-familiarize myself.  I decided to search the Ubuntu software manager for LAMP and sure enough there is an all-in-one package for it.  I decided to install the 4 components manually instead, but it’s good to know the convenience is there.

The other reason why I like these maker’s meetings is that it brings together a group of minds that bounce ideas off each other.  And you meet people highly skilled in certain crafts that you might wish to learn.  I’d love to learn wood working.  Build myself a slick desk to do my writing at.  It’s also good to get feedback and share ideas with some really bright people.  People have different levels of experience of production.  Sometimes I have an idea but feel stifled so these meetings are a blessing in that they will help bring the project into a reality.