Friday, October 30

Columbia Wave

+ Columbia ranked 14th strongest metro. I always tell people Columbia's economy is diverse and robust.

+ Marks say I'm the champ of Google Wave. It has been fun to find my way around and give out invites. Found some new stuff today and added it to my Intro wave.

Tim Keller's 'Counterfeit Gods'

Website for Tim Keller's new book, 'Counterfeit Gods'. Tim Keller is the most insightful preacher I know. Here's the intro from the website:
Success, true love, and the life you’ve always wanted. Many of us placed our faith in these things, believing they held the key to happiness, but with a sneaking suspicion they might not deliver. The recent economic meltdown has cast a harsh new light on these pursuits. In a matter of months, fortunes, marriages, careers, and a secure retirement have disappeared for millions of people. No wonder so many of us feel lost, alone, disenchanted, and resentful. But the truth is that we made lesser gods of these good things – gods that can’t give us what we really need. There is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings – and now is the perfect time to meet him again, or for the first time. The Bible tells us that the human heart is an “idol-factory,” taking good things and making them into idols that drive us. In Counterfeit Gods, Keller applies his trademark approach to show us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the unvarnished truth about societal ideals and our own hearts. This powerful message will cement Keller’s reputation as a critical thinker and pastor, and comes at a crucial time—for both the faithful and the skeptical.
If that interests you at all, I urge you to check out the website (perhaps including the introduction to the book) and consider reading the book.

Sunday, October 25

Great Vikings game. Disappointing end.

My thoughts progressing through the game:

Vikes are ok. Need to improve their tackling! They need to catch the ball, too. At least two drops in the first half. I don't really think they will beat Pittsburgh there. I just want them to play well. And, of course, I hope they win.

I'm finding Daryl Johnston very annoying. Is it just my own bias?

Two bad calls by the officials against the Vikings. We can't beat Pittsburgh away and the refs.

(The first return for a touchdown never should have happened because the tripping call that brought back our TD on the drive was bogus.)

We had it in hand, tie or win and disaster strikes. Not Brett's fault; he hit Chester in the hands. Not really Chester's fault, either. A few too many passes. Wish they would have run more. Something is bound to go wrong.

Credit to the Steeler's D. They kept fighting.

Oh, well. Well played, Vikes. We'll keep playing hard. Know we did a good job. Never really figured on going undefeated. Still in good shape int he NFC North and the NFC in general.

Friday, October 23

Live Healthy: Getting back to it

I've been doing okay, I just haven't been posting about it.

+ The actual ride last Saturday was not great. Had to walk up the first hill because I couldn't get my borrowed bike to change gears. Seriously deflating. Tom was having problems with his bike, too, so we were hanging back. I finally started to get the hang of my bike, but Tom continued to have problems with his. After about 8 miles of struggling, he decided to just go back. But we lost quite a bit of time.

I wasn't dressed warmly enough. It was about 40 degrees and rainy and I only had on two cotton layers. I brought my fleece, but left it in the car. That was ok for going up the hills, but I was freezing going down hill. It became two bad choices: labor uphill but don't freeze, or coast downhill but freeze ;-)

Made it to the planned refueling stop. Had 1.5 Snickers and some coffee. Should have asked Eric for his windbreaker before we left. Asked him back on the road if I could borrow it at the next stop (which did happen).

I forget when we made the decision to shorten the ride. We were supposed to be meeting some people for dinner at 5:30 and it was going to start getting dark. The final mileage was a little over 30 miles. We had to settle for 40 km for Bryan's 40th birthday instead of 40 miles, but these things happen. Don't know if I could have made the full 40, the way things went. I think I could have if I'd had a better start...

Thankfully, most of the last part of the ride was flat or downhill because my legs were gone. Limped to the end.

It took me quite a while to recover. I continued to shiver some while we waited at the restaurant for a seat. Maybe it was from being cold, but I felt like it was more from being drained. Maybe I didn't refuel enough as we went along. I wasn't incredibly sore the next day or anything. (But I'm still keeping my promise to take a week off of biking. Back to it Monday :-)

Well, that's enough of that. The main thing is: it was a good visit with my friend, Bryan.

+ Bryan and Sarah eat incredibly healthy! There's not unhealthy food in their house. So, I ate pretty well while I was visiting there. I ate a little too much and am back up a little on the scale, but that was all expected and I am not alarmed. I am getting back to my program now.

+ My primary training focus now is the Sleigh Bell Trot on November 24th. I will probably shoot for 3 10 minutes miles or 31 minutes overall. We'll see as we get closer if I can really pull that off. Started jogging again yesterday after taking 5 days off. Went fine. Actually was my 2nd fastest pace so far, 11:14/mile.

+ I never did get around to doing my September evaluation and a new October contract. I should definitely do it again for November...

The Power of the Gospel (through Tim Keller)

Are you looking for something 'devotional', something to encourage you in your (historically orthodox) Christian faith?

I can't think of anything better you could do than to listen to all of the free sermons by Tim Keller that Redeemer Presbyterian Church has put up.

Hell: Isn't the God of Christianity an angry Judge?

Stream or download the mp3.
Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others . . . but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God 'sending us' to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.
- CS Lewis, The Great Divorce, ch 9

'Hell is just a freely-chosen identity based on something else beside God going on forever.'

'There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God 'Thy will be done' and those to whom God says in the end 'thy will be done'.'

His discussion of Miroslav Wolf is amazing and typical Keller: he performs judo on the typically liberal mindset of peace without justice. There is no basis for non-violence unless you believe that God will ultimately be just. If you've seen your family raped and killed (eg, the Balkans), you want justice and not liberal non-violent blather from the comfort of their suburban existence.

Fear of hell won't keep us out of it.

Naked miracles won't convince us. Sometimes we think a miracle would convince us to believe in God. Wrong. The Bible is full of miracles, OT and NT, followed by people who did not believe and love and obey. In some ways, Jesus had to come because miracles do not work. Only love will draw us to God from ourselves and an eternity of Hell.

Jesus talks about Hell more than anyone else in the Bible. Why? Because He took it. 'He descended into Hell.'

Thursday, October 15

Five little links

Cleaning out my tabs. Have I mentioned I'm on staycation? Woot!

+ Use pitch tracking technology to call strikes in pro baseball games

+ Once I learned what 'vomitoria' were, I figured what I'd heard previously about them was a myth.

+ Recent article on Gamecocks' comparative success.

+ Limbaugh gets dropped from Rams bid. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Pack QB Rodgers Won't Criticize Porous Protection
. What I said before: he's good, but the o-line has problems. The quotes in this article make it sound like there's a little dissension in the locker room. Seems dumb of McCarthy to say Rodgers is holding it too long when the o-line sucks so much. Kid's doing about all he can.

Wednesday, October 14

Live Healthy: The hardest thing?

When I lose this weight, will it be the hardest thing I've ever done?

On the one hand, yes: I can't think of anything I've tried and failed at so much.

On the other hand, surely not. I've done other hard things, right? Earning my Master's degree required a lot of perseverance.

What do you think? Is losing weight so hard? Is it hard for you? Am I forgetting something harder?


Down to 200.5 on the scale today, so that's good, but I'm not counting it until I get to 200. Gotta' keep fighting it down!

Exercise is still going well. I rode 20 miles again on Sunday and I feel ready for my 40 mile ride coming up. I jogged 2.6 miles last night at the fastest pace I've done so far: 11:18 min/mi. That included a 1 minute walk break for every 4 minutes of jogging. One more jog and two more rides before my 40 miles ride coming up. Feeling good about it.

My preliminary goal for jogging is to get back to 3 miles in 30 minutes (comfortably and conversationally). Doubt I'll reach the comfortable part by the Sleigh Bell Trot on 11/24, but we'll see. If the training continues to go ok, I'll probably shoot for 3 miles in 30 minutes even if it wipes me out.

Oh, yeah. By the way, I did register for the Sleigh Bell Trot 5K. Crazy ;-)

Something I'm wondering about (that I've maybe written about before): Is it harder to lose weight when you're working out so much? In effect, I'm pursuing two goals at once: better fitness and weight loss. Working out can certainly make you hungrier (though I think I've been doing a pretty good job of not eating everything in sight ;-)

For example, Saturday and Sunday I burned about 1000 calories in exercise alone. But then you have to be disciplined to not overeat. It was kind of fun to have second breakfast, though, both days. Saturday was cold pizza and Sunday was 500 calories of toast, cheese and cashews. Hit the spot! :-)

Saturday, October 10

Coming around on Obama's Nobel

I was stunned to wake up yesterday and read BHO has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's what I wrote on Facebook:

wow. i like BHO, but i find this pretty shocking. surely there were nominees who were more deserving...

i guess it just goes to show how much the world wants America back as a team player.

can this also be construed as backhanded commentary against GWB?

Furthermore, I commented on a lot of other people's posts that I just couldn't see it and didn't agree.

But a couple different perspectives are bringing me back around.

1. Obama's stunning Nobel win

But this prize isn't about political partisanship inside the U.S. Again, it was a clear signal from an old friend.

As usual, though, America is too obsessed with itself to notice.

2. Obama's Nobel--on second thought

So when you step out of the American perspective, you understand just how much the world appreciates the shift he's accomplished in such a short time--and at such a dangerous time.

We have made amends, and the world replied with "thank you."

Shows you what a nice apology can do--even for the world's sole superpower.


Some grace is called for, though. We've been in this endzone before. No need to act like boors.

3. Christine felt it was a sign of the world's gratitude for our change and I take her opinion seriously :-)

4. A slightly different perspective on the Prize

However, the fact is that there are billions of people in the world (people with different political and cultural baggage than most Americans) who definitely see Obama as a larger than life man of peace -- not because of what he has done or will do but because of who he is and what he represents.

President Obama is a person of color in one of the most powerful positions in the world. To much (most?) of the world this is more encouraging than peace-treaties or development projects for the poor -- as important as those things might be. To the poor of the world our president signals a new era where even a dark-skinned person can get ahead in life. To them that is hope. That is peace!

Americans just don't realize how big a deal this is for the rest of the world.

Might it be that our definition of what constitutes peacemaking is too insular and narrow -- too exclusively Western -- too lacking in shalom?

5. Finally, I liked the opening of Obama's speech. Nice and humble:

Good morning. Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!" And then Sasha added, "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." So it's good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

If you know me well, you know I hate being wrong, but I feel like I was yesterday, that I kind of over-reacted. Oh well :-)

Wednesday, October 7

Live Healthy: Do diets work?

I've been thinking about it a lot and I've found a point of disagreement with Gwen Shamblin's 'Weigh Down Diet' and Bethenny Frankel's 'Naturally Thin'.

Both are quite strong in their arguments that diets don't work, period, and this includes counting calories. Then they recommend their systems which focus more on mindful eating, not eating until you're hungry, stopping when you're full and other 'rules' like that (Frankel calls her guidelines 'rules').

My theory is that it's true: diets don't work when the diet is looked to as a temporary, almost magical fix so I can get the weight down and then go back to 'normal' life. Diets don't work when they entail bizarre, unhealthy or unsustainable eating.

To me, the key factor in successful weight loss (which I haven't even yet achieved, not to mention maintained, so take it with a block of salt) is willingness to make a lifestyle change: what I've done before does not work. I'm going to change my life, especially my outlook, eating and exercise. And, when I'm done, my behavior if not going to change much. I'll be able to eat a little more than when I was losing weight, but, if I want to keep it off, I'll still be working the new lifestyle and not returning to the old one.

Counter-evidence to WD and Naturally Thin: there are a lot of people on SparkPeople who have lost weight and kept it off in a program that includes counting calories.

I read recently (though I can't remember where) that most people who successfully lose weight try and fail a number of times (six or seven?) before they succeed. This is certainly true of my own experience and I would say it matches up with trying to find quick, magical fixes and finally getting fed up and ready to change lifestyle.

To be clear, my theory is that willingness to make a lifestyle change is the key to weight loss. Once that point is reached, there are probably many healthy 'diets' (where 'diet' is construed in its broadest sense of 'what you eat') that will work for weight loss and maintenance. The key may be finding what approach works best for you.

Personal update

I have suffered a minor weight setback due to a lot of exceptional socializing, mostly around football. Went to the Gamecocks game Saturday night with my brother and ate game food. Then went to a bar Monday night to watch the Vikes (I don't have ESPN) and had some tortilla chips and a couple drinks. Tonight's the last soiree for a while and then I'll be back on plan for at least a week and a half. I'm a little disappointed in the lapses and in going backwards on the weight loss (203 this morning after 201 last week), but it seems most 'natural' (for whatever that's worth).

On the exercise side, I'm still doing great. Making progress with the Couch to 5K program; completed day 1 of week 6 last night.

Further, I've been invited to ride 40 miles for a friend's 40th birthday coming up. Since I haven't ridden near that recently, I rode 20 miles this past Sunday as sort of a warmup and it went pretty well.

I'm feeling a few tweaks in my left knee and ankle from all the training. Seriously considering going Gallaway (taking frequent walk breaks) on the Couch to 5k for the time being, until I get through the 40 mile ride. Then I can back off the bike mileage a little and resume my training for the Saluda Shoals Sleigh Bell Trot in late November. I know I could finish it now, no problem, taking walk breaks. The question is what will my goal be? Will I set a time I'm shooting for? Do I want to run it without walking? Not sure yet...

Friday, October 2

Live Healthy 10% at a time

Here's a concept that will be front and center when I write my diet book ;-)

The 10% Solution
According to the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the average "Dream" weight loss is 38% of the dieter’s current weight. Also:

* a 31% weight loss would make the average dieter "Happy"
* a 25% weight loss would be "Acceptable".
* a 15.7% weight loss would be "Disappointing".

So the 200-pound woman who loses 30 pounds would actually be disappointed in her results!
I totally understand this way of thinking. In fact, it's pretty similar to my ongoing low-grade disappointment that my weight loss has not happened faster. But, friends, we have got to change our mindset!

Any of us approaching weight loss should set an initial 10% goal (assuming we have that much to lose) and not get too ambitious or freaked out about anything beyond that. Especially for those of us with a lot to lose, by the time we lose 10%, everything will be different ... for the better! So let's not get too focused on the whole number in a way that is daunting or discouraging.

In my case, my initial goal weight was 170 because that seemed reasonable. I don't even remember where I came up with that. I think it was a function of BMI and the fact that I used to weight less than that back when I was 28 and fit. Sounds ok, aye? Maybe it was.

But I've re-evaluated. I've changed my initial weight-loss goal to something closer to the top of the BMI for my height: 180. A nice round number and a resulting round number to lose overall: 30 pounds.

And, changing gears to the subject of this post, 10% of my beginning body weight is 21 pounds, which will put me at 189. That's a nice, firm, doable preliminary goal.

To their credit, Weight Watchers emphasizes shooting for a 10% loss first, but, when I was in that program, for whatever reason, I wasn't ready for that to motivate me.

More about things getting better: think about how much easier the rest of the weight will be to lose once you've hit your 10% goal. You'll be that much lighter and have many better habits. Your lifestyle will have improved.

Or, if you still have a lot to go, you can set a goal for the next 10%, which will be a nicely smaller number than the previous achievement, with a much better foundation. Sounds good, right?

So, what's your 10% goal? (You don't have to post it if you're too shy.) Does it seem more doable than your conceptual goal weight?

Live Healthy: Greed for food

I don't think my problem with food is gluttony exactly. It's more like greed.

I think about eating all the time. I look forward to eating. I feel like I'm going to die if I don't get to eat. But then I wolf down my food, hardly tasting it. What is wrong with me?

It seems almost like I need to possess the food. Like I said: greed. It's strange.

I've read quite a bit about mindful eating and similar topics. And I'm terrible at it.

In some ways, I don't want to do it. I don't want to slow down. I don't want to make that effort. I don't want to work so hard at eating.

But the alternative is bad: eating my food without really 'tasting' and enjoying it.

Do you know the dynamic? I want and long to have something that tastes really good. Then I can get to the end of it and feel like I haven't really tasted it at all. It's just gone, down the pie-hole. I wouldn't eat something that was healthy for me, but maybe a little less full of taste. No, it had to be really tasty. And then I hardly tasted it!

Relatedly, both 'Weight Down' and 'Naturally Thin' recommend leaving some food on your plate. This is almost impossible for me to conceive, not to mention do. Leave food on my plate when I'm not stuffed to the gills? I might need that food! Furthermore, I need the enjoyment in my life! (Never mind that I usually hardly taste my food.)

I don't have any great answers right now...


Still doing well with my exercise. I've modified my Couch to 5K training a little to make sure I'm in good shape for next week's 40 mile bike ride. I felt a little tweak in my left knee after doing 20 last week and I don't want any interference. So I'm taking 1 minute walk breaks after every 4 minutes of jogging (unless I'm going downhill). Then, when I have succeeded with next week's 40 mile ride, I'll get back to the 5K training in earnest.

The scale's still stuck at 202 or 203 after doing a lot of social eating this week. But I'm hoping to see some good movement again soon. My eating, otherwise, has been pretty good. I burned almost 1000 calories today between jogging/walking, mowing the lawn and trimming the hedge. And I'll burn another 1000 tomorrow with my 20 mile training ride. The key, of course, is, having worked that hard, not to eat everything in sight ;-) I think I've done pretty well, though.