Friday roundup

A Friday Haiku

It’s time to party

But we can’t since hackers stole

All of our info!

Equifax fux us over

By now, you’ve heard that back in July Equifax, one of three national credit bureaus that contain all our information, was hacked.

Approximately 143 million people could be affected. Information such as your name, Social Security number, date of birth, address, and driver’s license number could now be in the hands of unscrupulous cybercrimals.

In addition, 209,000 people could have had their credit card numbers exposed.

This is a data breach disaster of epic proportions. This makes hacks of Target, Wendy’s, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, Sony Playstation Network seem like peanuts.

Hacks like this beg the question, why do these credit bureaus exist? I mean other than to make our lives miserable when we try to buy a car. Why are they allowed to have access to, no, have control of all our information?

Didn’t anyone think it was a bad idea to have one company, or even three companies, in control of every person’s personal identifying information?

And why was this info stored where Internet hackers can access it? Shouldn’t it be on a stand alone system inaccessible to any outside snoopers?

And where is the outrage from Congress? Had this been the IRS that was hacked exposing 143 million Americans, the Republicans would have been all over them like flies on shit.

There would be Congressional hearings and investigations. Shouts of outrage at the IRS’s incompetence safeguarding American’s data. They’d grill the IRS Commissioner for weeks. They’d subpoena agency emails and records. Conservatives would be screaming for heads to roll and that the agency should be done away with once and for all.

Instead … silence. Why? Because Equifax is one of their buddy corporations who help the rich get richer by denying the poor and downtrodden credit.

This is our identities that were stolen and no one seems to give a damn. Everyone treats it like this is the new normal and we shouldn’t be surprised.

Well, I’m not just surprised by their lackadaisical attitude about guarding this information, I’m mad as Hell they had access to it in the first place.

Who wants to bet the Koch brothers info wasn’t affected by the hack? They probably keep the 1-percenters’ info secure on a separate gilded server accessible only to servants wearing tuxedos and white gloves with snooty attitudes.

Once again, a giant corporation fucks us over and no one cares.

Update: It looks like several Equifax executives sold their stock in Equifax before the hacking was made public. Scumbag bastards!

To find out if you were affected by the hack

Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the Potential Impact box at the bottom.

If you were affected, then they’ll give you a date when you can come back to sign up for a free year of credit monitoring.

Good luck.

Amwriting

Yes. I’m still dilgently at work editing the first draft of my urban fantasy fairy tale novel. And yes, I’m still finding it enjoyable.

As I read through it this first time, I’m getting excited because I still think it’s really quite good. Which is a strange reaction for me. Usually, I’m my own worst critic and I’m usually judgemental to the point that I start questioning the story’s worth and my own self-worth as a writer.

That isn’t happening this time. Should I be worried?

Why I still treadmill

For a while there, June and July, I was running outside. I’d get up early, greet the sun, and go for my run.

But now, darkness greets me, so I don’t morning run, I run as soon as I get home from work.

And I run on my treadmill. But why, you ask. Didn’t you tell us a while back that you found running outside more interesting than running on a treadmill? That the treadmill runs seemed to drag on forever?

Yes. Yes, I did. But running on the treadmill is so much more convenient and the weather is always the same. I don’t have to worry about the cold or the heat or rain or eventually, the snow.

Plus, and this will seem a little anal or OCD, I don’t like getting my running shoes dirty.

There. I said it. Running on the treadmill keeps my shoes looking pristine, as if I had just bought them. And I like that.

Running outside, my shoes would pick up mud, dirt, bug guts, and all sorts of icky god knows what kind of gunk. Yuck.

No thanks. I can deal with that on my everyday walkers, but not my running shoes.

Weird, right? But there it is.

Running and rowing

Anyway, I’m back to running a little over a mile a day (I admit I had a few bad weeks there trying to adjust my schedule and remotivate myself), except for the occasional rest day. Instead of increasing my distance, I’m gradually increasing the incline. I’m up to 5%, which doesn’t sound like much, but I can feel it in my hammies and glutes.

Then, after I run the mile, I immediately jump on my Cardiofit and row for several more minutes.

This keeps my heartrate up while working different muscle groups.

We’ll see if it makes a difference.

Weigh-In Friday

I made a decision on my diuretic. Last Friday, I weighed 204 pounds. Up from the previous Friday, but down from that Wednesday.

Well, on Saturday, I weighed myself and I had ballooned up to 208!

C’mon! It had taken me nearly two years to drop 30 pounds. I wasn’t about to put up with my weight going up and down like a yo-yo because of how much water I was retaining depending on how much salt I consumed.

My scale shouldn’t be like a roulette wheel where I wonder what weight it will stop on each time I step on it.

Therefore, I went back on the diuretic.

Today my weight is down to 200.7 pounds. Nearly what it was before I started monkeying around with my hypertension meds.

I’m back on track with my weight loss goal. No more experiments.

A Haiku about TheRump

He thinks he’s our king,

And we’re his loving subjects;

Fuck you, you orange turd.

And In Closing

For those in the path of Irma, stay safe. You’re in our thoughts. As are the people in Texas still trying to recover from Harvey.

For the rest of you, I hope ya’ll have a great weekend, even if some pimply-faced teenager in Russia is maxing out your credit thanks to Equifax.

Here’s a song to leave you with:

Enjoy.

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Zen and the art of driving stick

It was 1940 and Oldsmobile introduced the “Hydra-Matic,” the first automatic transmission. They sold something like 200,000 units and it was that same year the very first case of road rage was documented.

Driving automatic

Drivers of these new-fangled automatics began to suffer a disconnect between themselves and their vehicle because they found they had too much time to seethe over every single road incident and perceived wrong.

Drivers of stick, of course, were more zen-like, tranquil in their oneness with their automobile. They were absorbed in the moment, hands, feet, and mind all focused on the very act of driving, and didn’t have time to waste on frivolous external stressors.

That first incident of road rage occurred on Route 66 somewhere between Holbrook, Arizona and Williams, Arizona. 

Pepper McHilheney,  a spitball pitcher returning from a loss that had raised his ERA to an astronomical 37.3, was driving in his brand new black Olds Hydra-Matic, fuming about being tossed out of the game because he beaned the ump with a fastball after said ump had called the 90th ball that inning, when along came Biff Melonmeister, a traveling anvil salesman out of Davenport, Iowa, driving a similarly equipped Olds, but in cream, who was worrying that if he didn’t find a blacksmith soon who needed a new anvil how was he going to make his next car payment, when he inattentively cut off Pepper.

Pepper, of course, beeped and shouted, “Get your head out of you ass!” while making obscene gestures with his free right hand that, had he been driving stick, would have been otherwise occupied.

Biff, seeing the gestures, returned several of his own, because he too had a free right hand.

Soon the two were racing side-by-side down Route 66 cursing and throwing hand gestures at each other until tragically for both Olds involved, they went off the road and crashed into some shrubbery.

The two drivers extricated themselves from the bushes, gave each other the finger again, and fisticuffs ensued.

Meanwhile, Irving Potash, driving his trusty old 3-speed stick on the column two-tone Nash, went by and said, “Dudes, chill.” He then responsibly returned all his attention to driving and made it to his destination safely, on time, and with a smile on his face, proving the adage: a stick in hand is worth two birds in the bush.

There are many more anecdotes about the superiority of stick drivers to automatic, but a recent survey by the prestigious Institutus Ferretatus proves it best.

According to their study, drivers of automatics have a higher incidence of heart disease, hypertension, headaches, and are more likely to die of a heart attack, stroke, or road rage incident. Additionally, they are more hostile and impulsive compared to their stick driving counterparts.

Stick drivers on the other hand, live longer, have significantly lower stress levels, are much happier, and of course, are much more fun to be around.

Stick drivers today are known as “the seven percenters” because only about 7% of Americans drive stick. These seven percenters generally lead healthier and happier lives than the other 93% of drivers.

So next time you’re in the market for a car, consider the stick. Your heart will thank you.
#savethestick

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The lost weekend

I had a bad weekend. I gained 2.6 pounds.

Should I throw in the towel? Give up? Become angry and depressed over that?

Or should I just take the setback in stride? Refocus on what’s really important, like where I’ll be down the road instead of worrying if I’ll fit into that cute bikini for this upcoming season? Well, since I’m a guy I’d probably look silly in a bikini, so that isn’t the point.

The point is, when you suffer a setback in the short term, you should refocus on your long term goals. When you look at your overall progress, where you were and where you want to be, that 2.6 pound gain will appear to be nothing more than a tiny temporary blip on the entire weight loss graph.

I admit, there are times when it gets frustrating. For instance, when someone says they lost 50 almost overnight, you can’t help but compare. Why has it taken me over 2 years to lost 30 pounds and they did it like that? (Snap your fingers.)

You need to focus on the fact that you lost 30 pounds and not how long it took. That deserves congratulations, not chastisement.

Comparisons are self-defeating. People have different metabolisms. Some lose weight easier while others struggle. Accept that fact and move on.

I work with a guy who was overweight and now he’s not. He did it with an extremely restrictive diet, denying himself all foods that weren’t considered healthy.

If someone brought in donuts to work for their birthday, he wouldn’t eat one.

Wouldn’t. Eat. One!

That’s crazy talk. One donut won’t kill you.

Neither will one bad weekend of fast food and over snacking.

You’re not an idiot, just human

Face it, we all fail from time to time. We sneak that donut. Eat nearly a whole bag of Xtreme Cheddar Goldfish (guilty!). Go on vacation and enjoy all sorts of good foods. Overeat during the holidays.
Everyone except that guy at work, but then he’s always Grumpy and has become a judgemental asshole. “You’re not going to eat that, are you?” “Do you how many calories are in that?” 

Don’t be an asshole.

Treat yourself once in a while. There is no ice cream in Heaven, that’s why we eat it here. Just don’t overdo it.

And when you stumble, pick yourself back up and continue down your path as if nothing happened. Don’t look around to see if anyone saw, their opinion shouldn’t matter.

This is why you shouldn’t check your weight obsessively. I used to check it only once a week on our old mechanical scale so I probably wouldn’t even have known I had trended upward when I finally checked on Friday. That’s my fault for getting a cool new smart scale with a phone app that shows me all my stats. I need to focus on just the Friday readings, as I did before. 

Don’t let one misstep derail your whole program. Think of it this way, sure you might fit into that cute bikini this summer, but if that was your only goal, you’ll just yo-yo back up over the winter and be stressing again next spring.

Think about the long term and how good you’ll look next year and the year after that and about all those nice outfits you’ll be able to fit in for the rest of your life.

I just purchased a cool pair of running tights, something I never would have even thought about 10 years ago. And no, I’m not posting any pictures. 

Stay focused. Think long term. Don’t give up. Don’t be an asshole.
Side note: I had to completely rewrite this entire article because, as I discovered, if you don’t put in a title when you’re writing using the phone app, it forgets the entire post when you close the app. I reopened it to continue editing and it was gone! I could have given up and not posted anything today, but I didn’t. I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. You’re welcome.

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New year same old goals

Yes, yes, I’m well aware it’s already the 6th of January and I haven’t posted my 2017 New Year’s resolutions yet.

That’s because I don’t have any. Not really. Not any that I sat down and agonized over.

My goals for this year are the same as last year and the year before. Just keep getting better and better, every day in every way.  But if you want something more specific than that wonderful life philosophy, then here, they fall into the following categories:

Health & Fitness: My goals here are simple. To keep losing weight. To try to eat healthier, with more fruits and veggies and a lot of pasta and cheese. To keep improving on my running, distance and speed. And to keep trying to sculpt my aging body through weight training by adding muscle as I lose fat.

Writing: Again, simple goals. Keep reading and keep writing. Try to write something every day. Maybe go back to keeping a journal of ideas and stream of conscious thoughts, like I did back in my early days of writing. I will also try not to get discouraged and try not to take Rejections as personal insults. That last one is a hard goal, because every Rejection sends me into a blue funk. I need to change my thinking that they aren’t rejecting me, they’re rejecting my story.

Mental Health: Yes, OK, let’s move on, nothing to see here. I’m working on dealing with my ADHD in all its manifestations.Maybe I’ll try to get back into meditation or something.

And that, as they say, is that.

Well, I do have one new unspecified goal and that’s in regard to politics. I intend to get more involved, contact my Representatives more often on issues of importance, and to join the resistance against the big orange turd in an attempt to prevent him from destroying all the progressive advances we’ve made as a nation over the past 100 years. He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and only won the Electoral College by 80,000 votes in three states. He does not have a mandate. He’s disliked more than any other incoming President in history. He does not even deserve to be President. He represents the worst qualities of Mankind: hate, bigotry, intolerence, zenophobia, homophobia, and sexism.

Join the fight. Let your voice be heard. The election is only lost if you give up and normalize ignorance  and racism.

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Run Ed Run Part II

Revenge of the Splints.

And then …

I had no and then. Sorry. But what I did do is over the last two years, I’ve tried to lose a little weight. I ate salads for lunches and managed to lose 16 pounds.

And I managed to gain ten. But I didn’t become disheartened. Instead I took a long hard look at my eating habits. I’ve learned that I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat because it’s a mindless habit. 10am is snack time. Noon is lunchtime. 2pm is another snack. And so on. Well, I’ve tried to limit how much I eat. I’ve become a nibbler. Between a good breakfast and dinner I will now eat a few pretzels, some carrots or snap peas, an orange or an apple. And that’s it.

So I’m down six pounds at last count.

As the weight has come off, I’ve tried to run. And I discovered something else about myself: I’m an impatient bastard.

I want to be in shape NOW. I want to run fast and long NOW. So I started up on the treadmill a couple months ago and instantly set it for a 12 minute mile.

I did that a few times the first week. At the end of the run I was gasping for breath. And my shin splits started to nag me again.

It was a conversation with my doctor that made me see the light. I said, “I can’t run like I did in my twenties.” And he said, “That’s because you aren’t in your twenties.”

Well duh. Obvious, now that someone said it.

So how do I run at my age? Slowly. Building up gradually. I went back to step one. I used my treadmill’s programmed functions to run a slower pace.

I started running at a slow pace for 12 minutes. Just enough to sweat, but not so much that I was winded.

And it’s working. In the last few weeks I’ve worked up to running 1.5 miles in a little under 20 minutes. Still not so fast that I’m gasping like a fish out of water, nor too stressful that my shins are protesting.

Plus I’m doing various lower leg stretches and using a yoga roller tube thingie.

I just have to be patient, no matter how much I’m chafing at the bit to set a personal best in time or distance.

One step at a time, as they say.

I just have to remember to go slow and easy and with time, I’ll improve.

I’m running again and that makes me happy.

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Run Ed Run Part 1

Back in 2007, I bought a pair of running shoes. Brooks Beast I think they were. I still have them, but I never used them for running, despite my best intentions. They became walking and everyday shoes, which seems like an awful waste of money since they were top of the line, around $130 at the time, with all the lateral support an overpronator like me needed.

The problem was two-fold. I was overweight by a lot and I had shin splints.

I’ve always been a runner. A casual runner. As a kid I loved to run. Growing up, I was the fastest on the block and on the playground. I remember the girl down the block, when were were in middle school, challenged me to a race. I forgot what I was supposed to do if I lost, but she said if she lost, she’d kiss me. To be honest, I’m not sure if I won outright or if Linda lost on purpose just so she could kiss me.

I used to brag that in high school I teased the kids on the track team because even they couldn’t catch me, but I think I made that up. I only teased the football players.

But I never ran in organized competition. I wish someone had encouraged me to back then. Running and swimming were my two best recreational sports, but my parents never pushed me to participate in athletics.

My mom wasn’t a sports mom and my dad probably gave up after I showed I had no aptitude for baseball. My defining moment came in the outfield when someone hit a ball to me and I was sitting on the ground reading a Bazooka Joe comic from my gum wrapper. The ball rolled by and my dad never spoke of sports to me again.

I was in my twenties when I started running more seriously. I ran on the road. I ran at my college’s indoor running track. I ran fast. I ran for distance. At one point, I managed a mile in 5:30. Not bad for a two pack a day smoker.

In distance, I was running 12 plus miles a day. I tried to eat right. I read and subscribed to every running magazine.  I even read The short story, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,” by Alan Sillitoe (I wonder if that was a pseudonym? Sillitoe, writing about running?). Jim Fixx, despite his untimely death, was my hero.

Yes, I was a runner.

And then, shin splints. I tried to run through the pain, it did go away after about 3 or 4 miles, but it hurt the rest of the time and I barely had the strength to walk up stairs.

So I quit running. I tried biking. That was OK, but it’s more dangerous in winter and it just didn’t give me the same endorphin rush.

Then my thyroid went wonky. I gained so much weight and was so puffy, I looked like the Michelin Man before my doctor finally diagnosed it.

And the weight has been slow to come off.

I’ve tried running a few times since I quit, but the shin splints kept coming back and because of my weight, I didn’t have the wind any more for.

So I thought running was gone from my life. But then, last year, we bought a treadmill. I had so many plans for that! Yeah, I was going to get back into running, lose weight, and yeah! I bought myself a new pair of running shoes: Asics Cumulus 16. I had plans!

Yeah. The treadmill gathered dust for almost a year, as did the shoes. I refused to wear them for any reason but running. To put them on and go outside to the mall, well, that would be admitting defeat, wouldn’t it?

And I didn’t want to admit defeat.

So the treadmill languished. The running shoes silently mocked me on the floor by my dresser.

And then…

(to be continued)

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