Category Archives: Personal Living

O-Liminator

Good customer service is aways rarer than you’d like, so sometimes I like to recognize it when it happens. The other week I bought a product called “O-liminator,” designed to keep your shoes smelling oh-so-fresh. I’ve been working out a lot recently and needed something for my running shoes.

You put a little sachet filled with pellets in each shoe which absorbs moisture and emits a pleasant, clean-smelling odor. Pretty basic, but pretty cool if it actually works. And these little guys have worked very well so far.

Unfortunately, one of the little packets came open, and I couldn’t use it anymore. Today I called the customer service line listed on the package and described what happened. A live voice picked up after a couple rings and politely asked how he could help, then listened to my explanation and my request for a replacement product. I half wondered if I was talking to to the owner of the company, such was the demeanor of the man on the other end of the line. He was curious about what happened, explained that very rarely that does happen, and took my mailing information to send me a new set of O-liminators, which he assured me would arrive next week. He thanked me for calling.

Even though one of the packets came apart in the first set, I liked how they worked well enough to buy a second set only a few days ago. They’re a bit expensive (I paid around ten bucks for one pair), but I think they’ll extend the life of my shoes, not to mention make them smell a lot better! The customer service today has given me a good impression of the company, one that is proud to stand behind their product.

Cheers.

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Filed under Just For Fun, Personal Living

Information overlaod

My mom has always been one to clip newspaper articles and set them aside until everybody she thinks would – or should – be interested has had a chance to read them. This started at the dinner table growing up and continues to present day. When visiting Lincoln, Nebraska this weekend I happened upon a small stack of such clippings. My curiosity got the better of me and I dug into the stack to see what was to be found.

At least one article dated back to April 2, 2009. That was when Kathleen Parker humorously lamented information overload, both its risks and results.  (Ironic that my mom clipped this particular article, isn’t it?).  Parker notes that we suffer from chronic TMI, or too much information, at an individual and societal level. We’re distracting ourselves to death and need to “turn off, tune out and drop in.”

The columnist wasn’t the first to make that case and won’t be the last. This is a discussion that will continue to develop as the volume of information and the technologies that deliver it continue to multiply. The scenario applies not only in our personal consumption of daily news or social input, for example, but also in scholarly research. There’s simply so much out there that it’s becoming impossible to wade through it all, and locating and identifying what is most relevant or of the highest quality becomes a challenge in and of itself.

Establishing efficient ways to do that is one of the most important challenges facing the world’s great information entrepreneurs today. We each do that in our own way on a small scale, and simply “turning off, tuning out and dropping in” is a vital part of that.

Note: I couldn’t find a link to the article,” Perhaps information overload is the real crisis,” though here is a link to Parker’s more recent columns.

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Glenn Beck may lose sight

Television and radio commentator Glenn Beck tells a live dinner audience that he may lose his vision, after having been diagnosed with macular dystrophy. From Politics Daily, via the Drudge Report (see the 6:30 mark).

Things like this are always powerful reminders of our mortality. Love him  or hate him, Beck has enjoyed tremendous success recently. Yet, he too will pass away – is passing away. Fading. Soon he literally may not even be able to see the things of this world.

Each and every one of us is in an unstoppable state of decay. Even our greatest successes will not save us. How then, shall we live?

We ought to live for eternity, and in the present, we ought to live with an eternal perspective. May we have the wisdom and strength to do so.

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Filed under Personal Living, Philosophy and Ethics

Do we live with passion?

My freshman or sophomore year of college at the University of Indianapolis, I took an intro level philosophy course. We had a great professor in Rev. Dr. Lang Brownlee, whose wise and friendly spirit I still remember. One day, Professor Brownlee told us that upon a man’s death, the ancient Greeks would ask one question: “Did he live with passion?”

The echo of that question has haunted man through the ages. Passion is within our hearts, and it is up to us to choose whether we will let loose that passion, and if so, to what end. If we know passion, then we know life. If we do not know passion, we do not know life.

If we live life beautifully, then our lives are a testimony to that which we believe in. Ultimately, there is one most beautiful thing in which and in whom to believe, and that is love, and the divine author of love.

This is not a religious blog and I am not a preacher – I’m quite sure the world does not need more “religion” and “preaching,”or that I would be fit to present such things if it did. However, exploring and experiencing the nature of truth, love and passion has consumed me as of late. These things are not only beautiful, but enable one to see the beauty – or tragedy – of all things, both near and far, in past, present and future.

P.S. Here’s a song I’ve been listening to recently. It’s called “Love Is Gonna Break Through,” by Chris Rice. Here are the lyrics, from his website. You can buy the song on iTunes or purchase the album on Amazon.com, or at a Barnes and Noble or from another other retail music seller. It is a powerful song about love. (Hint: It’s gonna break through!)

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Accomplishing Goals

After 400 meters swimming, 14 miles biking and 3.1 miles running, the finish line!

This morning, I competed in The Trizou Triathlon in Columbia, Missouri. As a sprint-triathlon event, participants swim 400 meters, bike 14 miles and run five kilometers, or 3.1 miles. My only goal was to finish, and my only strategy was to pace myself!

As it turns out, this was a pretty good approach to take. I felt good the whole time, and had a blast doing it. If you read my healthy living tips a while back, you know that I’ve been in the process of getting back in shape over the last several months. Today’s test of physical fitness may have marked the end of the beginning of my venture into a new and better lifestyle, and the beginning of a new normal in terms of competitive activity level and overall health and wellness.

The picture above is as I’m approaching the finish line.  My total time was 1 hour, 44 minutes, 1 second – good enough for 543rd place out of a mere 666 participants! (The winner competed the course in a smoking 58 minutes, 2 seconds.) I definitely could have shaved some time off that but as my first event, I didn’t worry about trying to make my best time, just stay strong and steady.

I’ve got a few more pics to post soon. For the moment I just wanted to get this up here and say I’ll definitely be doing more events like this in the future! The competitive atmosphere was a thrill today, and it was inspiring and motivating not only to compete and complete, but to watch others do the same.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous, Personal Living, Sports

Sixteen Simple Tips for Healthier Living

Recently I’ve started to look and feel better than I have in a long time. That’s because over the course of four short months, I’ve lost nearly forty pounds.

When I graduated high school ten years ago, I wrestled at the 171 pound weight class for the Pembroke Hill Raiders; during the off-season I probably hovered at a healthy 180. Sometime in the last year or so, I hit an all time high of about 230. It was well time to act.

Since the new year, I’ve done exactly that, and met with success. I’ve had a number of people notice (which is always nice), and I know I’m also not the only one who has wanted to slim down in order to look and feel better. So, I’ve decided to share with you a few tips I picked up along the way that really made a difference for me, and perhaps could for you, too. Here goes:

  • There are all kinds of programs out there, from fad diets to elaborate workout schemes. In the end, remember that it’s pretty simple. It’s all about diet and exercise. If you’re just getting started, you really don’t need to think about a whole lot more than those two simple words.
  • Invert your daily meal-size pyramid. I don’t mean your food groups, but the actual volume of food you eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many people grab a tiny breakfast (if they eat anything at all), a decent sized lunch and then chow down on a big dinner. That’s all wrong. Start eating a big breakfast, a decent sized lunch, and a relatively modest dinner. You’ll feel great in the mornings, with the energy you need to focus and feel good, and your appetite won’t attack you throughout the day. Then, just keep things in check at lunch and dinner.
  • Eat real food. Think natural. Minimally processed. Fresh. Preferably organic and local. When I say “real food” I mean an orange that grew on a tree and that you can hold in your hand. As opposed to a glass of Tang. You get the idea. Or a cut of steak to throw on the grill, as opposed to a fast burger that probably has pieces of hundreds of different cows and who knows what else, plus a gooey coating of processed cheese. Ick.
  • Think variety. Try new fruits and veggies (I bet there’s a lot out there you haven’t even heard of). Try cooking new dishes at home. Variety is the spice of life, and it will keep you interested in your food. It also means that you’ll be well on your way to getting the balanced mix of nutrients you need to thrive.
  • Eat smaller meals, and a healthy snack here and there. This means smaller meals in general – stick with a big breakfast relative to your lunch and dinner. You may even want to start using smaller plates and smaller silverware (use the smaller fork if you have two kinds, and ditto with the regular spoon over the soup spoon) – this will help with portion control, and keeping things in perspective. Americans tend to eat a lot, and that’s been reflected (and aided by) dishes that have grown in size over the last several decades. The last time I got a dish at a chain-style sit-down restaurant, I swore it was a platter large enough to feed a small family. We don’t need that.
  • Drink water. ‘Nuff said.
  • Don’t be legalistic. Enjoy your favorite treat once in a while. I ate a candy bar last night, and I didn’t feel guilty about it (okay, well I mean I only felt very slightly guilty about it, and only because I ate the whole thing instead of the half I was planning on!).
  • Everything in moderation. Your portions, your everything. Oscar Wilde once said “everything in moderation – including moderation.” That’s quite true. And the quote of course applies to the rule right above. You can’t take this stuff overboard or you’ll crash and burn.
  • Coffee is a great pick me up. (You knew that). But did you know it only has between 2-5 calories per cup? That’s only if it’s the real stuff and nothing else. So drink it black, or with a shot of skim milk if you must. And again, in moderation. With coffee, you’ve got to use it, not abuse it.
  • Stop drinking soda. Period, end of sentence. For a fizzy substitute, try Izze. Or mix some fresh orange juice with club soda or tonic water. If you must have a soda at some point, have a small one, and very rarely, and savor it when you do. Because at some point you’ll give it up. Also, drink it through a straw (and it’s probably better to drink the diet versions). It’s better for your teeth, you’ll drink slower (and thus perhaps less), and you’ll look more civilized in the process (plus it’s safer if you’re driving, because you won’t tilt your head back for the last several sips).
  • Get in touch with your body, whether through yoga, pilates, therapeutic massage, meditation, or some other mind-body activity. No, I haven’t gone all New Age on you. But you need to get a sense of connectedness between these two elements of your existence.
  • Start stretching more. A variety of stretching poses, held for longer periods of time, and done more often. Stretch in the morning and at night. Stretch before AND after workouts. Stretch whenever else you feel like it.
  • Stop eating fast food. Again, this pretty much says it all, and if you’re serious about wanting to lose weight for any reason, then you shouldn’t argue with this one. There are very few redeeming choices at fast food restaurants. Much of it is high-fat, high-calorie garbage that will drain you in ways you don’t even know. I won’t say that I’ve had zero fast food in 2010, but I will say that I have dramatically reduced my fast food intake.
  • Get good sleep. Your body needs it to run smoothly (and I presume to keep your metabolism up). Plus, every hour you’re sleeping is an hour you’re not eating:)
  • Get active. Work out at least several times a week. You can follow a program like “Body for Life,” but you don’t have to. To make it fun, join a recreational sports league, find a pick-up game at the gym, or a partner to work out with.

These are my tips. They are yours for free.

Much of what I said is tried and true wisdom that you probably knew. “Diet and Exercise,” for example. Additionally, I have learned a few things from the movie Food, Inc. (which is not to say I endorse its every political and economic premise) and also from a short and lively book by the title of Food Rules, by Michael Pollan. Somewhere in my list there are probably embedded some kernels of truth that I was pointed to by these works, though I have not made any conscious effort to directly incorporate their ideas here.

There is obviously so much more I have yet to learn, but this is what I know at the moment, which I believe makes sense and could be productive for just about anyone. If you are wishing to lose weight, or just become healthier and more energetic, I bid you the best, and don’t hesitate to contact me for advice or to kick around a new idea.

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Filed under Personal Living

Alive

and well. This weekend I went to LA to see my sister get married. Then, a couple stacked days of school. I miss blogging daily.  Need to get back to it. Here’s a preview of my next post, to publish later tonight:

I’ve lost 40 pounds in 4 months. How did I do it? Diet and exercise, naturally. A lot of people complimented my new appearance and some asked how I accomplished my goals. I’ve sketched out on paper a few very basic guidelines and practical bits of wisdom that enabled me to shed the weight and start looking and feeling better. If you don’t have any problems in this area of life, you may still find some of what I’ll share to be interesting. For those who would like to slim down a bit, then hopefully this post may be of some service.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Oh yeah, and I’ll try to post some “before and after” pics!

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Filed under Just For Fun, Personal Living, Principally Political