Old age… pisshawww! Back in my early 40′s some sort of strange biological clock ticked over and the species over-mind decided I had outlived by biological usefulness. It immediately slowed my metabolism down to a crawl and somehow forgot to tell me about it. So I started to add mass at an infinitesimal but all too relentless rate. Fast-forward a decade later and I’m tilting the scale at 235 pounds — an amount that would be astonishing to those who knew me as a young, skinny-as-a-rail, long-haired freak.
I made a few half-hearted attempts to lose weight every few years or so. Most of these attempts were short lived. One of my more successful attempts was with the Atkins diet where I was able to get from 220 down to about 190. But it was very difficult to keep that up. The weight piled back on in short order.
I had often heard people say (usually skinny people, I noticed) that weight loss was a simple matter of calories consumed versus calories spent. My repast was this: “My, what a simple world we live in where it all boils down to first grade arithmetic. The human metabolic processes are far more complicated that that statement implies”, I would say authoritatively. And, of course, I was right.
But I have learned that those skinny poindexters spouting this trite little formula about calories-in/calories-out — they are also right. And ultimately they are more right than I was; myself hopelessly mired in the complexity of it all. Regardless of the complexities of metabolism, if you do not consume enough calories to fuel your activity then your stored fuel (i.e. fat) must be consumed. There is no other alternative — that’s the metabolic bottom line.
Since my 54th birthday in July, I have been keeping a daily log of all my food intake and have started walking about 10 miles a week for exercise. My goal was simple — lose 1 pound a week until I reach my goal weight. Achieving my goal weight involved losing 25% of my then-current mass and I suspected that it would take me a little over a year to accomplish this. So roughly 20 weeks later I find myself a bit over 20 pounds lighter than when I started. Hallelujah! I’m feeling much stronger and can see real performance improvements in my legs. And as for Bo, my Great Dane, I’m seeing some real muscle definition there on the big fella – an unexpected side benefit.
I have heard that you need to keep changing the game slightly as you go along to keep the weight loss momentum going. I have started replacing several meals throughout the week with high protein/high fiber milk shakes. And next week I hope to get some guidance from my friend Wanda in starting up a strength training program to supplement my walks. I am sure that the next 20 pounds will be a bit tougher that this first 20. So I am hoping that by taking these preemptive measures I can sail through with flying colors.
There are several great (and free!) web sites that can help you track your calories, exercise and progress. I started out using Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong site which is tremendous resource. I still refer back to that site on occasion when I’m searching for information or (especially) inspiration. Alas, LiveStrong does not offer a client for my Android phone yet. So I switched to another great site named MyFitnessPAL which had support for my ‘Droid and offered similar database functionality. You will also find plenty of supportive friends on MyFitnessPal when things are not going well and you need to reach out. Another Android app I use is CardioTrainer which uses the accelerometer and GPS on your phone to track your exercise. I have it set to tell me my speed, distance and calories burned every 5 minutes during my walks.
On my fitness journey I have seen some very inspiring stories. The crucial ingredient more important than all the others appears to be the resolve to keep at it — even when you fail, even when you get discouraged. Oh, that and “measure twice, eat once”!
This week we switched from Comcast 7mb Internet and DirecTV satellite TV over to AT&T’s new U-verse service – a bundle that includes TV, Internet and VOIP phone. This change should save us around $50 a month and give us a faster connection. In general, I am happy with the way things have gone thus far. We were sold the new service by a door-to-door salesman (first one I’ve seen in decades). The ordering process was lengthy but reasonably easy to understand. Installation happened a week later (I postponed on them for a few days) and went off without a hitch. In fact, the installer went beyond the call of duty and took it upon himself to clear away and tidy up the side of the building previously occupied by my hodgepodge DirecTV rat’s nest. Setup took about 3.5 hours.
The new U-Verse service does not exactly duplicate my previous service. The largest difference is in the availability of HD streaming. We have 4 HD television sets on the property and previously we could watch HD programming on all 4 simultaneously. U-verse, on the other hand, can only manage 2 HD streams at one time plus 2 SD streams. But I am discovering that stated limitation is actually just the “guaranteed service level”. It appears, at least so far, that I can have 3 HD streams without any untoward effects. I haven’t tried 4 yet. Beyond this slight drawback there are many advantages. No satellite rain-outs disrupting our TV programs. The single DVR can record 4 programs simultaneously that can be played back on any TV in the house. The Internet access (at 12 megabit) is just dazzlingly fast. I’m a very happy camper so far.
I hear that Verizon has a similar service named FioS in their telephone network territory. Unlike AT&T, they actually string fiber directly to your home. So fat pipe Internet speeds should be at least theoretically possible with that service. Unfortunately I don’t live in their service area so I will have to wait for Ma Bell to upgrade the network.
Given my experience thus far, I can heartily recommend switching to U-Verse if its available in your area. Cheaper and better, what’s not to love?
Its an inevitable part of life’s journey, I suppose, that when you’ve accumulated about 50+ years you start to see friends, family and co-workers pass permanently from your life with an ever increasing frequency. For me, it started with a high school friend who died far too prematurely in his 20′s – beaten to death in a drug deal gone bad. Then more recently with one of my closest friends during the teenage years, Mark Swenson, who died in a motorcycle accident a decade ago after a difficult life. More recently still was Dan Duerr who graciously helped us through the dual hurricanes of 2004 and was an inspiration to many.
Now its time to say farewell to my friend and boss Mark Miller – or officially Melvin C. Miller of the M. C. Miller Company. Mark’s dream was to grow the business to a point where he could throttle back a little and indulge his passion for sailboats and sailing. But as many business people know, you may own 100% of the shares of a business but the business also ends up owning you to a point also. There was always one more big project that would require his direct involvement. One more decision he felt that he couldn’t ask anyone else to make. One more employee he had to protect from the wrath of his brash, hothead VP! Without seeming to have a “driven” personality, he was a driven man and his passion was first and foremost the M. C. Miller Company. His reputation was both his sword and shield. He was “old school” — a cash flow guy rather than an investor guy.
Mark died in his sleep on June 21st. The period since has been a difficult time for me personally. Though we did not socialize outside the business to any great degree, Mark was a close friend and we worked together on many different projects. He always sought my opinion on just about any topic, business or personal. And he taught me some very important lessons about people and business over the 14 years we knew each other. Mark especially enjoyed pushing me out of my comfort zone and loved the shock and awe he could evoke in me by his sometimes anarchical behavior. Thanks, Mark… I needed that.
In his last will and testament, Mark left control of the company in a trust to the benefit of his employees. The business is going to continue forward in the directions Mark has established. Eventually each of us will be adding to this legacy in our own way and I think the company has a glorious future. Thanks Mark for trusting us with your business. We will not let you down!
At the office we are having a memorial for Mark on August 1st to mourn the passing of our friend. We seek closure but I am not sure if we can close this wound so easily. He will be missed by a great many people.
The Internet is such an interesting little place. I ran across this little blog entry ruminating on how to communicate with aliens upon first contact. Embedded in this piece is the factual golden nugget that the TV show I Love Lucy whose broadcast signals have been traveling outbound from Earth at the speed of light since they were broadcast, have reached the potential ears of 105 G-type star systems like our own. I am not sure whether I consider this a good thing or a bad thing. Hopefully they have a sense of humor. If not, they may be headed this way with advanced weapons to keep that sort of humor contained.
After my recent trip to Denver on Frontier Airlines, I’ve been reflecting on how much a difference it makes to have an extra inch of legroom in front of your airline seat. Typically I fly Delta or Continental whose jets are far less comfortable. Especially those small Brazilian jets that Continental flies to Houston from West Palm Beach. Those seats actually caused me physical injury which I would rather not describe.
There appears to be an inverse relationship with the size of the airline and the comfort of the seat. Check this article out. Midwest Airlines essentially gives you a business class seat in coach. Its a wonderful thing… and I wish I flew to Kansas City and Chicago more often. But Frontier Airlines is good, as is JetBlue. I can even say nice things about TAM, the Brazilian airline whose long haul planes are very comfortable indeed and the service is a cut well above our domestic airlines – and less expensive to boot. You will also see on the table in that article that Delta and Continental are among the worst for legroom and seat size. And recent news suggests they are both going to squeeze us further.
So if you have a choice, check out the little guys for more seat at the same price or less. And while I’m on the subject of the airlines, I just had to pay Continental a freakin $200 in addition to 60,000 frequent flier miles for the privilege of upgrading two passenger’s round trip tickets. Its seems odd that Continental thinks its a good idea to shore up their finances by draining much of the value away from the frequent flier miles their best customers have accumulated. I can’t think of anything they could have possibly done to make me feel more disgusted with them. Suffice it to say, if I’m not flying to Houston, I will not be flying Continental. Cramped seats, poor service and now thievery have put me off permanently.
What a great pleasure it was to meet with some of my very old and special friends this past week. We are talking “long acquaintance” here … high school and garage band days. My friend Jim – I think its been something like 26 years since I’ve seen him. His brother Ken, bass player for the band, and one of my favorite people of all time. Why has it been 15 years since I’ve talked to Ken? Steve is my life insurance agent (and brother to our drummer). So we manage to keep in touch. And Paul … who I’ve known since back far enough that our first meeting is lost in that grey misty area of the deep past … Paul is in my MSN Live Messenger chat list! But I bet prior to our little reunion last week it had been several years since we traded messages.
Where does the time go? Why don’t I devote real time to keeping in touch with the people who mean the most to me… those where the emotional ties run bone deep. Its definitely perverse in a way. Its that “Important, but not Urgent” category of life’s task list that is so hard to get right. Obviously, this is the reason that sites like Facebook and MySpace are the social phenomenon that they are, providing us an easy way to maintain a connection that your busy life my not otherwise offer much time for.
So Ken, still the most extraordinary cook out this collection of Village Inn Pancake House alumni, broke out the Rib Eye’s and the NY Strips, organized a baked potato bar, threw together a delicious green salad and fed us a great meal on the back porch of his house in the foothills. It was one of the most happy and interesting evenings I’ve had in many years. Thanks, guys. It was great catching up with everyone.
It was with a deep melancholy and, let’s face it, just plain ol’ Rocky Mountain home sickness, that I trudged back at the Denver airport for the trip home. And I confess that when it was looking like Frontier Airlines was going to bump me from their only flight of the day to Orlando, I wasn’t all that upset. One more day in big sky country, granite and pine… there are a lot worse places to be stranded.
Its just a perfect day in Vero Beach, a gentle breeze and uncharacteristically low humidity. Linda and I are kicking back on the pool deck, sipping pomegranate-tinis and contemplating our tropical garden swaying in the breeze. The swimming pool is ice-blue and totally algae-free. Just wear your goggles so that the chlorine doesn’t turn your eyeballs to jelly. (Who put me in charge of that anyway… heh heh).
Oh, and we are tag-team blogging, of course. Linda is on her Sony Vaio powerhouse. While I am tranquilly typing on my itsy bitsy pipsqueak G-Meso netbook.
Linda has a wonderful entry about a local house on the beach that, for a mere pittance of US$ 6.7 mil, will bring you a wonderful, additional gigantic tax bill every year. Oh, and its probably totally uninsurable. But never mind, it is totally to die (or go bankrupt) for. Check it out…
I, on the other hand, yes this is my blog entry. And its all about the economy, dammit.
First let me say that I am deeply thankful that my talents, such as they are, are deployed to the benefit of the Energy sector. There are a lot of things being devalued significantly at the moment, but Energy isn’t really one of them. Sure oil has declined from $140 to $50. But the $140 price was just lunacy and everybody knew that (or at least knows it now). Historically, $50 oil is about where is should be, possibly a wee bit higher. I’m glad I am not in banking or discretionary consumer retail. I talked to a few bankers today while negotiating at Sears for a new refrigerator. Total bureaucrats, all of them. If you are in banking presently, I suggest getting out of it pronto. Its no place for a thinking, feeling human being. And my consumer-retail salesman looked extremely anxious and hungry (and resentful of the bankers). I guess I see his point.
So the point of all this is, I am not a believer of the axiom that the recession/depression is all behind us. We still have plenty more to work through. And the so-called stimulus is nothing more than political payouts to the supporters of the current administration. There is precious little that is stimulative about it, unless you are a member of the parasitic class in the USA.
The current apparent recovery in the stock market is a head fake… there are more legs down to this stock market. For the unabashed truth about the state of our economy and the market you should definitely sign up for John Mauldin’s Frontline Thoughts weekly newsletter. He is the author of Bullseye Investing that warned long ago that future stock market returns were going to be (ahem) a bit below normal. After listening to all the rest, he is the only one I am listening to now. I expect that this rally will become weaker and weaker over the next few weeks and during that time I will be moving my current 50% cash position to about 75%. The remaining 25% will be invested in anticipation of a weakening dollar vis-a-vis real goods (i.e.inflation). Investing in inflation while the country is grappling with deflation seems stupid. But I expect these massive sums of money currently being created by the government will actually work as designed. They will inflate at full throttle until deflation is no longer a concern. Our national debt will balloon to gigantic proportions and our currency will suffer big time for it. Social Security surpluses will be a thing of the past this year or next, about a decade sooner than forecast. This is going to get ugly, folks – especially for debtors. Pay down what you can. Save, hedge… be smart.
I like Palladium, Natural Gas and Silver… in that order. I hate teen-focused retail, the banks and the autos.
But then again, I hear a couple of egret’s playing in the canal that runs next to our house. The sun is shining, the banana tree’s are swaying, and I can’t imagine life being any better. We will endure… we will endure…
The title “Rich functionality underlies Simple Presentation” is perhaps the highest compliment I can pay a piece of software. Achieving this should be the holy grail of software development. Sometimes the presentation is simple but the functionality is also very limited. Other times the functionality is very rich but the user interface is also extraordinarily complicated (and yes, I am guilty as charged here). Once in awhile you come across an application that manages to provide a simple presentation for a rich feature-set lying just below the surface. Its the type of application that is instantly recognizable to the user and can be put to good use without much if any instruction.
Remember the Milk is just such an application. Its a task list manager – an application that almost all of us have used at some time or another. Make a list, check off the tasks as you complete them, rinse and repeat. Simple… and RTM can be used in exactly this way. But for those desiring more, there’s plenty of horsepower under the hood here. Do you need to prioritize? Just select some tasks and press 1, 2 or 3. Do you want to keep track of a due date? Just select a task and enter “2 weeks from Friday” in its “Due” field. Do you want to establish tags for searching? No problem. Recurring tasks? Enter “20th of each month” into the “Repeat” field. Do you need reminders sent to your cell phone? Suffice it to say this is a task list on steriods.
But oh so simple and accessible. The thing I like the most is the natural language approach to the setting of due dates and establishing repetition. This is a sweet bit of code. In my pipeline integrity application “ProActive”, establishing these data items is much less convenient — i.e. a cumbersome calendar control or, for repetition, a combination or 3 or more controls. Take a lesson, Ron, sheesh.
RTM offers a free version to get you started. However, the “Pro” version is only $25 a year. Well worth the price if just to insure that these guys keep churning out the great software.