A Public Shaming

I’ve joked about weight loss and my lack of conditioning for years. Lots of self-deprecating comments about being weaker than a kitten, squishy around the middle,walle wheezing like a two pack a day smoker walking up stairs… In my head I was joking, but I was never really concerned because I just knew that a couple of afternoons in the gym and I’d be back in race shape. It’s not that hard, I just need to put my mind to it.

I have cleaned out the fridge and cupboards multiple times the last six months because starting tomorrow I’m eating “clean”. I’ve subscribed to Blue Apron and Cook Smarts. I religiously read several paleo web sites. I have the bible for body mechanics and movement, Supple Leopard, on my desk. I just recently purchased a Soda Stream so I’ll drink more water rather than buying crap at the store. I’ve read Jocko Willink’s book and subscribe to his daily 4:30 am discipline tweets. I have a fully outfitted gym in my garage. I have zero excuses.

I have a stack of jeans in my closet that I don’t want to throw away because I know I’ll fit in them again shortly. I wear the same three things over and over because I hate how everything else looks on me… but I’m not about to go buy clothes because I’m loosing weight any day now and that would be a waste of money. I spend way too much time researching stationary trainers, the Peloton Bike ($2k, seriously?), the Woodway Curve treadmill ($7k, WTF?). Last year I signed up for a bike race but never showed up because I was forced to admit I probably wouldn’t be able to finish. I wrote the other day about catching sight of myself on video and being horrified. Clearly that wasn’t enough to prompt me to do anything about it.

Yesterday, reality hit hard. I went skiing for the first time this season (it’s been a really bad snow year). I know I haven’t done much exercise for, uhm, a while, but that’s never really stopped me before. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to do as many runs as normal and I’d be a bit sore then next day, but otherwise no big deal.

Late in the day I took a silly little tumble on an awkward slope. No problemo. Went to get up and… my quads weren’t strong enough to stand up. I literally did not have the strength to stand. I sat in the snow and contemplated taking off my skis so I could get on my knees, when my nephew skied up and asked if I was ok. I said of course I was and wrenched myself up in a heroic effort. I managed one more run and that was it. I’d clearly strained my back and knew it.

This morning I’m sitting here with plenty of ibuprofen, a heating pad, and feeling sorry for myself. How in the world did I manage to let age get the best of me like this? How sad that I’ve lost so much strength I couldn’t even bleeping stand up? I’ve seriously claimed how ridiculous it was that someone would let themselves go like that (in my inside voice). Karma baby. One of my greatest fears would be to end up on my own hospital floor. Having my coworkers help me on a bedpan because I didn’t take care of my back is not an option. I’d fly to one of those surgery centers in India before that happens.

I hope this was the last straw. I know what to do and I have the tools to do it. I’ve done it before. I was in amazing shape (ok, maybe not amazing but pretty good) four years ago. Can I do it again? It takes an average of 66 days to create a habit. Why is it so mentally hard to break the cycle of eating and sloth? Isn’t there a pill I can just take instead?

I’ve already committed to more skiing, cross country skiing, mountain biking, and a river trip this year. If I continue down my current trajectory I’ll have to bail on all of it. I don’t want that. You have my permission to publicly shame me. Call me out on my diet. Ask if I’ve worked out. Tell me I look squishier than usual.

If pain and public shaming don’t work, I’m doomed. I contemplated posting the “before” bathing suit picture so I’d have daily motivation to change. Rest easy, the Facebook (or my ego) isn’t quite ready for such a shocking image – one that you couldn’t unsee. This morning I officially weigh 203.6 lbs (after pooping of course). I was 176 four years ago. That’s a lot of cake and nachos. Let’s see what happens.

Milton Waddams:  “The ratio of people to cake is too big”


Skin In The Game

Common sense says I shouldn’t do this, but as a registered contrarian I can’t help myself. The school shooting the other day has sparked plenty of emotion, and for good reason. It’s hard to fathom such evil striking with such randomness. I can’t picture what I would feel finding out a loved one or friend was taken for no reason.

In the heat of such emotion it’s understandable to lash out and want to take action. And it’s always easy to take action against something when you have no skin in the game. As Jules says in Pulp Fiction, “well, allow me to retort”.

Starting at age 16 (or younger) we operate motor vehicles that weigh more than 3,000 pounds, often driving them 30-40 miles an hour in town mere feet away from  accidentpedestrians. We hurtle 70-80 miles an hour on the freeways. These monstrosities kill 37,000+ people a year. That’s 100 PEOPLE A DAY being killed. An average of 2000 of those are children. There are about 5.4 million vehicle accidents per year. Records estimate that there have been 3.6 million vehicle fatalities in the US since the advent of the automobile. Motor vehicle accidents are estimated to cost the US $100 billion a year.

Despite training, licensing, and testing, we continue to murder our fellow citizens. We drive drunk. We text and talk on the phone while driving. We drive too fast for conditions. Common sense says that if we have something that’s killing 100 people a day, shouldn’t we be marching on our state capitals and demanding our legislators take action? What sort of monster doesn’t care about 2,000 children a year being needlessly killed? Where are all the Facebook memes?

It would be appropriate to lower the speed limits to 15-20 mph on any city road. No more than 40 mph on freeways. Require annual requalification and background checks. Massively increase registration fees to pay for statewide safety measures. Caught with a phone that’s turned on should require jail time. A DUI means permanent loss of driving privileges. All vehicles must be retrofitted with breathalyzer devices in order to start. Increase the driving age to 21.

There would be a massive uproar across this nation if any of that were proposed. Why? Because it would personally impact your life. It’s easy to be judgmental when the actions you want won’t effect you. *

There are 300+ million guns in this country. As much as you may like to, you cannot put that genie back in the bottle. Virtually every criminal shooting is done with guns acquired outside the system. As in, they didn’t follow the laws and regulations. Shocking, I know. All the laws and regulations that get proposed after each mass shooting would not have prevented any of them from happening. Why? They either got their guns illegally, the system failed massively (as was with this latest one), or there were huge mental health red flags that were either missed or resources weren’t available.

I don’t know what the answer is. You could send the military to every home in the country to search and seize all guns, but I have a sneaking suspicion that wouldn’t go so well. We could choose to stop spending trillions overseas on silly wars and devote some of that money to mental health services in this country. And to ensure that the existing laws and systems and agencies we already have actually do their job. Or we can choose to let the Tide Pod eating generation drive legislation that only impacts normal law abiding folks.

It’s not an easy issue. Guns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and I get that. But don’t get caught up in the sensationalism that is modern media. Because if you’re not fired up about 100 PEOPLE A DAY being killed by vehicles… aren’t you being just a tad hypocritical? (and I know you wouldn’t knowingly watch a movie or TV show that sensationalized guns, right?) You have every right to do what’s right for you and yours, and if guns aren’t for you I respect that. I choose to have the option to protect my family when the flesh eating zombie apocalypse comes.

* I spent at least twenty minutes trying to figure affect vs. effect. I’m still not sure in this context. Grammar is not my strong suite. I’m comma-happy and I know it.


Why I Fear AI

You’ve seen Terminator. War Games. 2001. iRobot. Westworld. It’s all over the news. AI is coming and you should be frightened. I know I am. Not of super learning machines that will take over the world and destroy humankind with plasma energy waves that will destroy all organic matter. No, I’m frightened that I may go postal one day after dealing with aggravating user interfaces. wopr

Take YouTube. I’ve been watching too much of it lately and I’ve noticed you need to be very careful about what you watch. This morning a recommended video popped up about how a tankless water heater works. Thinking that might be interesting I clicked on it. About a minute in (my average attention span) I decided life was too short to keep learning about water heaters. Go back and refresh my YouTube home page and… Boom! Approximately 37 recommended channels of home building, plumbing, and do it yourself videos. Thank god I didn’t click on the figure skating video.

Seriously, we’re not smart enough yet to do some sort of statistical averaging in our recommendation engines yet? Same with most ad engines these days. One innocent search forchia the latest innovations in chia pets and you’ll get some seriously odd ads served up for the next month.

And don’t get me started on the Facebook’s drunken monkey top post/most recent sort methodology. Silly me thinking most recent meant everything in chronological order. Or the Outlook mobile app deciding that I no longer need to see a month at a time on my calendar. Three days should be enough for any man. Or WordPress and/or Facebook randomly deciding what picture to display on a post. I’ll have three or four images in a post and Facebook seemingly randomly decides which one to pick to display.

No, I’m not worried that AI will destroy mankind. I’m worried that society will suddenly abandon badly crafted software, causing massive portions of the tech world to collapse. The economy will implode and hoards of unemployed tech workers will wander the streets with no discernable life skills. The craft coffee industry will die, the Tesla market will dry up, and millions of hipster skinny jeans will end up in the landfill.

Ok, that may be a bit pessimistic. Maybe Netflix will finally figure out how recommend movies based on something other than genre. Maybe Google maps will figure out how to make their walking directions useful. I’m pretty sure giant media organizations and massive corporations won’t be influencing the content we consume any time soon. It’s not like we’re going to have automated bots infiltrating social media. Oh, wait…


I May Have Restarted Winter

Much of the US is currently experiencing what experts like to call “winter”. Cold temperatures, wind, and frozen precipitation known as “snow”. Much of the northern hemisphere is engulfed in this same phenomenon. The 2018 Olympics may go down as the coldest on record. Here in the west we have not seen this same weather pgisstriattern. Locally we saw one snowstorm on Christmas day… and nothing since. After writing this, I’m preparing to go play golf. In FEBURARY. I may or may not wear shorts.

I am a little worried that I may have inadvertently restarted winter though. Yesterday I washed and cleaned the truck and we all know what happens when you wash the car. I also took my mountain bike in to the shop. I went for a ride the other day (in FEBURARY) and had a minor issue with the front brakes rubbing.

The bro at the shop seemed like a good guy. He had all the lingo down. “Hey bruther, how ya doing?” “Ah, that’s just righteous dude!” “Oh, such a buzzkill when you can’t get your flow on.” I think I understood most of it. He seemed genuinely sad for me that my ride wasn’t working. He put my bike up on the stand and starting giving it the once over. Like a doctor doing a proctology exam he pushed and measured, occasionally shaking his head and muttering to himself. Finally he looked up with sad puppy dog eyes and said, “bro, you’ve got some stuff we need to take care of”.

I am such a sucker. You do not want me negotiating anything for you. Apparently I have issues with my forks, fork seals, drive train, pistons, pads, badly designed first generation brakes, chain stretch… my eyes glazed over at that point. My aggressive, no nonsense response was “uhm, ok”.

I suspect the only original thing I’ll get back is my seat. The shop called shortly after I got home and said they’d have to order parts. It’ll be next week before it’s ready. Did I want to take advantage of the 12 month no interest financing plan?

Wait a week to hit the trails again? No problem. Check the weather to ensure we can still ride and… cold and active weather pattern is developing for next week.

If you’re not a fan of winter, I’m sorry. I may have jinxed this early spring for you. I guess I’ll get the ski gear ready to go. Will probably have to take stuff in to the shop for a tune up. Wonder how much that will cost me?

The Problem With Mirrors

So, I installed security cameras outside the house the other day. The cameras have revealed two very interesting details. The neighborhood I live in has alleys with our garages in the back. The first detail that shocked me was the amount ofcatfreeway activity that goes on in the alley at night. People walking back and forth, cars driving by. And cats. Oh my god, the cats. My driveway is like a regular cat freeway at night.

I’m not sure what to think about this. On one hand I’m ready to put concertina wire, moats, and laser firing automated robots around the property. On the other hand this has clearly been going on for the last six years and I had no idea. Ignorance is bliss I guess.

The other detail that horrified me was catching sight of myself walking around. For the love ohunchbackf god I’m a hunchbacked, potbellied, splay-footed troll. Why didn’t anyone tell me just how bad my physical condition has gotten? The problem is that when you don’t like what you see, it’s very easy to avoid mirrors. I glance in them just long enough to ensure something awful isn’t hanging out of my nose and that appropriate zippers are zipped. Clearly I haven’t been gazing into the mirror much the last few years.

Nothing like a dose of reality to force resolutions to happen. Eating clean starts right now. Ok maybe not now, it is super bowl weekend. Monday. Monday for sure. For the perimeter defenses, I’m not sure what to do yet. I’m thinking motion triggered tear gas rounds and blaring Justin Bieber music. Ok, maybe not the last part. A judge may find that too harsh.

Oh, and if you see me hunching over please tell me to stand up straight.


You’re A Whiny Little B*tch

Something happened the other day that perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with politics, government, and the media today. The president may or may not have said something that called into question the general favorability ratings of a few countries. Whether or not his views mirror Haiti’s TripAdvisor reviews is not my concern. What got me thinking was the sequence of events.

A group of senators had a private meeting with the president. A sitting senator left the meeting and then immediately called someone at the Washington Post and tattled that he’d heard the president say something controversial. This was done for no other reasons than to sabotage the purpose of the meeting, to personally harm the president, and to score points for your own party.

In my book this makes you a whiny little bitch. A snitch. That one annoying kid in grade school who raised their hand near the end of class and said “Mrs Smith, you forgot you were going to give us a quiz.”

This is the perfect illustration that allegiance to party and elections rule everything.  Our elected officials don’t care in the slightest bit about policy – they care about scoring points against the other party at all costs so they can raise more money and stay in office. Don’t get me wrong, this is not unique to one side of the aisle. Both parties are guilty.

What bothers me the most about all this is that the fourth estate and journalism is used to be a buffer of sorts against this. There were standards of tabloid sensationalism most true journalists wouldn’t resort to. Now the media is used daily like a weapon. Because page views and ad sales rule all, “reporters” will print anything they think will score them a few more views and a thirty second appearance on a talking head show. There must be a 1-800 number folks utilize to leak. Press 1 to leak info about the president. Press 2 to leak independent council investigations.

I don’t think it’s possible any longer for our government to implement actual thoughtful policy. How do you privately meet and discuss something when every single word uttered will show up on a CNN breaking news crawl two hours later? We’ve become a nation of political parties that are nothing more than battling social media departments, each vying for the approximately 60 seconds of attention span Americans have.

That kid that constantly reminded the teacher there was a homework assignment due? Nobody liked that kid. Now we elect them to public office.


Charlotte: I’m going to tell mom on you.

Pete:  Try it. See what you get for Christmas. Nothing. Snitches end up in ditches. Remember that.



I’ve decided to completely unplug. To stop feeding the evil corporations and their bottom lines. To no longer be a pawn to the latest must-have advertising push. I am officially no longer carrying a cell phone. Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last!

No? Ok, so in reality the laws of physics got me. A weight which shall not be mentioned, traveling at a velocity of v * some meters per second²… or was it divided by? At any rate, it was a large amount of force hitting the ground. My cell phone, in my back pocket, was the unlucky buffer for that force. Physics always wins. Energy has to go somewhere.

Rest in peace Samsung S6. You served well. Enjoy the eternal nap.

Cool! Mourning period over. A new phone, what should I get!?!?

Paradoxically, for a former tech guy I’m not very into “tech”. Clearly evidenced by a cell phone multi-generations behind. I didn’t think that I was that reliant upon a phone. I despise talking on the thing. I’ve purchased exactly one app in my life. I would have told you that I don’t need a phone right away.

It’s not until it’s gone that you realize just how dependent upon these things we are. It’s how I communicate with the outside world. I use it daily for work – communication, setting timers, the flashlight, looking up reference material, and the translator (why oh why didn’t I take Spanish in high school?). I didn’t realize how often I was checking the social webs. I can’t take pictures. It has my stored notes for music I’ll never download and books I’ll forget to read. It has my (free) list making app that I’ve used exactly once. It’s my alarm clock and nighttime bedside clock. Calendars, maps, contacts, the entirety of human knowledge instantly available at all times.

And now I’m without. I actually felt briefly vulnerable driving. What if something happened? What if I broke down? How would I get help? What if I went to the store and couldn’t remember if we had milk – how would I contact Mrs Troutdog? Do I buy a gallon and potentially end up wasting it? Do I skip the cow juice and risk a second trip?

* side note, we purchase milk EVERY single time we go to the store. We do not drink milk. We don’t put it in coffee. We don’t cook with it. We don’t eat cereal. It sits in fridge, quietly going bad, week in and week out. When it goes bad, we dutifully buy a new one. I don’t understand our compulsion to buy milk.

Anyway, I lost track of my point. I’m a little frightened at how dependent we are on these ridiculously expensive devices and how it happened in such a short period of time. It’s only been around about ten years in its modern form. Suddenly we’re all chained to a life long service contract.

Meanwhile I’ll be in a dark hole for two more days. Out of contact. Unable to summon help. Unable to snap that picture of bigfoot or a UFO. A barren, lonely existence, indeed.

* Google Pixel 2 XL is the replacement for those interested.