Sunday, August 31, 2008

More thoughts on the olympics

After I my last post on the Olympics, I had this thought that I should do a follow up post. I really didn't think of it before, but it came to me; what are the changes in your life that you need to make to make your personal Olympic event a priority in your life? I want to spend more time serving people, but oddly, people don't come begging for service. So I think I need to overcome this whole awkwardness that comes with going out of my comfort zone and serving. Why is it so difficult to do nice things for others? It doesn't make sense. I know that I want to do it, and I would think that other people would want me to do it for them. But then there's this whole idea of 'what will it mean?'

Here's how it works. I'm riding home and I see someone sitting along the side of the road with a broken down car. If it's a women I wonder what she will think about being helped by a man. Will she think that I'm threatening or that I'm trying to pick up on her? If it's a man that needs help, will he not like the attack on his ego when I offer him assistance when any 'real man' would be able to solve the problem on his own. And thus I'm tempted to continue on without helping. And those are the easy, obvious opportunities to serve that I find so easy to pass by. Actually seeking out people who need served is far more difficult... although it really shouldn't be.

Now I'm going to completely change topics. Never mind the fact that it is the same post, I'm headed in a completely new direction and this is acting as a transition.

Why must everything be a competition? I know I've been posting on the Olympics and what we want to be the best at, but really when I look around it is the mediocre people who don't live their lives aspiring to be the best at whatever who actually make the biggest impact.

I think the most obvious example of this right now is the presidential election. There are a lot of people in this country who would make great presidents. I think those who would really be the best at it, wouldn't put themselves or their families through an election process because it's not worth it to them. They are also the people who aren't so proud to think that they deserve it and so proud to think that they don't need to ask for help. One of the biggest complaints the McCain campaign is making against the Obama side is his lack of experience. I see that as one Obama's greatest strengths. My hope is that if Obama gets into the White House he will say, "wow, I don't know how to solve that, but I know there are about 300,000,000 Americans and one of them is bound to have a good idea on the matter". And then he seeks different opinions, listens to all sides of the story and makes a decision based on the best advice available. And that's not to say that I've decided who I'll vote for, but I don't see experience in politics as a positive.

I got off topic. Why do we have to narrow it down to two people who we know are making campaign promises that they won't keep? It's just a competition to see who is better at campaigning, it's not a good way to choose the leader of our country. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a solution, but I don't like what we've got now. I don't have anything else to say now. I don't think I really finished my last point, so maybe I'll come back to it sometime.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Olympics

I'll be honest, I didn't watch much of the Olympics, mostly because we don't have a TV. I actually enjoy watching athletes who have dedicated a lot time and effort to a sport.

There is a lot to be said about a person who dedicates their lives to a talent. Dedicating the time and energy to being the best in a certain discipline, yet if you were to challenge these athletes to a game of chess or anything else outside of their specialty, how would they fair? The point is that nobody can be good at everything, although my wife likes to try and prove me wrong on that. The other point that I wanted to make was the incredible dedication they have to what they do. It takes a lot of time to be a good athlete (I think I had mentioned that before). Anyway, I like giving the Olympians their time in the spotlight, in large part they worked hard to earn that.

While I really like the premise behind the Olympics, I sort of feel guilty watching them. (I still enjoy watching though). You see, the Olympics is a spectacle that showcases athletes and their amazing feats. I think that's great, I'm an exercise physiologist and understand the training that it takes to get there, but isn't there more in the world? How about the Olympics of giving? OK, Bill Gates has dominated those games... or has he. He certainly gives more money than anyone else, but how much does he give in proportion to what he has? And how much does he give in the way of time and energy? Money is easy to give if you have it, but other things can be far more difficult to give, but may be far more beneficial.

So here's the question. If we invented a new Olympics for you to display those things that you dedicate your life to, what event would you want to compete in? I've got two. The first is, and I think the most important would be an event of providing unrecognized, but meaningful service. (Do you see the irony there? I wouldn't really want it displayed, but that is what I would want to be really good at). I fall WAY short in that area and need to work on it.

My second event would be in meaningful living. I was going to say simple living, but I wouldn't stand a chance against the ascetics like they talk about in Siddhartha. And beyond that I don't think that is the real purpose of life. So my event is meaningful living, meaning a life that is focused around people, relationships and service rather than stuff. What is your Olympic event?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Goofing around

So I was working on my dissertation and I got distracted.  OK, more accurately, I finished a draft of my dissertation and my wife was doing some proof reading (that's why I love her, but I really feel bad making her read that thing) and I was the distractor, not the distracted.  

  Anyway, the boys were being funny, so I turned the camera on on my computer and captured some video.  Then I was dinking around on the computer this evening and found the footage and the movie editing software that came with my computer and spent 20 minutes editing to see what I could figure out.  It's nothing excellent, and Keith will probably laugh at me, but I think it's got potential.  

  Excuse the big red sheet hanging in the background, while hanging things out to dry is environmentally friendly and all, the wind mixed with the excess dirt (or absences of grass) and the wet sheets makes for muddy sheets, so instead we drape things around the house until they're dry.  Or until they need to be used.  

  Also excuse the sweaty cycling clothes in the background, they're also hanging to dry because I don't wash them every day.  Just feel lucky that you can't smell them.    So without further ado, here's the little video that I made.  Maybe someday I'll make another.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Garden pictures

People asked for pictures, so here are a few pictures. I thought I turned them all right side up, but evidently I missed some... mainly those that the Mugwump decided we should post.
This isn't a great picture. The peach tree is on the right and then you can see a couple of tomato plants left of the peach tree. I put the tomatoes in tomato cages, but the tomatoes won that battle and have now tipped over with the cages around them.
There you can see a couple of little flower bushes that are really nice. Then we have our corn which has provided us with at least 8 ears so far. Behind the corn (I don't know if you can see it) are the sunflowers. I am really good at growing sunflowers. I don't put any effort into it and they grow really big and look great. If you know anyone who likes sunflower seeds, let me know. They don't do much for me.
Another sideways picture... The plants with the big round leaves are Brussels sprouts. You can see the tomato plants behind them and then the weeds/watermelon vines that cover the ground. You can even see one of my prized watermelons on the left (top) of the picture. Oh, you can also see in the background a lettuce plant that has gone to seed. I figure that way we'll be sure to have plenty of lettuce next year.
I like this picture (sideways again) because this is the best weeded section of the garden. You can see the cabbage and basil mingled in amongst the weeds. It may be the 'best weeded', but there are still weeds throughout.
This is looking back into the back yard. We've got some beans (I don't have any idea what kind) growing up that net thing that we built. You can see the squash patch off to the left. It is overtaking parts of the garden, but I'm thinking that if I plan things correctly, I'll be able to plant the squash next to the lettuce or beets so that as the lettuce is finishing for the season, it will be simultaneously overtaken by the squash. There are also some beets, carrots and watermelon in that picture if you can find them. They are really hard to pick out from among the weeds.

I've got another post upcoming that I think will be good, if it turns out. Although the posts that I think seem the best in my head, generally turn out the worst. Oh well.

Oh and this is a picture/PSA from bikesnob that I thought was great. We should all obey!!

As a cyclist who can see easily in car windows, I'm amazed at the number of people I see texting while driving. I see at least 2-3 people per day texting while driving. Not all of those people almost kill me, but I have more close calls with texting or cell phone talking people than I do people who are actually paying attention. Please don't kill me, hang up and drive.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


By popular demand I am going to post about my garden. (Translation: the one person who reads this has requested to know about my garden). My garden is progressing quite well... as are the weeds.

I have some theories about weeds. I want to state from the beginning that I am fairly certain that these theories are wrong, but I use my theories to justify my laziness in not weeding the garden. Please don't destroy my theories because then I'd feel obligated to weed instead of doing whatever else it is that I do.

I don't want to start by writing about my weeds, I'll start with what is going well in the garden. When I grow up and own a farm I am going to grow sunflowers, beets and zucchini. I can grow those foods without problem. They grow great here and if that was all I planted I could have sunflower seeds, beets and zucchini for dinner every day for the entire year. I do not intend to do so.

This year we also have corn that we've been able to eat this year. Actually we have a bunch more that we should go eat. There, I figured out dinner for tonight. We grew a little bit of lettuce, but it was planted too close together and ended up bug infested before it went to seed really quickly and then tasted bad. We didn't get a lot of lettuce out of it. Our spinach didn't grow at all, even though I planted it three times. It may have been bad seeds, I'm not sure. We grew a bunch of basil. What do you do with basil? I know it's a spice and all, but evidently our cooking style isn't fancy enough to use spices regularly. We also had some carrots, except the ground was sort of hard and they didn't pull out real nicely. It took a shovel and chisel and we ended up with matchstick carrots mixed with dirt by the time we were done. We've got a bunch more carrots and I'm looking for dynamite in order to harvest them.

I still have hope for many things. The Brussel sprouts look pretty good, but I don't know how to harvest them. The cabbage looks good, well actually one of the five cabbages look good. We should have about four tons of tomatoes, but we've only had one that was ripe so far; it was stolen by a ranging child. Our potatoes look good, but the tough thing with potatoes is that they're underground so you never see them. Last year the plants looked good, but we didn't get many potatoes. This year the plants look good and we piled dirt up around the greens which is supposed to make more potatoes. We'll see. We've got peppers that look really good, but I'm not positive how to know when they are done. I also don't know what kind of peppers they are. Oh, and we have squash. We don't know what kind, they are mostly volunteers, but they are growing well.

Now for the grand finale. The part that I am the most excited about is watermelon. I have at least 6 big watermelon that are looking great. I'm not positive how to tell if they are ripe, but they look good. We've also got cantaloupe that looks pretty good. I'm excited for all of the melon growing in the garden, but I'm a little concerned. What do you do when you suddenly have 6 ripe watermelon and 8 ripe cantaloupe? How long do they last without refrigeration (I'll look on the internet, I don't expect answers to these questions).

Now for the weeds. we have weeds everywhere. The weeds have totally taken over the strawberries that we had. They are found throughout the corn, melon, Brussel sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, squash and peppers. I'm overwhelmed by them, so I wait for them to look like they are going to 'win' and then I devastate them and give the other plants a chance. My theory is that a little competition is good for the plants. It should make them grow faster and be stronger; adversity makes things stronger. Then when I pull the weeds, I leave them in place (but pull the roots... or break the stem really close to the ground). I feel that the weeds must contain a lot of really healthy stuff for my other plants. I'm sure it's helping everything grow. So as long as I cut down the weeds 'frequently enough', everything should go well. We'll see.

On a completely different note, I found this on youtube the other day and thought it was cool. If I had a couple hundred thousand dollars to spare I would love to do something like this. Actually I wouldn't. I don't think I would give people an SUV under any circumstance. Anyway, I thought it looked like fun and I liked the principle of giving things to unsuspecting people. Maybe I could do the same thing, but instead of giving them a car from my sponsor I could give them a used bike, or a weight loss program to help them lose weight. Somehow I don't think that would go over as well.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


So, we are in the midst of an energy crisis. The whole fossil fuel thing is not as permanent as some people would like. And we are in the midst of a global warming thing because CO2 is accumulating and making the planet hotter. And we're having some food crisis because food prices are going up partly because the cost to transport the food is going up quickly (the fossil fuel thing) and partly because we've decided it would be a good idea to use our food to fuel our cars. And then there's the economy. I'm not going to touch that because I'm far from an expert (notice that not being an expert has never stopped me before... this may be the beginning of something new, although I doubt it).

I had this incredible idea today. I was thinking of the crisis that we're facing and wanted to find a solution (as if I'm the one with the answers). So what are the fundamental problems. Too much CO2, not enough energy and not enough food. The solution that I came up with was to find a way to use CO2 as a means of producing energy and food. That would kill all three problems with a single solution.

As I thought about it, my mind drifted back to chemistry classes. CO2 has carbon in it (that's the C). Fossil fuels are long carbon chains that burn. Food is made up of fats and carbohydrates, both of which are long chains of carbons with some hydrogens and oxygens stuck to them. The problem is that we have to come up with the energy to make the carbons stick together, that doesn't just happen.

I figured that solar power is the only way to go for an energy source. The wind just isn't reliable enough, so we're going to use solar. Then we get into all the really difficult stuff. How do you get the fuel and food to the people? I'm thinking they will each need a little production plant of their own so we don't have to transport stuff and thus deplete the energy that we are producing.

I hereby patent the plant. You know, those green things that are all around that use solar energy to convert CO2 into starches (can plants make fats? I'm guessing they can based on the avocado, but I'm not positive).

Here's how it works. You find seeds for plants that grow things that you like to eat. You put the seeds in the ground and provide water and dead plants as fertilizer. The plant grows and provides you food which will also provide you the energy you need to accomplish your tasks. If you have extra food you can give it to friends. You may also want to grow larger plants like trees so that you can use that stored energy to heat your house. You won't need fuel for your car, that's why you have legs (the food you grow acts as the fuel for your legs). Any extra money earned from food grown you can go ahead and send to me. I did just patent the idea so I do deserve a little kickback.

Isn't it interesting how we have taken a principle that has been so simple from the very beginning of life and we've complicated it. We've made it this complex mess of politics, pollution and money, yet the solution is at our fingertips. We've had the solution since the beginning of our existence. Why is it so difficult to go back to the solution? Why do we seek to further complicate things?

I realize that if we were to truly simplify I wouldn't have this computer. And my schooling would be a total waste (I study obesity management and weight issues, which would be nonexistent if people actually had to work for their food). Still, I think I'm ready to take a progressive step toward the solution. I'm ready to take a step toward the past.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The ultimate controversy

I know that not everyone agrees with my opinion, and sometimes I come across as an extremist. I'm OK with that. I have strong beliefs and I stand for them. You can call it extreme if you want, but I don't know how else to live. If you have a belief and don't make a significant effort to live in accordance with that belief, what do you really stand for in life? ... Not much.

Saturday I made a change in my life. A change of views that I have held for decades. This isn't some minor change like going from Toasty Os to the name brand, because I really do like the taste better. This was a serious change of monumental proportions. I changed from a PC to a MacBook. I am in fact, typing this blog from a Mac instead of a PC, and I love it.

I want to give a little history here. I will admit, I had an Apple before. It was an Apple II C. I could play some raging games of 'The Oregon Trail' on it. It was an awesome game, until I figured out all that you had to do was name everyone in the party 'Nobody'. You're going along, not feeding anyone, fording rivers that are too deep and doing everything else possible to kill everyone off, and it keeps giving you updates that say, "Nobody died". Eventually your game would end when the final 'Nobody' in the party died, but it wasn't a huge loss, the game was pretty easy to win if you played conservatively. I think that's what made it so boring.

I eventually upgraded (maybe that's not the right word) to a Commodore 64. I wonder what the 64 stood for. Was that how many MB of ram it had? Anyway. The Commodore 64 came with a cache of games unparalleled in the modern world. Sure, they were all sort of lame, but I had lots of them. I bet I had over 200 disk, each disk had at least 5-10 games on each side. I would spend entire nights going through the collection of disks, finding new games that I had absolutely no idea how to play or that were absolutely no fun. I wonder what happened to my Commodore, it was a good computer. I think it was the only computer that I ever owned that didn't have word processing software on it. That made it a great computer for a kid who was trying to avoid homework.

Then I became a PC guy. I don't know why, but I did. It was entrenched in my. I only had one friend who went with Macs. We made fun of him. Sure, he was a great guy and I really like Kevin, but I could never figure out how to use his stupid computer and he kept saying it was 'user friendly'. So if the computer is 'user friendly' and easy to use, why could I not figure it out? That may have been Kevin's little way of calling all of us really stupid. Anyway, I made fun of lots of people who used Macs for a long time because they were obviously too simple for the likes of myself who spent all of his time asking people how to operate his PC. But the PC is more complicated, so of course I had to ask, but it's more powerful... Not that I ever use it for anything except writing papers and looking on the internet. Oh, and I play an occasional game of insaniquarium.

Saturday I bought a MacBook because I've heard they have fewer problems and we've had problems with our PCs. It seems like I've been living in fear of crashes and viruses. They happen and when they eat my dissertation I'm going to be mildly upset. So I decided to spend a little more and get the bottom of the line Mac. And incidentally, the Mugwump is using my old laptop for school. He started school at home Monday and is excelling. He's the brightest kid in the class, his teacher told me so.

So sorry Kevin for everything that I said about you and your computer behind your back, I was always a little jealous and insecure. I've moved into the light and things are so much brighter (like the monitor, it's 10 times the monitor on my PC). I'll show you all the cool things my Mac can do, as soon as I figure out how to work the thing.

Update: I figured it out. The problem wasn't me or the Mac, it was blogger who wasn't working temporarily. So here is the expression I usually had with my old PC:
And below is my expression when I got my new Mac:
And below is the look that I have most of the day as I pretend to think while working on my dissertation:

Oh, and the look when I get caught making faces in the camera on my new computer rather than writing my dissertation:

(OK, that's just her finger over the lens, maybe it's better that my expression wasn't caught.