Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Perspectives

It's always a good idea to step back and take a look at the big picture in your life. Sometimes it will surprise you to find out that the little things in life really don't matter as much as you thought they did. However, there are small pleasures in life that we often take for granted. Take time out today to appreciate these little things - there is a lot to be grateful for.

I recently spent the weekend with a friend, and for the most part was surrounded by women the entire time (not what you're thinking!). It's always an eye opener to step outside of your usual routine and see the world from someone else's point of view. You never know what someone else has been through or is going through. Spending my weekend with women opened my eyes to some joys and fears that the mid-20s American female is going through. If you just take the time to listen there's a lot to learn from everyone around you.

I also took the opportunity this weekend to gain a small window into life as an occupational therapist. My friend works at the hospital, rehabbing folks who are recuperating from life-changing experiences, such as having a stroke. Thinking about someone who isn't able to do everyday "mundane" tasks like walking, throwing a football, or signing their own name really re-emphasized to me how lucky I really am. I'm in good health, all my appendages work as they should, and I don't have any lingering pain/disability that haunts me on a daily basis (physically or mentally).

Take time out today to appreciate the little things - there is a lot to be grateful for. The little things in life can be the source of your frustration or the bright spot of every day. If you let the bad ones go and cherish the good ones you'll start living a happier and healthier life. Remind yourself each morning to step back and look at the big picture. Life is too short to dwell on the bad little things, when there's so many good little things to go around.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Respect for the fallen

Ok. Enough. Instead of the hate talk, how about you do some reading. Go to the Wikipedia page on Michael Jackson's life and read the section "1993–1994: Sexual abuse accusations and marriage". You should really read the whole thing but since you probably won't, I'll transpose some of it here so you can get a feel for the relevant information (text was bolded by me):

Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse by a 13-year-old child named Jordan Chandler and his father Evan Chandler. Sometime afterwards, Evan Chandler was tape-recorded saying amongst other things, "If I go through with this, I win big-time. There's no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever...Michael's career will be over". A year after they had met, under the influence of a controversial sedative, Jordan Chandler told his father that Jackson had touched his penis. Evan Chandler and Jackson, represented by their legal teams, then engaged in unsuccessful negotiations to resolve the issue in a financial settlement; the negotiations were initiated by Chandler but Jackson did make several counter offers. Jordan Chandler then told a psychiatrist and later police that he and Jackson had engaged in acts of kissing, masturbation and oral sex, as well as giving a detailed description of what he alleged were the singer's genitals.

Read the bold part again. Seems a little suspicious? That's because it is. I'm not saying I know definitively that he is not a pedophile. For all I know he could be a pedophile, but c'mon people you're acting as if YOU were there. It's ludicrous. The simple fact is the man was never convicted by our judicial system (settled out of court to stop his name from getting dragged through the mud any longer). If you have a problem with that you have a problem with the judicial system, and not Michael Jackson.

Now, aside from rumors and accusations read the rest of the Wikipedia page on his life. How about his charitable work?

- "He donated his $5 million share from the Victory Tour to charity".
- "Jackson co-wrote the charity single "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie... 20 million copies sold and millions of dollars donated to famine relief."
- "From 1985 to 1990, Jackson donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund, and all of the profits from his single "Man in the Mirror" went to charity."
- "In 2000, Jackson was listed in the book of Guinness World Records for his support of 39 charities".

The list goes on and on. The man is to be admired, even before considering his ground breaking music that changed an entire industry and inspired hundreds of young people to become musicians. His talent is off the charts, his giving spirit is nearly unparalleled, and he's the ultimate entertainer.

A man passed away yesterday. He was a good man, and yet all you can talk about is an incident where someone tried to take advantage of his generosity in order to make a quick buck. For shame. Even if you don't agree with that interpretation of the incident with Jordan Chandler at least give the man some respect for a lifetime of accomplishment both on and off the stage.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interval Training

It's always good to mix up your routine, it keeps you interested and entertained. Sure, consistency is the key to success in exercise (as it is in most things in life), but doing the same thing every day can get to be disheartening! I think a change (a change) would do me good (a change would do me good).

Here's my current workout each morning:

1) Biking for 12-18 minutes, depending on how I feel
2) Pushups x 20
3) Crunches x 50

Repeat 1-3 twice or three times if I have extra time.

It's a pretty good workout I think; I'm able to work my lower body, midsection, and upper body all while getting both an anaerobic and an aerobic workout. What's that thing I was looking for? Oh yeah, balance!

After reading this I'm thinking about adding interval training to my regimen, maybe once or twice a week. Really, the article doesn't have much to do with what I'm thinking about, but it gave me the idea for interval training. Now I just need to figure out what I'll be doing on these intervals.

One of my weakest points has always been sports with burst involved. Basketball comes to mind, so does ultimate frisbee, and soccer too. Speaking of soccer, who saw the USA beat Spain? I was actually excited to see it - I think I'm getting a sport crush. In any case, interval training could really help me in one of my weakest areas.

So for now I'm thinking once or twice a week I'll head down to the local park and run some kind of sprints. There's a football field there, so I'm thinking maybe 50 yard sprints, followed by 50 yard walkback/rest, repeat 5-10 times. It's possible that I might even do some ladders (sprint 5, walkback, sprint 10, walkback, sprint 15, etc for 50 yards) but this is one of my worst memories of football. There's also a pretty decent hill there, so maybe I could run some hills on days that I'm not feeling the sprints. Anyone have any interval training advice?

Also, sorry for the Sheryl Crow reference.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Patience is a virtue, or so I'm told. Still, I hate waiting for things. Waiting makes my skin crawl and my leg bounce with anticipation; but wait I shall because wait I must. Patience is a virtue. Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay the course. I should get those statements on tape, and listen to it on repeat.

In my quest to become a healthier person I've lost around 10-12 pounds thus far, but when I look down I still see a long way to go. The healthy way to lose weight is to watch what you eat and exercise. Unfortunately this is also the slow way. They say that if you lose 2-3 pounds a week you're doing well and doing it in a healthy manner. Well damn. I want to lose another 40-50 pounds, so we're looking at a minimum of 14 weeks or so, or 3.5 months. Augh, I can't wait! I suppose every journey has to have a beginning, middle, and an end but this middle is too long! Patience is a virtue. Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay the course.

Another thing I can't wait for is to be a piano/keyboard god. I still practice nearly daily but I feel as if I've hit a wall of sorts. See, the problem is the lessons that I've been watching on YouTube have gone into reading music, different inflections (sharps, flats, piano, forte, etc) and other non-playing subjects. I know a lot of this stuff from playing the trumpet, but I still want to watch it again as a refresher and in case there was something specific to the piano I wasn't aware of (for instance, I just learned about 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, etc). I try to watch one every couple of days so it has time to sink in, but again I find it hard to wait! One day you can call me Ben Folds Jr, but not quite yet. Patience is a virtue. Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay the course.

Still yet another thing I'm waiting on is paying down my debt. I've got a ton of student loans and a fairly high credit card bill that I'm really not happy about. These aren't just things that go away overnight though. It takes consistent payment and extra payment to get the number to budge, even a little. I'm almost done with one of the private loans, so that will be an extra $100 towards one of the other ones. Damn you money! Patience is a virtue. Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay the course.

Every day brings new challenges for which you must exercise patience. Patience with a customer representative on the phone. Patience with a significant other. Patience with our own faults. With consistent hard work and patience you can resolve your problems one step at a time and be much happier in the long run.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Perseverance Through Adversity

It's well known that to be successful in sports you must not only be better than the other guy/team, you also have to be so much better that you can take the unfair hits/calls and still pull out a victory. This holds true for life as well. There are going to be times in your life where it seems like nothing can go right. You've probably heard the phrases: "Bad news comes in threes" and "When it rains, it pours". I'm always amazed to see it, but it's true. Bad things can sometimes beget other bad things. It's hard to stay positive sometimes, but you have to persevere.

A short memory can come in handy here. I've often been reprimanded for my awful memory, but more often than not it's helped me stay happy through tough times. Think not of the past, nor of the future, but only of the present. By keeping your mind focused on your immediate goals you can be a happier person. This is not to say it's a good idea to forget the past, but take it with a grain of salt. It's in the past; it can't be changed. If it's something negative, live life the best you can and push it out of your mind. You have no control over it, so why even worry about it?

Bad things happen to good people. It's a fact of life. The key is to not get hung up on those bad things and fall into a downward spiral or a regression. Instead, call an old friend, work out, or play a musical instrument! With perseverance and a short memory you can stay positive, happy, and optimistic about your present and your future.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Being creative with YouTube

Leave all moral hangups at the door. This post will be about illegal activity!

How do you download music? Well for full albums/collections I'm sure you torrent; but what about for individual songs? There's always the option of googling for it. That's pretty decent, but it's very hit or miss. You could listen to it on YouTube, everything is there! Problem is, you have be online to do that and keep hitting the play button over and over. That won't do.

I'm going to tell you how to turn a YouTube video into an MP3.

Step 1: Did you know you can download any video from youtube by putting the three letters "pwn" in front of youtube.com? Who doesn't love the LazyTown/LilJohn mashup "Cooking by the Book"? Terrorists, that's who. Are you a terrorist? Then go watch it right now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQp5l4-sfFA Pretty good, huh? Good enough to download? Just put "pwn" in front of the word youtube in the link: http://www.pwnyoutube.com/watch?v=hQp5l4-sfFA This will direct you to a site where you can download the FLV file. Success! Almost...

Step 2: Now you have an FLV file, which can be played on Winamp or Windows Media Player, but that's not good enough! What if you want to be able to put it on a CD and listen to it in the car? Enter stage left: FLVExtract. It's a small open source program you don't even have to install to run. Just download it, unzip it, and run FLVExtract.exe. This will open a window where you can drag and drop an FLV file and get an MP3 back. (Take note to uncheck "Video" and "Timecodes" in the options). FLVExtract will place the MP3 in the same location that the FLV file was.

Step 3: Enjoy! Relax as you listen to John Mayer's Vultures or party hard with Andrew WK. Or even better, enjoy this rendition of Amie by user resilience1031 or Colin Hay on Scrubs. This is the kind of stuff you can't find anywhere else but YouTube!

Now you can avoid the viruses from file sharing programs like LimeWire and the long start times of bittorrent! Have fun!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


So, as I've twittered about, the Wii complained to me this morning that I missed a workout yesterday. I thought it was funny, the manner in which it informed me that I missed the workout, but I wasn't offended. I went out on Monday night with Joey and Fallon and had a late dinner (10:30PM start time... sacrilege!) so I didn't get to bed until around 1PM that night. This led to me REALLY not wanting to get up at 6AM to work out, but instead vowing to work out after work (I ended up biking to and playing tennis with Joe). I'm not complaining one bit, I wouldn't trade going out with great friends for any workout! The point is, even with minor interruptions you can still make progress.

Any diet/workout regimen is an exercise (pun intended) in consistency. I can't tell you how many times I've been doing well on a workout schedule, and then get sidetracked (a weekend in New York, a trip home to see the family, a friend's 21st birthday, etc) over a few days, lose my motivation, and stop. These sorts of things are KILLER. NO ONE wants to work out on a Saturday after being wasted on Friday, but it's a necessary evil. I've been very good about it this time around, and I'm determined to not let anything get in my way of achieving healthiness and happiness. This weekend will be a real test as I'll be heading to Put-In Bay. Regardless of how I feel the mornings after, I have to get up and do... something!

Speaking of how I feel, working out makes me feel great! Physically I'm sore which is an all-day reminder that I did something good that morning. Mentally I'm sharper and happier than I've been in a long LONG time. It's amazing the mental toll video games will take on you. I literally feel like I've been in a coma/sleep for five years and I'm just now waking up to the beauty of life. I hope this feeling never goes away, and with a continuous regimen it never will. Healthy body, healthy mind.

What motivated me to get started down this path? Well first, as I've alluded to, I quit playing so many video games. I've become more active socially. It's kind of funny and cliche but being away from "real" people does hamper your social skills. I had never been so awkward, from a social standpoint, in my life. I used to be the guy that wasn't afraid to say anything to anyone (and I don't mean that in a bad sense, I'm talking about telling people I like their clothes or they did a great job on a speech, stuff like that) but what I had become was a shell of my former self. Unable to express myself, and feeling awkward (and I hate to keep using that word, but that's exactly it) when I did. Couple this with the breakup and subsequent breakdown of the relationship I was in and you can begin to see my motivations.

Health-wise I was in the worst condition I'd ever been. I saw myself going down a path to heart disease, all the afflictions that go with being overweight, and even mental lapses. Remember, healthy body healthy mind! There are a lot of diets out there but the truth of the matter is you can only lose weight in one way: eat better and exercise. It's that simple. A lot of people have these notions that a diet has to be complicated and take a lot of different factors into account, but it's simply not true. I don't care about carbs, about fiber, about Omega-3 fatty acids, or any of that stuff. I eat what I want (within reason of course!), I just watch the quantity. Do you know what I ate for dinner last night? This. That's right, I had Wendy's. Two Jr Cheeseburger Deluxe, no cheese, no mayo. Warm. Delicious. Cheap. And just over 450 calories. In a 2000, 1700, or even 1500 calorie diet, that's right on par for a dinner. The point is you don't have become a rabbit when you go on a diet, just eat smarter and smaller. My biggest goal on this food-expedition? Never be full. I'm getting rumblings in my stomach these days when I'm hungry, something I haven't experienced in YEARS! You know what that means? I'm actually listening to my body. Your body knows what's good for it, you just have to listen.

One of the most influential things I've done to help cement my thoughts about getting healthy is to read The Hacker's Diet. Maybe it's because it's written by an engineer, but the thing just speaks to me. It's everything I already knew, but it's presented in a way that still makes me go "ah ha!". It's all about calories in and calories out. One of the strongest pieces of advice I took away from reading it was about snacking. Think of this: you can work out for 45 minutes on a bike in the morning and burn 300 calories. You feel good about yourself, right? Well, later in the day it's 2PM and you're sitting at your desk feeling pretty drained. Well if you're hungry, why wait? You've just completely blown away 40 minutes of your 45 minute workout with one candybar. Same thing if you go for that second helping of spaghetti at dinner because you had a long day (getting up at 6am is not easy!) and it tasted really great after the unfulfilling salad at lunch. It's THESE small things that I'm really focusing on, and so far I've been doing very well.

I'm already seeing results from my efforts. Pants are fitting better, my memory has improved, I feel more open and uninhibited socially, and I feel happier every day. That's really the key, happiness. If you're not happy with yourself, you only have to get some motivation and make the change. It's not an overnight process, but in the end it will be all worth it, for both your body and your mind.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Think Positive

It's amazing what a little positive thinking will do for you. People get down on themselves too often, and for really no reason. Be positive! When you're positive people around you will notice and feed it back to you.

What if you're not a positive person? There's something to be said for unabashed optimism but there's also something to be said for reality. The reality of life is that bad things will happen. Things you just can't be positive about. It's OK to be sad, to get down. They key is not to dwell on it.

One of the things that's really helped me to stay positive is to be a "Yes Man". There is a movie (and corresponding book) with Jim Carey where he must say yes to everything, even if it's detrimental to him or dangerous. Not a great movie, but the message is strong. Say yes when you want to say no (within reason of course!). Doing so will expand your horizons, get you out of the house, and build stronger relationships. Saying "yes" will allow you to live life to the fullest, and be a happier and healthier person!

When you're positive people around you will notice and feed it back to you. How great of a cycle is that? By sharing your happiness you make those around you happy. Try it today! Even if you just start small, try it. Say "yes" today to one thing you usually wouldn't, and watch the positive results.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


"The best revenge is living well."
"Win over enemies with unwavering kindness."
"Treat others the way you would like to be treated."
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

The above four statements are just a few of my life mantras. I tend to think I have some pretty good guidelines for life in my head, even in spite of the fact that I'm a devout atheist. It's not always easy, and many times I falter from these guidelines; but nothing good is ever easy.

I can't think of much that's nice to say, so I'll just say this.

I'm living well.
I'm trying to be kind as much as I can, and I'll reaffirm this in the future regardless of how cold and mean-spirited others may get.
I treat others with the respect that I'd expect. Maybe this will turn them around.
I won't say anything more, just show it through my actions.

Even the most hard headed people can be won over with kindness. Try it for yourself today. I'll leave you with a quote from a man much wiser than me:

"You can't give up hope just because it's hopeless! You have to hope even more, and cover your ears and go, 'blahblahblahblahblahblahblah!'"

One day you'll realize I was always there and thank me for doing the right thing when the wrong thing was easier.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Home Security

Yesterday around 6:30p or so, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find a skinny black guy, around 5'11" maybe. One of the first things I noticed was it looked like he had a blood vessel broken in his eye, it was red around his right pupil. He was also wearing a laminated name tag on a string around his neck that said Dispatch. Anyways, he told me he was part of the Dispatch and they were handing out newspapers to potential customers and handed me a very old looking newspaper. I wish I would have, but I didn't look to see the date on the paper, but I'm sure it was more than a week old based on it's condition. Instead I told him that we already received the Dispatch, to which he appeared surprised and asked if I got it at home or at work. I told him I receive it at home, handed back the paper, he apologized, and I didn't think much of it at the moment. After some more time to think about it, I'm fairly certain that he wasn't actually from the Dispatch. I think he was probably casing our house, to see if he or someone else might want to rob us.

Since I've been in Columbus I've been the victim of home invasion twice. The first time I was robbed it was a pretty jarring experience. At the time I was living with a group of 4 other people, and we had all gone out to Oktoberfest together. The robbers broke a window in the basement, climbed in, came up the stairs, and had free reign on the house. We came home to find doors left open and a lot of our stuff missing. I was very upset with myself about it because the window in the basement was a security flaw I had thought about but dismissed it. I believe the thieves target our house for three reasons. One, we were five college-aged students, probably all with our own laptops/game consoles/cameras/dvds - our house was a gold mine. Secondly, we all left together before it was dark out, and left no lights on. What a foolish mistake, one that I try not to repeat these days. Thirdly, our house was next to an unrented house on the street. This meant it was easy to break the window and not have anyone in an adjacent lot get suspicious. It was the perfect crime - low risk, high reward.

The second time I was robbed really shocked me because it was the middle of the day when it happened. I lived with 3 other guys in a 4 bedroom house in Victorian Village. The thieves came onto our back porch, smashed the window with a golf club, and climbed in. Luckily, one of my roommates was home and the thief didn't have a lot of time inside. He did manage to make off with my bike though, the bastard. The thief had motivation to rob our house for the following reasons. One, we're four guys, so again lots of high tech stuff - laptops, cameras, video game consoles. Two, it was relatively secluded with a fence blocking the view next to the window that was broken. Three, the window didn't have a blind on it so it was easy to see into it, it didn't have a screen, and it was single pane. Talk about inviting! Finally, fourth, we had left the perfect window-breaking object right out on the porch for them. We had parties now and then, and at one of them someone thought it was funny to swing a driver at a stick of butter in the backyard. I don't blame them, it probably was pretty funny at the time, but we really should have taken the driver in the next morning.

So where does that leave me in my current apartment? There are two major security flaws in our apartment. One is the basement windows. Much like the first robbery, someone could easily break one of them, crawl through, and come up the stairs.
Even though we have a lock on the basement door at this place, there is that small door that leads into the kitchen that does not lock. I will attempt to get that sealed today with either a couple of screws or some kind of locking mechanism (so we could still maintain use of that space for storage). That means the potential thieves would have access to the basement but nothing else, and we don't keep much of value down there anyways.

The second security flaw in our apartment is the back door. It has 9 glass panels, which are a thief's dream come true. Break the one nearest to the handle, reach in, and unlock the door. To remedy this we could do one of two things. One, we lock the screen door. This adds another layer for the thief to break through, and it's pretty sturdy glass. The problem with this, is it can't be locked from the outside, only while we are still in the house. This makes it good for nighttime, but my experience shows that thieves attempt to rob you when you're NOT there. So the solution would be to keep it locked and use the front door when we're leaving. This
presents a huge inconvenience, but it's the fastest and easiest solution. The other option for the back door is to cover the glass panels with wood or some other non-breakable material. The issue here is that we'd probably have to cover at least the bottom four panels, and possibly more to prevent the reach-in. Also it would block the light coming in, which I realize is not a huge deal but it's something to take into account.

It's getting to be warm weather again, so it's time for everyone to take a look around their apartment/house and evaluate any potential risks. Try to take a robber's point of view and look for easy entrances to your house. Cut off the easiest ones and suddenly your house looks a lot less appealing to a potential thief. Both of my experiences with break-ins have involved breaking glass, but also be wary of keeping your doors and windows locked. It's a sad truth that there are people out there who would rather steal for a living than work, but it's the world we live in. Once you've had your house broken into you'll never feel the same sense of security you once did, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It will make you more alert of your surroundings and any strange people you see wandering your neighborhood. Don't put it off or dismiss thoughts of how to safeguard your house/apartment like I did. Take steps NOW to protect yourself and those you care about!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Airborne Toxic Event

These are the same people that sing "Sometime around midnight". Great song! I hope you like it as much as I do!