Sunday, November 24, 2013

Exercise a Little Better

I've lost a lot of weight, and I think improved my health in the process, but I've stalled of late.

Since 2006 I've lost 68 pounds. I was a little lower a month ago, but have bumped around in a five pound range since. My main exercise has been walking. I generally do between 10 and 15 miles a week, with a few weeks getting in as much as 20. As fall weather and busyness came on I reduced my walking some, but I've kept at it.

I knew, in order to resume weight loss, I would have to step up my game. I've been following some simple rules I created to guide my quest to better health which, for the moment, I define as carrying less weight around. The first five of those rules are:

1. Eat a little better.
2. Exercise a little more.
3. Drink a little more water.
4. Eat a little less.
5. Get a little more sleep.

Those I have been following with, I believe, success. The 68 pound have come off slowly, but as I've crossed barriers and gotten past previous sticking points (where the weight loss seemed to have stopped), I've kept it off. Now, to get past this barrier, I knew I needed to get to work on the next rule.

6. Exercise a little better.

I've been dreading this, but was about ready to get started. Then came our company leadership retreat this week. It was a short one, in nearby Branson. Thursday afternoon was scheduled to be include a 90 minute "exercise and nutrition" session. Our spouses were with us (well, for some of us), and they were invited to this session. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't what we got. Two exercise babes from World Gym were there. Rather than start with nutrition they started with exercise. Simple stretching, followed by lunges and dips, followed by enhanced lunges, followed by push-ups, then by "planks".

I thought my legs were in pretty good shape from all the walking I've done, but I quickly found out certain of my leg muscles really haven't been in much use. Less than 30 minutes into this routine I couldn't stand any more. Down on the floor to do some planks, I couldn't get up. When I finally did get up, my knees felt quite unstable, as if one minor misstep and I'd be flat on my keyster.

I'm writing this Saturday evening, two days after the exercising, and after a day of cleaning around the house and garage and just back from the weekly run to Wal-Mart. As expected, my legs hurt worse now than they did after the session. I've taken a few pain pills, which have done no good at all so far as I can tell. Tomorrow I should be feeling better, and by Monday I'll be close to back to normal.

Since this exercise awakened muscles that apparently aren't being used in my walking, I'd have to say that this must fall in the category of "exercise a little better. Maybe I can keep this up. The immediate pain will pass, and then I'll see how it will work. 68 pounds off, 52 still to go.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I was in a meeting at work today, a meeting that wasn't planned and for which I had 30 minutes warning. The meeting was of a project team to discuss the progress of work on the large project, and to make sure we were on track, with appropriate resources (a.k.a. people) assigned, to meet a November 27 deadline. My role is to check the work (QC) before it goes out the door.

The meeting would have seemed more important if we hadn't already discussed this at length in a meeting on Monday. I suppose it was necessary since an engineer from another team was made available on a part-time basis, and so work could be redistributed.

At one point during the meeting, as we discussed some communications with the client, the team leader once again talked about the importance of the correct routing of communications, and how certain communications had to go through the team leader. After repeating what we all knew, he said, "I take that very personal as a matter of respect. No one's gonna go around me."

Now I don't know what you all think, but I figure if you have to asked for respect you probably haven't earned it. Respect is something you earn, not demand. Respect that is demanded is given grudgingly; it's not real respect. Respect that is earned is given willingly, and is not easily lost.

The same seems true for honesty. If you have to talk about how honest you are, you probably aren't. If you have to tell people you have a high ethical standard, you probably don't. I'm talking about unsolicited statements here. Occasionally you have to talk about those things because of a question asked. But normally, your actions should explain your honesty, integrity, and competence. Trust and respect flow from those.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Will Forty Years Do?

I've written before on this blog about how I admire the works of Thomas Carlyle. How I entered into the Carlyle labyrinth is a long story. I've read less of his words than I wish I had, and those that I have read aren't really representative of his entire writing career. So far my reading of Carlyle has been mostly concentrated on his early writings, those before his first truly original book-length work, Sartor Resartus.

Part of this is a book I downloaded, the first volume of the love letters of Thomas Carlyle and Jane Welsh Carlyle. This volume covers from when they first met in 1821 to sometime in 1824, still two years before they married. I'm currently reading in early 1824, having only 53 pages left to read (some of those being an appendix of some length).

In a book with the name of love letters you would not expect to find inspiration for writing, unless it were something for a romance or a romantic relationship within another book. But in a letter that Thomas wrote to Jane on January 8, 1824, I found some inspiration. Here's what Carlyle wrote.

Life is not so short as that amounts to: I believe no literary man ever spent the fiftieth part of his time or attention upon literature. Cowper was near his grand climacteric before he began to write at all. Think of what forty years of diligence will do, if you employ them well! I swear to you there is no danger: you want only a little experience to give you confidence in your own powers.

I'm less than two months away from turning 62. I didn't start writing creatively until I was 49, almost 50. Carlyle was not yet 30 when he wrote this. He could realistically expect to be writing for 40 years. Can I?
Forty years from age 50 is age 90. I could still be around then. Statistics say that's unlikely, but not impossible.

Or say I only had 30 years, taking me to age 80. That's certainly possible. Eighteen more years of writing from where I am now, fourteen of those after retirement from the day job. It's an appealing proposition.

I tend to want success now, with success defined as having readers. Not readers who are friends and family (not that I don't want them), but readers who are strangers, who found me because someone else who's a stranger to me recommended my books or stories.

I'm finding a few of those strangers. My total book sales are up to 249 (of twelve titles), and I don't think very many of these were sold to family, a few more to friends. Someone is finding my books, about five per month.

So I suppose now is not the time to give up. Most days I want to. Success seems quite unlikely, regardless of how many ideas I pour out and craft. Ah, but I won't give up just yet. I'll hope for forty more years to do this. If that's too much to ask for, I'll take the eighteen and see what I can do. At two books a year, and maybe another four stories a year, I could have 120 items available for sale by the time I hit 80.

For now I'll be content to shoot for that, quietly, one item at a time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Motivation Hard to Come By

As the title says, I've been very unmotivated recently, at least on my creative side. I've been somewhat more motivated on my mundane side. Family coming in for Thanksgiving in just a little more than three weeks is a motivating factor. So I repaired the oven that's been on the semi-fritz for two years. I bought, assembled, and put in place a TV stand to replace the redneck set-up we had of a not-working console TV serving as the stand for a smaller one.

I took out the dying and finally dead microwave, a built-in one, and temporarily installed an old one that had been stored in the basement while we look for something new to go in there. Did some carpet cleaning on Saturday, and table clearing-of-clutter. Slowly things taken out during the last eleven months are being put back. We still have many toys to sort through, and boxes of new purchases or of things pulled out of places because they needed to be in different places, but at this point it's all very manageable. So many household mundane tasks remain, but by November 25 the house should be in good shape.

Then there's finances. A large car repair expense last month, my needing tires for the pickup this month, another large purchase last month, and yet one more large expense due next month means I need to know our financial status before going much farther. I wasn't really motivated to do this, but have no choice. Saturday and last night I worked on it. I'm now within an hour of having everything entered in the checkbook and transferred to my budget spreadsheet. I'll finish that tonight. At that point boring but necessary financial catch-up tasks will be behind me, leaving only the need to maintain tracking expenses.

So, by tomorrow night, Wednesday, I should be able to let my brain function move toward its creative side, and write. I have my four projects to work on. One is editing, so that really leaves only three projects. Well, plus this blog and my other blog.

Inspiration for blog posts has been particularly difficult to come by. I'd love to blog three times a week at each blog, but would settle for a little less. To keep that up I should have a list of topics laid out, a couple of weeks ahead. I do have a couple of things in mind for this blog, but none for the other.

Plenty of creative work is ahead of me. Hopefully my mind will properly focus on that, and great works will result. Hopefully.