Monday, November 30, 2009

O-Dark Thirty

I drove down to Pennsylvania yesterday. I woke up at 5:00am for the two and a half hour drive south.

I had little to do on the drive other then think, and as I watched the sun come up over the hills I realized I have seen more sunrises since getting married then in the ten years prior. Their were several mornings I was up early enough to see the sun rise in Vegas, and it simply felt good to be driving through the night and to slowly watch the sky lighten.

It's therapy, I wonder if the world would be a better place if every now and again everyone poured a cup of coffee and walked out into the dark to watch the sun come up over the horizon. It's not possible to feel anything but a sense of wonder when seemingly in an instant the world begins to lighten, then as the time passes the eastern sky turns from a dark purple, to blue, to red, orange, then yellow. Color spreads across the sky, it's simply beautiful, calming, and seems right somehow.

It was a good morning.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Disbelief, Confusion, and Mild Disgust

I work, a lot.

I have a 9-5, I do web work, and I dabble in car repairs, Flash games, and C# applications. I help friends with coding homework and am looking to take my GRE in preparation for going back for my Masters degree.

I work, a lot. I expect no hand outs, and I like knowing that at the end of the month my bills are paid, and I'm current. I like that feeling.

I don't think it's rocket science. I make X, I spend X-Y where Y > 0; I then save Y, or of late use Y to pay off debt. It's not hard. I cut things from my budget, I spend wisely, and I go without. I'm not poor, but I am frugal.

It bothers the hell out of me when friends and acquaintances can't do the same. I've been poor. Not destitute, poor. I've been at the point where all I had left after rent and gas was enough for a pack of hot dogs for the week. I've cut everything out of my budget that was not 100% necessary. I don't think it's that hard to do. If you need it to survive, keep it. If it's a luxury, cut it. It's not hard.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Insert Princess Bride Reference

So I did it. I succeeded in getting married. It wasn't easy, it certainly wasn't cheap but it's good to have it over and done with. Weddings are a royal pain to plan, vendors are nearly impossible to work with, and if I never have to go to another meeting with a florist I will be a happy man.

But I'm glad The Missus and I did it, I'm glad we did it right, with all, or at least most, of the trimmings. It was a fantastic night and hopefully I won't ever forget the anniversary!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Squats & Milk

It seems like I've always been either starting a diet, on a diet, or coming off a diet. I'm currently in the "On a diet" part of that cycle.

Now, over the years I've tried most of the diets out there, and if you search this blog you will find other entries on this subject but I decided to immortalize my thoughts on dieting, and weight loss, as well as documenting my weight loss program.

This plan is taken in a large part from Stronglifts 5x5 and the general experiences of 10+ years of trying to lose weight.

Squats & Milk

Let's begin by looking at the way the body uses calories. It should be common knowledge that the body needs calories to function, and that an excess of calories makes us fat. Issues arise, when dieting, when we complicate this. I will use myself as an example, my BMR or Basal metabolic rate is ~3,400 calories. This means if I sat on the couch in a near vegetative state my body would burn 3,400 calories.

This number is important as it forms the base for all of your dieting efforts. If I want to gain weight I need to eat more then my BMR (ignoring exercise) if I want to maintain my weight I eat the calories I need, if I want to lose weight I consume less then my BMR. Still with me? Good!

Your BMR is determined by height, weight, and muscle content. Gain more muscle and your BMR goes up. More on this later!

Ok, let's take a look at a few no-no's.
  1. Starving yourself. It's stupid. If you consume too few calories your body goes into a form of mayday mode, storing all calories as fat, your body then begins to cannibalize muscle. As mentioned earlier muscles require calories, even when at rest. Your body knows this and in a starvation situation your body will get rid of muscle over fat.
  2. Cardio-a-go-go! Some cardio is great, it can jump start weight loss and is great for your heart. However, the miles a day jog slog that people seem to believe is a requirement simply isn't. Running is bad for your joints and does not build the muscle required to raise your BMR, the focal point of your Squats and Milk diet.
  3. Fad Diets, are stupid. Atkins, No-Carb, South Beach, Detox, etc. etc. All they do is over complicate the simple truth that calories in < burned = weight loss.
  4. Pills. There is no magic bullet. Work = weight loss. There is no shortcut.
  5. Treadmills and elliptical, suck. These machines provide no more weight loss benefit then running in place does. Ignore them.
Ok, so let's look at the fundamental process of the Squats and Milk diet.

  1. Determine your BMR.
  2. Download the e-book at
  3. Find a gym, or a weight set.
  4. Decide how many lbs/week you want to lose. A good recommendation is 2.5lbs/week.
  5. Decide your level of cardiovascular exercise. I recommend twice a week for an hour, as for activities, wrestling, Judo, swimming, are all preferred to running. Combat sports like Judo, Boxing, Wresting, BJJ, Kickboxing, Muay Thai are great ways to get a killer workout, learn, and they provide the group atmosphere that makes it easier to stick with it.
Now, we have our BMR (3,400 cal) We have our E-book, and the workout plan in it. We have a weight set, or gym with the necessary free weights, and we have decided to lose 2.5lbs a week, and we have decided on our cardio activity (Judo 2 x week) We are now ready to diet.

I want to lose 2.5 lbs, which means I have to cut 3,500 x 2.5 = 8750 calories per week from my diet. Put another way 1,250 calories per day. BMR - restriction (3,400 - 1,250) = 2,150 calories per day. To break it down even further, I can have 3 700 calorie meals in the course of the day. If I want to eat more, I exercise. If I want to lose more weight, I exercise without replacing the calories.

Now, as I lift weights, as I gain muscle, by BMR goes up. If I do not increase my caloric intake to match I will slowely increase my caloric defecit. This speeds my weight loss, and the weight training insures that my body does not canibalize the muscle I have.

Now, how do I keep track of what I've eaten? I keep a log, a spiral notepad to hand at all times, if it goes in my mouth it gets written down. I keep a running total of what I have eaten, and a plan for what I will eat. The end result is that I come down within a hundred calories of my goal every day.

If I "blow it" and have a bad day it's not a big deal as the plan is to keep a long view, dieting isn't a fast process, and one bad day will not ruin your diet. In fact, it can be liberating to have a hard workout then go out and splurge. Having the workout before helps to reduce the severity of the splurge, but the splurge is good for the soul. Just make sure it's an occasional splurge.

There you have it, weight lifting, and caloric restriction. the Squats and (Skim) Milk diet.

It's 3am

I occasionally get the urge to write. Not necessarily about anything in particular, but just to write. It's calming. Tonight, at 3am was one of those times.

I had begun to worry myself sick, worrying about money, and cars, and at 3am that was plenty to get my stomach in knots. So, I got up and I decided to write. I hope it both calms me, and helps me sleep.

I had a good day, I got a lot of side work done, I only wish I could have devoted that much time to it before now. PesaPlay is coming along really well, to think that I managed to build a social-networking/fantasy stock trading site with no help, and minimal training makes me smile. It's a good feeling. All too often in my field you are left at the end of the day with nothing to show for your labor. Nothing tangible you can point to and say "I built that" well now I can say, I built PesaPlay, and that makes me feel really, really, good.

I'm nervous, I'm worried, I'm in debt. But it feels good to acknowledge what I made, what I built, and what I will continue to shape and build. It's a really, really, good feeling.

Digital Backup

These are the vows Jackie and I wrote for our wedding, they were spoken prior to an agreed upon set of Humanist vows. I wanted to make sure I had them backed up, so I'm putting them here for safe keeping.


You once told me that if I did not propose I was in danger of being kicked to the curb. Fortunately, I had been debating proposing for months before entering, what I called, "curb kicking range" however, I was scared. I was afraid of the unknown, afraid of committing to a relationship that has had it's ups and downs. Yet, as I drove down to Ithaca to pick up your ring I knew, despite the jitters, that I was doing the right thing. You know I look to avoid risk at all costs, that I would rather take the long, safe, road then the unknown path. Yet, when I'm with you the risk doesn't seem so scary, things just seem to work out. It's like you always tell me, "We will make it work"

If I've learned anything in the years I've been with you it is that, we will make it work. I love you. I have looked forward to this day for years, ever since a glass of water, and a kiss in your parents kitchen. I did not know then that we would be standing here one day, but I knew in that instant I had found someone magical, someone perfect. You.

You know I don't make promises lightly, yet I want to make a few simple promises to you today. I promise to love you, through the good times, the bad times, and all the times in-between. I promise to talk, always to talk, even when it's hard, even when I'm scared. I promise to trust you, and to take the risks, because with you they will always work out. I promise to keep your toes warm and your shoulders covered on cold winter nights. I promise to remember the fabric softener, and to not leave clothes in the dryer. I promise to always have a gallon of milk in the fridge, and I'll try to remember to refill the water jug. Lastly, I promise to be there for you, every day, for the rest of our lives, and to never leave you again. I love you Miss Jacqueline Kay Corp, and today you have made me the happiest man alive.

And now, Jackies vows:


I spent many hours debating what I wanted to say to you, and if I was comfortable saying it in public. If you’re hearing these words, that means I made it past those points. That’s what I’m so grateful for when I’m with you: you always help me past ‘those’ points. I remember when you started to court me, you asked me for my phone number to call me. I laughed and told you I was listed in the directory, but you said you wanted to hear the number come from me. I think it was a matter of pride for you to hear me say it. I blushed and looked at you. I wouldn’t have told anyone else ‘469-8872’ if they had asked. I would have said, “Look it up, it won’t kill you.” But that’s what you do to me. You give me strength, and a faith in myself that no-one else can. It is because of this that I said yes to this whole….commitment. I love you. I promise you that. I also promise to always respect you, to continue to hold my tongue when you spout off some foolish idea. I promise to laugh with you, and grow with you. I promise to treat you as the first priority in my life, though I may need some reminding. I promise to harass you about cleaning the cat’s litter box, every day, until it gets done. But on the flip side, I promise to protect you from the kitties and their epic battles, even if it is hilarious to watch you get climbed on…I don’t know what else to say. Oh yeah. For all the times you’ll never hear it when we inevitably fight: I’m sorry. I do love you. And no, those pants don’t make you look fat.