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Hamms Campfire Scene O Rama Motion Beer Sign

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

I had a weird wave of nostolgia for this sign. My grandpa on my Mom’s side had on in their basement and I would just stare at it.

Looks like on eBay they go for like $1,500 or so. Maybe someday. Maybe I need a log cabin first.

No War (No Elephants?)

Saturday, September 4th, 2021

I understand the act of protesting. Admittedly, it’s been a minute since I’ve stood on a street corner, but I’ve been there. In college, after the 9/11 disaster, I remember being absolutely confused that the United States’ answer was… war? In Iraq? There wasn’t anything clearly pointing that way, and through history’s lens now, there never was. It felt like we wanted an excuse to blow shit up over there, and so we did, with the clever disguise of a country hungry for vengeance.

What could I do? Absolutely nothing, of course. I am a grain of sand. I can vote, but that’s the limit of my influence on my country’s leader’s choice to go to war.

So I wrote “No War” on a sign and stood on the street and held it up. I guess I can do that. I founded a group in college with people there that felt the same: Whitewater United for Peace.

I didn’t yell at anybody. I don’t do up-in-your-face anger. To a fault, I avoid it at all costs. But I got yelled at. I remember a fella who is was frothing-mouth angry because he thought I was disrespecting his father, a soldier. That’s not how I see it, I said. I don’t think your father should have to go to war with an unclear purpose. My fellow protesters thought it was likely something oil-related at the time. I still think that was the main point.

People protest differently, though. In my town now (Bend, Oregon) the chances of a protest being left or right politics is about even. I’ve seen just as many Open! The! Schools! protests (back when they were doing online-only classes because of, ya know, the global pandemic) as I have anti-war protests. Today, people are protesting in Texas against the abortion law and tempers are surely and rightfully hot.

I’m thinking about all this now because of a heated and nerve-wracking protest experience I’m just walking away from.

My family is visiting my wife’s parents, and we took my 3-year-old daughter to the Zoo. On leaving the zoo, there were a dozen protesters or so protesting the zoo. Just the existence of zoos, in general, but I think they are particularly mad about the elephants. Animal captivity is cruelty, to them. Surely they feel like grains of sand. They can’t close a zoo, but they can hold a sign.

They didn’t just hold a sign, though. And they didn’t leave their anger toward individuals out of it. They were vocally mad. Literal-megaphone mad. Yelling at people in line and leaving the zoo for enabling the existence of zoos. Fighting mad. Frothing mouth mad.

One particular white guy protester held a camera in a black woman’s face:

Zoos are slavery. We stood up against slavery and abolished it. You’d think you would know something about that. But you don’t. You don’t give a fuck.

Can you imagine?

And this was a few yards away from my 3-year-old who was very upset and confused, which tested my limits, to be sure. I didn’t even care about the details of the argument anymore. The protesters were so disgusting to me I had no interest in their ideas. We stayed composed and walked past it all.

My daughter is now asleep in the back seat. Surely, we’ll need to have a conversation about all this later so she can understand what she saw. I’m going to tell her that it’s good to have strong feelings and to let the world know how you feel. But angrily yelling at people in public not only isn’t OK, and worse, it will backfire.

Oh shucks sorry gotta run, I’m grilling elephant burgers. Just kidding, just kidding.

Connections with things I’ve read/heard somewhat recently:

Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured. What is the meaning of freedom in such a context? Animals in the wild are, in practice, free neither in space nor in time, nor in their personal relations.


Thursday, August 26th, 2021

Things are good.

Just trying to chip away at life. Making sure the family is happy and healthy. Making sure the businesses are happy and healthy. Trying to make sure it’s fun along the way. Currently earning a solid B.

Finding the Trail

Monday, August 16th, 2021

I was talking with some random fellow adults one time and the subject of mountain biking came up. It was a kid’s birthday party. There was sheet cake. I had probably mentioned how I had broken my arms doing it a few years back (I’m fun at parties). One of them was pretty into it and quite a good mountain biker, and the other would do it, but wasn’t that into it. They didn’t find it that fun. They were trepidatious.

That’s exactly how I’ve always been at mountain biking: trepidatious. I just don’t have the glorious confidence that seems to be a key ingredient for being good at mountain biking and extracting enjoyment out of it.

Let the bike find the trail.

… they said. Don’t go slow and look down. Let the trail flow. Look forward.

I just can’t. My nerves take over, I second guess myself, I brake too hard, I can rarely get into a good flow. It essentially makes me a pretty bad mountain biker.

Not all hobbies are like this. I can be a nervous wreck following a recipe for cookies and ultimately make some good cookies.

I thought about that again with the whole Simone Biles “twisties” thing.

When gymnasts have the “twisties,” they lose control of their bodies as they spin through the air. Sometimes they twist when they hadn’t planned to. Other times they stop midway through as Biles did. And after experiencing the twisties once, it’s very difficult to forget. Instinct gets replaced by thought. Thought quickly leads to worry. Worry is difficult to escape.

I like bikes. I like being outside. I like riding bikes through the outside. But I was never good at mountain biking. It is challenging in a way where risk is involved literally everywhere. There are ramps, drops, tight turns, loose soil and sand, rocks to avoid or get over, and man-made objects to engage with, to name a few. These aren’t called “obstacles” or “things they should really clean up around here” — no, they are called features. They are the point of mountain biking. Getting past them is supposed to be challenging and fun. A trail without features is, to most, boring.

But to me, features are scary. They make me fall off my bike. They make me feel uncertain. They make me brake so hard I never really get into the flow of the trail. I’m nowhere near letting my “bike find the trail”. And of course, now I have that gnarly memory of a feature causing me to break both my arms. I’m not sure I’ll ever not have the mountain bike version of the twisties.

But hey, I can still ride my bike outside, just on more chill trails. I did a great gravel bike ride the other day. It had harrowing moments still, but all in all a lot more relaxed than mountain biking.

I’m not sad about it. I know what finding the trail is like, if I think of that as a metaphor in other hobbies. For instance, I just was on a 5-day camping trip with fellow old-time musicians. The whole point of it was music. We played music damn near every waking hour. A non-camping jam might go 2-3 hours, but camping, we were playing for 15 hours it felt like some days.

I’m not an incredible player, but I’m OK. I’m good enough that during long stints like this, where I’m playing a lot, I can really get into the music. No distractions. Fingers are warm. Brain is firing. I’m finding the trail of songs easily. Even songs I’ve never heard before even once I can find quickly, understand the patterns and structure of, and contribute to meaningfully right away. It’s a fantastic feeling that I’d like to chase as much as I can. Sadly there isn’t a lot of life stability in playing banjos in fields.

There is twisties in music too, unfortunately. They can hit anybody regardless of skill, just like they hit Simone on top of her game. I’m not the Simone Biles of anything, but I got them several times this past week. There is this dang song called Five Miles from Town that I just could not get in my head, even when I thought I was otherwise playing OK. I don’t think it’s a particularly crooked tune (a term used for songs that do weird things like have extra bars in unusual places), it’s just, as they say in old-time, squirrely. But even on a song you’ve played 5,000 times, you can just outright forget how the opening of the B part goes. Or have the lyrics of a tune evaporate from your mind.

The thing that connects it all is that it always seems to happen when you’re thinking too hard. You’re not just letting your fingers find the tune. You’re not just letting your body do what it knows how to do. You’re not letting the bike find the trail.

Bad Festival Neighbors

Sunday, August 8th, 2021

Headed out to a little old-time music campout this week. They had a little bit about general etiquette on the website, which I appreciate. It links out to this funny article about Bad Festival Neighbors with a bunch of different all-too-real personas:

Dinner Bucket Bob

Arrives at a weeklong festival with three beers and a half loaf of bread. Warning sign: carries a tin plate in his fiddle case. Somehow manages to be first in line wherever free food and alcohol are available: potlucks, cd release parties, your dinner. Will stare shamelessly and hungrily at your leftovers until simple humanity forces you to feed him.

Music festival etiquette is a weirdly present theme in my life.

Don’t Feed the Thought Leaders

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

I hope I’m never in a situation where I have to do a “bureaucratic judo trick” in order to effectively manage a project, but this one from Adam Gordon Bell is juicy:

Create an extended product roadmap and put [advice from stakeholders that doesn’t seem important to the project’s succss] at least a year off into the future “and as long as they don’t seem relevant, you can just keep pushing them into the future.” Perversely this plan made everyone happy – everyone’s feedback is on the roadmap, and now it’s all just a question of priorities.

Review of Ideal Protein

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

As a fat person, whenever I’m seen by any other person, my mind assumes they are thinking one of two things. 🅰 Ew a fat. They should eat less junk food. I’m (roll 1d100)% disgusted by their presence. 🅱 Ew a fat. They should eat less junk food. (Twang of guilt.) Wait no they are people too. I’m going to smile extra hard so they know I’m OK with their fatness.

That’s not reality, but such is my mind. Seeded by the fact that I’m fat quite literally because of the junk food. Have you tried it? Junk food is amazing. I lack the long-term fortitude to stop eating it forever.

Yet, of course, I desire to be a thin. It’s tempting to blame society, but the desire also comes from wanting to be an active dad, go waterskiing (metaphor), and not break both my arms just from falling a few feet off a bike.

As such, I’m susceptible to every weight loss methodology that has ever existed. EAT LIKE CAVE MAN? Hell yes, let’s give it a spin! Whole 30? Sounds amazing—I’ll do Whole-six-months. South Beach? Can’t be any worse than north beach amirite? Oreos are vegan? Can-do.

In my latest foray into fad diets, I have been doing Ideal Protein.

I’m doing it because:

Short review: it’s a crash diet. It also has one of the biggest hallmarks of a perfect crash diet: if you criticize it for being a crash diet, there is a ready-made answer on why it isn’t. The answer for this one: it’s actually a 3-phase plan where Phase 3 is “the rest of your life”. And of course every success story they show you is of someone who was on the diet quite long-term. You’ll succeed if you never quit. Naturally.

But of course the crashing Phase 1 is first. On that day, you’re eating sub-1,000 calories a day, and stay there until you reach your goal. The suggested goals being: stop being a fat.

So how do you live on 1,000 calories a day? Surely that’s not a good long-term plan? They call it a Ketogenic diet. Meaning that you’re not feeding your body carbohydrates, it’s go-to food source, and teaching it to use fat for energy instead. You can confirm this by pissing onto a stick and watching it turn brown. So while I’m surviving on 1,000 calories, my body is getting energy from the heaps of fat it has access to.

I mean, it works.

I started at about 267lbs 6 weeks ago and I’ve managed to hit 232lbs at a low, so that’s literally 35lbs, which honestly feels great. That includes a vacation where I drank a bunch of beers and even *ahem* mixed an Ideal Protein berry shake into a White Claw for breakfast.

They would, I wouldn’t call it a traditional Ketogenic diet. Everything you read about Ketogenic diets calls them “high fat” — and this is most certainly not high fat. It’s more focused on protein, but even then, I wouldn’t call it high-protein. For a “sedentary man”, I should be on 0.36 grams of protein per pound, which would be well over 100 grams of protein per day. I actually do exercise, so it should be higher still, and I’d say on this diet I get well under 100 grams of protein. So if anything it’s a low-everything diet.

With the low food intake, there are also a bunch of pills you have to take to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. That’s another thing that slightly validates the very low-calorie count — at least you’re staying on top of all that.

The food is the whole point of Ideal Protein: The Business™. They exist to sell you food. The cost is negligible. If you’re really doing this, it’s a replacement for other food you’d be buying anyway, so if anything it’s probably cheaper. Less than $100 a week kind of thing.

The food is stuff like replica Doritos. Replica candy bars. Replica milkshakes. Replica chocolate malted milk balls. My biggest worry is that so much of the food is replica junk food that if I slip off this diet, I’m right back to eating the real version of those things.

“Doratos” — lol.

You’re supposed to eat a ton of greens and other veggies. We do that. You’re supposed to eat meat once a day. We do that. You drink a bunch of water. You take the pills. We do that. It’s not bad, but we’ve both gotten plenty sick of essentially eating super-processed food constantly. It’s a lot of shaking food-powder up in a shaker (that they give you) and microwaving it.

Ideal Protein: The Business™ wants to sell you food. They literally make money no other way. They are 100% incentivized to keep you buying that food for as long as you can. And if you absolutely don’t need it anymore, at least you’ve done well enough to convince other people to buy that food. I’m not sure I have a big problem with that — it’s just good to understand motivation. They are going to do and say what it takes to sell more Ideal Protein food, as that’s what makes their business tick.

Should you try Ideal Protein? You’d think I could answer that clearly but I just don’t know. There is only one real method for losing weight and it’s eat less and move more. Ideal Protein might help you do that. It might not. It might take you on a typical journey for a crash diet where it works and then you bail and you re-gain. It might not. I can tell you that I don’t regret it so far. If I can manage to keep going (it’s going to be hard), I might just get my real glimpse into what a more ideal me is like. But I have all the typical worry that I’ll eventually end up back in my natural state: fat.

Going Full Pascal

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

A nice life story from Rands.

For me, Pascal was high school, and I would have loved it if I could have written Pascal in college. I bet it would have changed my life, because I would have rolled in with confidence on the language, and I do better in situations like that. But no, the first computer science course was in Java, which I barely scraped through, and the second was in Assembly and I bombed it. I avoided computer science classes after that, just doing general studies stuff, until I ultimately switched majors 4 years in.

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