Midweek Thoughts

Once again  it is Wednesday morning. Odd how the week passes by so quickly.

I am fully back in the real world now; the vacation world of last week is fading into nothing but pleasant memories. Yeah, back in the real world, and I’ve been doing some thinking; that is always a dangerous activity for me.

I started this diet, this journey on my birthday; on December 19, 2010. To the best of my calculation that was 96 days ago. Now, I will freely admit that I do not know my starting weight; I didn’t have a scale capable of weighing me until the first week of January. So, I base my record of weight loss from that time.

When I started this journey my only goal was to lose 225 pounds and to reduce my waist measurement by 20 inches. I had not really thought about what I was trying to accomplish more than that. I had not thought about what kind of changes working toward those goals, let alone meeting them,would make in my life.

I had not thought about how much of my self esteem, self image, and perception of self, indeed of the word, was influenced by my weight. You see, I have been overweight my entire life. I do not have any memories of a time when I was not fat.I have never been able to look in a mirror and not see a fat man looking back at me.

Indeed, often when I look in a mirror what I see is a man that is far fatter than I actually am. When I was in college I would see a man that is seemed to be hideously large, but when I now look at pictures of myself from that time in my life I realize that I was not nearly as large as I thought I was.

I mention this because it was not until I returned from vacation that I could actually see changes when I look in the mirror. I knew I was making progress, knew I was loosing weight because of the changes I could feel in the fit of my clothes. I knew I was making progress because of how good I felt physically. I knew I was losing weight because I could see the lower numbers on the scale everyday. I knew all this, but I couldn’t see any changes when I looked in the mirror.

However, when I returned from vacation I could see the changes. I now see a man that has made definite progress, yet still has a long way to go.  I see a man that is changing from what he was into something, someone else. I am looking forward to seeing, indeed to meeting that man.

Lets Think About the Positive.

“Lets focus on the positive”.

That phrase has been running through what passes for my mind a lot this week. I have had reason to need to focus on the positive. I am not sure that doing so is helping, but at least I am not allowing myself to drop into negativity. That is, I feel, rather important.

You see, in the last couple of weeks I have hit a plateau; I have not lost any weight since I hit the 60 pound mark. Now, I need to be clear; I have not regained any weight, but I have not lost any more either.I knew this would happen, I was just hoping it would wait a bit.

I have not gone back to any of my old habits; I am still eating clean. I am still motivated. I am still doing all the right things. I just have plateaued. It will pass as long as I stay on track. I KNOW that it will pass. I know it all intellectually. However, knowing something intellectually and knowing something emotionally are very different things.

Emotionally it has gotten more difficult to look at that scale and see no change. So, Monday , when saw yet another day of no weight loss, I decided that instead of thinking about the negative, I would spend some time focusing on the positive. Well, that is what I decided after creatively cussing the scale for about thirty seconds. You would be amazed at how much cussing I can get done in a mere thirty seconds.

So, lets think about the positives. There are actually a lot of positives:
• Despite the current period of no loss, the fact remains that I have lost sixty sodding pounds in just a little of two months. That is a great feeling.
• I feel better physically than I have in years.  I can walk around a SCA event site all day and not hurt at the end of  day (proved that last weekend), and I have been told by people I believe that I do not snore as much as I used to. Oh, and I am sleeping better than I was before I started dieting as well. These are all very positive developments.
• Finally, every day this week I have worn clothes that I was not able to wear six months ago. So, even though there has not been any additional weight loss, there are definite changes in my body. Positive changes.  Changes I can most definitely live with.


Back in the Eighties again.

Hey Folks,

I had a thought that I would start thinking of my diet as a bit of a time machine. Each time I enter a new ten pound range, I’ll picture that as the corresponding decade; any weight in the 90’s (for instance 390-399) will be the nineties. Etc. Etc.  It might not make a lot of sense, but it works for me.

When I made the last post i was still in the 90’s: 390.6. I don’t really remember much of 1990. I know I was living in Little Rock. I know it was an unsettled time in my life. I had just left college. I had moved back in with my family, and it was tough on all of us.

As of today, I’m in the 80’s again: 389.2. Just barely in the eighties, but it is definitely the eighties. I remember even less of 1989 than I do of 1990. During at least half of that year I was in Starkville, the last year I was in College. Well, technically I was in college, but in reality I was in denial. I was in denial about my financial status. I was in denial about how deeply I was in debt. I was hiding from my parents, my creditors, and from myself. It was NOT a good year.

I honestly don’t remember what season of the year it was when I moved to Little Rock. I think it was in the spring. That feels right. The one good thing I remember is that I got a job fairly quickly. Little Rock was the first time I got a job working on the phone: I got a job working for Heritage Publishing, working as telemarketer. I wasn’t real good at it, but I was working. I worked as a telemarketer at one job or another the entire time I lived in Little Rock.

I think I’m going to enjoy this current trip through the late Eighties a lot more.

One Month In

So, it’s been what, a week since posted here? Yeah, I think that is about right. It feels right anyway.  It’s hard to believe, but it is already February. The first month of the new year has truly flown by.

I’ve been on this diet now for a month now and  I am, to steal a few words from one of my favorite songs, “I’m alive and feeling fine”.  Based on my previous dieting experience, an experience that stretches back at least 38 years, I am continually amazed  at just how “fine” I feel.  This plan that I’m following, the Eat Clean Diet, has been remarkably easy to follow. I’m not craving any kind of particular food. I don’t get hungry. The plain and simple fact is that I’m not eating as much as the diet, or the plan, allows me to eat. The plan calls for me to eat six small meals a day, and frankly I run out of day before I get all six meals in.

Now, I have to admit that there have been a couple of times when I went “off plan”. The weekend in Jackson, though that wasn’t to bad. The truly spectacular foul up was at the 3 Dragons party last Saturday. Now, I didn’t eat as much at the party as I would have a month and half ago, but I did eat more that single day than I had on any day since I started this project. Just to be clear, the fault was mine; nobody made me eat. I just lost focus for a few hours that afternoon and to a lesser extent at breakfast with the Dragons the next morning. So, that sucked, but the important thing, the thing to focus on is that I got right back on track. I didn’t give up. I did, however, accept the responsibility, and got back on track.

Last night was a bit of a personal breakthrough. After our SCA business meeting Gerald, Jim, and I went out to Perkins. Now, a month and half ago I would have ordered a meal even if I wasn’t particularly hungry. Last night I was hungry, but I didn’t order anything more than a glass of water and a diet coke. I even drank the damn water first. As I type this up it sounds like such a small thing, but for me it was a huge change.

You know, as I think about it, this past month has been the longest I’ve stayed on a diet in over 17 years. I’ve proven to myself I can do it. Now I just have to prove to myself that I can stick with it. My goals for February are to both continue with the same plan, indeed to embrace it even more fully, and to get more actively exercising. I’ve been only half assed in my attempts to exercise so far, but that has to change. It is GOING to change. I’m going to make it so.

Diet Musings.

In the last 35 years or so I have tried several different diet plans. Tried them with varying degrees of success. I’ve done everything from counting calories, to consuming nothing but diet drinks of one kind or another, Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc. etc. I’ve tried most of them. Now each of these diets work for some people, but they never really worked for me.

I think, however, that it was not the fault of the diet, but of the dieter. Of me.  I lacked the discipline to maintain any diet for much more than a week or so. That lack of discipline was caused by many things, but I believe now that the main culprit was that I was not dieting for the right reasons.I was not dieting for myself. Nor was I dieting out of a desire to be healthy.

No, my reasons for dieting were based on desire to impress someone else. A desire to to fit in with the “cool” people at school, or a desire to be “good looking” (as if that could ever be). I believed if I just could get to the same size as others that I would automatically be happy.

It doesn’t work that way. I realize that now. I am actually happier now than I have ever been. For the greatest part, my life is good. I’ve got more friends, good friends, now than I have ever had in my life. I have a better social situation than I’ve had since I was in college, and unlike when I was in college, I’m sober, so I can truly enjoy that social situation.

This time I am dieting just for myself.  no longer really care about impressing anyone. If someone doesn’t like me because I’m fat, I doubt very seriously they would like me if I as normal sized. In fact, since I joined the SCA eight years ago I’ve spent most of my time with people that honestly don’t give a damn what anyone’s size is. That has, been a bit of an eye opener for me.

Nor am I trying to attain anything more than just getting healthy. I know well the dangers of being overweight. With my family history I know those dangers. I want to be healthy, nothing more.
Well, now that I think about it, I realize that is not really true. The desire to be healthy is the over riding reason I’ve started this diet, but there are some other, minor, reasons as well.

For one thing, I really want to not have my ankles hurt after walking around Gulf Wars all day, which I will be doing in just a couple of months. I would also find it really pleasant to be able to buy clothes at some place other  big and tall stores. I think I could really, really, to go into a regular department store and just be able to buy a shirt, or belt, etc.  Yes, there are reasons for this endeavor other than health, but getting healthy is the most important reasons.


The Joy of Lists

I would really like to write a long, coherent post about one of the things that are currently occupying my attention, but that is not going to happen. There are simply to many things going on in what passes for my mind. If the sheer number were not enough, I have conflicting thoughts about several of those items. So, instead of the long, coherent post I would really like to post, I’m just going to make a rambling, disjointed list of thoughts, and feelings.

  • The best coffee that a person can buy is not found at Starbucks or other high priced coffee bars, it is found at Dunkin Donuts (I have no conflicting thoughts about this).
  • I truly love the SCA and just about everything it stands for.
  • Sometimes I am completely disgusted by the same organization.
  • Sparkly vampires are not, in fact, vampires.
  • Edmund Burke wrote, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. I think that would be more effective if re-written as, “All that is necessary for stupidity to triumph is for smart people to do nothing.”
  • We have had a rather major shake up in the structure of my work place. I have a new boss, and she is not the same as the old boss. This is both good, and bad. Bad, because of feelings of loyalty to my old boss; good because of some remarkably good changes in my work environment and new opportunities for me.
  • I can’t believe that it is less than ten days to Gulf Wars. That must be a mistake I simply have to much to do before the War.
  • I can’t believe that it a whole ten days to Gulf Wars. I desperately need a week with 3000 or so of my closest friends.
  • I quit playing World Of Warcraft a couple of months ago and have spent most of the time I used to spend playing making jewelry. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed making jewelry, but I do miss the social aspect of playing a massively multiplayer on-line game. Someone should create a game where I could both make jewelry that exists in the real world and where I could occasionally blow the living hell out of something just for the fun of it.
  • The Winter Olympics were cool, but curling is not really a sport.
  • I’m bloody sick of winter. Snow sucks. Bring on the heat.
  • Recent discussion on the Gleann Abhann list about raising period poultry has reawakened my interest in keeping homing pigeons.
  • I REALLY need an operating vehicle. It doesn’t have to look good, just has to run reliably.
  • I REALLY don’t want to have a monthly car payment again.
  • Snow sucks.
  • The music of Bob Seeger can soothe a troubled mind.
  • Caprica is a much better show than I thought it would be.
  • People, even people you know well can surprise you, and that is a good thing.
  • People, even people you know well, can surprise you, and that is, sometimes, a bad thing.

In the words of Porky Pig, that’s all folks.

What I haven’t learned

I started working at my current job on March 3, 2005; five years, six months and 21 days ago. Or, put another way, I’ve worked at that job for 2,030 days.

Over the course of those 2,030 days I’ve learned to be a pretty good collector. I’ve learned how do deal with spending all day talking with people that are really not happy to be talking with me. I’ve learned to ignore the hostility, lies, and general rudeness of most of the debtors I’m to convince to pay their student loans. I’ve learned the requirements of my company’s various clients; what they will and will not accept as part of an acceptable repayment arrangement. I’ve learned that despite what most debtors seem to think, most Guaranteed Student Loan Companies are willing to bend over backwards to negotiate a repayment arrangement (thank all gods that are, or ever were, that I don’t collect credit card debt, that’s a whole different ball of wax), and I’ve learned how to deal with the constantly changing office dynamics.

I worked the second shift tonight, and tonight I was reminded of what I have not learned in 2,030 days of working in that office: I’ve not learned to keep my mouth shut when one of my coworkers is out to save my soul.

I very rarely discuss politics – mundane politics – on this blog. To my knowledge I’ve never discussed relegion, here, and I don’t really plan to start. I have my beliefs, and I take them very seriously. I also take the beliefs of my friends that read this blog seriously. I respect all people’s right to their religious beliefs, and I will not try preach to, or change anyone’s beliefs. I don’t expect others to believe as I do, nor do I feel a need to “convert” anyone. I am more than willing to discuss my beliefs, and the beliefs of others with respect and with genuine interest. What I am not willing to do is put up with people that are trying to convert me.

Now, several of the people that work in my office are members of COGIC, The Church of God In Christ.  Apparently it is a basic teaching of this church that they should try to convert other’s to their  belief, and today one of them tried to convert me. It didn’t go well.

Think about it, I am a guy that simply loves a good debate. I enjoy the skill of debate. I am also a guy that knows a great deal of the teachings of various church denominations, and of the scriptures of the bible. In other words, when it comes to a religious debate, I’m (and yes, I know this sounds arrogant, but it’s true) better armed and ready to go.

So, today one of my coworkers -let’s call her Sister Nitwit- begins a conversations with me by asking, “Cormac, do you believe in God?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you believe Christ died for your sins?”

“Um, Sister Nitwit, I really don’t think we should have this kind of conversation in the work place. ”

“Just answer the question, do you believe Christ died for your sins?”

And here is where it begins to go wrong for her, and kind of funny for me…

“Well SIster, you were warned. To answer your question, no, I don’t believe that. I mean, come on, he lived roughly 1,966 years before I was even born. Kind of hard to sin before you were born, isn’t it?”

What? Don’t you know that only true believers are going to get into heaven? It says so in the bible!” I could see at this point that she was just getting wound up, and ….to be honest, I was kind of enjoying this. I wasn’t angry or anything, but I’ve been through this kind of thing before. I knew what was about to happen. Don’t forget, I had warned her.

“Sister Nitwit, do you believe that everything written in that book,the bible,  a book that I will just mention was written quite along time after Christs death, is the word of God? Do you believe that it is all completely true?”

“Oh Lord Yes. It’s all true”

“Doesn’t it say somewhere that the only being truly capable of judging anyone is God? Doesn’t it say that one should “judge not lest ye be judged?”

“Yep, it sure does!”

“So, just a minute ago, when you implied I’d never get to Heaven, cause I’m not a true believer, weren’t you judging me? Did that mean that you had taken on the role your bible says is God’s alone?”

“Um…wait a minute…”

By this time I’m really enjoying myself, and while I could continue to describe the ways I tripped her up,  and pointed out the flaws in her logic, it wouldn’t do any good. By the time it was over I think she was probably convinced I was  Satan worshipper (I’m not, by the way). I should have just pretended to be to busy to talk. I should have just kept my mouth shut, because, and this is important, I was out numbered. And  by being better at this type of conversation that she is, I made her mad. That wasn’t really my intention, and at no point did I get angry myself. If anything, I was having fun.

She got mad though, and complained to my superior. That’s right, she got mad and complained to my superior about a conversation she started, and continued when I initially told her it wasn’t an appropriate conversation for a work place.

Now, fortunately my superior is actually pretty cool, and when I got called to his office, he was smiling when he said, “So, I hear you are trying to convert people to your heathen ways????”


Wednesday night musings

The week is half over, and my mind is blank.

I don’t particularly want to use this blog to talk about politics; I particularly don’t want to do that during an election year. Don’t get me wrong, I think the election is very serious, but I despise when people try and tell me what to think, and I’m not going to try and tell anyone else want to think. I will, however, ask that everyone that reads this does take part; does vote. It is important to take part.

I also don’t want to bore you with rantings about my job. Fact is, that particular subject is not all that interesting: Some people borrow money and just don’t think they have to repay it. It is my job to collect the money they don’t want to pay. It involves arguing with people 8 hours a day, every day. Fortunately I’m fairly good at arguing with people; I like arguing with people. Of course I would much rather be having an intellectually stimulating debate with another person that enjoys the art and skill of debate, but that is not what I get paid for.  I get paid to argue with folks that are trying to avoid paying their debt. I’ve had worse jobs.

After work, I spent about an hour running erronds and paying bills. Once that was done I even had enough money left over to fill my truck with gas. What’s more I’ve got money left over to pay for attending Kingdom A&S this weekend. I’m rather looking forward to that, it will be the first KA&S I’ve ever attended. We should be hitting the road about 3:00 Friday afternoon, headed for Utica.

I don’t have any “official” job  or staff position at this event, which is kind of unusual. I plan on spending Friday night and most of the morning Saturday working troll. One of my closest friends is the autocrat of the event, so I’ve told him I’ll be available for whatever he needs help with. Other than that, I plan to spend the weekend hanging out and talking with friends. I may even take a class or three, and, of course, take a look at the items on display. Should be a great deal of fun.

In other news, I’ve been making a lot of jewelry recently. I made a bunch of bracelets and gave them to Barnoness Mahsheed to use as largesse. I’m still working on making chains for all the members of The Order of the Diamond Chalice, but I’m running low on black, red, and silver colored rings, I have to order some more. Lately I’ve begun to get interested in expanding my skill set into some decorative knotwork type stuff, like the stuff Stormdrane shows off in his blog.
I’ve been looking at several sites lately that feature people doing that type of work, and it fascinates me. The whole subject of knots, and rope, has begun to fascinate me lately. Think about it, rope has to be one of the most basic of tools, one of the most versatile of tools,  but I know nothing about the history of it.

Oh shit, I think I’ve just found a research topic.

Wednesday Reflections

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already. I also can’t believe that I don’t really have anything to write about tonight. I guess I’ll just have to find something……

…Meditates for five minutes….

Ok, Wednesday is the day I try and post a reivew of some kind. I’ve not seen any movies recently, and I posted about couple of television shows on Sunday. I’ve not been reading anything particularly interesting lately, so the review theme is going to get dropped, and we’ll just skip ahead to the normal theme for Friday; the SCA.

Today has been a bit of a bummer when it comes to my SCA plans. A month ago I found an absolutely beautiful site for a weekend event in north Missippi: Tombigbee State park, in Tupelo.

What makes it a perfect site? Let’s see:
1. 160 beds in climate controlled cabins
2. Four “private” cabin rooms that would be perfect for royals, or event staff.
3. Four huge rooms with fire places that would be perfect for classrooms or meeting rooms.
4. More than adequate shower and bathroom facilities
5. Huge hall that could easily seat 200 for feast (along with supplied tables and chairs)
6. Really cool amphitheater down by the lake with a small stage
7. A huge permanent outdoor covered pavilion with a concrete floor.
8. Huge flat field large enough that it could be split in two sections: one for camping and one for a fighting/list field.

and most important….

9. A park staff that is looking to drum up business, and seems to be willing to negotioate price and work with the SCA.

Perfect, right? Easily day trippable from Memphis, Jackson, Starkville, and (admittedly a bit of a stretch) from Little Rock.

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, my favorite SCA activity is running events. The last event I had the pleasure of autocratting was Candlemass, and since then I’ve not had an active bid working on any event. I’m going through withdrawl. I saw this site, and my instant thought was, “Spring Crown List”.

It took a couple of weeks, but I found a feastcrat, and had  put together most of the event staff. The last thing I needed to do was call the site and confirm that it would be available the weekend of Crown List. That’s were the problem came in. “Already booked, would any other weekend work?”, was all the Ranger said this afternoon when I called.

Well, that sucks. Got the staff, just need a site. The search continues. I’ve got to get a bid on an event soon or I’ll begin to get bored. I tend to do really stupid things when I get bored – but that’s a post for a different time.

Oh well, the search goes on. I’ll call the St. Columba confrence center tomorrow; it’s a nice site; not as nice as Tombigbee, but definitely usable. I’m also going to check out Singleton Community Center tomorrow; it has possibilities as a site for single day events. I’ll check it out, see if we can afford it, and report back to the group. Hell, finding new sites is almost, almost as much fun as running the events themelves.


Small things…

It looks like Hurricane Gustav didn’t harm any of my friends. Thank god for small favors. Now if they can just make it through the other three hurricanes currently winding their way across the Gulf, I’ll be happy.

So far this has been a good week; much better than I had expected to be honest. Normally the work week following a holiday is unusually hectic, and that pattern is holding true. What is different this week is that it has been both hectic and productive. That combination doesn’t happen often.

Last night’s SCA Business meeting was a pleasant surprise. Usually our business meetings are long, unproductive, and somewhat argumentative. We meet at Southwest State Tech, and this semester there are classes meeting in the rooms on either side of the room we use, and that has proven to be a good thing; it means we have to keep the meetings relatively quiet. We can’t get involved in loud, vociferous, pointless arguments over minor issues; unfortunately we can get involved in quiet, vociferous, pointless arguments over minor issues. That didn’t happen last night. Somehow we managed to stay on track, focussed, and the discussions were productive. I live for the day when all of our meetings could be described in that manner.

After the meeting the Dragons had dinner at the new Lonestar restaurant. As usual, there were about nine of us, and as usual, we had a pretty good time. We always have a good time when we are together. The unusual part was the fact that we had both good service, and a good meal.

We go out for dinner after every meeting, and it is not all unusual for there to be 8-10 of us. We know that no restaurant staff wants to see such a large group come in, and because we know that we go out of our way to make things as easy as possible for the waiter or waitress that has to serve us. Unfortunately, all to often we get service that could best be described as incompetant. Sometimes we get service that is just bad: meals given to the wrong customer, not prepared as requested, long wait times between drinks being refilled, etc. etc.

None of that happened last night. The place had only been opened for a couple of weeks, but you would have thought it had been opened for years. Our waitress, Jen,  was professional, knowledgable, and, most important, friendly. She got all the orders to the right customers, the  food was prepared exactly as ordered, and she kept all of our drinks filled.

At one point the Manager came by the table to check that everything was ok, and all nine of us made a point of telling her what an excellent job the waitress was doing and how pleased we all were. It was quite apparent that the manager was not used to people going out of their way to compliment her staff, and she took great delight in telling her waitress that we had complimented her professionalism and friendliness. It’s amazing how such a small thing, just telling someone they are doing a good job, can mean so much to people. As we were leaving Jenn came by and said, “If you guys ever come back, ask for my section, I’d love to be your server again. You guys made my day”.

No one thinks twice about complaining when they receive bad service, however, we often forget to give compliments when the service is good, and I personally think that is more important. Managers are used to hearing complaints – some justified, some not- but it has been my experience that very few are used to hearing compliments. When they do, it surprises them, and they are always eager to pass it on to their staff. Such a small thing can really make somebody’s day.