Standing on the Verge of Getting it on

Standing on the Verge of Getting it on

If you’re a Red Hot Chili Peppers/The Roots fan, you’ll enjoy this mp3. I took care of all the dirty work to give you all, or most, of the tagging complete and even made a nice little cover so it looks good in your media player of choice. Please enjoy.

Standing on the Verge of Getting it on (with The Roots)

Standing on the Verge of Getting it on (with The Roots)

Walter White & Jesse Pinkman from a second view

This week I finished a second viewing of the entire series of Breaking Bad. What a journey!

My overall view shifted significantly from the first viewing. Where the unknown and anticipation drew me to the next episode the first time around, the second viewing was lead by details previously unnoticed and anticipation unfelt in the first go around.

Watching a series as detailed, thought-out, and designed as BB requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate. It truly is a piece of art that continually unfolds itself in new and exciting ways.

The thing that I least expected in this second viewing was the building dread I would experience. Finally, I get Mrs. White. I can see it from her point of view. While many did not appreciate her character (myself included) in the show, a second viewing made me appreciate her female intuition. I found myself applauding her and being able to follow her line of thinking. This was refreshing—I liked her.

Walter, I grew to hate. That selfish, deceptive, manipulative bastard! The irony of justifying everything “for the family” played well with his talent for making people do what he wanted to. What troubled me most about him was his ability to be what he needed to be in order to get his way. If he needed to be strong and demanding, he was strong and demanding. If he needed to be a pitiful, crying shell of a man, that is what he became. He had no shame and mercilessly pursued his goal even at the cost of his pride… Which is ironic, because it is his pride that made him keep going. How does a man operate like that?

Finally, there’s Jesse. Poor Jesse. I really felt for the guy this go ’round. That said, I don’t have hope for him. He’ll end up a druggie in some small town throwing the rest of his life away. He wants better, but he can’t stop blaming himself for all the deaths he’s caused. Aaaaand I can’t say that I’d handle it any differently.

But of all the character perceptions that shifted for me… of all the changes that I had about the show with the second viewing… the thing that caught me most by surprise was…

How hard it was to watch the last half of the season. Everything is finally coming to the climax. Jesse’s finally standing up for himself! Hank is finally getting the upper hand! Walt is finally looking down the barrel of a loaded gun that he can’t hide from and it looks like things are going to work out and Walt will finally have to surrender!

But, alas, it is not so. I know what happens, and it is terribly painful to watch a second time. What I consumed through the beginning was now dreaded. It was mentally and emotionally tiring to watch these characters go through this trauma again. How awful.

And in spite of that, I still find Walter White to be the perfect anti-hero. He dies doing what he loves. He finally comes clean with Jesse. He embraces not only his death, but who he is: “I did it for me. It makes me feel alive. I was good at it.” He finally embraces his identity and doesn’t run from it any longer.

He is Heisenberg through and through.

Lumosity is bullshit

Lumosity. That annoying commercial that features 20-somethings bragging about how good their brains feel because they’re playing a fucked up game of frogger.

This “neuroplasticity” is not real. There is no “plasticyness” to your brain. It’s wet and soft like a gross sponge. A three-pound gross sponge. Neurons “talk” to each other and give you the illusion of control, independence, and immortality. These are characteristics which I think are perfectly suited to a life form that will die.

The people who created Lumosity do not understand what it is like to be a parent. They do not understand what it is like to hold down a job, try to figure out a way to pay for college and braces while trying to encourage their children to go to college so that they are in a slightly better position than you when they are your age.

The people who created Lumosity are assholes that don’t understand the value of just shutting-the-fuck-down for a weekend. Hell, for five minutes! Go-Go-Go-Go! Everything is about them going! Jesus, man. Chill out for a minute and just rest. Enjoy the scenery. Watch a movie that makes you cry. Watch a child enjoy the ignorance of bliss of this fast, rushing life for Christ’s sake.

Look, I’m excited about your excitement. Really! I used to have it once. Then reality set in and I realized, just like my parents told me, it’s not all about me. I’m a piece of the puzzle. Assuming there’s a puzzle, of course.

All you single, childless people that are so busy doing and hoping everything… keep those things in mind, but be humble and accept that your fate is the dust. Don’t even assume about the afterlife. Just look at yesterday and today. Know that these are the only things you have. Tomorrow is just a hope. A bold assumption.

Relax a little.

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Minimum Wage Vote Lost

The vote to raise minimum wage to $10.10 was declined today. The part of me that has been through the gully is really pissed off by this. Most folks working minimum wage are scraping by. Think about it: $7.25 at full time is $290 a week gross. That’s not a lot of money at all. Even a young man or woman just starting out can’t make it on that today.

In 1993, minimum wage was $4.25. With inflation today’s minimum wage is the equivalent of $4.87. See it here. It’s truly pathetic.

But here’s the kicker… my cynical side… the side that sees how corporations treat employees and know that their ultimate responsibility is to turn a profit for the shareholder, believes that raising minimum wage to $10.10 would only cause a corporate backlash leaving us worse off in the long run. Corporations would find a way to make up that $114 per week by further streamlining business processes and “doing more with less”. Which in turn would lead to an even more competitive job market requiring more specialized skills for unskilled laborers. Or the fry guy does burger flipping now too. Practically: In-n-Out would have a work force cut in half and still somehow maintain maximum output.

To sum it up, how do I feel about the vote? I’m pissed about it. At the same time, I think where we are is better than nothing. The middle class is diminishing. The politicians always get their pay raise. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. And Americans are distracted enough by Facebook and CNN’s shit news about Donald Sterling’s “archiver’s” Instagram coverage to be able to slough it off with another drink and status update.

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It’s discouraging. I’d like to believe that our politicians truly care about this country. I’d like to. But I think more and more that they are only interested in what’s best for them rather than those that put them in office. After all, they never have a problem getting their own raises approved.

Fitness is not fun

Fitness is fun. At least this is what everyone trying to make a buck off of their latest and greatest performance tracking widget wants you to believe. But I am telling you today that fitness is not fun. It is rewarding. It is enjoyable. These are true, but it does not fit into my definition of fun.

Fun is carefree, relaxed, full of laughter, contemplation, pleasure, and excitement. Fitness is full of discipline, endurance, and pain, with reward being slowly rewarded by steady progress toward a goal.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I’m tired of companies trying to make fitness fun. Apps, spreadsheets, and analysis are useful, and even necessary depending on your goal, but they are not fun.

That said, I don’t want to leave you hanging if you’re trying to motivate yourself for getting started in the gym. Do you want to know what gets you through the hard and annoying things about fitness? Do you want to know how to make it through the slumps that will come? Do you want to know how to push through to reward, satisfaction, drive, and accomplishment? Yes—of course you do!

There is only one thing you need to drive and push you—your reason for getting, and staying, in shape. You have to have a reason to get you in the gym after a long day at work. You have to have a deep-seated motivation to avoid the donut at work. That one thing is a seed that grows into a lifestyle.

I’ve done what many others have done throughout my life: joined a gym, worked out for three months or so, and then quit. Several times. Until I turned 34 when I discovered my motivation—taking care of my health.

My wife had been diagnosed with cancer 6 months earlier and just completed chemotherapy. I had recently started working again after four months of unemployment. We had a 6-month-old son. I was drinking almost every night after the kids went to bed. But as I reached my birthday, a light came on for me.

It was looking like my wife was going to make it through (she did—Baruch Hashem!). I was enjoying my work and watching my third son grow. I had a lot to be thankful for! I knew that I hadn’t taken very good care of myself for a while, if ever really, and needed to change. My wife always ate well. She never smoked and rarely, if ever, drank. I realized that if she could get cancer in spite of taking care of her body, then I was screwed and didn’t stand a chance! My wife motivated me to start taking better care of myself. So I joined a gym.

The first year, I made it a habit and learned how to make it a part of my life. The second year, I learned more about strengthening my body, and I took care of a shoulder injury to prepare for my third year. My third year, I trained. I put on 20 lbs of muscle and went from 33% to 19% body fat. This year, my fourth year, I am trying to overcome years of eating habits and reduce my body fat from 24% to 15%.

Through it all, I’ve had many interruptions and shake ups that would have stopped me from going in the past. My kids have gotten sick. I have gotten sick. My wife has gotten sick. I have had pain. I have had just slumps where I didn’t want to go for long periods of time. Sometimes, I was just sleepy. There is no fun in going when everything around you is saying “not today!” No app or spreadsheet is going to motivate at these times.

Through all of the things I could use as excuses to stay home or stop going at all, I’ve pushed through because I remembered the one reason I started going in the first place.

That seed of motivation had grown into a desire to learn and improve. It has lasted me through shoulder surgery (where I couldn’t work out) to the downs of life that discourage working out. That seed has grown into a tree so that now you could say I have “the bug”. But even now, years into it, I still need that seed of motivation that pushes me when I don’t want to be pushed.

It is still the one thing that drives me. That one thing is realizing that I need to fight to hold on to my health. I need to do what I can to prevent disease instead of letting life just have its way with me while I sit on the couch. I know that things can change in a moment, but when it does, I’ll know that I have done my best to keep that moment at bay. It’s really just a desire to live my life and not let it live me.

If you don’t have that desire, that one point of motivation that doesn’t push you out the door into the cold night air, or the oven blast of the day, then you won’t go out when it’s nice. If you don’t have a voice inside your head saying, “do what you can now and improve while you can”, then you won’t do a thing. Save your money at the gym, on the supplements, the trainer, and the new shoes.

When you start, spend your time defining what that seed of motivation is. What is that one thing that brought you into the gym? Your health? Your kids? Your reflection? Plant that one thing in your being and keep it there. That seed grows into discipline and hard work. That’s the only shortcut for change and success. Everything else grows from it.

And this is where the fun comes in. It’s fun every time you walk back in your door tired and sweaty, knowing you did something you truly wanted to do. It’s fun when you look in the mirror and see gradual improvement. It’s fun when you get the unexpected compliment. It’s even fun when you’re buying new clothes because the old ones don’t fit any longer. That is fun.