Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Week 2 of "Opposite December"

 

So, my week 2 of “Opposite December” went as planned with one major exception and that is the focus of this post.  Last week I wrote about the positive effects of abstaining from alcohol and they hold true.  But, last Monday, just as I was ready to take it up a notch exercise-wise (including the treadmill for cardio) I started getting pain in my feet, specifically in my Achille’s tendons.  I chalked it up to my feet adjusting to using my standing desk full-time, but Tuesday, the pain went exclusively to my left foot and Wednesday it transferred to my right foot with a vengeance.  My right foot was swollen and purple and it got so bad that I had to work from home Thursday and Friday: I could barely walk.  The pain wound up radiating from one focal point below my right outside ankle.  This, to me, indicated that I was having another gout flare up even though my uric acid number has fallen significantly since last June when I had my last major flare-up.  It is still affecting me today but is subsiding. 

The lesson in this is that bad health can ruin everything – health must be your number one priority regardless of what stage of life you are in.  I have more energy and focus because of the abstention from alcohol; however, having severe pain saps that energy and my attention very quickly while my brain tries to deal with the pain.  In my case, having lower uric acid levels is not the cure for the gout flare-ups and reducing or eliminating alcohol is supposed to be one of the most reliable tactics for battling gout.  With those variables controlled for, something else is going on and it is probably the stressors that I have in my life that, unfortunately, cannot be realistically reduced at this time. 

I am still trudging forward with my opposite December experiment regardless of the health setback.  I am ahead in my post-doc deliverable due by the end of the month and I had two major epiphanies toward that work that helped me to better contextualize the value of the product and knowledge to the field.   


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Week 1 of "Opposite December"


I am a week in to my “opposite December” where I am taking a 180 degree path away from what most of us do in December – slowing down, more merrymaking, etc.  I decided to take an opposite tack, to only drink twice during the month (during a team happy hour on the 17th that closes down my work year and on New Year’s Eve) and to hit the throttle on work, projects, and exercise while most are slowing down.

A week in to no alcohol has opened my eyes to the many benefits of abstention.  My reason to dial back on the alcohol is related to my health and weight and I’m noticing a significant difference already.  My sleep is profoundly better.  I am sleeping through the night (a sign of getting the deep slow-wave sleep that is foundational to consolidating memories) and I am having my old vivid dreams again.  My memory is better, I feel a greater sense of attentional control, I have greater mental acuity, and I have more energy.  I definitely feel a gastrointestinal difference – I don’t get bloated after meals and my stool is normal versus loose (I know that’s gross).  Alcohol hijacks your liver, so you temporarily have trouble metabolizing other nutrients.  I drink Rumple Minze, which has a high sugar content, making the problem worse.  So reducing or abstaining from alcohol has many metabolic and health benefits – my blood work, though good, will probably improve and the weight will probably come off easier (I am not overweight, I just need to get back down to my fighting weight).  My skin looks better and my eyes are wider and whiter.  

I have a major post doc deliverable due by the end of the month and I have made more progress toward that in the past week than in the past several months.  My attention is focused on those things that really matter; it’s easier to do when I am accelerating while the world slows down.  I have cooked two meals from scratch in the past week, which I’m endeavoring to make a daily habit.  Keep in mind that dopamine (the stress blocker) is not released as the result of an action, it’s released during the process of action (think exercising).  Doing the thing, moving forward in the right direction is the dopamine producer, so making positive steps forward helps to battle cortisol and epinephrine, the stress produced enemies of the body and brain.      

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Brave New World?

2020 represents the beginning of the world’s spiral into a dystopian abyss, the death of a republic, and the creation of a purgatory where truth is dead.  Leftists, globalists, and technocrats may believe that this is the beginning of a brave new world but, in reality, it is a world of cowards and snakes who will prosper in agreed upon lies.  SARS-CoV-2 is but an excuse to create a world run by deep state fundamentalists whose only goal is self-aggrandizement at the expense of yours and my freedom and labor – we are serfs to be used and lied to.

Big tech giants and the mainstream media seek to silence the truth in alliance with these technocrats; they seek to create a world of social control where freedom is mocked and the voices of reason are silenced.  The newspeak of 1984 is not only here, it’s far more pervasive and dangerous than George Orwell could ever imagine.    

What do true patriots who believe in the innate freedom of the individual over the body politic do to combat this slide into horror?  We continue to believe in the truth, we keep speaking the truth, we keep living the truth.  Unlike the cowards who vainly ridicule us, we have the strength of faith – faith in our Lord, faith in individuals, and faith in the incredibly prescient ideals of our Founding Fathers. 

More to come…


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Trades, Talent, and High Value Work

 

I returned to the office in June as part of a "Return to Office" pilot program because I am, in no way, set up to work from home. During this time, my employer has been doing renovations to prepare for the workforce to return after the pandemic. As part of the renovations, there is work being done on the escalator banks that require scaffolding. All of the escalator banks are 4 floors in height with the exception of one which is five floors in height. I am completely awestruck by the work it takes to build the scaffolding and the talent and skill that goes into it. There are several other trades in the building doing renovation work and I admire and value them all.

The skilled trades have not become irrelevant as society grows in technical sophistication, nor will they, but there is going to be a shortage of skilled trades workers if we don't do something about it.  High school curricula and guidance counselors push college as the future of choice for students; however, it is not the only route to professional success.  I had two fathers involved in racing (both were mechanics) and so was my brother, but I never got involved...and I wish that I had.  I wish that I had learned to build racecars, engines, transmissions, rear-ends, etc., but I was too involved with football and other not so healthy endeavors.  I took shop classes, but I sucked at them, thus never tried to become proficient (FYI - you always suck when you first try something).  

Getting back to the trades, we need to start following the lead of Mike Rowe and re-emphasize the skilled trades in schools and trade schools and apprenticeships after high school. I am a proponent of having degree programs that integrate professional programs with trades.  For example, combine a computer-aided machining trade with mechanical engineering or combine carpentry with architecture. I want to partner with the states' boards of higher education and colleges and universities to make this a reality.        

Thursday, October 8, 2020

I beg to differ Joe Rogan

 

I am a huge fan of Joe Rogan; however, he has repeatedly stated something in which I have a differing opinion.  Joe Rogan, and I am paraphrasing here, says that the difference between a cult and a religion is that in a cult the leader is alive and in a religion the leader is dead. I would like to offer my apologetics for Christianity to the discussion. 

My indefatigable truth - nobody would ever willingly die for a lie. Most people's argument against that statement has been that Muslim terrorists die for their religion.  That's fallacious reasoning and here's why.  Muslim extremists have no idea if their beliefs are a lie or not.  For that matter, neither do modern-day Christians, we have faith in the truth; we will not actually know until we die, which is the same for any other faith.  

In the case of Jesus, there are several differences.  There is no arguing that the physical man existed and that there was a crucifixion. Two historians, both of which were alive in the natural lifetime of Jesus, wrote about Jesus and the crucifixion (a natural lifetime being a period in which Jesus would have lived had he not been executed).  Josephus, a Jewish historian, refers to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate.  Tacitus, a Roman historian, referred to the same as well as referring to the early Christians in Rome. The natural lifetime context is important because people who actually knew Jesus were still alive during Josephus' and Tacitus' time.  There is no argument that the man Jesus existed during the timeframe that the Bible references and that he was executed (crucified).  The argument is over Jesus' divinity.  

Now, let's get to the point of nobody willing to die for a lie.  Of the twelve Apostles who actually knew Jesus, all but one were martyred for their faith, some with more historical clarity than others. Other prominent disciples outside of the twelve who also knew Jesus were martyred.  Here is my argument - all of these men knew the truth, they knew whether or not Jesus was actually who he said he was, they were there during Jesus' life and resurrection.  Can you honestly say that these men would willingly be tortured and executed in very cruel ways if they knew that who they claimed Jesus to be was, in fact, a lie?  I have a hard time believing that, personally and intellectually.  Would you die for what you know to be a lie?  No, you wouldn't. The early Christian martyrs died because they knew the truth.  And that is my truth.   

EPILOGUE

There has been no credible anthropological or archaeological research that has disputed or dispelled the Bible, only confirmational findings.  To Joe's point that the early Christian bible was a product of the Church three centuries after the fact (the fact being Jesus, though the bible refers back many more centuries before Christ, mostly through the Jewish Old Testament), the church actually studied the documentation to determine authenticity and veracity just like scholars do today.  There were points of disagreement within the church; however, they came to a general agreement regarding what should be scripture and what shouldn't. And yes, they knew how to deal with the multiple translations (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin).


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

What I Believe.

  In this cynical world, it is easy to expound on the things that bother us, what we're against, what we'll fight (and I am guilty of this).  However, here is my statement of what I believe:

I believe that Jesus Christ is my redeemer and died a cruel and horrific death as salvation for my sins.

I believe that all lives matter; therefore, abortion as a form of birth control is inhuman and wrong.

I believe that the United States, even with all our warts, is an anchor for the world and has kept humankind from self-destruction.

I believe in the wisdom of our Constitution and its intent to limit government, not individuals.

I believe in science, the rigor of the scientific method, and open scrutiny of scientific results.

I believe in open dialogue on any subject free from any form of censorship.

I believe that education (free from political bias) and skilled trades are the great equalizers of socioeconomic disparities.

I believe in the power of individuals; therefore, I believe in equal opportunities, not equal outcomes.

I believe that our planet is precious and should be protected from harm but based on reasonable (non-political) and evidence-based solutions.

I believe that humans are explorers by nature and we should always endeavor to reach for the stars (both in space and here on Earth).



Friday, July 10, 2020

Stop the Recurring Negative Tape in Your Head

There is a process in our brains called neuroplasticity whereby the brain reorganizes itself based on learning, experiencing new things, and even brain injuries. Now the bad part – neuroplasticity is in action with our thoughts. If you are obsessed with COVID-19, politics, etc., your brain is rewiring to think this way and you become a running, recurring tape of negativity that will damage you, physically and mentally. And neuroplasticity happens fast. Research has shown that the brain can start to reorganize neurologically in hours!

Put a stop to this rewiring of your brain toward negativity. One way to do this is to completely eliminate reading and writing negative posts on social media. Do not respond to negative narratives whether they are something aligned with your views or not. Even if you are responding to something that you're allied with, if it is negative the result to your brain is the same - you keep rewiring the negative tape that eventually sets up a harmful pattern of conceptions that have very real mental and physical consequences.

Turn off the news! I realize that in this 24/7 world of digital information streaming to all of your devices it's almost impossible to not see the bad things that are going on. But you can filter info out on these platforms. I just went through my Google account preferences and eliminated all news sources. Most of the news now is not news anyway, it's not journalism - it's a narrative slanted toward a particular orientation. Worse, it's usually a negative spin on whatever storyline is being presented - and that just keeps that negative tape rolling and reinforcing your brain's unhealthy rewiring.