Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In 20100331

Getting enough sleep is crucial for avoiding cravings for sugary foods. If I could go to sleep right after supper, I'd be in good shape. But I'm the one who has to clean up after supper, and sometimes I push that off until after I've done some reading or diddling with the computer.

Waist = 38.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dream: Machine Gun Fire in the Square

I'm in a public square or market in a Middle Eastern city. There are people about and children playing. A boy has a bottle on a string. He's swinging the bottle back and forth to amuse himself. But I'm very alarmed because the police are very strict and they will crack down fiercely on this because it looks like a Molotov cocktail. I yell at him to stop.

Others have already noticed and are scurrying for cover. I yell once more, but then I run toward a stand of books and hide behind it. There's also an exercise bike behind it, so I hide behind that, hoping the two will give even more protection.

A few seconds later the shooting begins. It's heavy machine gun fire. I feel it pounding the shelf in front of me. They're standing in the center of the square and firing in all directions. If anyone was left there, they are gone. The shooting goes on for seconds and more seconds and then minutes. I'm waiting for a sign that the bullets are penetrating, but they're not. I do not feel scared, though, because the stand is intact, and I know the police will not go behind the stand to find me.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SDP: Low-Cost Monopods / Tripods

I've been putting off getting a camera tripod or monopod for a long time. Mainly, I can't imagine myself carrying something like that anywhere. I'm sure that by the time I'd get it set up, the cats would have wandered off or stopped being cute, or the sunset would've lost its intensity.

So when I came across a couple of tutorials on Instructables, on how to make a low-cost tripod, I got very excited.

The String Tripod tutorial is very well done and made a lot of sense to me. So I tried it, or something a lot like it. I decided to make use of my SLR's camera strap mounts to connect the string to rather than the eyebolt. I figured this would provide even more stability and prevent the camera from rotating. I used about 14 feet of 20lb fishing line terminated on each end with swivel hooks, which attach to the camera strap mounts. It was a breeze to do. But the testing didn't pan out. I was unable to take clearer pictures using a bipod configuration. In fact, because I was applying an upward force to the camera, my arms shook and caused more camera shake than when I relaxed. The strings didn't prevent the camera from rotating in two axes, resulting in up-down and left-right motion of the lens.

But I think the camera shake could be mitigated by using a weight attached rigidly to the tripod mount. Even attaching a bungie cord between the eyebolt in the camera and the fishing line on the ground would limit the up-down movement of the lens. So I might try that next.

Also interesting is the instructable on making a monopod from a flag pole holder and a broom stick (or other staff or pole). That looks worthwhile. And I do need to replace our flag pole holder anyway, so if it doesn't work out, I won't have wasted anything.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In 20100324

I seemed to be doing well in terms of exercising and eating well. But every so often, I have this strange experience. It involves a source of chocolate or sweets, and two opposing entities -- my thoughts and my body.

My thoughts will tell me that I'm not hungry, and that I don't need chocolate, and so on.

My thoughts will be saying this to me (with increasing intensity) while my body is walking toward the chocolate ("No, you're not actually hungry."), opening the container ("You don't need that chocolate."), grabbing a handful ("Stop!"), walking back to my desk ("Get a drink of water or have some tea, instead."), unwrapping each individual piece ("Really. I mean it."), and, of course, popping the piece into my mouth ("Oh screw it").

Don't know why I'm mentioning this really, unless it's to find out if this happens to anyone else?

Waist = 38.25"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thinking About Thinking

My daughter tried to contact her spirit guide after reading Sylvia Browne's Contacting Your Spirit Guide. But she wasn't able to. And she asked me to help.

First she wanted me to read a meditation to her1. But when I did that, she resisted so blatantly, I assumed she was just trying to annoy me. Here's how it went:

"You're on a beach. See the ocean and the blue sky...."
"I can't see anything."
"Just imagine you can see it. Feel the warm sand underneath you."
"I can't imagine it. And I don't feel any sand. It's just the floor."
"You've been on a beach before. Pretend you're at one now. Hear the waves splash onto the shore...."
"All I hear is you."

It wasn't working for her.

So she urged me to contact her spirit guide for her. She had total confidence in me because of how effortlessly I was able to contact my own spirit guide.

So I asked her to read the meditation to me. While meditating, I briefly saw this very old, short, shriveled woman named Esmeralda. But then she revealed herself as a young Native American girl named Running Wind, although she doesn't mind being called Sally. Sally is about the same size as my daughter, but she's a little leaner and a lot more athletic. Her hair is very dark brown, almost black. It's a bit short, and she keeps it tied in a pony tail in the back, while the sides hang down on either side of her face like the ear flaps of a hunting cap. She's dressed a bit scantily, like a Disney character meant to appeal to grown ups.

Anyway, I wanted to help my daughter understand how to imagine and visualize. I explained how I don't actually see things when I think about them (not exactly, but close). Instead I imagine I see them. Then I turned to Shakti Gawain's Creative Visualization for help. Shakti explains that visualization means different things to different people. Some people do see images. But others don't. Instead they get more of a feeling. She offers a simple exercise -- to imagine a room in your house.

So, while we sat in the living room, I tried to get my daughter to imagine that she's in her bedroom and to describe what's in the room with her. What's the floor like? What furniture is in the room? What color are the walls, and what's hung on the walls? She had a surprising amount of difficulty with this despite having the same bedroom since she was a baby.

It made me wonder how she could do so well in art and creative writing when she couldn't see anything in her Mind's Eye. I wouldn't be able to write creatively2 if I couldn't visualize the scene that I'm writing about, and hear dialog, and generally immerse myself. I visualize when I read fiction and even when I listen to some music. My daughter's inability to visualize is alien and frightening to me. It's as if she told me that she's blind. In a sense, I believe she is.

How do you visualize something?

1The book is sold with a CD of all the meditations. However, this was a library book, and it was missing the CD.
2Actually, I can't write creatively very well. What I meant was, "I wouldn't even try to write creatively...." And it would be impossible for me to record my dreams because I "play them back" in my Mind's Eye over and over.

Shadow Shot Sunday Wisteria

Last weekend was so overcast, I had completely forgotten what shadows were. Today I went picture taking, but I didn't like how anything came out. My favorite shots usually happen when I don't have the camera, and I'm compelled to get it.

Today's image is from November. These leaflets look like they're from a small wisteria. The shadows behind that are from a Mountain Laurel.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TAW: Morning Pages

I finally started to read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way or TAW, five and a half years after first hearing about it.

One of the first things she wants readers to do is to write "Morning Pages." This is a writing exercise that you're supposed to do first thing in the morning. It involves writing in long hand three pages of whatever pops into your head.

My first reaction was, "Is that all, three pages? But what if I have more I want to keep writing about?"

Then my thoughts drifted over to how I started a handwritten journal in 1976. At some point I decided to record my dreams, and then I'd expound on the dreams. So it seems to me that I've already been doing Morning Pages for many years. Maybe this is why I consider Creativity to be my greatest asset?

A second thing that Julia writes about is a weekly artist date. Again, that's another thing I used to do naturally, intuitively many years ago. But now, being married, a father, a homeowner and a full-time worker, it's hard to find time for that. Yet I'm always trying to eek out nice things for my Inner Artist to appreciate, even when I just take the dog outside for five minutes at night. Then, the stars, the glittery sparkle of snow in Winter, the furtive sounds of nocturnal creatures in Spring, Summer and Fall, all delight me.

Third, and perhaps most helpful, is the contract that you're supposed to sign at the end of chapter 1. It's not enough to agree to read the book (one chapter per week) and do the exercises. We must also get plenty of rest, eat sensibly, and exercise. This reminded me in a big way that you can't be creative if you're in a daze from sleep deprivation or suffering a letdown from caffeine or a sugar high. That's a motivational trigger for me. I can't seem to control my lifestyle just for the sake of feeling better, losing weight (or keeping it off) or even living longer. But when I realized I'd lose touch with my Muse, I decided to get back on track. Ironically, the time I'd spend blogging (lunchtime and nighttime) I now have to "sacrifice" for taking noontime walks and going to bed at a decent hour.

So I still find this book inspirational, even though I've read only about the first half. The best sentence: "Jump and the net will appear," she writes, quoting another source. Isn't that wonderful?

You can visit The Artist's Way website at

Wednesday Weigh-In 20100317

Trying to put a damper on sugar cravings by getting more sleep. The change to Daylight Savings Time usually makes me tired for the first week, so I've been planning to go to bed earlier anyway.

Waist = 38.25"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Book Review: "Advice My Parents Gave Me"

In Advice My Parents Gave Me: and Other Lessons I Learned from My Mistakes, Rodolfo Costa's 409 bits of advice are numbered and grouped into fifteen sections. Each section is separated by a page of quotations from famous or historical people. This is followed by a two-page summary, which is probably the most inspirational part of the book.

The groupings of advice-bits are roughly based on various themes, such as attitude, motivation, finances, the importance of laughter, gratitude and more. My favorite advice-bits appear early in the book, but some other sections (such as the "gratitude section") resonated well with me, too.

The book is well-written -- I found only two errors (one wrong verb tense and one omitted word). As well, it's easy to read. However, when I read from front to back in a few days, it started to grate on me and take on a nagging quality -- "Do not ____," "Learn to _____," "Be sure to ____," etc.. So I recommend reading this at a very leisurely pace (perhaps read just one page before your regular reading). Or open it up at a random page and read just one advice-bit each day, as we do sometimes with Wayne Dyer's Everyday Wisdom for Success. In fact, I can see this working well as a blog or iPhone applet, delivering one advice-bit per page refresh or per day.

One thing lacking in this book is some autobiographical context behind the advice. I would have liked this book more if the author included in each section a brief description of how the advice fit in with his life experience, which I think would have helped me to connect to the advice, or accept it with more appreciation. In its current form, it seems to fulfill more of a pet project role for the author as opposed to a lesson manual for the reader.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In 20100310

Three words: Girl Scout Cookies

Waist = 38.25"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Get Sugar Milk

I'm sure that if you just wrote a soon-to-be-published book, you'd want all of your blog readers to call attention to it, and buy it, if possible.

So plant some Karma Seeds and do just that, so that when your book comes out, you'll get plenty of attention.

The book is Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka, and in case you're wondering, I did not ghost write it.

I'm guessing it's real good, like the best of the author's blog, Clark Kent's Lunchbox.

Why not read an Excerpt and find out for yourself!

Okay, that's all. Got to go load the dishwasher and fire it up!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday Stink Bug

And now for something a little bit similar to last week....

I saw this little stinker while I was doing some yardwork outside today. Otherwise, I'd've had to resort to a photo from the archives!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In 20100303

I'm starting to walk at lunch time again. Hopefully it will help curb my appetite and burn some un-needed calories.

Waist = 38.25"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.