Posts Tagged ‘ values ’

Malin Bjork

There I was: surfing YouTube, wanting some Christmas Music, when I noticed in the right-hand column “My Fitness Journey” by MalinBjork. Of course I clicked on it. Malin told the story of how she got back in shape after her pregnancy. With our Twins approaching five months old, it is clear my wife needs help regaining her figure, and I need help understanding if she could “go home again.” (My wife holds a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, so you can imagine her level of fitness when I met her.)


Well, obviously, my wife and Malin are not the same woman, but genes aside, might it be possible for someone – anyone – to regain a HEALTHY weight after pregnancy. I have known a few woman than have accomplished this; but mostly, the women I know (whether they have experienced a pregnancy, or not, gain weight (which I equate with losing health) – and I do mean considerable poundage – with age. And yes, men do, too. I know I have (without the excuse of ever having been pregnant).


But, what struck me was not that Malin did a superb job of regaining her pre-pregnancy physique, or that it took two years, but that she did it at all. I’ve never met Malin, but my own struggle with trying to maintain some semblance of health (which, to a great extent, can be measured on typical bathroom scales) leads me to believe that, while it is difficult to “battle the bulge,” it is not impossible.


My good friend Scooby1961 is probably in the same camp. (Full Disclosure: Scooby and I have never met or conversed, but I have been an avid YouTube follower of his – and sometime exercise follower – for years. What he says just makes sense to me; I’d like to think that if we did meet, we could be friends.) In one of his videos he says that if you eat donuts, you’ll look like a donut; and, if you eat like the average American, you’ll look like the average American. Right on both counts. He says food is fuel – something I could never say around my brother (a devout foodie).


Now, I’m a lot older than either Malin or Scooby, and it’s been years since I could say I was “physically active,” and there’s no way I could ever get to their level of body building (nor, honestly, do I want to). But, neither do they look like the average American (Malin is a Swede, Scooby is apparently a Southern Californian – one of the few with his head screwed on straight) – and that is what I am after. And, I just gotta believe that being physically active (and I don’t mean a couple of rounds of golf in the summer) and eating right (the right stuff, the right amounts) are just the right things to do. A sound mind in a sound body, eh?


However, the Twins are approaching five months old and nearly 18 pounds apiece. If I am to be able to play with them (i.e., interact), I am going to have to get serious about getting in shape for them. I find them to be a lot of fun, and I hope I can be a lot of fun for them (which will increase the bond). I also hope that I will be around for awhile – a long while, for their sakes.


So, if this is not too early for New Year’s Resolutions (how about “long term life goals”?), I do hereby resolve (sounds better using words normal folks would never use, doesn’t it) to lose five kilos (which would bring me down to 80kg, or about 175lbs) next year, thru diet and exercise. Sadly, I anticipate being stuck in a job that requires 12-hour shifts with an hour to an hour and a half on each end commuting – this is a “seven days on / seven days off” thing. Which means for seven days I don’t have time to exercise, and the other seven days I don’t have the energy to exercise.


It also means I have to give up wine. While many people say that “a calorie is a calorie,” I subscribe to Dr Robert Lustig’s view that the liver treats alcohol differently than other stuff. Scooby says to not drink your calories, and there is nothing that a glass of red wine will do for your heart that other foods and more exercise won’t also do (after years of developing a taste for wine – face it: alcohol is not good for the body – it will take a pretty firm effort to stay away from it). In the final analysis, what do I want for my Twins?


(Malin Bjork’s YouTube videos are in English, but her own website, is in Swedish. Both Scooby and Dr Lustig converse in only English.  All three have YouTube videos, too.)



RFRA & My Wedding Ring

“Aggressive shows of grievance are meant to deflect discernment, not advance it.”

Pretty well sums up, not the end of history, but the end of civilization (i.e., civility).

Stray cats and dogs

Lots of people collect ‘em. I don’t. I collect books. But, like mongrels, the books on my shelves are not collectors’ items or first editions. There are some interesting titles (I think); but few people would give my books a second glance. In fact, few people have, tho most of my 1,000 volumes on are shelves in the living room. Opposite the front door. You can’t miss ‘em.

My point is this: you can tell who loves cats and dogs, either by the smell, or the bark, or the hair (or, is it fur? I can never remember). As my little brother might say, “Love my dog, love me” (or, do I have that backwards?). He might say it, but I won’t. I used to be ok with pets – just, “ok” – really ambivalent; didn’t much care one way or the other. Until I bought a house next door to a woman who owns about a dozen football dogs (little yappy things, the kind of dog I’d dearly love to kick), boards and grooms others (some, real dogs). When I worked nights, the little darlings often played in her backyard (while she stayed inside) and kept me company. Yet another reason why discharging firearms in the city is not permitted.

So, there’s Levi, inviting Jesus over to his house for dinner. I can imagine him then thinking something along the lines of, “Oops! I hope He’s not offended by the mess. When was the last time the wife cleaned? Maybe He’ll come tomorrow?” I’m thinking, “No such luck.” Jesus probably said, “What are we waiting for?” What would Jesus have noticed upon walking in the front door of Levi’s house? What would be His first impression upon entering yours?

In reading that passage of Levi’s invitation, I had the thot: “What if Jesus was at my door, right now?” I’d hear the knocking (I disabled the doorbell when I worked nights), I’d go open the door, I’d recognize Him immediately, and I’d blurt out, “Jesus Christ.” Maybe He’d smile (‘cause He knew that was coming), Maybe He’d make some quip like, “I certainly hope so.” I mean, Jesus has a sense of humor, right? I know His Father does, so “like father, like son,” right?

Anyway, He couldn’t help but notice the wall of books. He might think, “This guys sure loves books,” or maybe a more cynical, “I wonder if he’s read even half these things?” ‘Course, He already knows, so I guess this would be a rhetorical question? Is that a rhetorical question?

A better question is: “Are you living your life so that (a), if (GOD forbid, eh?) Jesus came over for dinner tonight (think of Sidney Poitier, if that helps) you could – in any way – be the least little bit comfortable; or (b) you’d actually like what you might find in Heaven?” Think about the latter possibility: what, exactly would you do if the streets of Heaven were, indeed, paved with gold? Not working? How about singing “Hallelujah” for all eternity (I was gonna say “all day, every day,” but of course, time has no meaning in Heaven). Maybe trying to make a joyful noise on Sunday mornings would be a good warm-up?

I see a lot of debate about whether or not there is a Hell, or if it’s populated. Logically, it makes perfect sense that there is nobody in Hell: of course GOD would make something that is absolutely worthless. And, since I am trying to prepare for that other eventuality (I accept that I haven’t filed my taxes yet), I’m very curious about what I read in the Owner’s Manual (as a very important man once described it to me – he was also a Disciple of Christ minister). I’m not finding much hope at all for the idea that there is no Hell, that Jesus won’t judge after all (maybe just wink-wink and a nod of the head?), and maybe being a goat is not just being the butt of some joke (or, maybe it is?). How else to read Matthew 25:41-46?

So, not much comfort in the concept that Jesus is my “Get out Jail Free Card.” No, I’m not thinking I can do much to guarantee that I’ll like what’s behind Door Number Two, when I’m standing there (naked, and alone) in front of the Pearly Gates. But, at least – at the very least – I will be able to say that I tried.

While I do believe the Bible is inspired (the Holy Spirit guiding the hand of man which held the pen), I don’t believe it is all, word-for-word, literally true (for starters, none of the original Bible has survived to this day, and none of what has survived was written in English). Some parts I do take at face value. like not trying to interpret the Bible by myself (2 Peter 1:20). Look to Burridge if you’re trying to get your hands around the genre of the Gospels – I’m only half-way thru his What Are the Gospels, and the thing I am really sure of is that I’m not really sure of much. But, I do believe that the entire Bible is about Jesus Christ; and the one thing that keeps coming back, over and over, is the idea that He is setting Himself up (forward?) as an example. He wants us to follow His example, His lead. Very much a “Do as I say, and do as I do,” kind of thing.

And that makes my trials and tribulations inescapable. I have no personal knowledge of scourging or crucifixion; but, like standing in front of a Mac truck on the interstate, I really (no, really) don’t think I need to. Granted, I might be missing part of the, um (forgive me) full impact; but I’ll take that chance. Nevertheless, the end of Jesus’ life here on earth was not all skittles and beer. And, I don’t believe He intends for us to have a free-ride, either. Pretty much a case of: “This is what I did for you, what are you doing for Me?”

Full disclosure: that last sentence, that question I originally wrote as “This is what I did for you, what are you going to do for Me?” A quick re-read and I discovered that it shouldn’t be future tense, it should be here and now: today. The Season of Lent is a great time, one could say the perfect time for an assessment of what you value and what you are doing (actually doing, not just planning on doing) to realize those goals. It seems that everyone I know is busy. Busy, busy, busy. Really, the only question is: “Busy doing what?” Anything important? Anything that will make a difference in your life; or just stuff to try to hang on to whatever your life is like at the moment?

Do you look out a window and try to find ways to help others, or do you look in a mirror and try to find ways to help yourself? What was the last book you opened? Got any books at all around the house? Any magazines besides Readers’ Digest? Read anything besides a menu? Anything at all? Or, just marking time? Just putting one foot in front of the other? Look around the house, exactly what do you think is getting you ready for your future? What you do today profoundly affects today, and very nearly makes tomorrow guaranteed. Yeah, the bell tolls for all of us. And, eternity is a long time.

Pick a club

My brother-in-law is a hog. A Harley Hog, that is. He’s got the bike. He’s got the look. And, living in DC, he participates in Rolling Thunder every year (would that I could). Point is, he wanted to join this particular club and he was willing to pay the price of admission, as well as the membership dues. Things like a motorcycle made by one, specific company. He did not go knocking on the door of the local chapter sitting astride, say, a Honda.

Any (and all) clubs, groups, associations have requirements for membership – that’s what makes them a club. They are founded and maintained on certain, (usually) well defined interests. Political parties in the United States used to be like this. When all members adhere to and support the group’s basic tenets, rules, philosophy, the group is cohesive and is strengthened. But, clubs can often lose their focus, especially when they try to find new members. Kinda like the Democrats enacting new laws to force everybody else to be more liberal. Unfortunately, with politics (in any country), you are subject to the whims of the ruling party, whether you’re a member of that party or not. Not so I imagine, with the Hogs: if you don’t ride (or, at least own?) a Harley, you’re not welcome. However, no one will force me on to any particular motorcycle, or on to any motorcycle at all, for that matter.

So, it just defies my understanding why anyone would want to be a member of any particular church if they weren’t willing to follow its rules (doctrine, dogma, teachings). If I want to believe objects have spirits, fine; but Christians don’t worship rivers or mountains, any more than you would join a rose society because of your prize petunias. Why an animist would even consider joining a Christian church is beyond me. To my knowledge, Christian churches don’t prevent anyone from communing with nature. Christians, by definition, worship Christ, and in 2000 years, haven’t seen the need to consult tea leaves or chicken bones. If you want to stick pins into a doll, ok; but Christians don’t. You do your thing, I’ll do mine, ok? So, why is it asking too much that you don’t make it the law of the land that I have to buy pins and dolls for you? This isn’t Germany.

I want to have hot dogs on the Fourth of July, not quiche on Bastille Day. I want to pledge allegiance to the red, white and blue of the United States, not the white, blue and red of Russia. I want to observe Christmas by attending midnight Mass celebrated by a celibate, male priest. I believe human life begins at conception and procured abortion is murder. Civil law has redefined marriage and inconvenient life – but Divine Law hasn’t (unless I missed the memo that GOD takes His marching orders from Capitol Hill). You want to stand in front of the Pearly Gates and justify yourself based on the decisions made by a committee of your peers (read: politicians), go right ahead. Frankly, I don’t want my Church to conform to your society. I like the fact that Christ was the ultimate revolutionary.

I will continue to render unto Caesar, but not because I feel it is my responsibility to pay for your lack of responsibility. I will continue to pay my taxes and buy health care for my family – and yours. It is mere coincidence that the guy in the White House agrees with the guy in the Bible on that one.

Put another way: I like being Roman Catholic. Which, despite its name, doesn’t mean it is a chameleon that finds new ways to constantly reinvent itself. The more it ignores the capricious and arbitrary fashions of the hour, the better. When I need shifting sands, I’ll go to the internet; when I need something built on rock, I’ll go to Mass. There are many who say the Church doesn’t fit the times. Not able to ordain women (let’s see: Jesus was male, His first thirteen apostles were male; what am I missing here?). Not embracing homosexual behavior (doesn’t exactly embrace serial killer behavior, either). Finding that human life is not a matter of convenience, or the calendar. Ok, I’ll hold the door open for you. I am quite sure you’ll find someone to embrace your inability to have a backbone, to have values, to believe that some things – like Truth – don’t change.

Yeah, it has warts; what collection of human beings doesn’t? Jesus was divine, he did the best He could with the material He had available. Fishermen and tax collectors. The fisherman, the one who I would have thought dependable, denied Jesus not once, but three times. At the Cross, Peter was nowhere to be found. And there was that part where Jesus was telling the religious police that tax collectors and prostitutes would get into Paradise before them; doesn’t say much about tax collectors, does it? Not sure who got slammed there. Can anyone forget the Renaissance Popes? NOBODY should. I, for one, would like to rip those years out of every history book. St Peter’s Basilica notwithstanding.

If you don’t like my club, you are free to leave. Roses have thorns; but at the end of the day, they are roses. No doubt Harleys have issues, but what machine doesn’t? If you prefer a rice rocket, have at it. But, I don’t ask you to sing kum-bay-yah, why must you demand that of me? (yeah, I find the fact that I did, at one time, really far out).

A lesson in success from “2001: A Space Odyssey”

What is success?  HAL actually stated what success meant to him, and it didn’t include meddling humans.  Given that computers can’t have an original thot, then HAL was programmed to define success in those terms.  Even if HAL had that as an original thot, ‘success’ to him was still somewhat different from what Frank and Dave, and the three scientists who were hibernating, might have held as ‘success’.  Human success usually, if not always, includes being able to tell the tale; i.e., living.  Either HAL never considered his own mortality, or he thot that his memory would always exist and therefore he was immortal, even if specific dots of silicon might cease to exist as chips and transistors.  Or, frankly Scarlet, he didn’t give a damn.

We are led to believe that HAL deliberately, and purposely killed Dave, although, cleverly, we did not actually see the apparent collision between the pod and Dave (and why was the pod parked so far away from the antenna Dave was out there to fix, anyway?)  HAL almost killed Frank.  To HAL’s way of computing (or “way of thinking”), since he observed them talking (by reading lips?) and discussing disconnecting HAL, HAL was merely acting in self-defense.  But, HAL could terminate the lives of humans because he did not need them for his success.  The equation for HAL’s success might have included an unknown into which ‘human survival’ could be plugged; apparently, that term could easily have been left null.

Clearly, HAL terminated the lives of the three scientists who were hibernating; so HAL got to the point where any and all humans were a threat to his success.  HAL did suspect the three sleeping scientists because they had been trained off site and put into hibernation before being ‘installed’ (‘loaded’?).  Ironically, the video near the end, as Frank is unplugging HAL, states that the three scientists were essential to the success of the mission.  So, it’s unlikely that HAL was originally programmed to kill all five humans.

So, HAL went nuts.  Behavior so human that it’s frightening.  And, frankly, behavior I see every day in the computer systems I have to use.  As I have learned to think of computer behavior, there is a lot of space between zeros and ones in machine language.

But, what is our success?  To what do we strive?  When we achieve success, what do we have?  In business, the goal posts are constantly being moved.  Often the bar is raised before we even get to it, or so shortly after gaining it that we can’t savor the moment.  We can’t feel good about an accomplishment that no longer exists.  Every day, it is “what have you done for me, lately?”

It is like beating our heads against a brick wall, expecting a different result w each impact.  It’s our own head we are smashing.  And, it is a brick wall of our choosing.  Why this self-destructive activity for a meaningless objective?

Of constant – yes, daily – discussion in my job is our future as a workgroup.  There seems little doubt that the need will exist far after all of us are gone, so it’s not a matter of no one needing buggy whips anymore.  But, where will the job be physically done?  The current buzzword is ‘geographical diversity.’  Which is espoused to mean that engineering talent is just sitting on its hands, all over the world, waiting for the privilege and joy of working for The Company.  What it means in reality is that there is a core group of  hundred’s of years of ‘tribal knowledge’ that no longer has any value to the corporate bean counters.

Fortunately, I am old enough to make retirement an option; but many of my co-workers are in their 40s and they can’t afford to retire.  And, by “retire,” I don’t mean sitting in a rocking chair on the porch for a couple of years, which is what previous generations did.  I work w ‘high achievers’ – doing nothing is not an option for them.  But, neither will they be able to find another job, let alone continue in the career they have worked so hard for.

Unsurprisingly, ‘success’ varies by the individual.  One co-worker stated that this workgroup was like a second family for him.  Others, clearly, get their social fulfillment by coming to work.  Others exchange their time for a paycheck so that they can indulge their hobbies, whether it be the accumulation of more toys, or time on the ski slopes or vacations to exotic lands.  No one talks of ‘geographical diversity’ as a good thing.  If the powers that be move the lock, stock, and barrel of our work, they will be moving computer workstations w/o operators.

In the meantime, for the company thrives on secrets, so rumors are rampant, little work gets done as the workers discuss the uncertainty of their futures.  Hard to build a future on shifting sands.  More to the point, why bother?

I am grateful that only my paycheck depends on The Company; I divorced my own success from the company years ago.  In fact, I am looking forward to the day when I can thumb my nose at the politics, the lies, the subterfuge, the games, the innuendo, the lack of respect.  In the meantime, I am just building up my retirement fund.  All the company wants from me is my time, and that is all the company is getting from me.  I am investing in my retirement fund, and someday, I will start withdrawing from it.  If I am a rat leaving a sinking ship, I am a rat that can swim.  And will never look back.