February 27, 2013

Perspective

Category: Life — Cranky @

This entry will be somewhat more personal than any I’ve made in the past. Indeed, although I’ve written extensively and diversely, one might go back and find that while I’ve repeatedly exposed myself intellectually, I haven’t dropped my private pants very often.

Those who know me personally and long-term know that I’ve been all over the map with my weight. I went from 305 pounds at the age of 20, to a muscular 185 at 29. I did it through brute force, working out nearly every day for 18 months, and not eating enough food. It wasn’t the healthiest route, but it worked.

Then I grew new social networks, and spent a few years partying and misbehaving, and I lost the discipline of working out. When the fun stopped, I reverted to the habits that made me large in the first place, and a decade later I was nearly back to my former weight. Thankfully, I put the brakes on then, and I’m fully 50 pounds less than my maximum.

What’s interesting, though, is how different the weight loss is for me this time around. The first time through, I never saw myself clearly when I looked in the mirror. I never experienced a moment when I saw a difference day to day, and I certainly never saw the “finished product”. The person looking back was always this strange amalgam of the huge guy so prevalent in my youth and a small amount of whatever was actually true in the present. When I began to regain the weight, I couldn’t tell day to day. In fact, it would be accurate to say that I was growing back into my own expectations, and so it was easy to allow it to happen. I was realigning externally with my internal self.

The last two years have been transformative, both personally and intellectually. I’ve spent a great deal of time in sober reflection on myself and my life, taking stock of my personal situation, and during the last six months the clouds that obscured my self-assessment suddenly faded away. That’s not to say I don’t have a filter that colours my self-image… but it’s more sepia, and less obstructionist.

Now as the weight drops, I’m noticing it specifically, and somewhat objectively. When I look in the mirror I see the changes every day. I feel the difference simply sitting in a chair, which is something fit people might never understand.

I’ve begun muscle training this week. If I continue noticing each little gain, I’m going to be in a constant state of euphoria. I’ve already worked through a small plateau, which might have derailed me in the past, but that simple change of routinely noticing the small gains made powering through the week trivial. It would be easy to say that I simply aged into my new perspective, but I don’t think that’s true. I did the legwork to get here.

I highly recommend this vantage point. It’s a good place to be.

Cranky

February 22, 2013

2013 – It's All Coming Together

Category: Life — Cranky @

This year I’m firing on all cylinders. It feels good. For whatever reason, everything is coming together. I’m eating spectacularly well, I’m hitting the gym at least 5 times a week, and I’m reaping the rewards one might expect. The fact that I spent so much time on cooking courses means I can take whole foods and make terrific, healthy meals. I am the fish MASTER – there is no fillet I cannot deal with. I can make the lowly tilapia sing, and I can bring a grown man to tears with my seared salmon.

I’m paying attention to the brain, too. I finished my certificate program the the faculty of extension at the local University after 3 years of night courses, and received approval to start my next one. That will help bridge some of the accounting and macroeconomical gaps in my knowledge. That’s good because I’ve joined the ranks of management at work,which is new for me after 14 years of being a technical guru. It’s a whole different set of skills.

I’m fiscally competent for the first time in my life. I’m carefully managing my investments and really tracking my money. After decades of chaos, I know exactly what goes where, and my balances show it. I’m making careful choices, and foregoing expensive impulse buys. Shortly I will not have a car payment. That might not sound significant to some, but I’ve had a car payment continuously since 1995.

I’m also on track for my 2013 resolution to read one book per week. I bought a new bookshelf to hold the 52 books that await me this year. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that “garbage in, garbage out” isn’t just a techie motto – it’s true across the board. Throwaway fiction is like junk food. It’s fine once in a while, but it shouldn’t be a dietary staple. On deck is “Mortality”, by Christopher Hitchens. It consists of 7 essays written by one the most brilliant, eloquent jackasses ever to walk the planet, written as esophageal cancer slowly took his life.

The thing that’s interesting to me is that all of this behavioral organization and alignment feels effortless. Perhaps I’m living in the initial glow, and I’ll slowly revert… but at the moment there are no cracks in the cement. Everything’s holding steady.

Man… 2014 could seriously rock too.

Cranky

March 9, 2012

What Something is Worth

Category: Music — Cranky @

Over the years I’ve accumulated a bunch of rack-based musical gear. I have compressors, equalizers, guitar effects processors, microphone preamps, patchbays… all for just little old me. I’ve had my fun with it, but the truth is that I haven’t turned any of this gear on in years. Time marches on, and my computer now does the work of all that gear in a tiny fraction of the space, and there’s no chance in the near term that I’m going to need to lug all that stuff on a stage.

I tried advertising it for sale as one big discounted block, but what I got back was musicians wanting to buy single pieces. Being musicians, they’re broke, and I would have to drive somewhere to sell each one at a deep discount. That’s a really big pain in the rear, to be sure. So I thought about it again.

What is the gear worth? If I was to part it out, it’s between $800 and $1000. That’s substantially less than what I paid, but, as I said, time marches on, and nothing loses value like electronics. But what is it worth… really? Well, that’s relative, isn’t it? I’ve had my fun, and the gear is essentially worth less than nothing to me – it’s taking up space I could use. But in the hands of somebody else, that equipment might be invaluable. Computer software is nice and compact, but there’s no better way to learn how to operate a compressor than by twisting the knobs and hearing what it does.

So, in an inspired moment, I googled “youth outreach music” in my area, and presto! I found a music studio in the city that works with at-risk youth, teaching music and recording, as well as art, spoken word, dance, drama, and fashion. I called them yesterday, and today I’m dropping off the entire stack of equipment at their office.

One man’s boat anchor is another man’s instrument of expression. You can’t always measure something’s worth in dollars. May that gear find passionate users.

Cranky