Tag Archives: results?

Measuring progress with a contest

Well that sounds intriguing…

Do people do that?

  • How fast can you run?  Last week I beat you by 2 min; can you beat me now?
  • When you started, you only knew 3 notes on the instrument.  What can you play now?  How would you compare to others with the same starting point?
  • How well does your band march?  Can you hold your own in a city-wide contest?
  • Your fire department let the fire house burn down.  How fast can you put out a fire now?  How well can your members climb, carry, work the hose and the axes…let’s have a contest.
  • So you think your Barbershop chorus is good huh…

I went to a Toastmasters Convention in Chicago.  There are always the educational sessions and the inspirational sessions, but the most anticipated sessions are the Semi finals and Finals of the World Championship of Public Speaking.  There is only one winner every year, and people from 116 districts, each with 5 Divisions, each Division with 5 Areas, and each Area with 4-5 clubs competing for that spot.  That’s weeding down about 13,000 speakers to about 100 or so.  Each Semi final has 10-11 speakers competing, with 10 competitions weeding down 100 speakers to just 10.  The finals consist of 10 of the best speakers.  Those who crave recognition and speaking in front of 1000’s of people are drooling at the chance to be on that stage and getting crowned World Champion.  Once you’ve achieved this amazing goal, you cannot compete again on the International Stage.  One of the competitors this year had made it to Semifinals 12 times, and had been a finalist 4 times!  He didn’t win this time either.

Here’s the thing.  Even if it isn’t an official contest, people judge their success by comparison.  Our school districts have more children in the top 10% of the country on ACT/SAT scores than any other school!  We have a larger percentage of graduates placed right after graduation than any other university.  We have more rich people in our city than any other in the country.  To aspire to be the best, we resort to self improvement classes, personal coaches and support groups.  We then tend to look at the finals and derive the formula  that will give us similar results.

There’s the 10,000 hour rule.  There’s the gimmick of the year (onstage costume changes, props, even themes for speeches!)  There’s teaching to the test.  Then there’s over-prep.  In Bands of America, the winning bands often practice 1 routine with 3 songs for a year and begin their preparations for the next contest 1 week after the finals in the previous contest.  At the speech contest, many contestants hire former world champions to mentor them and coach them to victory and will pay upwards of several thousand dollars.  They will sacrifice vacation times, neglect their jobs and families, and practice for hours to perfect their entries.  In their quest to have the winning performance, they will study hours and hours of previous performances by winners, analyze second by second recordings of their own performances and compare them to the winners.  What are they doing?  They are looking for the differences between 1st and 2nd place.

Judging is subjective.  They TRY to make it objective…this many points for that sound, deduct this many points for this infraction…but the bottom line is still a subjective opinion.  Do you have that same type of judging on the local level as in the International finals?  Of course not!  So something that would win on the Championship stage or field might not even place on the local level.

I went to an area speech contest where all of the speeches that placed concerned dead pets.  I saw a local band contest where one of the finalists of the Bands of America didn’t place in the top 3 because they sang and didn’t march in straight blocks.  We understand that you cannot advance to the next level of the competition if you don’t succeed at the local level.

As a member of Sweet Adelines, sometimes the difference between 1st and 2nd place is 4 points.  The difference is the sparkle on the costume. The difference is the choreography for the lady in the 3rd row 14th person over.  The difference is the intonation of the slide between chords on the Tag.  These are things that are so minute and so specialized that a normal person wouldn’t even notice it.  So you work on those incredibly small details, then your chorus gets rejected on the initial contest because one of the judges didn’t like your choice of song, or because one thought it was too gimmicky to have props such as hats or fans.

One Football team did a statistical analysis of the winning super bowl teams and discovered a higher percentage of this type of offense and that type of defense, sooooo that’s what they used.  They lost 50% of their games.  A high school team perfected a trick play, and then became famous for it.  Oops!  Isn’t it supposed to work because it surprises the opponents?

You must discern what wins on the local level.  That’s a problem because in the case of Toastmasters Speech contests, what wins the club might not win the area because of the way the judges are chosen.  Who’s here?  Ok, take this ballot and vote for your favorite! Or you might encounter this:  We, as judges, have been studying all the Semi Finals contests for weeks and have been well trained on what to look for in an international speech.  We are 15 minutes early and have chosen our seats trying to look as anonymous as possible.  If you win in the area, even if it is the caliber of Convention competitions, you may not win the Division because these particular judges may LIKE dead dog speeches and vacation pictures.  And if you do give your dead dog speech on the District level, they will shoot you down because the message isn’t clear.  And if you win on the District level, and you do not use onomatopoeia, alliteration, or parenthetical phrases, and have no props and no funny lines, you may not win at the Semi-final level.  If you do win at the Semi-final level, YOU MUST USE A DIFFERENT SPEECH FOR THE FINALS.  Wait…The speech you used and perfected throughout the club, area, division and district levels is thrown out and you use an untried, imperfect, alternative speech for the final?  Does that make any sense whatsoever?

What would you do?  I’d have 1 speech topic and 3 different approaches to it.  “How to survive the Hard times” would be a good topic.  It has universal appeal and can be tailored to each contest.

  • Club level:  “You all know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster here for years!  What you don’t know is that I’ve been in witness protection for 22 years and now, now you will learn about the real me!”  5 1/2 min later…  “In conclusion, if you find me at your back door with beer in hand, don’t let me in!  Mr. Toastmaster.”
  • Area level:  “You all know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster here for years!  What you don’t know is that over the past 4 years, I’ve lived a Country/Western life!”  5 1/2 min later…  “In conclusion, if you get divorced, lose your house, your car gets repossessed, and your dog dies, you can survive, and even thrive!  You can survive the Hard times!  Madam Toastmaster.”
  • Division level:  “Some of you know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster for years!  What you don’t know is that I didn’t always look like this.  I used to weigh 700 pounds and have had extensive surgery!”  6 min later…  “In conclusion, you can look this good without surgery, turn down that cupcake!!!  Mr. Toastmaster.”
  • District level:  “Some of you may recognize me:  I was at the registration table this morning!  What you don’t know is that I’m a Person of the Poetic Persuasion.  (That’s alliteration folks.)  I’ll be walking and suddenly, ‘Poof!’ A Poetic and Poignant Phrase within the Perfect Parameters will Present itself!”  6 1/2 min later… “In conclusion, should you find yourself hopelessly staring at that blank sheet of paper, Perambulate and Ponder the Paradoxical Points of the Present epoch!  Mr.  Postmaster…I mean Toastmaster.”
  • Semi Finals Level:  “You don’t know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster for years!  Have you ever found yourself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling surrounded by beeping machines and smelling of disinfectant?  I have.  Myocardial Infarctions  are sneaky little buggers and can Defy the Destiny of the most Determined and Deliberate of Dignitaries.”  6 min 28 seconds later… “In conclusion, don’t procrastinate, prevaricate the possibility of pernicious effects of heart disease!  Mr. Toastmaster”
  • Finals level:  “Madam Contest master, fellow toastmasters and guests and esteemed judges, let me tell you about my dog, Fluffy.”  6 min later, stage is littered with dog toys and speaker is sobbing into an over-sized hanky…  “Yes, he was 700 pounds and black as a moonless night.  Yes, he had 3 heads, but he had the soul of a poet and he especially loved harp music.  And after I lost my wife, my truck and my house, he was the only one that stayed with me.  I visit him every day at the pet cemetery… *sobs* Madam Contest  *sob* chair.”  *blows nose*

And the winner…(drum roll please) is the agoraphobic woman who got assaulted in the parking lot by some wild woman in a white SUV.

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Oh…

This doesn’t work!  The laws of nature, physics and biology do not apparently work for me!

“Oh really?  What’s wrong?”

I’ve been doing this thing…1200 cal/day plus exercise for a long time and I am still a big fat blob!  (Obie is snickering…you can’t hear him…it’s my sentient fat)

“Oh dear!  So you always do 1200 calories a day?”

Not always…But I average about 1300 over the weeks.

“And you’re going to the gym or walking how often?”

Well I started out at 5x a week.

“And now?”

Well… On the weekends…twice a month…when I remember, or it’s not to hot or cold or raining.

“Ah”

2 years later:

This doesn’t work!

“What’s wrong?”

Dr. Oz said I’d get back to my fighting weight (Obie is snorting,) in 6 weeks if everything I eat is green.  I’ve not only not lost any, but gained 2!

“So you never eat yellow?”

NO!!!!

“KFC is yellow…”

Yeah, but it’s chicken and chicken is healthy.

“But it’s not green…How long have you been eating mostly green?”

2 weeks.

“Still 1200 calories/day?  Still doing some exercise?”

Um…my last entry into my food log is 2 months ago.  (Obie has lost all control and is laughing out loud now.)

“Ah”

1 year later:

This doesn’t work!  I’ve cleaned out all my toxins and reset my probiotics and taking 6 pills at every meal and I’ve only lost 2 pounds!

“Oh dear! So you take 3 different types of herbal supplements, 2 pills each, 3 times a day?”

Well 2 times…when I eat.

“Every day?”

When I remember, and when I remember to eat.  (Obie giggles.)

“And the probiotics?”

Still full bottle in refridge.

“Still 1200 calories/day and exercising 2x/week on the weekends?”

I haven’t kept good track, but it’s gotta be close.

“Ah.”

1 month later:

This isn’t working!  I take the pill in the morning (just one so I don’t get jittery), drink the goop, and put on the patch.  I’m supposed to feel energized and refreshed and my pounds are supposed to be screaming and leaping off of me!  They’re not!

“How early do you take the pill?”

When I get up.

“Before your feet hit the floor?”

No, I don’t want to wet the bed.  (Obie thumbs his nose at my attempt at sarcasm.)

“Then what?”

I put the patch on.

“And…?”

I go through my day.

“When do you drink your goop?”

After I exercise.  (Obie raises an eyebrow waiting for the bomb to drop…)

“Do you exercise every day?”

Um…(Obie imitates mike drop)

“The trainers in this program say this:  keep the pill by your bed and use it before you get up.  Then 30-40 min later have the goop.  Then put on the patch.  Then go about your day.”

I can’t have anything to eat after that goop.  It’s just so gross.  (Obie is laughing to the point of tears.)

“You thought you could continue to eat like you have been and supposedly exercise in addition to having this goop and all the patches and pills?”

Well, yes… (Obie is tweeting?)

“And you haven’t been drinking the goop every day.”

I ran out of milk.  And I drink it after…I…exer…oh yeah.  EVERY DAY?

“It’s a regimen.  It means that its regimented, scheduled, practiced daily.”

Ah

“Betty was right.  You’re too inconsistent with your approach to this challenge.  And that lady on Solomon’s Advisor was right too… You’re trying to change something in your life without changing your life.  Your lifestyle is something you love…teaching, watching Bones or Netflix or going to movies, dabbling in other business is somehow tainted by that big blob sitting in the chair that wears your clothes.   (Obie is pleased and bows at the acknowledgement.) Ok, so You want to continue this lifestyle and just put on a skinny suit. How you feel isn’t powerful enough to make you want to change who you are.  How you look is not enough to inspire you to change your activities.  Your “Why” is not compulsive enough for you to succeed because you lose focus, you lose interest, and you become inconsistent and the program, what ever it is, doesn’t work without consistency.

What you should measure in your Measurable Progress is not your waistline, it’s your change in character.  Because your Why is a complaint against the universe for conspiring against you…(Obie adjusts his crown and points with his scepter to continue this awesome praise,) and it is not a motivator that allows you to continue and press on despite distractions and setbacks.  (Obie drops scepter.)

It’s like living the retired life:  travel, leisure, freedom from worry or care without the odious tasks of having actually worked.  Ooops.  (Obie picks up scepter.)  So go to work.  Find the Why that keeps you on the path.  Get out of your freakin’ chair and be consistent in your program, whatever shape it takes.  (Obie removes crown, puts down scepter, and readies himself for a fight.)  It won’t be easy.  (Obie nods in agreement with an evil smile.  You get the distinct impression he’s thinking, “Not if I can help it.”)  But first, figure out WHY it’s important to succeed, not WHY it doesn’t work and you’re such a loser.  The Good why will get you there.  The bad why will paralyze you.  Measure your WHY!  Let that keep you consistent.

 

 

 

 

Give the vote away

“If these kids want to really impact the way the government works and how the country works, give them the VOTE!” NPR editorial

Give.  16 year olds. the. vote.

ARE YOU INSANE?!!!!

They’re Children!  It’s like handing the reins of the household to the elementary aged children.  “NO you cannot watch TV, you have Homework to do!”  “I have a vote, Teddy has a vote, and Joe has a vote…We’re all equal in this family!  It’s 3:2 we win!  Turn on the TV Joe!”  “Joe is 4.  He’s not in school yet, and Teddy doesn’t have homework in 1st grade.  They don’t know how important homework is.”  “That’s ageism!  You can’t deny me my television rights just because you think homework is important.  I already get A’s without studying and pass all my tests with ease.”  “You’re right.  I’m sorry.  Here’s the remote.”

How foolish is that?

I grew up with marches.  We were protesting dress codes in high school.  We were protesting the war in college.  We were fighting global hunger.  We were fighting for youth autonomy, women’s rights, and legal and safe abortions.  Gay people were coming out of the closet.  The media was active in these marches, and they prepped their people well.  At Columbia University, during the riots, the news crew would come upon a group of people just standing around and ask them to do some action for the background of the story and hand them the bricks.  They were going to be on TV!  So they did.  Then when the news crews left, they went back to standing around doing nothing.  Funny how none of that was reported.  We voted at age 18, and nothing that we marched for was ever on the ballots.  We were voting, we thought, for the representatives who would solve these issues.

16 year old voters?  Are you kidding me?  They’re playing video games where they blow people away with astonishing ferocity.  They’re stealing cars and shooting at police from the safety of their living rooms.  All their news they get if from Facebook and Twitter.  All the news available now (except BBC) you have to already know what you want to hear and then tune into that channel.

On Super Girl, as she applies for a job as a journalist, the editor says, “Facts!  No adjectives.”  Find ONE news show that doesn’t amplify aspects of the story by their choice of adjectives.  It can be as silly as a description of the movement of the DOW which nobody understands anyway.  “The Dow PLUNGED 20 points today.  Investors were backing off due to the Labor numbers.”  News flash, none of the individual investors had the slightest idea what the Labor numbers were or what they meant.  The institutional investors looked at all the numbers, including the Labor numbers, and decided they might make a profit if they sold some today.  20 points is not even a drop in the bucket.  The next week, “The Dow was up only 20 points today.  Investors were cautious on their trading due to last week’s devastating plunge.”  No they weren’t.  So when it comes to news of substance, information we need to run our businesses, policy changes in the government, local situations we need to know, it’s all colored by the political bias of the agency that presents it.  It makes it difficult for adults to discern the facts from the news and the fake news.  We go on witch hunts trying to find quick fixes for everything because we are overloaded by the seriousness of all that is going on around us.

I’m a mom of 5 kids.  This is how I relate to this:

Ben is playing a video game, Pat and Jo are fighting about who is taking too much space in their bedroom.  Ward wants to have some friends over and is nagging to get a date and time set.  Baby Sean is screaming for mom because he’s wet/tired/hungry or all 3.  Ben isn’t causing any problems, ignore.  Pat and Jo are threatening to break furniture–handle 1st.  Stick head into bedroom and yell “SHUT UP!  Behave!  Get along!”  Put off Ward because Baby is still screaming.  Change/feed baby.  Ward is pouting, leave alone.  Girls are whispering urgently and vehemently in room, but no longer threatening furniture.  Too many things coming at you, and reaction is immediate but incomplete.  The problems are not solved.  Only symptoms are addressed.

North Korean situation, Russian situation, Afghanistan situation, Syrian situation, LGTB rights protest, economics situation, GDP situation, International trade situation, School regulations, bullying, suicides due to cyber-bullying, piercings, tattoos, all this is being unloaded unfiltered and biased into kids’ heads.  What can they get their heads around?  Killing kids their age in schools.  No brainer.  This is a bad thing.  Kids should not be killing kids.  How do we stop kids from killing kids?  March!  There ought to be a law that protects kids from getting killed at school.  (There is.  Murder has always been against the law.)  There ought to be a law that keeps kids from getting guns.  (There is a law that requires background checks and a waiting period.  Guns can be borrowed, stolen, and bought illegally, or bought legally for purposes other than killing kids.)  There is no question on the application that says, “Do you plan to use this weapon to kill as many people as you can in a short amount of time?”  If there was, would people answer this truthfully?  But it is an easy concept…kids should not be killed in school.  Anyone that would oppose that is seriously lacking in the common sense department.  Does it get headlines?  Of course!  Big ones!  So if you wanted to advance your point of view, put your face on the front of the movement, and get good ratings during sweeps month, hitch your wagon to this pony!  So yes, adults can take advantage of naive and active kids.

There is no way in the world that a 16 year old child has any inkling about how things should work, and 18-year-olds are not much better.  The difference is, 18-year-olds can be pressed into military service and have to volunteer their lives for a premise they might not even understand.  The information available to 16-year-olds is incomplete and sometimes incomprehensible.  They cannot see years ahead because they don’t have the wisdom or the experience to do so.  We didn’t in our 20’s!  They do not have the moral basis to make ethical decisions.  They get no instruction on morals from school, the community, the media or their parents.  How would they be suddenly qualified?  Heck!  If we are realistic, we should RAISE the voting age to 50 or so.  Let people with wisdom, the gift of hindsight and foresight, experience, and a logical mind do the voting.  There would be fewer knee jerk reactions to situations and more pondering on the deeper implications of proposed legislation.  How ridiculous is that?

I’m sorry, but if I had been a gun toting teen watching all those privileged kids who had bullied me since I was kindergarten marching on Washington and making righteous indignation noises about my right to have any gun I pleased, I would have gone with them and set up in a hotel or parking garage and sprayed the whole group.  I’m kind of surprised no one thought of that.  Did the nerds and the geeks and the undesirables ride on a different bus…in the back seats?  Did the poor kids that were the brunt of the bullying get to make the trip at all?  The only ones marching were the ones that were afraid they’d be on the top of the hit list like mine.  It’s self preservation, nothing more, nothing less.  They could care less about all the kids they destroy because they can without firing a shot.  They’ll never be judged.  They’ll never have any consequences to face.  I’d be glad that they’re being trashed on social media like they’ve done to the rest of us.  I’d be delighted that their every move was scrutinized by an unforgiving public, because none of those dirty secrets ever comes up in the school; they’re too popular and too savvy to allow that to happen.  Will any of those snobs get to the point of considering suicide like the kids they subjected to this treatment?  I certainly hope so.

But I’m not a gun toting 16 year old kid.  I don’t think like that.  I don’t believe they should have the vote.

Honestly…

Honestly, Truthfully, Trustworthy

I can believe

I can disbelieve

I can act

I can choose not to act

Why must I be protected from truth?

Ignorance is Bliss

It takes my decisions

and makes them impotent.

It takes my perception

and skews it.

“You don’t need to know

“Not now, later

“To protect you

Saying this only

when I NEED to know

when I NEED to know now

when it doesn’t protect me because

I don’t know.

Facts in timely manner

Not emotions

Withhold, Lie

No preparation

No trust

Surprise, and confusion

Tell Me.  Honestly

 

Poor Jack

So of COURSE I watched “This is Us” after the Super Bowl.  Those of you who have not gotten sucked into this TV show, this is the gist of it.  Jack and Rebecca are pregnant with (OMG) triplets.  A newborn baby is delivered to a firehouse and abandoned.  One of the triplets doesn’t make it, and Jack and Rebecca take the orphaned baby home with them.  The newborn is black and Jack and Rebecca’s family is white.  The action takes place in the present when all the kids are now 37 years old.  Through the use of flashbacks and narratives, we discover the back stories of all the kids.  We know that their dad dies tragically.  We don’t know how but we’re given hints throughout the season.

Now EVERYONE loves Jack.  He’s wise, kind, funny and smart.  He’s adventurous and optimistic.  Even when we find out he’s an alcoholic, we forgive him and care about him.  He adores his kids and will do anything for them to make sure they become great adults.  Rebecca is also wise and smart.  She follows Jack into all sorts of adventures with no trepidation.  She’s brave and resourceful.  She cares deeply for all her kids.  She’s the mama bear you don’t want to cross.  Together they are dynamite!  They are the parents all of us want to be.  EVERY SINGLE ONE of their kids is screwed up.

Kevin is handsome and popular, and doesn’t think he’s worthy of praise and goes out of his way to sabotage himself.  He’s a talented football player that doesn’t work hard in school because he is a talented athlete and then is rude to the recruiter that comes to his house.  His knee then gets permanently damaged and his football career is over before it starts.  Because he didn’t care about his grades, he can not now get into college.  He marries his high school sweetheart, and then cheats on her.  She divorces him.  He realizes that he was stupid and tries to get back with her.  Then, at a reunion, he cheats on her again!  He’s in a very popular sitcom and blows up at the end of an episode because he is incensed that his audience doesn’t mind what he’s saying or what he’s doing as long as he has his shirt off.  Then he quits the show.  He’s in a movie with Ron Howard and Sly Stallone and due to an injury, he becomes addicted to Vicodin and alcohol.  He is honored at a HS reunion and doesn’t believe he deserves any recognition and has a melt down, and loses the necklace his dad gives him in the hospital when his knee was operated on.  He has another meltdown when the woman he had the one night stand with refuses to return his necklace.  He ends up getting and staying very drunk and goes driving with his niece who, without his knowledge, has sneaked into the back of his car.  He is remanded to rehab where, in a mandatory psychological session, he tells everyone what a horrible childhood he had…much to the surprise of the rest of his family.  He’s very fragile.

Kate is a big hearted girl with a gorgeous voice and the most beautiful face and smile.  She’s also 500 pounds.  She binge-eats junk food and convinces herself to hate herself.  It’s just easier to give up and listen to the nasty self talk than to change the self talk.  She meets an amazing guy, Toby, and is planning to get married.  She meets Toby at an Over-eater’s Anonymous meeting, so yes, Toby is also big.  (Shades of Mike and Molly…)  She has a miscarriage due to weight and age and that devastates her.    She’s very emotional and what she can’t handle, she compensates for by eating.  Kate is very fragile.

Randall is the black child in the white family.  Well THERE’S an issue.  But he’s a good kid, a gentleman, deeply caring about his brother and sister.  He’s extremely smart and successful in his work.  He’s always trying to fit in and sometimes tries too hard to please.  He has had 2 nervous breakdowns one of which is just 2 months before he delivers his first child in the living room and he’s cool as a cucumber as he does this!  He is always seeking perfection, and of course that’s not possible.  He is married with two beautiful daughters.  He tends to over-analyze everything and stress over everything.  He had brought his cancer riddled biological dad into his house after discovering him after a long search.  His dad had been a drug addicted, bisexual musician.  (There’s another issue!)  His biological dad dies during this first season.  He and his wife have bought the apartment building where his biological dad used to live, and he’s trying to renovate the place overnight.   Randall and his wife have become foster parents.  They’re taking in the kids that no one else wants–the older ones with problems.  Do you see a pattern here?  Randall is very fragile.

So these perfect parents, Jack and Rebecca, do all the right things when it comes to raising kids.  We all wish we could have had these perfect parents.  So why are all their kids screwed up?  Does that give us hope?  Even though we do everything right our kids might be train wrecks and it’s NOT our faults?  And yet…  Because they lose Jack when the kids are 17, could that be the fly in the ointment?  Well?  They were all showing signs of dysfunction in the flashbacks.  Randall had a notebook where he kept relationship notes not unlike Sheldon in Big Bang Theory.  He’s anxious and too eager to please even at an early age.  Kevin knows he’s popular and well liked and uses that to his advantage, but doesn’t develop well as a person.  For instance:  Kevin knows that his sister won’t get the most popular boy to hold her hand because she’s not thin like the other girls so he bribes the boy Kate wants to get close to with all his Halloween candy.  He feels that his mom prefers Randall because he’s the adopted one, and that Dad prefers Kate because she’s the girl and he feels like he’s on his own.  Kate, on the other hand, gets made fun of by her peers and then jumps in and agrees with their assessment.  She assumes the persona that is put on her by others while in elementary school.  She feels judged by her mom who tries to amend Kate’s fixation on food.  This grows to a feeling of her mom’s judgment on everything she does. All of these incidents happen when the kids are 8/9/10 years old.  So the signs of dysfunction are visible even before their marvelous dad, Jack, dies.

Could this mean that the Dr. Spock books are inaccurate?

Mmmmmmmmmm…could be.

Bubble wrap vs Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren has a problem.

Kylo is a master of the force; he has a big light saber with nasty hand guards that don’t apparently have any function; he has an unnatural fanaticism for his grandfather–Darth Vader; and he has a temper.  Now you have to understand that in the end, Darth Vader killed the emperor/Sith Lord to save his son.  He also gave up the Dark Side of the force and repented his evil ways.  Kylo has murdered the Sith Lord, Snoke, because Snoke threatened the girl he had been having “force initiated” conversations.  Someone called them Forceskype.  He totally wrote off the fact that Darth Vader denounced the dark side, and Kylo prefers to be the all-powerful voice-enhanced, shirtless wonder of the dark side of the force.  He’s all messed up.  Leia and Luke, the people he knew had the force, did not exhibit temper tantrums, and cool Han, the force muggle, didn’t either.  Vader, on occasion, would threaten violence in the form of a force choke hold, but until the emperor, he didn’t destroy property or murder people in a fit of pique.  So how did he come upon this terrible behavior?

My theory is that when he was little, nobody gave him bubble wrap.

“No Kylo, you can’t have the candy, it will ruin your dinner!”

*Popping noises*

“OK Mom.”

“Congratulations Kylo!  You got an A- on the spelling test!” says the teacher

“An A MINUS?!”  

*Popping noises*

“Which word did I miss?  I’ll get it right in the spelling bee…”

“Kylo hurry up!  You’ll be late for your Jedi classes with Uncle Luke!”

I hate Jedi classes, and I don’t like Uncle Luke much either.”

“You want to have control over that force don’t you?”

*Popping noises*

“I guess.  I’ll just get my shoes on.  I’m coming.”

“Don’t forget to smile for your school picture!”

The thing is, there are so many times when if we had bubble wrap, the urge to kill, maim, fire bomb, or sing opera would simply fade away.

“Let’s create a planet killing Death Star!”  *pop pop pop*  “Or not…”

“Let’s destroy this whole village of Resistance supporters!”  *pop pop pop* “or just take all their bubble wrap.”

“Luke, I am your…” *pop pop pop* “What on earth are you playing with boy?  Pay attention to me when I reveal earth shattering news!”  *pop pop pop*  Darth cuts of Luke’s hand anyway.

What if Hitler had had bubble wrap?  “Let’s invade Poland!”  *pop pop pop* “Why am I hungry for loud breakfast cereal?”

Attila the Hun?  “Ok, let’s just take these elephants over the Alps.  They won’t be expecting us from…??  What’s that stuff?  It looks like fun! *pop pop pop*

Demon to Devil, “Oh look!  God has made humanity!”

“Well let’s see how we can mess this up.  Hey Eve!  You want this nice shiny delicious fruit?”

*pop pop pop*

“Eve?”

*pop pop pop*

“Adam?  Aren’t you just a smidge hungry?”

“Yo Eve baby!  You got some more of that divine bubble wrap?”

“Ya hon.  It’s over there by the monkeys.”  *pop pop pop*

Every serial killer ever–

“I feel the urge… the urge to purge!  There’s a like likely victim!  Come here little girl…What do you have there?”  *pop pop pop*  “?  Give me that.”  *pop pop pop*  Little girl skips down the street.

There’s something addictive about popping those little bubbles.  It soothes the soul.  It distracts the mind.  It is destruction that doesn’t leave a mess.  It is noise without pain.  It’s just so darned fun!  Think of the fun they could have at estate dinners!  Think of the summit meetings!  Think of the State of the Union Addresses!  If the democrats had had any imagination, they would have put whoopee cushions in the seats so every time the president got the republicans to stand up, when they sat down…  And the democrats would not have had to applaud, they’d just *pop pop pop* and the president would mistake it for applause.  And if anyone didn’t like a particular part of the speech, they’d just start popping and drown it out.  Think of the UN Security Council meetings.  The Chair recognizes the esteemed representative from the Iranian Empire. *pop pop pop*

“Deputy Director of Operations, CIA, sir…  we have found the terrorists!”

“What have you done?”

“We dropped 300 pounds of the small gauge bubble wrap on them.”

“Do the liberals know?”

“Doesn’t matter.  We dropped 350 pounds of the bubble wrap on them about the same time.”

In conclusion, we can only speculate, but even our worst case scenario would suggest that the final tally would read:  bubble wrap 1, Kylo Ren 0.  Case closed.

 

OWWWWW!

So I started out 2018 really well…I broke a toe!  Not the grubby little toe, and not the Big really important toe, the 4th toe on my right foot.  Now remembering that my left side gives me troubles…Broken hip twice after replacement, kidney stone in left kidney and now some sort of muscle problem in my left thigh, I limp on my left leg pretty much as a normal thing now.  How do you limp on both legs?!

You cannot splint a toe.  You just tape a good toe to the bad one.  They must be adjacent.  It is a lovely shade of purple now, but I can still get my foot into my shoe!  Yay!  So I ask my friend how she heals so fast because she’s had some broken bones and bam!  You can’t tell she’d ever been injured.  She says use the D3 plus Calcium and not only heals the bones but strengthens them.  Well of Course!  That makes perfect sense!  So what do doctors recommend?  OMG.  You can’t pronounce these meds!  What do they contain?  Welllllll, you can’t pronounce those either.  Why would they prescribe chemicals that are so foreign and contrived when Vitamin D and Calcium work better with fewer side effects?  The fact is, the doctor wouldn’t.  He’d tape the toes together and say stay off of them as much as possible.  Ice and ibuprophen.  He wouldn’t even prescribe a bone healing agent unless you asked about it.

So what do we see here?  We’re treating the symptom and not the cause.  Do we see this approach in other areas?  OF COURSE!

Scenario 1:  I don’t have enough money.  I must double my hours to have enough money.  I cannot double my hours in my current position, so I must find additional work.  If I work for myself, I will make more money, but it will take too much time from my other job.  I will work a part time job that doesn’t pay as well so it doesn’t interfere with my other job.  It will cost me more in time, and sleep, and child care, and gas and wear and tear on my car and add stress to my marriage and my relationships with my children and my friends.  But, I don’t have enough money.

  • Enough money for what?  Are you trying to pay off debt?  Are you wanting a more lavish lifestyle?  Are you worried about paying your utility bill?  Do you find yourself without heat/light/phone every month?  Prioritize your needs for the money.  If utilities and mortgage/rent are the 1st things you pay for out of your paycheck, and you don’t have the money left to service your debt, you may have to eliminate some things and plug the leaks in your budget.  And even if you have plugged all the leaks, you may have to come up with a unique way to bring in more money.
  • Can you get a raise?  You want more money for the time you expend and the value you bring to this company.  Are you worth more now than you were last year?  Have you improved your skill set?  Have you taken on more responsibility?
  • Can you work for yourself in a way that your schedule is flexible enough to give you the money you need to replace your current income with fewer hours?  How important is this job you currently hold?  Is it your passion or is it just a paycheck?  Is it a means to your passion ie. you make $1000 more than you need for your household and spend it on building ultralights, or skateboards, or helping in the shelters or donating to Doctors without Borders.

For many people, the cost of the childcare and the transportation is 2/3 of the check they’d get from the 2nd job.  If you figure 80 hrs/month at min wage, ($7.25) you’d be working 80 hours for less than $150 a month?  That’s $1.81/hr.  Who can afford to work for $1.81/hour?!!!  So as in every enterprise, you have to look at the cause, not just the symptom.  Is there something that takes only an hour or two per week where you can make $150?  Let your mind go crazy and then pare it down to something reasonable.  For me, that would be 2 students/month.  I would be 1-2 investment clients/month.  It would be 4 books sold.  (Nice thing about books, you only have to write them once!)  Find the source of the problem and work from there.

Scenario 2:  I am fat.  I don’t like being fat.  It causes really stupid problems like not being able to tie my shoes or put on my socks.  I can’t get up out of the couch.  I will eat fewer calories and stay up later so I burn more, and exercise until I drop.  ??  I am not losing weight.  I am eating fewer calories, I changed from my late nights to getting a full 7-8 hours sleep, and I’m still exercising.  I am not losing weight.  I’m eating the RIGHT calories, getting enough sleep and exercising.  I am not losing weight.  It’s hopeless.

  • How are you counting calories?  Do you weigh your food?  Do you cook it so you know how it’s made and what goes into it?  What is the breakdown of your calories–carbs, proteins, fats?
  • How consistent are you on your work outs?  Are they all cardio or do they include strength and flexibility exercises?  Do you work with a trainer?  How do you measure your progress of your work outs?
  • How much sleep do you want?  Do you wake up tired?  What is your typical bed time?  Do you dream?  Do you dream in color?
  • Have you spoken to a doctor?  Had testing done?  Nutritionist?  Recommendations for change in diet?  Watched hour long infomercial about how people are losing 60 pounds in 30 seconds followed by an add for chainsaws and extreme liposuction with a shop-vac…

See?  The symptom is being overweight.  If you cannot determine the cause, you cannot fix the problem.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mental problems, cause doesn’t always lead to the same effect.  I’ve become increasingly skeptical that knowing the cause of a behavior can help change the behavior.  It may eliminate a trigger, but only if the trigger isn’t very old. If the trigger goes back to your childhood, I look askance at it.  Unless you can remove a traumatic experience from your past, you have to go from your present condition.  About all you can do for those experiences is to think, “oh…wasn’t that interesting,” and move on from there.  I know that’s harsh.  “When I was in Jr. High, I was thrown into the shower and restrained, wet and naked, and they took all my clothes and put them in the hallway.”  That’s traumatic.  Can you change what happened?  Nope.  Can you get even?  Probably not, and it wouldn’t make you feel better.  How did you cope at the time?  Do you believe that nothing could be as bad as that experience?  Probably.  Have you anything to fear then?  Hmmmm.  The symptom was being the person on the bad side of a bully and (of course) the minions that follow bullies around.  What was the cause?  Does it matter? Nooooo!  Now that’s where the interesting stuff comes out.

So when you find yourself worrying about stuff in your life, sit down, take stock, and ask the questions until you get to the root of the situation.  Then solve the problem, don’t just treat the symptom.

I don’t believe it!

I have spent the better of 1 hour on my feet.  I now have to sit down and rest.  Then I’ll get up again and spend about 1/2 hour on my feet.  Then sit down.  Then I make cookies with the grandkids.  I now have to sleep for 2 hours and am sore for hours after that.  I love baking cookies!  I love cooking!  I love clean…whoops, not that one.  But when I finish, in fact multiple times within the cooking and baking, I have to sit.  When I’m done my feet are sore, my back is sore, and I’m exhausted!

My friend Gloria read from a book “Getting Old is Not for Sissies!”  I sure identified with that!  At this time, I have my kids so well trained, all I have to do is the “up” gesture they used when they were two years old, and they will pull me out of my chair.  Why do I need to be pulled out of my chair?!  This is ridiculous!  My old year’s resolution was to drop some pounds so I wouldn’t be in this painful condition.  I went on a diet, (ketogenic) and I must have done it wrong because I GAINED weight.  I spent time in the gym doing my physical therapy exercises so I wouldn’t limp so much.  I’m still limping.  I got on the curve treadmill and the stationary bike to build up my endurance.  I’m out of breath going up 7 stairs.   It seems counterintuitive that when you consume fewer calories, and exercise more to use more calories, that you can remain the same weight or gain.  That’s just how it is with me, so I’m not going to rant on that (again) but I sure would like to find something that works.  I feel so icky!

International Speech! Trial Run

  1.  Open with a bang… or silence… or a combination.  Ah…

*Walks on stage with purse.  Quietly pulls a package of black cats out of the purse and places it  on the floor in the front, and lights the lighter.*  “There’s gotta be a better way to time these things!”  *Looks up.*  “Oh, hello!  Ya know?  I don’t think I’ll light this just yet.  It’s just a trial run.  Mr. Contest master, Fellow Toastmasters, esteemed judges and the judges I paid off earlier, and guests.  This is my international speech.  Now I realize it’s a very very prestigious thing to win, so I worked hard on this speech and did my due diligence.  I watched EVERY SINGLE winning and losing speech that has been recorded since the beginning of time.  I took notes.  I watched winners on YouTube telling me how they won.  I watched experts who have coached contestants who won.  And I have watched, well, listened to, these people purporting to be judges with their voices altered and in the dark on how to win.  I even joined a group that was going to coach me through the process!  I NOW have a SYSTEM!  I HAVE THE FORMULA!”

2.  Refer to your mother and relive your childhood.  Check!

“I remember my childhood.  I was shorter.  I remember my Mama’s ankles, and her feet on the pedals of the piano in our living room.  I remember my Mama’s sweet voice saying, ‘Didn’t you practice at all this week?  You sound like someone sat on a piano!  Play it again from the beginning and use your fingers and not your butt!’  She must have been kidding because the students never got off the bench when they were playing.  She used to say to me, ‘Don’t ever grab my feet when I’m playing Chopin! It’s a crime against humanity!'”

3.  Make sure you use emotion.  Check!

“I had a funny childhood.”  *Laughs uncontrollably.  Then just as suddenly breaks into sobs.*  “Not everyone agreed with me about what was funny.  Sometimes they violently disagreed.  I still have that effect when it comes to humor, but now people just shake their heads and groan instead of throwing heavy objects.”

4.  Have a point.  Check!

*Pulls out a knitting needle.  Looks at it, then puts it back into bag.*

5.  Have a tag line.  Check!

“Dry Clean ONLY!  I will now translate this statement into 160 Earth languages, Klingon and Wookie.”  *Checks watch.  Looks above stage for translations.*  “OK, never mind.”

6. Tell another story.  Check!

“Wait, original story?  OK, original it is.  Once upon a time in a Galaxy Far Far Away…  Uh Oh!  That guy in the third row is looking that one up.  Eek!  It was the best of times, it was the…  I hate GOOGLE!  Hold on a second.  Here’s one:  In college, I had a professor that liked to intimidate people, especially me.  He used to make fun of me mercilessly.  He was in the midst of another diatribe and I said, ‘If you say one more word about me, I’ll come down and bite you in the leg!’ and he did.  And I did.  We became fast friends, until he started foaming at the mouth.  I heard he spent a week in the hospital.”

7.  Have a point.  Huh?  a different size or color or the same point?

*Gets a larger knitting needle out of bag.  Looks at it.  Points to it.  Puts it back into bag*

8.  Tell sad story with a moral.  Try to use short sentences and make the ending uplifting.  Got it!

“I got hit by a revolving door and when I fell down, I heard my hip break.  It hurt terribly.  I almost cried. The moral of the story is: Don’t walk into glass walls when in a revolving door! The door doesn’t stop.  When the EMT’s came they lifted me into the Ambulance.”

9.  Use the tag line and tell another story.  You betcha!

*Sings “You’re the flower of my heart Sweet Adeline!” * I was a baritone. I will now regale you with a favorite story of mine from Rome.  It was the second story of a hotel there.  It was just beautiful with red carpet and fancy door handles and room numbers.”

10.  Make sure you use a lot of the stage.  It is also recommended that you lie down on the floor for maximum impact.  ??

“Nah, Not going to happen.  I can’t run like I used to and if I impact the stage, I may re-break my hip.  Even if I don’t break it, it would take a pulley system to get me off the floor.  I don’t see a set up like that here, so I think I’ll just skip this step.”

11.  Have a great conclusion.  Yup!

“Ladies and Gentlemen!  This concludes my International Speech!  Thank you!  Drive home safely.  Don’t forget to tip your waiter.  Where do I get my prize money?”  *Starts to walk off stage.  Changes directions to walk the other way.  Remembers black cats and grabs them gets out lighter.*  “Wait!  I know where my biggest competitor’s room is…”  *Laughs evilly and walks off stage.*

 

 

WTH

What if things go wrong.  You can count on things going wrong actually.  They’re very consistent.  You have a plan, you execute the plan, the plan goes off the rails, you throw the plan out.  Those are Captain Cold’s rules.  He then gets trapped in a room with a giant shark/man mutant from another dimension (Demention?  from crazy town?)  He does get rescued in time though.

I am on this weird journey to make Measurable progress in getting fit.  My 1st entry in this blog was March 6, 2014.  OMG.  I was 208 pounds then.  I’m 218 now.  Since that 1st entry, I have looked for the right combination of exercise and diet that would get me down to about 140 pounds which I haven’t weighed since my youngest was born…143 pounds plus or minus.  I remember that weight because I was 143 pounds going into the hospital as a pregnant lady, and came out weighing 143 pounds AFTER the child was born.  How is that possible?  He was 7# 4 oz.  I should have weighed at least 7 pounds less coming out!  That was the beginning of this strange journey into obesity.  Hahaha!  I can blame my boy!  Nope, that won’t work.

I cut myself down to 1200 calories a day.  I have been at 1200 calories a day for 3 years.  I have tried cutting out chocolate, then bread, then carbs in general, then colas, and at one time I existed on soup for a week.  Of course that was because I had a terrible respiratory virus that precluded me from eating solid food.  I couldn’t keep anything down but soup.  I do not recommend it.  I have exercised cardio and strength training 5 days a week with a trainer 3 days of those days, and I have exercised on my own taking occasional walks and going to the gym to work on the tread mill once a week.  I have been told I’m eating too little.  I have been told that to really lose the weight, I have to go on an 800 calorie diet and take supplements.  I have been told that all I need to do was portion control.  I have been told that all I need to do is start a running regimen.

In the course of this journey, I have had a 1/2″ kidney stone, I have broken my hip, and I have suffered all sorts of indignities that go with being too big.  I especially hate shopping for clothes.  “Here, try this tent on, the circus won’t be back until spring.”  I cannot physically get into a swimsuit because I cannot bend over to get both my feet in.  It doesn’t work like underwear.  I used to love swimming.  I used to love dancing.  I’m winded going up to the sidewalk of the gym.  I watch all the weight loss commercials and think to myself, well they wouldn’t work for me.  I think the laws of physics and biology bend around me.  I think I have ranted on this before…if you eat less and exercise more, you use more calories than you take in and you lose weight.  Unless you’re not eating enough, then they pile on.  If you are awake really late at night because you have something on your mind, and you’re moving, you’re using more calories, right?  But if you don’t get enough sleep, you gain weight.  So the laws of physics apply to every situation except when they don’t.

I HAVE NO VICES!  I do not overeat.  I do not smoke.  I do not drink.  I do not commit adultery.  I do not gamble.  I might be addicted to Longmire, but I don’t think that’s a vice since it has a definite ending point.  And yet…  I cannot find the energy to clean, or cook, or garden, or walk or dance or swim because I am so big and it takes so much effort.  I get depressed because I know I DO have 6-pack abs, but they’re so insulated that no one can see them.  I used to dance 5 hours a day.  I used to hike 10 miles.  I used to go on bike rides all over.  I used to march and play a horn for an hour a day.  I used to chase 5 kids around.  I used to be a pit pop who moved the percussion instruments on and off the field and in and out of the trucks.  I used to set field props for band contests.  I couldn’t do any of that now, even at gunpoint.

And now, I have another physical issue.  I don’t want to be in a state of always having to do something to fix something.  I don’t want to take medicine for the rest of my life.  I want it fixed.  When the light bulb goes out, you replace it.  You don’t have to monitor it every stinking day to see if there is something that MIGHT go wrong with it.  When you replace a broken window, you do it and it’s fixed.  There is no daily activity you have to do to make sure the fixed window hasn’t degraded into a broken window.  When you break a bone and they reset it, it heals and then EVERY FREAKING DAY you have to exercise the muscles around it so you can continue to use it for the rest of your life.  Because once it’s broken, it’s ruined.  Nothing will ever be right about it from that point on.  If you have a kidney stone, EVEN AFTER YOU’VE PASSED IT, you’re likely to have more.  The kidney is ruined and nothing will ever be right about it from that point on.  If you’ve gained weight, by whatever means it has happened, your metabolism is ruined and it will never be right again.  Every day, you start from 0.  It’s like Forrest Gump if he were in the Outer Limits. He starts his cross country run, runs for 25-30 miles.  He goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning in his bedroom.

As a good friend of mine says, “Oh Well.”