Category: life

Quick hit: death and dying

I think about death and dying more than the average person. As I was catching up on my RSS this morning I came across this bit of info:

A friend tells the story of her father’s death. He died in a hospital. She wasn’t there when it happened. She was the only one of his children to show up after he passed. All that remained of this man was a brown shopping bag with clothes, a wallet, false teeth, keys. That’s it. That’s what’s left when you die. There’s no individual in sight. Just a bag with some junk in it. That’s what we, as individuals, are worth. To the extent that we understand our role as part of a wave of humanity, do our lives have significance

This makes me think about the people in old folks homes. These were once young people with lives with people who depended on them. They had parents and siblings and kids and jobs and everything. Now they’re just in this home, waiting and seemingly forgotten. It makes me want to go visit them. It seems bleak.

It also makes me think about my legacy. What are people going to remember about me after I’m dead? Will the things I’ve done mean anything to anybody? It’s this line of thought that’s allowed me give up gaming. I feel compelled to be productive because my life is limited and there’s still so much I want to do. After I’m dead and gone nobody is going to know that I had a maxed out mining character in Eve-Online nor will they know that I had a RR 8 Bard in Dark Age of Camelot. Those things seem like such a waste of time in this context.

Live life because it’s running out and you only get one.

 

Quick hit: hitting close to home!

As I was consuming my stream of news this morning I ran across this bit of text:

“Before I had a chance to fully express myself as an individual I had children of my own. So I feel the need to treat myself from time to time because it hurts that I never had a chance get to know myself. It’s also the reason why I waste cash buying my children lavish gifts they neither need nor want, at every opportunity.”

Yikes! This resonates with me… a lot.

My weekly cook up

Failing to plan is planning to fail. That phrase pretty much sums up why I do my weekly cook ups. When I don’t have my meals planned and cooked up, I make the convenient choices. That usually means that I’m eating McDonalds in the morning and getting some Chinese buffet style food for lunch or five guys etc. The goal is to have my breakfasts and lunches prepared for the work week. I do this preparation on Sundays usually and I store everything in Pyrex containers.

My breakfast is this omelet that I make. I’ve seen it referenced as a Denver omelet but I’m not positive on what it’s called exactly. Here are the ingredients.

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Denver Omelet

  • 2 farm eggs (we have an egg lady!)
  • 3/4 cup frozen 3 pepper, onion blend (Pictsweet – 3 Pepper & Onion Blend from Walmart)
  • 1 oz diced ham from deli counter (Prima Della – Black Forest Ham)
  • 1/2 slice Prima Della (Walmart) – Natural Sliced Pepper Jack Cheese (cut on #2)

I cook 4 at a time so here is my process. I use two pans: one for the 3 pepper onion blend/ham and one for the egg mixture. While I’m mixing and measuring the first batch of ingredients, I usually have the two pans preheating. I use a tiny bit of olive oil to lubricate the pans. Also, I use a digital food scale and measuring cups to make sure everything is to spec. 😉

  • Mix eggs in a bowl using whisk. Cook in 8 inch saute pan on medium heat.
  • Cook 3 pepper/onion & ham mixture in other pan (I use a 10 inch pan) on medium heat at the same time.
  • Flip the eggs when they’re solid enough to survive the flip without splashing egg mixture all over the place. Usually just a couple of minutes!
  • Put the 1/2 slice of cheese on the egg. Be sure to place it on one half because you’re going to fold it!
  • Place 3 pepper/onion & ham mixture onto egg, directly on cheese (remember, I cook both of these simultaneously so by the time the eggs are ready to flip, the pepper/onion & ham mixture is ready).
  • I add salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce.
  • Fold the whole mess in half and put the first one into a Pyrex dish. Repeat 3 more times!

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Nutritional Stats:

Calories – 234
Carbs – 4
Fat – 12
Protein – 20

It’s healthy and pretty great tasting.

My lunches for the past few weeks have been bean and vegetable soup with a salad.

The bean and vegetable soup isn’t very hard; it just takes some time because I make my own vegetable broth as a base.

Vegetable Broth

The basic idea is to get a mess of vegetables and simmer the goodness out of them for about an hour. You can really use any type of vegetable but I’ve been using this as a basic guideline. Here are the ingredients I’ve been using:

  • 1 bag frozen recipe blend from Walmart (it’s onions, celery and a small amount of pepper)
  • frozen broccoli
  • frozen carrots
  • some mushrooms
  • spices (I use salt, pepper, bay leaves and just whatever else I grab out of the cupboard in the moment)

Preparation

  • Put everything into a pot of water (I use 8 cups of water), bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour.
  • Strain the vegetables out and set the broth aside for your soup!

Bean and Vegetable Soup

  • Vegetable broth from step above
  • 1 package Pictsweet – Vegetable Soup Mix With Tomatoes (Frozen) Pict Sweet (Walmart)
  • 1 can Bush’s Best – Navy Beans (Rinsed & Drained)
  • Whatever spices you want

Put everything into a pot and cook on medium-low for about 20 minutes. This makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Stats:

Calories – 202
Carbs – 42
Fat – 1
Protein – 7

At work, I add a crap ton of pepper and some salt because it’s a little on the bland side. I’ve been looking for ways to spice it up a bit but really I eat it because it’s healthy fuel for my body, not because it tastes awesome.

Salad Shaker

My friend Sally suggested this after I tweeted that I was trying to figure out a way to make a batch of salad that could keep for a week.

Ingredients

  • Oil – Olive, 1 tablespoon
  • Pompeian – Gourmet Red Wine Vinegar (Premium Quality), 1 Tbsp
  • Generic – Grape Tomatoes, 2 oz
  • Bolthouse Farms – Baby-Cut Carrots (454g Bag), 2 oz
  • Cucumber – 1 oz
  • Dole – Spring Mix Salad, 1 oz

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Preparation

As the link above says, the idea is to put in your dressing first then the tomatoes. That’s because the tomatoes can sit in the dressing without any issues. If the salad mix is sitting in the dressing, the salad greens will become wilted and funky.

  • Measure out oil and vinegar
  • put in tomatoes
  • rest of ingredients with salad greens last

Nutritional Stats:

Calories – 168
Carbs – 10
Fat – 15
Protein – 2

In conclusion, the idea is to set myself up to be successful by planning ahead. I do all this so that I have a healthy food routine and I don’t have to think about it much during the week. On workday mornings, I just stick everything in my cooler and I’m out the door in just a couple minutes. It’s pretty delicious and healthy!

 

Fitness Challenge Update 1

3:22pm Update: I had made a mistake on Jessie’s mileage. Fixed!

Today is the 3rd day of our fitness challenge and I wanted to post a progress report.

myfinesspal

Jess – Under Monday & Tuesday

Mike – Under Monday & Tuesday

Result – Tie.

Runkeeper Milage

Jess – 5.02 miles

Mike – 9.8 miles

Result – Mike ahead by 4.8 miles.

Weightloss

Jess – 1.43%

Mike – 1.15%

Result – Jess is ahead by .28%

Overall Result – Tie.

Two week fitness challenge!

So, jharleyxo and I have decided to have a fitness challenge for the next two weeks. The challenge consists of 3 main parts.

First, we will be using myfitnesspal to see who can come the closest to their daily calorie goal as calculated by myfitnesspal. If we both go over, the one closest is declared the winner for that day. The person with the most days is declared the overall winner in this category. Each of us must configure myfitnesspal to post to twitter when we’ve completed our daily log.

Second, will be using Runkeeper to see who can log the most mileage in walking/running during our challenge. The person with the overall most mileage is declared the winner of this category.

Finally, we will be having a weight loss challenge to see who can lose the most weight. We’ll be using our Withings scale for the weigh-ins. The person who loses the most weight as a percentage of their body weight is declared winner.

Try not to laugh too hard at jharleyxo when I dominate all 3 categories guys. 😉

Conservative opposition to birth control

What. The. Fuck. People?

Others have written about it a lot better than I could dream but I just wanted to take a minute to jot down my own thoughts.

In my mind, opposition to birth control is rooted in the sex negative idea that people, especially women, should abstain from having sex unless they’re making teh babies. Women taking birth control enables them to have teh evil, dirty sex (sins of the flesh!) without getting pregnant, i.e., the consequences of being a dirty slut.

The difference between the attitudes between men having sex and women having sex is astounding. Just check out our favorite bobble head, Bill O’Reilly tell us why Viagra is a “medical condition” while birth control is a choice.

Got that? Guys that want to get their dick wet but are unable to should be covered because guys fucking is some sort of right. Women wanting to avoid getting pregnant tho… well, they should just choose not to have sex! Makes perfect sense to old white guys!

And of course Congress had a hearing on birth control today. And guess how many of the 10 witnesses were women? Zero!

Commuting: Why am I doing this?

I live in a small town in Tennessee called Crossville. I work in Nashville, TN. That’s 120 miles from my driveway to the office parking garage, one way. I spend nearly 4 hours of my day driving back and forth to work when I drive to Nashville; that’s a 12 hour work day! My work is pretty flexible and I’m able to do some telecommuting but I still spend over $400/month on gasoline to drive back and forth to work, plus the wear and tear on the car, oil changes, tires etc. That doesn’t even count the stress of me sitting in a car for that long. Or the wasted time that I could be doing something productive or fun. I could be exercising or studying codeyear, or .NET development or reading or or working my side hustle or just spending time with my family.

I usually get home around 5:30pm. By then dinner is usually on and we’re close to eating. Since the wife cooks, I clean up the kitchen. So by the time we’ve ate dinner and cleaned up, I usually have about an hour to myself that doesn’t involve sitting in a car then it’s time to start getting ready for bed because I have to get up at 4:30am in order to get to work.

When I really want to get depressed about it, I read The True Cost of Commuting again. Yikes!! I make the best of the it and try to stay up beat about it. I listen to a lot of NPR and I listen to podcasts a lot (Savage Love Cast & This American life mostly!) to pass the time. Plus, I fiddle around with Waze to report traffic issues.

Why on earth would anybody torture themselves in such a way? There are two main reasons:

First, our finances are pretty shitty. We both went straight from our previous marriages to this marriage. Getting divorced, paying child support, paying alimony ($900/month in my case) and still trying to live tends to fuck up a person’s finances. I’ve had the alimony paid off for over a year now and we’re pulling ourselves out of the financial shit storm we were in but it takes time; especially since we’ve not been as disciplined as we should have. Both of our cars are now paid off , we’re not living week to week, our grocery budget has went up for healthier food and we’re paying off the credit cards that were written off. Finally, we have a mortgage on  this house that I bought in my previous marriage. I don’t think we’ll be able to sell it but even if we could sell it tomorrow and break even (or rent it out), we’d still have the second issue.

Second, we made a commitment to the boys about stability.  When we first moved in together, we lived in a 2 bedroom/1.5 bath apartment with two adults and 3 kids. The kids were piled into a single bedroom with one bunk bed and a single bed. The boys at the time were 8, 10 and 13. As you might imagine, we were crammed into that apartment and it was very stressful on everybody but especially on the kids. Once the alimony agreement was satisfied, we were able to move back into my house. It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 full bath house in a pretty nice neighborhood. We have pretty cool neighbors and the kids have made friends with the neighborhood kids. They have a pretty good and stable life right now.

I could only do this commute if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The ultimate goal is to live in Nashville. I’ve lived in a rural/suburban type areas my whole life and I’m really wanting to live in an urban setting. I want to bike to work and I want to be able to walk or bike to interesting places. I want to get rid of our second car. I want to easily be able to meet new people. I want to have the free time that living within a 20-30 minute bike ride to work will give me. I want to be able to meet up with our friends for spontaneous things.

I realize that my expectations of what urban living is going to be like is probably a little different than what it’s actually going to be. Since we’ll have kids, I worry about the schools and I worry about their safety. Every person that I’ve had the “where do you live” conversation with at work lives 45+ minutes away by car on the interstate. They all live in places like Murfreesboro, Spring Hill and Dickson. I wonder if I’m missing something about living urban or if everybody else at work just thinks people should live in suburbia or maybe they just hate people. My work is in Green Hills so I’ve been looking in Belmont/Hillsboro, Hillsboro/West End, Edgehill, Music Row areas. East Nashville seems pretty interesting too.

So, that’s why I do what I do. Finances and guilt about putting the boys through hell in a dinky ass apartment for 2 years. If you have any insight into living urban in Nashville, I’d certainly be interested in getting some input from people who know.

 

 

Our Atheist-Christian marriage

I’m an atheist and my wife is a Christian. How can this work you might ask? Well… it’s not always easy. I can’t speak to her perspective or experiences but I can speak to my own.

First and probably most importantly, my wife isn’t a fundamentalist, young earth conservative type Christian. I personally would describe her as spiritual but not terribly religious. I hope she’s not offended by that. I’m way more outspoken about my atheism than she is about her religion. Plus, she’s pretty liberal in her politics so we’re of the same mind on a lot of things. I think that if she were a fundamentalist, young earther, I’m not sure this could work!

I find that I do have to pull punches at home sometimes, especially when I’m feeling especially ranty about religion. In the past, I’ve been going off about something religiousy and I’ve hurt her feelings because I’ve said something too forcefully or I’ve generalized too much.  I’ve always prided myself on being able to disagree with people without being disagreeable but that filter would slip at home. It only took a couple times of that happening before I realized I needed to be as careful at home as I am around religious friends, because after all, I live with a houseful of Christians!

I know for a fact that some Christians wouldn’t even consider an atheist spouse and vice versa.  I’m glad this isn’t the case with us! We’re able to find common ground (our love for each other) and focus on the things we do agree on instead of dwelling on the things that we disagree on. I enjoy discussing this topic quite a bit so being able to exercise that part of my brain is pretty important to me and Jen has gotten pretty good at being able to engage back with me and it’s been a while since feelings have been hurt or we’ve become frustrated with each other. I think that if we were going to have kids together, the difference in religion could be more of a big deal. I would have to insist that our kid(s) are brought up in a secular environment and I have no doubt that she’d want our kid(s) to go to church. I’m glad that isn’t a fight we need to have. Her kids with her ex are their kids. I don’t really get a say in their upbringing; I just get to pay for them. 😉

It’s not too uncommon for her to invite me to church on occasion and I generally will accept unless I have something else planned or the weekly chores have just piled up too much. I don’t think she’s inviting me because she’s hopeful that I’ll convert. My impression is that she invites me because she enjoys my company and just enjoys having her husband with her in that environment. I agree to go because I love her and this is something I’m willing to do for her. Some of our friends go to Jen’s church so it’s also nice to touch base with them too.

In conclusion, I don’t think two people have to agree on everything in order to be a happy couple. In fact, I think there are probably no couples that believe 100% the same. I respect Jen’s right to have her own opinion, even if I don’t agree with it. I love her as herself and I think she loves me as myself (as long as I’m not being a dick about it). I’m not sure if that’s helpful but that’s my take on it.