Thursday, January 29, 2009

Early (Temporary) Retirement

I learned a lot from my Dad. As a kid I used to be the one holding the flashlight while he tinkered with the engine or fixed something around the house. As a teenager I was employed at the plumbing shop he owned and learned many things that helped me in my own life. My Dad was an inventor and could fix or build almost anything and I learned as I watched him. But the most important thing I learned from my Dad he never showed me.

My Dad worked very hard his entire life and managed to raise 7 children who were all comfortably fed, warmly dressed, and always returned from a visit with a few extra dollars in their pocket. He worked long hard days in bitter cold and blazing heat digging ditches with is backhoe. When he got home he worked on a multitude of projects that kept him busy late into the night. Some might call him a "workaholic".

Don't get me wrong, he was a good father and he enjoyed his family. He took us fishing, boating, camping - he even built us a swimming pool which is quite rare in South Dakota. Still I knew that he was waiting to retire so he and Mom could enjoy some real relaxation. He couldn't have known that cancer would end his life at the early age of 60. He was still on his backhoe a week before he died. He never got to retire.

The important lesson I learned is that you must take time to enjoy today. You can't put your dreams off because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I live my life this way. I too work hard at my job and on projects at my house. But I always take time to enjoy the beach when the weather is nice and not feel guilty about it.

Soon I will embark on a grand adventure that my family and friends are concerned about. True, I may be a bit crazy to voluntarily (and hopefully temporarily) quit my job - especially in this economy. Perhaps I should wait until things improve, or until I have more savings, or this reason or that. Well, the lesson I learned is that sometimes waiting can get you in a box six feet underground rather than across the country on a bicycle. A little voice inside me keeps saying "go now" - and I think it sounds like my Dad.

Friday, January 23, 2009

They Walked

President Obama's inauguration was a day to remember. One of the things I found most significant was the fact that the new President and First Lady got out of the car and walked several blocks along the parade route. I'll tell you why I think it was so important.

Ever since 9/11, the Bush Administration has had America living in fear. This fear has proven very profitable for them as people who live in fear will allow things they would normally object to in order to feel safe. Using the constant fear of another attack, they were able to convince Senators, and the American public that the war in Iraq was justified. Fear allowed them the power to change laws to further their financial agenda. And fear allowed them to take away basic rights of privacy and liberty that this country was founded on.

Had President Obama stayed in the car, it would have sent a continued message of fear. It would have justified all the people who worry that this president is an assassination risk. But by stepping out of the car and walking freely down the street with his beautiful wife, waving to the crowd, it displayed a very positive message. President Obama does not live in fear. He trusts that his staff and the secret service are doing their job to keep him and the American people safe. And, I'll have to admit, since it was his first day on the job - it also shows some faith in the Bush administration as well.

I think we will find President Obama will be able to promote his agenda by giving us facts not fears. He has already taken steps to restore some of the civil liberties taken by the previous administration. These returned rights will not compromise our safety but rather secure it. The government will continue to exercise needed investigations - but with due process. That is the way our founding fathers intended and President Obama knows this is important to our country.

They walked tall and proud that day - and now we as Americans can all do the same.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Proud of the USA

We don't get to choose where we are born or where we grow up, but we do get to choose were we live as adults. I live in the United States by choice and I've always been very happy to live here. But today, for the first time in 8 years, I am also proud to be an American. The inauguration literally brought tears to my eyes and I, like so many others, was overwhelmed with hope for our future and pride for the good man who beat the odds to become the 44th President. His speech hit home to so many across the globe offering a fresh start and a message of peace. God bless this man and this country as we begin again.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Save Internet Shopping!

They want to tax all of the Internet? Now I'm starting to get pissed off.

First the states raised our property taxes to match the unrealistic appraised value of the over priced homes in our neighborhoods. Then they based the states budgets on these ballooned tax revenues and now that prices are falling their budgets are falling short. To make up for it they want to start taxing all purchases on the Internet. I don't agree.

Tax free shopping is one of the main reasons most folks shop online, especially if they can also get free shipping. We already have to pay taxes to those business who have a physical store in our state. Adding to that will only hurt the economy more as folks choose not to shop online.

There is also the problem of what rate will virtual sites be taxed at? And who will they pay it to - the state? The Feds? Me? Do all online merchandisers need to get a business license? If so - from what city, state, or country? It will be a big mess - no doubt.

Like the rest of us, States need to adjust their spending to match the lower revenues. And please stop the scare tactics of saying you are going to have to cut education, police and fire budgets. There are lots of other places to cut budgets. Just look back at the budgets of 5 years ago and see how you managed back then.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Mirror is Your Friend

One more New Year fitness tip: As part of your new healthy eating, more exercise, and weighing yourself daily as I mentioned before, there is one more thing you should do daily and that is to look at yourself in the mirror - naked if possible. The reason this is important is because fat and muscle weigh differently - a little muscle weighs the same as a lot of fat on your body. As you start to tone up with your new healthy lifestyle, you may not notice your weight dropping very quickly because hopefully your fat is being turned into muscle. But you can see changes in your body - good or bad - by simply looking in the mirror. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you may not enjoy this part very much in the beginning but you still need to do it - just as you need to weigh yourself daily.

I have found that a full length mirror in your bathroom or bedroom is perfect for this. If yours is in the bathroom, you will need to take a moment before you shower or bathe (when there is no steam) to just look at yourself - all the way around. The second benefit of this practice is that you will gradually gain body acceptance (no matter what you look like). Body acceptance goes a long way to the mental part of getting into - and staying in shape.

When you reach your goal weight, I'm certain you will actually enjoy the mirror which is good because you need to continue to see yourself each day. As with the scale, you will notice when things are starting to turn for the worst before it gets too far out of control.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I Sure Miss Rosie

Over the last several years I have very much enjoyed reading Rosie O'Donnel's Blog and I felt like part of her family as I watched the kids grow up. Rosie has decided to go "unplugged" in 2009 and that is certainly her prerogative. But, when she reads my blog (ha!) I hope she knows how much we miss her on TV and the Internet. I know she will be back on one or both soon, but until then I wish her some peace and rest in 2009.

Rosie - no matter what you choose to do - you will always be my heRO!

Very Happy Holidays

Well I had a fantastic Holiday season. For the first time in my adult life since college, I had 2 weeks of vacation in a row - during the actual Holidays!!! However, I didn't have any extra money to do any traveling. But that is not a problem when one lives in S. Florida! I can't think of a better place to be "stranded" during a vacation. I did a lot of bike riding, became a professional beach bum, and of course drank a few beers. Fantastic!

Happy 2009!

Well this year is off to a fast start - it's already January 9th!

I've mentioned in past years the hoards of new folks at the gym (for a limited time only) so I won't re-hash that. But I do have several January fitness points to make. First, I want to address something I hear a lot. Whenever I tell people that I want to lose 5 pounds I always hear the same thing - "you are so thin! Why would you worry about 5 pounds?" My answer to that is simple: It is much easier to lose 5 lbs that it is to lose 10 lbs or more. Once you let yourself get past a point where it becomes a very difficult task to get back to a normal weight, things start to get hopeless. My advice is weigh yourself DAILY if possible. Most grocery stores I go to have a scale for customers and of course there is that one at the gym (you do go - right?). You might not even feel like you have gained any weight until you have gained way too much so the only way to know is by checking it daily. What I do is pick a target weight zone and try to always stay within that zone. You should always allow at least 5 pounds within this zone because your weight will change that much for a variety of reason. But, once you start to go over that upper limit, you must take action immediately and that action is very simple - eat less and exercise more. That's it!

My next point is that you cannot get enough exercise in your home unless you are doing serious cardio work like a treadmill (for longer than 10 min.) I've noticed a disturbing trend recently that people actually think playing a video game like the Wii is good enough exercise. WRONG! Let me say that again because it is very important - WRONG! I don't care how much you swing your arms with virtual bowling, you are simply not getting a good cardio workout that your body needs. Please, do yourself a big favor and turn off the video game, or the football game and go outside and actually move your entire body to the point of heavy breathing. This is the only way you will help yourself lose weight and stay healthy. I understand it is cold in other parts of the world and it is hard to get motivated, but you must do it. Go to a mall or a school gym and get yourself moving. When you get back home - play the Wii! You can't get too much exercise.

OK - I'm done with my yearly rant on personal fitness. Why do I rant? Because it is so very important. You get one and only one body - take care of it and it will take care of you.

May your 2009 be extra fine!