family

Samhain

(This isn’t an anti any religion post. Your beliefs are your beliefs. I’m not trying to push any of my beliefs on you, please don’t try to push yours on me. This is here to show the history of one of my favorite holidays.)

The season of Samhain (pronounced SOW-win) is upon us. The greatest of the ancient Celtic fire festivals, it is usually celebrated on October 31st or the full moon closest to that date (November 4th at 1:23AM this year).  It is from this ancient festival that we believe the modern-day Halloween comes from.

To the ancient Celts, Samhain marked the most important of four Celtic fire festivals. Located halfway between an equinox and a solstice, it is one of four cross-quarter festivals. Every year on the first frost after the full moon in October, families allowed their hearth fires to burn out. At this time, they brought back herd animals from grazing and completed gathering the harvest. After the fires died, they gathered with the rest of their tribe to observe the Druid priests relighting the community sacred fire using friction. The priests induced friction with a wheel and spindle: the wheel, representing the sun, turned from east to west and lit sparks. At this time, they made prayers and offerings or sacrifices related to their needs. The Crom-cruach came out: this was an emblem of the sun, and scholars are uncertain whether it represented a Pagan god or symbolized an aspect of nature embodied in a stone pillar. The villagers left offerings of food at the edge of their village for wandering spirits and faerie folk. There was also a sacrifice of a black sheep, a black sow, or cattle. At the end, every person returned home with a brand lit from the sacred fire, which they used to relight their own hearth and then to light bonfires or to set torches at the edge of their fields. These ancients considered it a sin to relight the hearth fire any other way. To the ancient Celts, Samhain marked the completion of the harvest and called them to put their energy into preparing for the coming winter. It also betokened a day when their ancestors would come to visit, followed across the veil by all sorts of creatures both good and bad that moved freely in the mortal world on Samhain night. Since faeries were often unfriendly, the Celts dressed themselves as animals or as other fearsome creatures as a way to prevent kidnapping by faeries and later by witches.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 154-168). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

Not only did this festival mark the end of the harvest, it was a time the “veil between the worlds” thinned. This “thining of the veil” was of great import to the ancient Celts. (And it’s pronounced Kelts, with a hard “C”).  It was a time to welcome lost family members back to ask questions of them, or just sit in remembrance of them. It was also a time that creatures of all sorts, good and bad could cross between worlds. I would like to think that when I’m gone, on this day I will be able to stand at the veil and watch my family. To see how they’re doing and maybe, somehow, let them know I’m thinking (if that’s the right word) of them. John Lennon (he of Beatle fame) is said to have told his son Julian that if he can communicate from the other side he will float a white feather in front of him. That would be cool.

In today’s world “fairy” brings up images of “Tinkerbell” and other cute little sprite-like creatures. That was not the thinking in the 3rd – 5th centuries CE. In more ancient times (maybe as far back as 30,000 BCE) these fairies and sprites were looked upon as belonging to the Mother Goddess (Cerrwiden for most of Isles) and were usually benevolent. It wasn’t until the coming of the Celtic Christians (which was separate from the Roman Catholics) that these fairies were taught to be mischievous at best, evil at worst.

Most of the “Old Gods” of the Druids (which were stolen by the patriarchal religions) were manifestations of the matriarchal religions’ Mother Goddess (or Mother Earth). To try to convert the pagans of the British Isles, the priests either turned these old Gods and Goddess into saints, as in “Saint” Brigid or claimed they were evil and cast them to live in the hills underground.

 

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Our Jack o’Lanterns from 2016

 

So the Catholic church tried to change all the pagan holidays, Samhain being only one, into a Christian holiday. They didn’t invent these “holy days” so much as usurp them from the pagan calendar.

When Christianity spread throughout Europe, the church officials went about converting the area heathens by converting their holidays. Sometimes church officials did this by scheduling an observance for a different time of year. Other times, they simply renamed the old Pagan holiday for a saint’s day. In the fifth century, Pope Boniface attempted to repurpose the ritual of honoring otherworldly spirits and the dead, identifying it as a day to honor saints and martyrs, and moving the holiday to May 13. When the late October/ November fire festivals continued anyway, in the ninth-century Pope Gregory decided to move the saints and martyrs day back to the same day as the secular festival of the dead. In the case of Samhain, rather than negate the festival of the dead, the church resorted to declaring November 1 All Saints’ Day, alternatively called All Souls’ Day. Later the church added All Souls’ Day on November 2, possibly because All Saints’ Day failed to displace the Pagan rituals. Eventually both All Saints’ and All Souls’ became distinct holidays unto themselves, with All Saints’ an observance for souls believed already ascended to heaven, and All Souls’ as a day to honor souls possibly still working out some issues in purgatory. In Ireland, these days marked a time for family reunions after cow-milking season finished. Over time the night before November 1, called among many names Hallowe’en, Allhallows eve, or Hallowmas, became the repository for most of the original Pagan practices.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 169-179). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

As you can see, it didn’t really work. We pagans are a stubborn bunch. But I have to admit, that when I did call myself a Christian All Saint’s Sunday was an especially meaningful day for me. To hear the names of the “saints” that had left us the previous year and to have a bell chime for each name was very moving.

Despite the best efforts of the ninth century Christian Church, Samhain did not so much return as it remained. That, alongside Halloween, speaks to humanity’s enduring need to acknowledge fear, death, uncertainty, and loss. Samhain offers a chance for renewal and a chance to connect lovingly with the dead again. Halloween offers a release from the norm— often exactly what people need after enduring powerful grief. Pagans celebrate life, and with Samhain they do so by revering the dead, celebrating the chain of lives that brought us all together.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 423-427). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

I have quoted extensively from Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween. This book is part of a series “Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials”.  While I couldn’t find a link to the entire series (there are several books) this particular book can be found here on Amazon. From there you should be able to find the rest. While I found the “recipes & crafts” section rather boring, you may enjoy that kind of stuff. The rest of the book was quite interesting to me.  If you buy it I hope you enjoy it!

Peace,
B

P.S. Long live the Celts!

Long Ago On Twitter

There was a time when big corporations paid attention to their Twitter accounts. Some years ago I found a bag of rather old Fritos stuffed away behind some stuff in the pantry. I randomly tweeted that “I hope they wouldn’t kill me.”  Within minutes I had a response from Frito Lay on how to replace the bag at no cost to me. Despite the fact that they were well beyond their expiration date. They didn’t care. They wanted to help.

Another time I asked on Twitter how to remove White Out from a pair of pants. The “Goo-Gone” folks replied that their product would do it. Sadly it didn’t, but at least they reached out.

But things have changed. In recent time Wifey® and I have reached to AT&T (see here), we have tried not only on this blog, but Twitter and Facebook without a single damn response. And now in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I cannot get our utility company (Florida Power & Light) to answer me. I have sleep apena, as such I need a CPAP machine to help me breathe at night. Couple that with my asthma/emphysema, the possibility of my stopping breathing in my sleep is greatly increased. Not to mention how hard it is to get up when the alarm goes off, provided of course that I’m not already up doing nothing but trying to get my head around me and breathe.

So what was once a great way to reach out to someone in a large corporation has turned to shit. They don’t care. Helping people in need does nothing for their bottom line, so they turn a blind eye and ear.

I feel very let down by this turn of events. I didn’t spend 20 years of my life defending this country in the military to be treated like this.  Not that my congressman cares either. His office staff has been AWOL for a week or more.

So all-in-all, I say “fuck it”.  I’m gonna drink my craftbeer as long as I have gas for my generator to keep the fridges running and money to buy it.

For those of you not in the paths of Hurricane Harvey or Irma, peace to you. Be thankful of what you have. For those that, like I, have been affected by either storm, best of luck. I’m ready to call it quits.

Just how hard is it to emmigrate to Scotland anyway?

Peace,
B

Days Without Power….

Our local power company, FP&L expects to have the power back on NLT 2345 hrs, 17 September (that’s 11:45 PM, Sunday September 17 for those non-military types). That’s 5 days away..  Please send gasoline for the generator and craftbeer to keep me sane….

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I can shower with only the light from a flashlight, or even in the dark, but I’m not going to shave in those conditions. Not to mention that “No power = No CPAP = No sleep”. My co-workers are going to hate me.

Here’s a video to enjoy.

Peace,
B

Hurricane Irma & Others

And Florida has once again survived yet another “killer” hurricane. Hurricane Irma was a storm you only see every 500 years, but it came just days after Hurricane Harvey which was a storm you only see every 500 years.  So either something has gone terribly bad with the space-time-continuum, or Mother Earth is really pissed at us humans right now.

Watching the weather reports as I sat at the Port Orange EOC (Emergency Operations Center), I saw the devastation that the Caribbean Islands received. Having cruised to some of those islands, I was heart-broken to see the damage. South Florida, where I grew up was hit very hard. Lots of flooding. My older brother and I were texting back and forth (he’s in the Atlanta area now) about past hurricanes. We lived about 10 – 15 miles from the coast in Miami when Donna hit in 1960. I wasn’t even two yet, so I don’t remember it.  He told me we had about 3 – 4 of water in the yard from storm surge. That’s pretty bad.

Since I’ve retired from the Army and moved back to Florida, we’ve had a fair number of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes. In 2004 we had three in rapid succession. Charlie did a great deal of damage to the Daytona Beach area. I remember driving with my younger son (older son was out with his National Guard unit doing hurricane recovery) trying to find a chain saw. A neighbor’s tree fell into our yard taking out our power lines and blocking the door of the shed. Which, of course was where my chain saw was. So we needed to buy a chain saw to get to our chain saw. Nobody had a chainsaw to sell, but we did pick up a nice 5Kw generator that we use to this day. Which was good, since we were without power for ten days.

The next storm was Frances, but she wasn’t too bad. But the third storm, Jeanne seem to sit on top of us for days, just dumping water. Our street was flooded, but it didn’t reach the house so all was OK.

Last year we had Hurricane Matthew. Since Matthew went straight up the east coast of Florida without really making any landfall in our area, there was a lot of wind and rain, but not too bad as we were on the west side of the storm. I spent one night in the EOC working to keep the IT infrastructure running. Then went home and cleaned the yard of all the oak tree debris.

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The calm before the storm. COPO EOC.

This year was Irma. She couldn’t make up her mind where she wanted to go. She was going to follow Matthew’s course and go up the east coast between Florida and the Bahamas. Then she started shifting more west. At one time she was going to go straight up the middle of the state, basically targeting Disney World, and head towards Tennessee where my granddaughters evacuated to. Next morning, she was going up the west coast, leaving Daytona out of harms way.  Finally she made landfall in the Big Marco Island area of the west coast, looking like she was going to ride the coast line. Nope, turned easterly and headed back to Disney. Maybe she doesn’t like the rat (Mickey Mouse) anymore that I do.

So my brother and I are texting back and forth, while I’m in the EOC, he’s in Atlanta, his wife and mother-in-law are just outside of Orlando and it looks like they’re going to take a direct hit. The only good thing is that Irma is now “only” a category 2 storm. Not the major category 4 it was at first landfall. But now the track also takes it straight to Atlanta! And since it’s moved more easterly, Daytona is gonna get hid hard again. We just couldn’t avoid this storm no matter where we were.

But, since I lived to tell the tale, all is well. I did my three shifts in the EOC, the house survived with only minor damage, lots of debris in the yard, and the apparent loss of our papaya tree.

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Only damage to the house. One piece of fascia was blown off.

And while I was doing my work at the EOC, Wifey® put on her Wonder Woman outfit and went to work. She not only cleaned up the major debris from our yard, she did it for the elderly lady next door who is the process of moving out and selling the house. Pretty big pile she made too.

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Debris Pile.

She says that there’s one branch she can’t move by herself. But all in all, she did wonderfully. I absolutely love how she’s not afraid to jump in and get stuff done when it needs to be done.  Thanks babe!  Love ya!

Now we wait for FP&L to get our power back on. It usually takes days for us, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s property value.  Take care of the guys in the higher tax brackets before fixing the peons.

But what do I know?

Hope you all made it through the storms OK.

Peace,
B

Wonder Woman (And No Not The Movie)

(Or How We Spent Our Labor Day Weekend)

If you read my Home Repair as Therapy post, you have the beginning of the story. This weekend Wifey® and I put down the flooring. I estimate we put down about 1000 square feet in all. We did two rooms and the hallway over the three days. Plus I took the Friday before off to finish up the prep work for the first room and take the all the carpet and tack we pulled up to the dump. It was a lot of work, but it was a smart decision to do it on Friday.

The adhesive we put down was a very bright blue.  I asked my granddaughters if they could guess how many Smurfs I had to squeeze to get that much Smurf Juice.  The 8-year-old replied, “Papa how could you squeeze a Smurf? They’re not real. They’re fictional!”  Smart kid she is…

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The Great Smurf Bloodletting

Saturday morning Wifey® was not doing well.  She had some kind of stomach bug going and had been up on and off since 3AM. Never the less she was right there with me laying out the flooring in the living room.  It took us about four hours to do the room, about 370 square feet.  The hardest part was the cutting, I think I went through 15 blades in my razor. So I spent most of Saturday on my hands and knees cutting and placing the flooring.

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Living Room Floor

Having already had surgery on my left wrist it was very uncomfortable. And even with knee pads, my knees were quite sore. After the floor was in, we moved the furniture from the dining room into the living room, where Wifey® showed off her Tetris skills.

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Two Rooms In One

We were most pleasantly surprised when Wifey’s® brother stopped by and invited out to dinner, his treat. There was no way either of us had the energy or the will power to cook that evening. So son #2 prepped the living room floor for us and off to dinner we all went.

Sunday morning found us quite stiff and sore, but in better condition than expected. I made us a nice breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, which we enjoyed thoroughly, so we got started a little later.

Wifey® was feeling much better, so all I really had to do was the cutting. She did most of the actual placing of the flooring. Again about four hours to lay in the floor for the dining room, about 350 square feet. Son #1 came by after work and helped us move all the furniture back to at least close to their intended locations. We had planned a cookout for Sunday (beer can chickens, YUM!), which son #2 cooked perfectly.  So we stopped around 4PM leaving only the hallway left for Monday.

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Dining Room

So Monday rolls around. And if we thought we were achy and sore on Sunday, this was worse.  Without a doubt this was the worst leg workout I’ve ever done. But all we had left to do was the hallway.  Should be quick and easy we said. It’s the smallest area, so it shouldn’t take long. We’ll be done and time for a relaxing dinner and some TV.

Nope! We didn’t take into account all the cutting around all the bedroom, bathroom, A/C and linen closets. We made sure to eat a good breakfast on Monday (more of the wonderful biscuits and gravy, I even added two fried eggs on top of mine). It was close to 7:30PM by the time we finished up. Since we had to trim pieced on both sides of the hallway, it really was the hardest part of the entire weekend. But it really looks good. And we can say “We did it ourselves”.

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The Hallway

There is still much work to be done.  All four bedrooms still to be done. Then painting (inside and out) and putting the quarter round molding down. And the kitchen floor tile needs to be replaced. (No pictures of that mess). Not to mention all the stuff that’s been piled in places that it doesn’t belong (like the china and glassware) needs to go back.

Which brings me to Wonder Woman. When I was growing up I wanted to be a pro baseball player. My dad took a baseball drilled a hole through it and then threaded a rope through the hole and secured it. Someone could then swing the ball around while another person could take swings at it to practice hitting. Since I came along quite late in my parents lives and my dad had bad emphysema (smoking kills), he was not really able to practice with me. My mother refused to. She would say “I use my hands to make a living, I can’t hurt them like that”. She was a bookkeeper/secretary. Meanwhile, Wifey® spent the entire three-day weekend doing manual labor.  She too is a secretary. yet she loves to get in there and work with her hands. She cut several small pieces of tile (but at 4′ 9″ she just doesn’t have the upper body strength to do a lot of the cutting). Hell, I was damn near wiped out at every quitting time, and my hands are still very still from holding the razor while holding the flooring piece in place so it wouldn’t move and I could get a nice straight cut.

Not only did she work while sick on Saturday,as well  as the rest of the weekend, she also managed to get the laundry done AND all the dishes all weekend long. Now that is a definition of Wonder Woman.  Love ya Babe!

All in all, it’s looks damn good for a legal secretary and a computer geek!

Peace,
B

Random News…

Just three “Today in History” things I’ve picked from my Twitter feed (@beachdaze) today.

Gene Wilder passed away one year ago. Most you, of course will always remember him as “Willy Wonka”, but believe it or not I have never watched that movie (either version with Gene or Johnny Depp).  For me, one of my favorite movies of his is “Blazing Saddles” as “Jim” the gunslinger.

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But my favorite has to be “Young Frankenstein” where he has the title role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein.  Not surprisingly, both are Mel Brooks movies.  Seen here with the great Peter Boyle as “The Monster”.

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Also today would have been The King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s 59th birthday.  I couldn’t decide which was my favorite video of his, but in the end I went with “Man In The Mirror”. Just due to its message. It’s not as flashy as some of his other big videos like “Thriller” or “Beat It”, but it has a better message.

 

And finally, Netflix premiered 20 years ago today. Twenty years of people binge watching entire seasons in a single sitting.  I think all I’ve seen on it was the BBC’s “Sherlock”.  TV is not my “thing”…

Peace,
B

P.S.  I almost forgot this gem:

https://www.pushtrumpoffacliffagain.com/

B

Home Repair as Therapy

This last weekend Wifey® and I got busy in some home repair work. It had started about 3 months ago when I pulled up the very old, stained and smelly carpet from the dining room and hallway. We’ve been in this house for 20 years now, and the carpet was installed just before we moved in. It was a very nice carpet, but dogs with bad bladders, kids and spilled drinks, kids with dirty feet and just life in general beat it to death.  It was time to go. So I ripped out some of it and hauled it away.  But the living room area was too much for me to do by myself, plus there were still pieces of the carpet under the china cabinet and the computer desk. I just cut around those since I couldn’t move them by myself. Not to mention the carpet tack running the perimeter of the floor that still needed to be removed. So that was Saturday. We emptied the china cabinet of all the glassware and breakables, cleaned off the two small bookcases of their breakable items.  So basically every flat surface in the house now is covered in stuff.  Mostly breakable stuff. And the cat loves to jump up on the table and walk around the breakable stuff.  Just waiting for a big crash in the middle of the night.

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We finally removed all the carpet tack in the dining room and hallway, which wasn’t easy since the floor is Terrazzo and the nails they used were quite large. Many chunks of floor came up, hopefully the primer/leveling solution will fix that.

Sunday was the living room. This room still had the carpet in place. But the biggest problem is this room was added by the previous owners. As such it has just a concrete floor, and it’s not quite level with the terrazzo floor. This meant that the carpet installers had to add an extra layer of padding to make it close to even.  The padding they used was this thick black rubberized stuff. And I swear they used 900 gallons of glue to put it down. We spent 6 hours scraping by hand to remove this padding and glue.

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As you can see did one half the room moved the furniture around and did the other half. We even had the granddaughters “help”.

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By 2PM we had most everything done except under “Spike the Tortoise” cage, which my sons insisted that I couldn’t help with, they had to do it. That meant waiting until after 6PM for the older one to get off work and come over.
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So we sat around and had lunch and made a beer run of course.

The new flooring will be delivered on Thursday, and I’m taking Friday off from work to start the prep work. We will start the installation of the new floor on Saturday.  With any luck we hope to get the living room and dining room done over the three-day weekend. I would really like to get the hallway done too, but it may have to wait.  Then it’s the four bedrooms to go, probably one per weekend until we’re done.

So not only is this project helping improve the house, it has, for now, dispelled the depression I have been fighting for the last two weeks. It seems to be that having a project (and not just a hobby), it what keeps me afloat. My depression was nowhere as bad during my military days as it is now, due to the mission that was always before me.

And I have to give a big thank you to Wifey®. Not only was she the catalyst for getting this project going this weekend, she turned in Wonder Woman!  For a tiny little woman, she held her own in scraping the floor, moving furniture and pulling up carpet tack.  AND she fixed us (including the kids) lunch AND did the laundry AND washed the dishes! I would still be pulling up the tacks in the hallway if I was doing it all by myself.  Thank you baby!

Check back in a week or two, I will post more photos as we continue the work.

Peace,
B

Disappointment Sets In

So, for the last two months, give or take a few days, Wifey® and I have been eating the cleanest we have ever eaten in our lives. We are limiting the carbs, making sure the protein and fats balance as much as possible and eating lots, and I do mean lots of veggies. We have found we absolutely love “Zoodles” (hipster term for Zucchini spiral cut noodles). They are great with just about any protein we use (especially with sauteed shrimp with sun-dried tomatoes).  As of tonight I have not had any beer for 19 days (my usual intake was a six-pack a night with a twelve-pack or more on Saturday and Sunday – each).  I would estimate Wifey® has had maybe 3 glasses Pinot Grigio during this same time.

Using a keto tracker on my phone, I am usually about 10G of carbs over (but still well within the limit of 50G of carbs per day, my protein is usually within 10G either way, but the fat intake is always quite low. The app recommended a 2000 calorie per day range for me to reach my goal weight of 175 (currently at 206ish). Most days I am 800 – 1000 calories under this.  Wifey® didn’t install a tracker so I don’t know where her numbers stand. Of course, I wouldn’t post them here anyway as that’s her business. If she wants to share them with the world, no problem. But I wouldn’t do it without her permission.

Our usual week look like this:  Four days a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday & Thursday) we do 30 minutes of cardio, I use an elliptical while she uses a treadmill.  Wifey® is only 4’9″ so the stride on most ellipticals are too long for her, hence the treadmill.  She will keep the speed and incline pretty high and we burn roughly the same amount of calories in our cardio sessions.  We then will do 30 – 45 minutes of weights. Nothing too heavy as we’re not trying to add mass, just tone up.  Oh and in case you’re wondering we take Tuesdays off it’s because we’re old and need a break, and on Friday and Saturdays we have our granddaughters and the gym does not have daycare.

Now here’s the question; why are we not losing any weight?  I would think (again just for myself) that cutting out the calories and carbs from 3 cases of beer a week alone would make a difference. Add in the better eating choices and exercise and the pounds should be falling away like crazy.  But so far?  I’ve lost half a pound. That’s it. I seriously doubt it’s “muscle mass” as my doctor tries to tell me (encouraging, but doubtful).  especially since my beer belly hasn’t gone down any (think of me as Homer Simpson, but with better hair, which drive my high school buddies insanely jealous since they’ve all lost their hair).

I was reading in a Keto group on Facebook and one lady claims to eat only 5G carbs a day and is losing 10 pounds a week. I find that very difficult to believe. I usually manage to eat half an avocado (not my most favorite food) for breakfast. According to MyFitnessPal that’s 2G of net carbs right there. Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, which typically consists of a meat, some veggies and maybe a fruit bowl (typically 3 melon salad). I didn’t look those up, but I sure I’m way over 5G of carbs already.

As far as losing 10 pounds a week, that sounds dangerous. Even if she’s morbidly obese that is too fast of a drop.  In my 20 years as an Army para-medic, I was taught that 5 pounds a week was a good goal to lose.  Anything over and serious metabolic problems could occur. But that was 22 years ago, so the research may have changed.

So for any and all fitness type folks out there, please pass along any tips or tricks and advice as to what I’m doing wrong. Otherwise, next weekend I’m having a beer or three.

You can leave comments below, there’s a link down there somewhere…

Peace,
B

HOW DOES A WHO MAKE HERSELF HEARD TO HORTON?

This is a guest post from Wifey®, please retweet, repost or share as much as you can.

I feel like the Who inside the puff-ball shouting to be heard by Horton the Elephant. Remember that story? Horton is the only one who can hear the Who – but no one believes him.

Father gave a majority of his life to AT&T (and Southern Bell prior to the merger) – over 31 years of faithful service. He was proud of that fact and was rewarded with a small pension and employee benefits.

Fast forward – Father died last year. Mother died 2 years prior.

Apparently AT&T thinks Mother owes premiums for her Medicare she received through Father’s benefits since his passing. It doesn’t seem to matter than they have been notified 4 times of her date of death and provided with a Death Certificate. Last week, another invoice for past due premiums came to my home. Again, I wrote “DECEASED” across the invoice and returned it inside their own return envelope.

On the flip side, Mother received a refund check for Father’s Medicare that was deducted from his retirement pay for the month in which he died. A check a dead woman could not cash. I mistakenly thought a simple phone call would correct the error and request the check be reissued to his beneficiaries.

AT&T Benefits Center is a funnel through which life insurance, medical insurance, pension benefits, retirement discounts, Medicare, and other options are passed to the retiree. However, the funnel only runs downward. The notification of an employee’s death process is a tangle of departments and subsidiary companies; none of whom talk to another.

Four phone calls – waiting on hold for hours, transferred to 3 different individuals in 3 different departments – I was finally directed to “Joe”. Joe assured me the record for Mother would be deleted and the record for Father would be updated to reflect the dates of both of their deaths. Joe also assured me the refund check would be reissued again.

It has been 8 months since the first check, payable to Mother, was issued and 5 months since the reissue, also payable to Mother. Today, 8 months later, a letter from AT&T Benefits Center arrived notifying Mother of a uncashed check. I can assure you again that a dead woman cannot cash that check.

I am tired of this fight. I am frustrated with the incompetency and the insensitivity of the customer service representatives employed with AT&T Benefits Center.

Editors note:  I have reached out to AT&T through both Twitter and Facebook, with no response.  I can only assume that their social media accounts are “one-way” only and used solely for propaganda. It is truly a shame that a company as structured as AT&T would not have someone monitoring their own social networks. I would like to think that the representatives Wifey® spoke to are only limited in the scope of what they can accomplish and are not incompetent, lazy or downright uncaring. But it looks otherwise, and AT&T just doesn’t give a rats ass.

It’s Been One Week (Since I Had A Beer)

(With apologies to The Barenaked Ladies)

Well, I’ve made it one whole week.  And what a week it was.  As I’ve posted before, the job is causing lots of stress right now.  To quote one of my favorite movies;

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Last night we took the girls for Mexican food. Somehow I had the will power to just have a glass of water and not a Negro Modelo as I usually have with Mexican. It didn’t help the heartburn any though. Today’s grocery shopping will be even more difficult when walking down the beer aisle.

Which leads to this.  Lots of folks have told me when you quit drinking lots of “good” things happen.

  • You’ll sleep better.  Bullshit. I have had more weird dreams in the last week than the rest of my life combined.  It used to be if I dreamed, I didn’t remember them when I awoke. Now, the weirdness just keeps following me all day long. Most of the dreams seem to put me back in the military, but I don’t recognize the locations.  One dream was supposed to have the whole family back in Fort Greely. It was very lush, with palm trees and other tropical like vegetation.  Problem is, Ft. Greely is in Alaska.  Damn near the middle of Alaska.  It’s rather remote (89 miles to the closest McDonalds when we were there). It did reach 95F one summer, for about 15 minutes.  But it was usually about -50F. Needless to say there is no lush tropical vegation. In fact all there is are gnarled pine trees.  And not much snow as it was to cold to snow. Yes that’s a real thing. Too damn cold to snow.
  • Your digestion will be better.  Again, not true.  I have had the worst heartburn for the last week. Now this may have a different cause. My insurance will no long send me Nexium for the usual $9 co-pay, it went up to $40. But, I can get a generic brand for free. So I gave my doctor the list of alternative choices and she picked one. I started that one about two weeks ago, so it may not be working as well, or it’s taking my body some time to adjust. So the jury is still out on this count.
  • Your mind will be clearer.  Clearer than what?  I still sit and stare at my computer at work trying to remember my password. It’s not all that difficult of a password, and I have to use it at least 50 times a day, but still, I sit and ask myself “What’s the password again?”. Not to mention I mistype it constantly. But I never did take typing lessons, so that part is understandable.
  • You’ll have more energy.  Maybe this goes along with the dreams and not sleeping well, but I am dead tired by 2PM every day. That makes going to gym in the evenings just about impossible.
  • Your mood will be better. Seriously? The frustration level is through the roof. (See this post).  Wifey is constantly reminding me to mellow out.  And I need it. It seems the granddaughters and the stupid end-users at work get the brunt of my frustration. Sorry folks.

So having said all that, I still plan on going 30 days or so without beer to see if things clear up (7 days isn’t a long enough time for a valid test). I have dropped two pounds during this week, so maybe it will facilitate some weight/fat loss.  And I’m sure some of this is age. I am getting to that special age where you go to bed just fine and wake up in stage 4 of something or other. As my brother says, “We ain’t spring chickens any more.” (Were we ever?)

I’ve posted the video that I stole the title for this post from below.  I like this song a lot for several reasons.  I really dig the cars; the General Lee from “Dukes of Hazard” and the Grand Torino from “Starskey and Hutch” (complete with requisite hood slide).

I also like the line;

“I wear my mind on my sleeve, I have a history of taking off my shirt.”

I really do feel like I’m losing my mind some (most) of the time.

And what about the line;

“I’m the kinda guy who laughs at a funeral”.

 

At my grandmother’s “viewing” (what a stupid concept – have a wake instead. Get drunk and tell stories. Not just walk up to the casket and say “He/She looks so natural”.  They’re dead. (“He’s dead Jim!” ~ Bones McCoy) Say good-bye and go get a drink, and pour one into the coffin for the dearly departed as well. Can’t hurt.).  Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, my grandmother’s viewing, we were in a small room in the funeral home off to one side. Apparently there was a rather large funeral going on in the main chapel. Even without the booze, a staff member had to come in several times to ask us to keep the laughing down.  We were disturbing the funeral guests.  We were just sitting around telling stories of Nanny, as we called her. Easily the best viewing of all time, hands down, if we had some booze we would probably been asked to leave.  Hell, I’ve been thrown out of better establishments. I can’t wait for someone to say “He looks so natural” when I’m dead. I plan on being cremated, so if an urn of ashes looks “natural”, then I’m worse off than I thought.

So I present to you The Barenaked Ladies and “One Week”, enjoy! (And I can’t understand half the words either…)

I think somebody should have made me sign a waiver or something before I started this.

Peace,
B