Therapy.. kinda

So tonight was a bit bittersweet. I had to say goodbye to a friend who is moving to Oregon. Wifey and I have thought of moving to Oregon as well. We think the political leanings and lifestyle fit our attitude better.  But that’s not I want to write about.

If you have read this (very new) blog you know we are seeking better health. Basically I have gone from my “fighting weight” (when I was in the Army) of 165ish to a whopping 210. It did take 25 years after I retired to reach this weight, but the fact remains, I have quite the beer belly. And yes, its beer (and chicken wings) that caused this.

So I have made a decision. I have 4 beers left in the fridge. When they’re gone, they’re gone. No more until I get this situation under control. No idea how long it will take. I may never have another beer (shudder). I’m going from a 20 year six-pack a day to nothing cold turkey.  This will not be easy.

Which brings me to my first point. At tonight’s “goodbye” I didn’t have to pay for anything.  The lovely lady that is leaving us, is a co-owner of the best Irish pub in town. So as soon as I walked in (and greeted folks including my oldest son) I was handed my usual Guinness. Well one stout won’t kill me carbs for the keto plan.  Then without asking a shot of a very fine Irish whiskey, Redbreast 15-year-old, showed up. One each for myself and my son. No big deal I thought, I can sip this slowly, which I did. We did order a second Guinness as was the plan.  Two beers and leave. Didn’t plan on the shot of whiskey, but we took in stride as good Scots do. Then, suddenly another Guinness was on the table, again without asking.  Just a wink from our friend.  Well, hell. Guess we’ll have to drink that one too.  At least another shot of whiskey didn’t show up as well. But again, that’s not what I want to write about.

The main point is this; I have stated many times on social media that I am trying to curb, if not entirely cut out my alcohol consumption.  Basically I have never received any response, either helpful or ridicule, to these posts (usually Twitter – I’m not a  big fan of Facebook).

I admit that I have created a clown image my entire life.  While I was never the “class clown” (to introverted for that), I had a very wicked and at times cruel sense of humor. I believe that even though most of the people, in fact maybe just two people, on Twitter know me outside of social media, the clown persona remains. My serious posts get ignored, while my sarcastic or even idiotic posts get liked and retweeted. Such is the life of the clown. And just so you know, I do have a registered clown face with Ringling Brothers (Skeeter the clown. From High Pockets Alley Gang) maybe one day I’ll post a picture, we’ll see.

So tonight I posted;

Word of warning. When I finish the 4 beers in my fridge I’m done. I may get quite surly. Keep me in your thoughts please. Won’t be easy.

Specifically asking for thoughts and a little help.  What do I get? Crickets. So I’m asking you dear reader, to keep me in your thoughts and/or prayers if that’s what you do. Send me good vibes (and maybe some good grilling recipes). Damn, that was the clown coming out again. And don’t hesitate to ask me for thoughts and vibes going back to you (sorry I don’t believe in prayer). And I have many recipes I can share as well!

For now, I’m going to turn up the music, put on the headphones and chill. Tomorrow is another day, and the last of the beer. Sunday better be ready, it may be bloody….

Peace,
B

 

Keto Cookbooks – FREE!

So I went “shopping” on Amazon the other day and found four free keto cookbooks.  Thought I’d share them.  I have not tested any recipes out of these yet, but plan on it this weekend during our “cookup”.  Please note that these books may no longer be free, I didn’t check the date to see if was a daily special.

The Keto Crockpot: 100 Simple And Delicious Ketogenic Crock Pot Recipes To Help You Lose Weight Fast

Ketogenic Diet: Recipes That Melt Your Tongue(Ketogenic Cookbook,Ketogenic Diet Recipes,Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, Ketogenic Diet Books, Keto Diet For Beginners)

Ketogenic Fat Bomb Recipes: A Ketogenic Cookbook with 20 Paleo Ketogenic Recipes For Fast Weight Loss

7-Day Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan: Delicious and Easy Keto Recipes To Burn Fat and Gain Energy

Not all recipes in these books may fall under a “strict” keto eating plan, as some are too high in carbs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make a good transition to a more strict keto regimen. I am not limiting myself to just 20g of carbs a day yet.  Right now I’m closer to 50g per day, working myself (and my wife) down from a much higher daily intake.  We’re trying to avoid the “Keto Flu”.

Check them out if you’d like. After all if you get one idea or recipe from a free book, it’s money well spent!

Peace,
B

Zucchini Chips… My Nemesis

I have tried three times now to make some zucchini chips. I have failed all three times. I need some salty, crunchy snack to take the place of potato chips.  We looked at the local “Health Food Stores” but all the bagged chips were mostly potato starch, so we passed them by.

I have tried 1/8″ slice, 1/16″ slice. Cooking them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, 200 degrees for almost two and a half hours. I’ve tried salting them first to draw out the water and blotting them dry before adding seasoning. Using a silicon tray, parchment paper, or just cooking spray on the pan.

I’m rather disappointed as they are either just about burned or still very raw. And this is one the same sheet tray! Not like one method produces one result, I get the same results on each and every tray.

Now I’m pondering frying them in coconut oil as a last resort.

Someone got a clue?  I would appreciate any help!

Thanks!

Peace,
B

Einstein Hair??

Since we do our workouts in the evenings after work, I take my showers in the evening. Some days my hair just dries quite funny. The fact that I wear a full face CPAP mask doesn’t help much either. My younger son says I have “Einstein hair”…Albert Einstein Sticking Out His Tongue

Hope this give you a chuckle.

Peace,
B

Sunday Cooking Day

As I’ve mentioned before, Wifey and I are trying to follow either the Paleo or Keto eating plans.  We haven’t figured out which quite yet.  And quite honestly it’s going to be quite difficult no matter which way we go.

I think that keto will be a bit easier for us since it includes diary which paleo forbids.  Of course carbs are still the enemy. it’s the damn beer thing.

One of things that all the folks I’ve read, say the best thing to do it do a “cook up” when you have free time for the week. So we set out to do so again today.  We started off with Scotch Eggs from Mel Joulwan‘s “Well Fed” book. As the picture shows, they are quite 0723171025large. They will make excellent breakfasts I believe. We followed the recipe rather close, though as always we made some slight changes. Added extra herbs and larger eggs apparently.

Next up was “Green Chili Chicken” from Steph Gaudreau’s excellently named blog, “Stupid Easy Paleo“. This is a slow cooker recipe that came out beautifully. As usual, we made some slight changes.  We added some red chilies and pretty much doubled the garlic (’cause that’s how we roll). I was hoping that there would be enough left over for lunches during the week, but since the granddaughters each ate two “tacos” each (the eldest said it tasted like camp food, which is apparently a good thing!), and the Wifey and I each had seconds, there isn’t much 0723171738left.  maybe a lunch if we’re lucky. The sauce is not the traditional green color due to the addition of the red chilies, and don’t mind the cheap paper plate.  Wifey had already washed dishes three times and said that was enough.

I tried to make another batch of ghee, but totally botched it. So that was a waste.  No picture of that.

And then a third try at making zucchini chips. Mixed results. Some came out very tasty (we used dry ranch dressing as the flavoring), others so limp they just as well have been raw. That’s with the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes.

We still have to go more keto. Drop our carbs (but no way I’m cutting them down to 20g a day to start).

I had planned on making a Salmon, avocado and egg salad, but just don’t have the energy (we also did out usual Sunday gym workout, plus an extra couple of sets). Also thought of making some “Fat Bombs” from The Paleo Babe, but again.. no time or energy.

So leave me some links or recipes in the comments section. I need some help!

Hope you enjoy my food journey!

Peace,
B

To Paleo Or Not To Paleo (part 2)

So, we started the Paleo eating plan (I refuse to use the word diet), about three weeks ago. Surprisingly there has been very little change.  We did at the beginning state they would not be following the plan 100%.  There were just too many changes to make all at once.  Chances are our biggest problems have been too many carbs (see picture above) and not enough fats.  But with all dairy products removed from our eating habits we found it almost impossible to get enough fat.

After some more research, I believe we were actually following the Keto plan a bit closer. Click here for more info on what Keto is.  Of course our biggest problem is going to be carbs.  Since diary is allowed on this plan, it will be easier to get the fats to close to the proper proportions.  Fruit will an issue.  Blending the several “Keto Friendly” charts I’ve found, the only true fruit you can anytime is avocado.  Not my favorite.  I can hide it dishes and be OK with it, but I can’t just eat a slice of it.  It’s a texture thing.  I’m sure you understand.  Berries are acceptable occasionally, but that doesn’t matter since I really don’t care for most berries (strawberries and raspberries are just plain evil to me).  And worst of all?  No tropical fruits.  Dude! I live in Florida! All the stuff I like the best are out!  Mangoes? Nope! Pineapple? Nope! Bananas? Nope! And I need the potassium to help with night-time leg cramps.  Papayas? Nope! Damn I have a nice papaya tree in my yard too.  Not even cherries?!?!? So I don’t even get fruit the one month each year it’s available.  This just plain sucks.

What about carbs?  The plan says to limit your carb intake to about 20g a day.  Well, I’ve already drank my allotment for today.  And maybe the month.  But none the less, I plan on ramping up my exercise routine to help compensate.  Hopefully I can build some muscle on this scrawny body and increase my metabolism some.  Doubtful, but I’m going for it anyway.

And in case you’re wondering, when I retired from the Army in 1995 I weighed about 165 with an approximation 15% body fat. Now I’m about 210 with roughly 30% body fat (and that’s a conservative estimate).

I have an app on my phone to help calculate macros and exercise and track my progress.  If all goes well, next month will be a good follow-up.  But don’t be surprised if I haven’t made much progress.  I don;t have much will power.

Feel free to share your weight/exercise thoughts below.  I welcome your comments.

Peace,
B

Jesus and Me

(This is gonna be a long one.  Grab an adult beverage of your choice and maybe a snack… Also I am not a bible scholar, but I do read many books about the bible and ancient history. I will include some links at the end of the article.)

Before I start, I want you to know that I am an Agnostic.  By that I mean I do believe in a higher power, not necessarily a sentient being, but a creator of sorts.  It may be the Judaeo/Christian God (YHWH, Jehovah, Elohim or just God). It may be the Muslim Allah. It may have no name, gender or form. I really don’t know.  But I do believe that this universe didn’t happen by chance. That’s just too many coincidences for me.

When I was a little kid my parents (mom specifically) would drop me off at church every Sunday morning whether I wanted to go or not.  My older siblings, nor my parents had to go but I did.  I would attend Sunday School and then meet with my age appropriate group afterwards.  As I’ve said before, I’m rather introverted so this was very difficult for me, especially during those all important middle and high school years.

During these times, I had much trouble with the usual bible stories. A man swallowed by a fish and lives for three days? A “loving” god drowns the entire earth except for one family, that just happened to build a boat big enough to hold an enormous cargo of all types of animals? And why are there two different creation stories? If this bible is inerrant it doesn’t live up to its billing. And what’s up with heaven and hell?  Again, how could a loving god condemn the majority of planet earth to hell just because they didn’t believe or understand a message?  If god’s grace is unconditional, then it just doesn’t make sense to me.  And there are many more questions where that came from.

The little UMC church I was forced into, early on was more on the liberal side than most. The pastor was well-known in the community as an outspoken critic of Vietnam, and when his daughter came out as gay he immediately started marching for gay rights. (He also had a very pretty wife that I admit I had a school boy crush on). He welcomed my questions and doubts and answered them as best he could. But unfortunately, his activism cost him his position in our church and he was moved elsewhere as Methodists tend to do.

But I continued to ask my questions. And by the age of 17 I was basically told that I don’t belong here, please leave before you corrupt any of the other youth.  By then my parents didn’t seem to care if I went or not, so I stopped going.

Fast forward to 2001.  My wife was attending a CBF Baptist church (mostly to appease her parents) but I didn’t go (she was raised in a very fundamental SBC church). The music minister and I somehow became acquainted and knowing that had I been a former radio DJ, asked me if I could help run the sound board for worship services.  And for whatever reason I agreed.

Then we were asked to go on a retreat of sorts.  This particular one was “The Walk To Emmaus” (other denominations have the same basic retreat under different names such as Tres Dias and Cursillo). I found the walk interesting and more what I thought a church (the people not the building) were supposed to be like.  My wife and I got heavily involved in the local group.

Until (there’s always an “until” isn’t there?  My wife posted a poem on Facebook that was attributed to Brigid of Ireland (before the Catholics took her out of pagan lore and made her a saint).

I should like a great lake of beer to give to God.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be tippling there for all eternity.
I should like the men of Heaven to live with me, to dance and sing.
If they wanted I’d put at their disposal vats of suffering
White cups of love I’d give them with a heart and a half.
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer to every man.
I’d make heaven a cheerful spot,
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make men happy for their own sakes.
I should like Jesus to be there too.
I’d like the people of heaven to gather from all the parishes around.
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
the three Marys of great renown.
I’d sit with the men, the women of God,
There by the great lake of beer
We’d be drinking good health forever,
And every drop would be a prayer.

Next thing you know my wife is getting assailed from a member of the community (a pastor’s son no less) about “heathen” posts.  You know when a post starts out “Don’t take this the wrong way…” you’re going to take it the wrong way.  That started the decline. (Wifey wrote a very polite rebuttal that basically told him to mind his own business. My reply would have been much more crude.)

Right around this time I was laid off from my job.  At 50 years of age, with no real IT certifications (but 20+ years of experience) to my name it was very difficult to find a job.  In fact I was out of regular work for about three and half years.  During this time, no one in the community ever offered any kind of help for us.  Although they were planning all kinds of fund-raising activities for other folks (including the person that was against the Brigid post). But all we received were well wishes, good luck!

“If one of you says to them, “Go In peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? ~ James 2:16 NIV

By this time I was pretty much done with this organization.  I no longer attended the monthly gatherings, and politely turned down any requests to serve on the weekend teams.  My faith was quickly returning the 17-year-old me.

So now, the Jesus and Me part (sorry it took so long – but I did warn you).

There are enough extra-biblical sources to convince me that there was a historical man named Jesus that lived in first century Palestine and was crucified by the Romans under orders from Pontius Pilate. Was this man the “son of god”? I don’t think so.  I’ve read several books on the historical Jesus, authors such as Bart D. Ehrman, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan.  All have different views as to the divinity of Jesus (I tend to think Ehrman is closest to my beliefs).

I also don’t believe that the words attributed to Jesus can be considered actual “quotes”.  Scholars today agree that the first gospel written was “Mark” (the names on the gospels are not believed to be the actual authors of the writings. They were given these names centuries later). Mark’s gospel was written about 50 – 60 CE. Almost 25 – 30 years after the crucifixion of Jesus.  I seriously doubt anyone could remember the exact words that were said that long ago.  Hell, I have trouble remembering what anyone told me yesterday!  Not to mention that the trial before Pilate, there was nobody else in the room!  So how did the dialog come about? If Jesus’ disciples (and probably himself) were from a backwater town like Nazareth it is highly doubtful they were literate.  Considering the gospels were written in Greek, and a very “formal” version of Greek, it’s a long shot that any of the gospels were actually written by a follower of Jesus.

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t think the bible is a falsehood.  As another of my favorite authors, Pete Enns says, you have to take the bible in context of a first century Jew. Remember who they were writing for and why.

To me the words of Jesus (the “red-letter” words) may not by historical, but they are important.  The gospel writers got the gist behind the stories and parables that Jesus may have said, that’s whats important. I think the teaching of Jesus, as recorded in the bible are relevant for today as much as they were for when they were written.

A pastor once slammed his bible on a table, pointed at it and said:

“This can be summed up as such: “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your heart.  And love your neighbor as yourself”. 

That still resonates with me, even as I struggle to define “God”.

So all this to say, I believe in a creator (close to a pagan/Native American belief), a “Mother Earth and Father Sky” if you will.  Jesus was historical, but not divine. But he was very in tune with this “creator” and was a very moral and wise teacher.  His teachings have impact on the world today as much as they did some 2,000 years ago.

Maybe it’s my Pict roots that are calling me back to nature god/goddess pattern, I don’t know.  But I will continue to search and learn.

Hope you will too.  And please leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts and if you agree or disagree with me.  I do believe we’re all in this together, and we need to be here for each other.

Peace,

B

Links (in no particular order) go to the authors page on Amazon.

Bart D. Ehrman   I especially liked his “Did Jesus Exist”, “Misquoting Jesus” and “Lost Christianities” but I have several others as well.

Rob Bell  His “Love Wins” is an exceptionable book on why there is no Hell. “Velvet Elvis” was the first of his books I read.

Pete Enns  “The Sin of Certanity” and “The Bible Tells Me So” really sparked my interest in going deeper into the history of the Bible.

John Shelby Sprong  “The Fourth Gospel: Tales Of A Jewish Mystic” and “Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy” are both excellent reads.

Brian D. McLaren  “A Generous Orthodoxy” – probably the book that started it all for me.

Books:

“Brigid: History, Mystery and Magick of the Celtic Goddess” by Courtney Weber

“Our Great Big American God: A Short History Of Our Ever Growing Deity” by Matthew Paul Turner

On Being Bi-Polar

As I look back on my life I realize now that I have been bi-polar my whole life.  I was finally diagnosed about 12 years ago, but the signs were there at an early age.

I remember lying in bed crying for no reason, and my mom, not understanding, gave the usual remarks of “What’s this about?” “Stop it!” and “Grow up”. But there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  Back then (mid 1960’s) bi-polar wasn’t a diagnosis yet.  They used the term “manic-depressive” for adults but for an eight year old boy, it was “just a phase”.

But I never grew out of “that phase”. In my high school years, I would still have times of uncontrollable crying and depression. I just learned to hide them better.  Plus I had a record player that I turned up real loud to mask any sounds. There would be days I hid in my room listening to music. I would leave for school, only to stop somewhere and wait for my parents to leave for work and go back home.  The only reason I passed high school is I have an uncanny knack at test taking.  Plus the curriculum of the 70’s was so repetitious it was easy to catch up on the days I did go.

Since my diagnosis I’ve gone through many different medications, psychiatrists and a therapist. Nothing has ever brought me to what I would consider “normal”.  I seriously doubt anything can.  While I have had quite strong suicidal thoughts, I have never acted on them. BUT, I do have the constant feeling that the world would have been much better had I never been born.  (It should be noted that I was not a planned pregnancy.  My parents took a second honeymoon and brought me home. As I am quite a bit younger than my three siblings, they were mostly out of the house by the time I was a teenager. I got to go on RV trips with my parents that they never did.  And while some of them were jealous of that fact, they never had to feel the “odd man out” vibe I received.  There were many discussions I over heard when they thought I was sleeping, “We can’t go there with him” and such.)  My wife seems to think that this mental status means I would rather be dead than married to her.  Nothing is farther from the truth.  She is a rock and the main reason I have not committed any rash acts.  What it does mean is that, if I had not been born she could have found a better man to marry.  Someone who didn’t drag her all around, going from Army base to Army base.  Her children with this other man would have had a better chance at college and more opportunities in life.  I am nothing but a boat anchor holding everyone down.

There is also a fair amount of social anxiety mixed in as well.  I’m rather introverted (this blog is a major and difficult step for me). I do not care for parties or crowds, I won’t even attend the office lunches here at work.  Small talk frightens me.  Being a “geek” of types (I do work in an IT department), I am not one to introduce myself to someone in a non-work environment. And women? Forget it!  Think Raj on Big Bang Theory. Unless I am forced into a conversation with a woman (such as a server or co-worker) I just stand back and do my best not to stare.

So the meds keep me from major depression, but not by much.  I still tend to drink too much.  But according to my late mother in law, I’m a “happy drunk”.  So to me at least, beer does improve my mental state. At least for a while. If I am an alcoholic (which I do probably qualify as) it would be a “High Functioning Alcoholic” (is that really a thing?).  I have no alcohol related incidents, I do not miss work or family time due to my drinking and have never placed beer above the requirements of my family (paying the bills etc.).  I can, and have, gone without beer when I thought the cost could be put to better use. And no, I will not go to an AA meeting. So don’t tell me to.

I’ve read a few books on bi-polar.  However they were all written from the outside. That is they are for people who have to deal with bi-polar people in their families or elsewhere. Nothing I’ve found has been written by a bi-polar person that describes what they’re going through and how they are coping with the disease.  If you know of such a book, please leave a comment with the title so I can find it.

So what is a high functioning alcoholic bi-polar person to do?  Leave a comment if you wish.  And I hope I didn’t depress you.

Peace,

B

Random Readings

I’ve been reading a lot of science books lately.  Authors like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku.  Most of it has been over my head, especially the math.  Maybe if I had showed up for class more often in high school I would have had a better grasp of the concepts.  But in any case, the image above clearly explains the whole picture. I still don’t understand the equations, but now I understand where they fit.

Maybe it’ll help you too.

Peace,

B

Image credit my Twitter friend Queegs Vulgar Beauty.