Archive | August 2016

Uncle Josh Preambles the Whole30

Like many Americans, I have an unhealthy relationship with food. As a teenager a large supreme pizza from Shakey’s was a snack. A two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola was a thing I picked up from the 7-11 and finished by the end of trip. My memories of vegetables requiee a can opener. 

I was never one for self esteem, figuring it was a quality for other people to enjoy. I was married and divorced by the time I was 22 and I turned up a snotty vegetarian tipping the scale at 300 pounds. Giving up on vegetarianism got me to 320, easy. By the time I was 29, I had married the most fabulous woman in the world who loves me despite myself. I lost my job two months before he wedding and fell back into depression and back into food.

Being broke, newly married, and living in a dump did little to pick me up. We ate Hamburger Helper four of five times a week. Food was the frenemy.

So I put my foot down and insisted that we stop with HH, and we started cooking and lost a little weight and felt better. I tried strength training and made some progress. My back went out at regular intervals and things fell apart.

In 2013 we got serious about getting strong. A chiropractor turned my attention to Mark Rippetoe and his Starting Strength program. Our training went better. My food problems did not go away and I finally joined my wife and Mother-in-law at Weight Watchers. I lost 27 lbs then gained them right back with the new program last December.

I tell people that strength training starts in three phases: in the first week you feel like you’ve been  hit by a brick wall. In the second week you feel like a brick wall. In the third week  you go through the brick wall.

As I read testimonails and Whole30 stories I hear the same sort of thing. Disrupting your diet can cause mood swings. Sometime this weekend we are supposed to face the dreaded KILL ALL THE THINGS day. This is not supposed to be easy in the beginning. Fortunately, we’ve already done one of these things. We’ve gone through Starting Strength. We’ve hit walls and pushed through them. 

We’ve also ramped up to it. We made the decision to start back in early August. Stephanie was working sixteen-hour days and I had lost my early morning writing time and we needed to do something. So we decided on September First. Life is pretty much normal in September. We are only working one job each now. We have the time and energy to devote to this project.

The ramp up period has allowed us to transition into mostly Whole30 meals. We have put together our own vinaigrettes and mayonnaise. We have packed salads into mason jars for lunch. We have reduced our suger intake quite a bit so when we start tomorrrow it won’t be (hopefully) that much of a shock to our systems.

We will explore new foods. We will give up rice and pasta and bread and cheese for a month. I won’t take communion. I will also forgo birthday cake. It will be hard, but we’ve done hard things before. 

Uncle Josh Preambles the Whole30 was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Fixes the Olympics and Saves a Nation

That’s one hell of a promise in the title, isn’t it? It’s a big idea that will take a lot of planning but I think it not only can work, it can be a huge benefit to the world in general and Greece in particular.

It’s commonly accepted that Rio was not ready for 2016. Swimmers should not be told “don’t touch the water because it’s nasty”. The poor shouldn’t be kicked out of their homes to make way for Olympic villages. This is a common problem with other Olympic venues. I’d have to look it up, but I think I remember hearing that very few host countries make money on the Olympics because of the temporary costs associated with running things and building things and occasionally violating people’s civil rights (assuming they have any in the host country).

It would be a lot more efficient if there was one Olympic City with permanent facilities for the Games. This is my big idea. Maybe two, to accomodate the Winter Games.

To save a country that needs help and sticks with tradition, I proppose we build Olympic City in Greece. 

Host countries will be responsible for the ceremonies and general design to bring their national flavor to the Games. Every country that participates in the Games will provide financial support, and the Host country will split the proceeds with Olympic City.

Permanent housing can be built for the althletes and trainers and families. When the Games are not in session, tourists can stay there. Various countries can schedule with the Host country to bring their athletes to the official Olympic City for training in the actual venue. This is probably where the corrupt can profit, taking bribes from the “important” countries for the best on-sate training schedule.

The benefit to Greece is financial. To get there, go through Greece. Play toursit it Greece. Boost Greece’s economy through tourism and supporting Olympic City. I hear it’s a beautiful country.

The Games will not suffer from repetition, because new games will be introduced, and that will require massive building projects. For example, I understand Surfing will be introduced in 2020. This prevents land-locked countries from hosting the Summer Games. Is this fair? There may be no surfing scene in Greece, but we can engineer anything. Hell, we made it to the moon with less calculating power than a TI-83. We can make gnarly waves (or whatever they call them) in the Meditteranean. 

It should be a long term project, but start now. I’m not sure offhand how far out the games are scheduled, but strat now, build it right, and let the world celebrate human achievement through sport instead of bashing countries for failing to prepare for the games.

Uncle Josh Fixes the Olympics and Saves a Nation was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh on Fear in the American Commons

In the world of jokedom, the 12:30 AM phone call is the teenager out after curfew with the family car, calling to say there was an accident. Dad immediately asks “How’s the car.”

It’s not a funny a joke, but it is telling about what the Dad of Jokedom fears more than the potential loss of a child or even injury to that child: Loss of the family car.

Why? Because without the car Dad has to go to work on Public Transportation, which may add an hour or two to his day. (My personal record: 5 hours on public transportation back and forth for a 4-hour work shift.) But also the cost of repairing the car on a tight budget may mean “no vacation this year” or “no meals out this month” or “no mortgage payment this month” which leads to living in smaller and smaller apartments for possibly even more per-square-foot than the house.

The reaction “how’s the car” comes out of fear. Fear of so many things that could happen because despite our best intentions, our scrappiest living, our careful planning, bankrupcy and homelessness is one or two paychecks away.

Imagine the phone call isn’t from the teenager, but the hosiptal, or the police, with news that the child is in the ER. All those fears are even worse because fixing a car may only cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Hospital bills, even with insurance, come in tens-of-thousands. Dad can’t do what Dad wants to do: be near their child all the time to be sure everything is okay, because if Dad doesn’t work, Dad doesn’t get paid, and the house is sold to pay the hospital bill.

I cannot speak for Dads through direct experience, and I sure as hell can’t talk from Mom’s point of view, but I imagine all these fears carve even darker and deeper scars into her soul.

The bit that actually matters, the important thing, the life, health, and well-being of a child is low on the parents’ list of priorities because of fear.

This is not a healthy state for the American Commons.

What if we had, in general, better public transportation so the loss of a car wouldn’t be a major inconvenience (or even a job risk) and time sink. What if we had tax laws that made it easy and desireable to deduct medical expenses for every tax payer? (Yes, you can deduct medical expenses but only if you itemize deductions which most people don’t do.) What if they didn’t have to deal with the fears of losing everything because a simple mistake?

What if Mom and Dad in Emergency Mode could focus on their child and know that things are going to be okay in the end?

Our Commons would be stronger.

To get there we need employees to have guaranteed paid time off for medical emergencies.

We need medical costs constrained to human scale.

We need laws to protect people’s homes in dire circumstances.

We need social safey nets.

We need to not live in fear.

Uncle Josh on Fear in the American Commons was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much