Friday, July 29, 2011

Return To The Dead.... Soon

There's been a lot of buzz recently about one of the creepiest shows on television: AMC's The Walking Dead. The creator, Frank Darabont, leaving the show, but not before firing the entire writing staff. Questions about who the next showrunner is going to be, etc. But as the saying goes, the show must go on.. And it looks like nothing can stop the return of The Dead... Check out the newly released full trailer for Season 2 of The Walking Dead.

I think this is going to be a creepier, more suspenseful season than the first one!! Can't WAIT for October!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Diet Update

I went to my diet class last night for my weekly weigh-in. After my first week, I'm doing well. No side effects, no energy drop. Things are pretty much normal for me now. It feels like my life is settling down in this respect. I'm still dealing with the "temptation phase", but I have my ways to handle that. I'm still looking into a gym that I can afford to join so I can fully maximize the benefits of my diet. Now it's just a matter of keeping on, keeping on.  The stats for last night's weigh in are below:

Previous Weight: 495.2lbs
Current Weight: 487.2lbs
Weight Delta: -8.0lbs

Interesting note: From my record high weight of 506lbs (before my hospital stay) to my current weight of 487, I have lost a total of 19lbs!! Cool, right??

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just In Time...

A friend of mine recommended that I see a trailer for a movie. At first I was hesitant, because this friend is kind of hit or miss with his movie choices, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. And the trailer was AMAZING! Simply amazing. I loved the concept, I loved the look... but the main lead is questionable... Check it out and let me know what you think...

First Week Down

As of today, I have made it through my first week on the new diet. Honestly, it wasn't all that difficult. The trick was getting all of the different components set in my mind and then actually doing them. I don't have it all down yet, but I have the bulk of it set in mind. I had a little bit of difficulty on the weekend, because I didn't have the set schedule of my job to smooth out the eating regimen. In the end, I muddled through Saturday & Sunday, and managed to stay on diet.

And now that the mechanics of the new diet system are set in my head, I have entered what I call the "Temptation" phase of my diet. Since I don't have to focus so much on making sure that I meet the requirements of my diet (because it's becoming more routine), more of my mind is free to focus on the things the people around me are eating, that I used to be free to eat. Everyday foodstuffs like chicken or rice, now have a greater level of appeal to me. Earlier today, I went into my office's kitchen to make my afternoon shake and the smell of bread toasting was simply divine. I mean for crying out loud, it was TOAST!! Not even buttered... just TOAST!!

Don't get me wrong, I didn't have any desire to suddenly devour all the bread in sight. Not in the slightest. But the fact that it smelled so good was remarkable to me. Just like I noticed all the food commercials in the hospital when I couldn't eat, I'm noticing all the different foods around me now that I can't have them. I guess it's true that you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone.

Of course, the whole point of my diet is to eventually work normal, non meal replacement foods back into my normal eating, so eventually I'll get back to eating those foods, but it's truly amazing how much I notice the foods that are around me now.

The other thing that is amazing to me is the entire lack of an energy drop. I figure I was pulling down at least a 3K+ calories a day diet. Currently, I'm at about 1K a day. I would have thought given the drop, my energy would drop, but I still feel the same. People tell me that my energy level will increase over time, but I think given the amount of weight I have to lose, I don't forsee any energy level changes just yet. I am interested in seeing if I've lost any more weight when I go to my diet class tonight. Either way, I'll post the results here. I'm also going to take some "before" pictures for comparison sake to when I reach my goal weight. That should be fun.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts on... Geek Vs. Nerd

According to a couple of my friends, I have lost my "geek" status. Mostly because I don't go all out and research every single thing about the subjects I'm interested in, or because I don't fully immerse myself in the realms I enjoy. Initially, that idea rankled. It was like they were denying an essential part of who I am. But, in really thinking about it, my friends are right. Despite all the times, I've called myself one, I'm not really a geek.

Firstly, being a geek has become WAY TOO FASHIONABLE. When a woman who has just won the Miss America BEAUTY PAGEANT can call herself a geek and not have the tiara ripped from her head and given to someone else, being a geek is too fashionable.

Second, when I was growing up, I found that I would rather spend time reading books, watching TV, and playing video games than deal with my problems in the real world. That accomplished 4 things:

A) Assured that I would never learn the social skills necessary to make interactions with the opposite sex anything other than problematic at best.

B) Increased my knowledge retention & application skills to the point where I vastly eclipsed my peers. Example: by my freshman year in high school, I had a BEYOND COLLEGE LEVEL language comprehension.

C) Shaped my mind in such a way as to only appreciate subject matter that had in some way, shape or form an intriguing cerebral facet. So, no MXC for me, thanks.

D) Set me up to be burned, many times over, when the real world I chose to ignore bitch slapped me out of my "safe" little bubble.

The first three had me ridiculed most of my childhood life for my intelligence, yet called upon often for that same intelligence, which led to an intriguing and complex form of isolation. No one wanted to spend time in presence or speaking to me, but if they had problems with schoolwork of any kind, I was their main resource. And after I was old enough to fully understand the nature of the lesson of the 4th, I gained a healthy respect for reality, which added a reluctance to leave it for any reason. My reluctance increased exponentially when I realize how infinitely complex the real world actually is.

This is not the story of a geek. Geeks are a newly formed class of people whose above average intelligence is now celebrated and in which people rejoice. That has NEVER been my experience. My intelligence has always been treated as a unpleasant necessity. In the end, people are right. I'm not a geek. If Miss USA is geek (of any stripe, shape or color), I am most definitely NOT a geek. Do you know what I am?

I'm the guy who grew up hating himself because while he could understand the science behind parallel universes & the philosophical problems of time travel,  he couldn't manage to talk to girls (and still can't). I'm the guy who spent all his time alone because everyone around him thought he was too smart to hang with (most still do). I'm the guy who doesn't think spending most nights getting drunk to the point of throwing up or passing out is fun. In the end, there's only one thing I can be called accurately.

I'm a NERD.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weight Loss Program...

As you see this post, dear readers, I am starting on my 3rd day in my medically supervised weight loss program. It's called an HMR Bariatric program. The way it works is that for a period of time, I eat only the food the program gives me. As the weeks pass, I get to add in fruits & vegetables, and then lean proteins and grains. There are multiple tracks to this HMR diet, but the one I'm on is Track 1. In this track, I have to drink at least 3 shakes and eat 2 entrees a day, every day. I did the calculations and it looks like I'm on a 1,000 calorie a day diet. I also have to make sure I drink at least 64oz. of water each day and take the HMR vitamins twice a day.

It's a simple formula. And fairly easy to follow. The shakes are vanilla flavored and a little too sweet to my taste, but I can deal. Some of the entrees are good, some aren't. I'm still trying new ones to see which I like. Then I will customize my weekly food orders accordingly. I get to add some outside stuff, but not much so for right now, I'm just sticking to the HMR foods.

Also as part of this plan, I have to attend weekly classes. Every Tues night. I get weighed in, and also I get a checkup by a doctor. Last night, I went to my first class. The doc was on vacation, but since I haven't completed a full week on the diet yet, I wouldn't have seen him anyway. I did get my first weigh in. The last time I was weighed was this past Wednesday or Thursday. I was at 500lbs. At my first weekly weigh-in, after only 2 days on the HMR meal replacements, I was at 495.2lbs. Two days into the diet and I lost 4.8lbs!! I'm officially impressed.

The diet isn't really all that difficult to be on, honestly. My biggest temptation, soda, was killed a couple of weeks ago, just after I got out of the hospital. I had switched to eating more healthy, and then I slipped and got a bottle of Coke. I drank it and it tasted like battery acid! For the first time in my life, since I started drinking soda, it didn't taste good!! So, after that hurdle, my biggest worry about the HMR diet is whether or not I can afford it. But, as time goes on the costs drop, so I just have to endure as best I can. There are also plans in the works to increase my finances slightly which can help, if they pan out.

The one thing I really wasn't expecting is the amount of support I'm getting from my friends & co-workers. I tend to operate on the assumption (yes, I know about the danger of assumptions, but they still work) that people are most involved in their own lives, which makes sense and is quite natural. And that they rarely take notice of others because they are too busy dealing with their own problems. Which also makes sense and seems fairly logical. Yet since I've gotten out of the hospital, I've been working on changing my ways and becoming more healthy. And a lot of people have been taking the time to make encouraging comments, give me helpful suggestions (as opposed to forcing fad diets and unwanted advice on me), and listening to my concerns in order to help me address those concerns. Frankly, it's been quite touching and overwhelming. I have an amazing group of friends.

I know that road ahead of me is long, and things are going to get harder for me. But that's just life. I've always known I could handle that. But it's nice to know that I have such good people around to help me out. I know what you're thinking and I can emphatically say No! I am not turning into some bubbly, overly cheerful, beauty pageant wannabe. No matter how much weight I lose, I'm still going to be a misanthropic cynic with a penchant for over analyzing every day situations. I'm still going to be an stubborn & occasionally obnoxious know-it-all. But, if you can tell the quality of a man by the people he associates with, despite my natural personality quirks, I'm still a good man.

Previous Weight: 500lbs
Current Weight: 495.2lbs
Weight delta:   -4.8lbs

Monday, July 18, 2011

Return To Gotham...

And so it begins.. The final chapter of the Batman film franchise that will be under the helm of the genius film director known to us mere mortals as Christopher Nolan. In this chapter, Batman will take on Bane and most likely Catwoman in another battle for the soul of Gotham.

The film is coming out July 20th, 2012. Check out the teaser trailer by clicking on the link below:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thoughts On... Swords & Sorcery

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fantasy fan. When it comes to fantasy, there are only 3 types of story: mystical, martial, and a mix of both. And in most cases, my preference is those fantasy stories that involve some form of magic or mysticism. Up until recently, I never really thought about why magic appeals to me. Especially considering that I’m an extremely logical (and scientific) kind of man. So, the idea that magic represents (the disruption of the natural laws of the world by the conscious will) should be anathema to me, but it isn’t. And I couldn’t help but start wondering why? 

To really understand this, you have to understand that no matter what type of character you’re looking at, mystical or martial, it all comes down to power and the capacity in which one can use said power. Everybody knows the saying, “Knowledge is power”. At first glance, it looks like the point of the saying is that power in and of itself is the reason to acquire knowledge. But the part that everyone misses is that power is worthless if it’s not UTILIZED. The real benefit to gaining any type of knowledge is the avenues that knowledge opens up for a person to act. Now, let’s look at the two types of person we’re dealing with on an abstract level.

Generally speaking, the two types of characters, martial & mystical, are startlingly similar in nature. For both mystical and martial characters, it’s all about having a natural ability or disposition for a particular talent and then working hard to develop, expand, and master that talent. Usually this requires a great deal of study, interpretation & internalization of vast amounts of knowledge, and lots of practice using the talent. In most of the best stories, part of the mastery of the character’s ability includes developing the self-control needed to not use said talent for malicious ends. But the similarity stops when you get down to the core of each style of thinking.

For a martial character, the main point of their training is to bend themselves to the nature of their talent and the world around them. They study the various weapons available to them, and the various tactics those weapons allow them to employ. They train to strengthen their bodies to endure extended battles. They learn to separate their minds from their bodies in order to think THROUGH a fight, and so utilize the tactics they’ve internalized to ensure the best possible outcome in any given combat.

Now, as I said earlier, the real advantage to having knowledge is the doors it opens, the additional opportunities that knowledge gives someone for taking action. With a martial character, given what they are trained to do, the options are fairly limited. If they are facing a problem, they can attack, run, or surrender to that problem. There really aren’t any other options.

For a mystical character, the point is pretty much the exact opposite. In the mystical training, the character must bend the nature of their talent and the world around them to their will. They study the various effects that their ability offers them, and the various tactics those effects allow them to employ. But they also train to expand their minds in order to create more effects and thereby create NEW tactical avenues to explore. The idea being that with a mystical character, the more knowledge they attain, the more options for action they have. When faced with a problem, they are not just limited to attack, run, or surrender. A mystical character can fundamentally alter the nature or scope of the problem and by doing so open up more ways to resolve the challenge they face.

And while both types of character need a firm grounding in self-control, each type faces a different challenge when dealing with the self. At a certain point, the physical body can no longer handle the stresses of combat, so a martial character has an upper limit to what they can do, and consequently how far that self mastery has to go. While they can train to extend that limit, (increase strength, stamina, reflexes, etc) the physical body can only go so far. Therefore, the self mastery only needs to go so far.

For the mystical character, the matter of self-mastery never truly ends because their power is always growing. The more they learn and expand their mind & understanding, the more power they have. The more power they have, the more important their self-control becomes. After all, this is a type of character that can bring about any effect they choose. And, these effects are not limited to those solely pertaining to people. Unlike the martial character whose ultimate effect is killing someone or not, a mystical character, provided they have the power, can alter the physical world around them in whatever way they choose.

Because the power of the mystical character exists in their mind, it is an ever present temptation. A martial character is slightly less able when they’re taking a bath, or eating. But, the mind is always there. And the temptation of the type of power that the mystical character has access to only grows stronger as time passes. Their battle with self control is always there, lying in the background, just waiting for them to lose focus. That never ending challenge is the ultimate appeal of the mystical character for me. It’s the basis for the appeal of magic itself for me.

In modern day science, we have accomplished things that were previously unimaginable. And we did so by applying our minds to the world around us, gaining mastery & understanding of the rules of nature, and manipulating those rules to our benefit. That manipulation is essentially what magical characters do in fantasy stories. It’s the purpose of magic in general when it comes to fantasy. Magic is solely the realm of knowledge and the application of that knowledge to the fantasy world. Science is the same in the real world. In fact, modern day science faces the same temptations as magic in fantasy stories. And that is why I find magic and mysticism so appealing. In the end, magic in fantasy stories is appealing to me because of how much it reflects the role of science in the real world.

Now, I’ve stated in other posts that the best stories come from the blending of two polar opposites. And in the case of martial vs mystical characters, this most definitely holds true. And the best fantasy stories bear my theory out. No matter what, I’ll always have a special love for magic & mysticism in fantasy and no matter how great a story is, I’ll always hope for a little bit of magic to round it out.  

My Medical Position...

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything on the blog, and for that, I’m sorry. The reason is that I haven’t had the time to formulate any real thoughts. I’ve been entirely preoccupied with my weight issues and the obstacles the real world has placed in front of me to overcome.

Firstly, I’m back at my original weight, prior to the Gall Stone Incident, of 500lbs. The last time I weighed myself pre GSI, I was at 506lbs. After four days of the I.V. fluids only diet (which I do NOT recommend to anyone) I had lost 32lbs to weigh in at 474lbs!! I knew I was going to go back up a little after going back to solid foods, but I thought I might be able to hold on to at least SOME of that progress. My first full day out of the hospital, I was up to 477. A couple days later, I went up to 484lbs. Then it was 487… 491… 494.

Today, I went to a precursor doctor’s appointment for the medically supervised diet program. They weighed me and I clocked in at 500lbs. Thanks to years of training, I was able to hide my anger at regaining ALL of the weight back. My friend, David, who went through something similar weight wise though on a slightly different scale, played the role of experience & expertise and tried warning me that this was going to happen. And while I took the warning to heart, I kept hoping (damn that bitch, Pandora!!) that I could hold the line at the 494.

So now, a couple of weeks out of the hospital, I’m back up to 500lbs. After calming down and restarting MY normal level of thinking, I should be proud that it took me about a week to put back that last 6 pounds as opposed to the 4 days it took me to go from 477 to 494. I should also be glad that it was only 6 lbs and not the 12 that would have put me at 506 again! So there is a slight silver lining here. And the fact that I can see it, or that I even LOOKED for it, is a sign of major progress in another area of my life: my battle against negativity. I’m being more positive! They must be skiing like crazy in hell.
To wrap this up, here’s an interesting anecdote from my doctor visit today: One of the reasons my surgeon didn’t want to do the surgery was because at a certain point, they were going to have to tilt the table upward and there was a risk of the table tipping completely over due to my weight. Today, as I was getting off that bed/chair that every doctor’s office seems to love having their patients sit on, I had my entire weight (all 500lbs) on the step that you’re supposed to rest your feet on and the thing actually lifted off the floor on the other end!! That was a very unnerving moment for me. But I give credit where credit is due. Good call on postponing the surgery, Doc!! Good call!!