Friday, September 30, 2011

Thoughts On... Abortion

I know this is a hot button topic for people, and normally I don't discuss it. But I recently read a blog post discussing the topic and I can't really stop thinking about it. My opinion on abortion is.... unusual. I'm good with intellectual analysis, so let's take this from an intellectual perspective. The issue of abortion seemingly revolves around two key issues: the definition of life and when life starts. But for me, there are two more factors: the definition of murder and human nature.

Normally, when the battle between pro-lifer & the pro-choice movement starts it's about where life begins. Pro-life says life begins at conception, pro-choice says it begins at birth. And this then leads to the battle on how to define life. But let's stick to where life starts. On this part, I have to go with the pro-lifers. Life starts at conception. Before you get all bent out of shape, hear me out. Science believes that life on this planet started when certain amino acids got together and created the first living cells. And that's the key. Even today, modern science recognized that there are LIVING SINGLE CELL ORGANISMS. (For example, the amoeba. If you do some research, I'm sure you can find more.) So, if a single cell can be alive, then a fertilized egg is alive. Period.

The question is what does "alive" mean? Enter the definition of life. In my experience with science, there are 2 types of life: sentient (self-aware, conscious, like human life), non-sentient (not self-aware, like an amoeba). Pro-lifers believe that a fetus is a person, where pro-choicers tend not to agree. And then the fighting begins which pretty much kills any further debate. Personally, I agree with the pro-choicers on this. A fetus is not a person. There is no question that a fetus is alive, since life begins at fertilization. However, to be a person it must SENTIENT life. A single cell is alive, like an egg or a neuron. But a single cell can't process feeling or emotion, but billions of them together, like with a brain (billions of neurons) or a baby (trillions of cells, including those neurons) CAN! For me, that is what makes a person.

Here's where my THIRD factor, the definition of murder, kicks in. Now, most people agree that murder is when one person kills another person. I don't subscribe to that theory. It's too messy because it has too many variables, the biggest of which is the definition of a person. My definition of a person works for me, but not for everyone. For example, if an alien kills a human (Greedo kills Han Solo) is that murder? Technically, if the alien isn't a person then it isn't murder is it? Under my definition the alien is a PERSON, just not a human one. For others, it may not. Think about it.

The one single universal quality of all life that humanity has encountered so far is that it's all mortal. In other words, EVERYTHING DIES. The key to my theory of murder is WHEN that death takes place. My definition of murder is the unnatural stoppage of life. I don't care who did it, just that a life was ended before it was supposed to. You pick a rose, that's murder. You stab a girl, that's murder. You abort a fertilized egg, that's murder. And for me, murder is wrong. 

Now the whole point of this debate is whether or not abortion should remain legal. This is where my fourth criteria, human nature, comes in. Let's say that abortion is re-classified as illegal. That won't stop people from having unwanted pregnancies. It's in human nature to have unprotected sex, that won't EVER stop. What will stop if abortion is illegal is the capability of reputable doctors to perform abortions. Reputable medical schools would have to stop TEACHING how to do it in fact, so there would be an entire generation of doctors who won't know how to do it at all. So to get an abortion, a woman would have to go to a non-reputable doctor. Which would lead to the very real possibility of her death. Now, I believe that one murder is bad, TWO murders is even worse. So, I support abortion being legal.

However, I can't personally support abortion. I just don't think it's the right thing to do. After all, I consider it murder! But with this last bit, my own personal code of ethics comes in. I've stated in previous posts, that I can't expect the rest of the world to live by my rules. The rest of the world, by definition, would include the hypothetical pregnant woman who I'm in the relationship with. According to my ethics, my rules do not override her decisions. So, while I can't support abortion personally (and I never will), in the end the choice must rest solely on her shoulders. Experience has taught me that lesson all too well.

And that's my stance on the subject. I don't really fall in either camp, but reside in the small overlap of both theories. I don't ask that you agree with me, dear readers, as I said this is a very hot button topic that leads to intense debate and serious fights. But, I hope that after reading this post, you'll at least understand my point of view. Share your point of view in the comments section!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diet Update - Weight Watchers Week 3

It's been a little while since I've written one of these. With all the upheaval going on in my life, it is difficult to take the time to sit down and write one of these posts. But, if I don't take the time to do it, it'll be the first thing that slips. One slip will lead to another, and another, and then I'll be back where I started. So this is me taking the time to chronicle my latest step on the path to a healthier me. You'll notice that I didn't make a reference to war or a battle there. That's because I've actually changed the way I see this process. It's a small change, but as is evident in Chaos Theory, small changes can vastly alter the course of events. And this was a very small change.

Up until now, I saw my weight loss as an adversarial process. I thought I had to battle myself, to wage war against my mind in order to accomplish my goals. However there is a rather large flaw in that theory. My gaining weight wasn't a malicious act. There wasn't some part of me that cruelly plotted to kill me over the course of 30-50 years by putting food in my mouth. I am the way I am right now because of the choices I made. Sure, there were outside influences, but I chose how I reacted to those influences and events I couldn't control. I chose how they would affect me; how much importance to place on them. In the end, it was all my decision. And these decisions were made slowly, step by step... OVER TIME! When I realized that, I came to the inevitable conclusion that for this issue I was facing, I had to work the same way. I didn't need to mount some huge counter-offensive in my head. I just needed to make small changes and keep them going. If I want to be a healthy person, I have to make the choices that will lead me to that. It won't be instantaneous, and it won't be easy. But it is that simple.

And these choices can't be made for frivolous reasons. It is statistically proven that the average man will not make the choice to eat healthier until they have a major health crisis. I am proof of that. If it wasn't for my Gall Stone incident, I wouldn't be doing this. It isn't to get sex. it isn't to get a girlfriend or a wife. It isn't to become some active martial arts master. And, it isn't for anyone else, either. Lord knows, practically all of the few girlfriends I've had have asked me to lose weight. Friends, family, even strangers have all given me excellent reasons to lose weight. But in the end, I made this decision because I realized that I want my life. The good, the bad, the in between, I want it all. I want to live my life. And I want to live it for as long as possible. The only way I can do that (that's in my control) is to be healthier, to change my lifestyle and lose the weight that will most definitely kill me MUCH sooner than was intended. I did it because I WANTED TO.

There are people out there who have told me that I am an inspiration to them. Some have even started on their path to being healthier and losing weight because of me. That's pretty cool, and I wish you all the best. But, I hope you're doing this for the right reasons. Those reasons will sustain you during the rough road ahead.

Getting back on track, this is my 3rd week in Weight Watchers. When I started, I had gone up in weight from where I was on the HMR diet. That was mostly because I was no longer eating extremely low calorie foods. I went from 476.2lbs up to 480.4lbs. I missed my first meeting after that, so I don't know if I lost anything that first week. However, my second week, I had dropped 5.2lbs to be at 475.2 lbs. This put me just under the weight I was at during the last week of the HMR diet. So, I lost what I had gained, plus a pound or so. Here are the stats for my week 3 weigh in:

Previous Weight: 475.2lbs
Current Weight: 468.8lbs
Weight Delta: -6.4lbs

This is my single biggest drop in weight EVER. And, it isn't a mystery as to how it happened. I finally started going to the gym. In the past week, I've done a total of 3 two hour workout. I did some cardio to warm up, some weight training to build muscle, and then 60+ min of cardio to just burn fat. At this rate, in just 3 weeks, I will reach my first WW goal of losing 5% of my body weight. And that will be pretty cool. In the meeting, they also talked about physical anchors. Actual objects to remind you of the goals you accomplished. When I hit that 5% goal, I know exactly what I'll get as a reward and an anchor. I'll tell you when I get it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Top Ten Movie Songs...

By now, my dear readers, you should all know that I am a unabashed movie lover. However, Loving movies isn't just about collecting a bunch of DVDs and stacking them in a bookshelf or collecting digital copies on an external hard drive. It's about appreciating all aspects of movies: direction, cinematography, acting, writing, and music. Yes, even music. No matter how powerfully written a scene is, adding the right music adds an infinitely greater power to the scene, be it comic or tragic, intense or lighthearted. And music has been an aspect of movies that I have not given props to in this blog. Well that ends right now.

I've compiled my top ten movie songs as an ode to the depth music adds to movies. Now, as always, there are ground rules. The song has to be an actual SONG, meaning having lyrics as well as music. (Musical scores will be in a future post, I promise.) And the song has to be indelibly, inextricably linked to the film. Just because it's a hit song and it was in a movie doesn't make it a real movie song. Ready? Here we go:

10 - From Electric Dreams(1986), Culture Club's "Love Is Love"
We start the list with a little known 80s movie about Miles and his new computer that on one fateful night comes alive thanks to a fortuitous spill of liquid into the machine. One of the best scenes is when the man tries to teach the computer the meaning of love so it can write a love song. The first version was... well horrendous would be too kind a word. After a bit more coaching from Miles, it "composes" the second version of the song to show what it has learned.

The real beauty of this scene is the simplicity of the cinematography. Lyrics on the computer screen and shots of the girl who is the object of both Miles and his computer's love. It enhances the music perfectly. Incidentally, this is the ONLY Culture Club song that I actually LIKE.

09 - From Mortal Kombat(1995), The Immortal's "Techno-Syndrome"
Yes, I know that this song was written specifically for the movie, but very few movie theme songs truly capture the spirit of the movie. I know this movie is horrible, and the fight choreography was even worse. But you have to admit, hearing that battle cry, "MORTAL KOMBAT!!!" just gets your blood pumping and ready for a fight!

For this song, I didn't include a clip from the movie, but this video does capture the spirit of the song even if the end credits kind of ruins the effect.

08 - From Weird Science (1985), Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science"
And we're back in the 80s with a John Hughes movie about 2 teen boys who manage to achieve the Holy Grail of nerddom by creating a real live girl with their computer. Yet, even though they created her, they still can't control her.

It's amazing that the same man who wrote the music for Beetlejuice and the 1989 Batman came up with such a light, pop song that could still touch upon so many of the themes of the film. And thank God too, the movie would not have been the same without it.

07 - From Eddie & The Cruisers 2(1989) - John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band's "Garden of Eden"
This movie was about a man struggling to suppress the music living inside him. Despite the world's loving his previous work.

This particular song is emblematic of the main themes of the movie. A song that sticks doesn't have to have a lot of flash, it only needs to speak to something deep inside you. Even with a simple topic like the struggles of a man trying to get a girl's attentions (and showing a young punk who thinks he's a musician what a REAL artist can do), you can write something that will stay with your audience forever.

06 - From Joe Vs. The Volcano(1990) - Eric Bourdon's "16 Tons"
Joe Vs. The Volcano is a low key movie with high powered actors that just needed the work. It tells the incredible story of Joe, a normal guy working a dead job and happens to him when he's diagnosed with a fatal disease called a "Brain Cloud".

Now this song wasn't written for the movie, just redone. This rock version while upping the power of the original song, also adds to the dank, soul-killing atmosphere that Joe finds himself in at the beginning of the movie and the strength of will it takes to survive in that environment and maybe, just maybe getting OUT of that world.

05 - From Risky Business(1983), Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock 'N' Roll"
Do I really need to introduce this? Really?

This scene is over 25 years old, and yet as soon as that song starts playing the first image that comes to mind is Tom Cruise sliding down the hall and dancing around rejoicing that his parents are gone.

04 - From Say Anything...(1989), Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes"
To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Watch this movie and you will know Lloyd Dobler. This movie has so many awesome lines and great moments. This film pretty much sealed my appreciation of John Cusack's talent.

But who can forget that iconic moment with Cusack holding up the boombox as the couple's song plays trying to get his ex to talk to him again? Talk about a moment of movie magic! I was kind of hoping to find a video of the full song with that scene in it, but I had to settle for the music video.

03 - From Highlander(1986), Queen's "Who Want's To Live Forever?"
A movie of immortals roaming the world, in a contant struggle against each other to win the prize of being the last and only immortal left in the world. In the end, there can be only one!

While I have my personal favorite songs from the movie, this particular song speaks to the core themes of the film. How love can make you feel alive & help you pass the endless years of an immortal life. But when you have to watch your loved ones grow old and die, why would you want to live forever? Listening to this song can still bring tears to my eyes.

02 - From Almost Famous(2000), Elton John's "Tiny Dancer"
Almost Famous, the story of a young man chronicling his time with an up & coming band during the early 70s. It's a wonderfully touching coming of age story.

There are times when you're with a group of people that everyone seems to suddenly hit the same vibe. In fact, the movie is mostly about people trying to catch and keep that vibe going forever. This moment in the film captures it perfectly.

01 - From Legend(1985) (U.S. Version), Tangerine Dream's "Loved By The Sun
This is Ridley Scott's simple fairy tale. A story of innocence and love and how easily those can be corrupted. It was also my introduction to Tom Cruise. Looking at the movie 26 years later, I can see all the inherent flaws in the story as well as the production. (Honestly, I would LOVE to see Ridley do a remake of this one. Yet, I still find the movie utterly captivating. It will never lose it's hold on me.

Due to studio interference, Ridley Scott's original vision was never fully seen in the US until very recently. The biggest and most pervasive change was the removal of Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack for what the studio thought would be a more effective pop soundtrack. I have since seen the original version and the studio made a grevious error with that change... except for this song. It's the one thing from the US version of the movie that I would keep. It captures everything the movie portrays: the simplicity of legendary stories, the majesty of nature, the beauty of love, the allure of innocence and the corosive effect of hatred. The video I selected for this is the best version I could find that represents the true power of this song for me.

And there you have it folks. My top ten movie songs. What are YOUR favorite movie music songs?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pick Things Up...

Well, after a long arduous process, I have finally come to a decision. I have finally chosen a gym. Actually, I chose the gym a while ago but I've neglected to tell you about it, dear readers. You might ask why, given how forward I have been on other, more embarrassing, topics. Frankly, I didn't actually believe I had made the choice, and I haven't been going on a regular basis. It seems that at the time I made the decision and acted on that choice, the rest of my life imploded. The universe didn't want me to keep going at this moment. But that is the subject of another post. Right now, let's focus on one of the few positive events that have occurred in recent times.

Getting back to topic, I've never had any illusions (delusions?) about myself. I'm a fat man roughly the size of one of Jupiter's medium sized moons. (Don't argue with me on terminology. The reality is I'm fat. Let me enjoy showing off my intelligence by creating cool references to my size. It's one of the few pleasures in my life. God knows no one else puts any effort into it. Seriously, how difficult is it to call me "Fatso"? You have billions of neurons in your brains, people, USE THEM!!) Despite my size, I'm surrounded by overly healthy, fitness minded friends. Those very same friends are going to explode in reaction when I announce the gym I've chosen. Some of you may have guessed already, for those of you who haven't, the gym I chose is: Planet Fitness.

Now, I wait while you all explode in reaction, positive or negative.

Done? Good. Now for those of you who like the choice, Thank you. For those of you who don't, I'm sure you have many good reasons for why I should have chosen whatever other gym. Those reasons might even be valid. But there is only one real reason why I chose Planet Fitness. It breaks down into 4 words. Ready? Here they are:


Get it? I've never been afraid to admit when I don't have knowledge in a given topic. In those topics, I defer to experts. But getting access to those experts can be prohibitively expensive, especially in the realm of health & fitness. So to get that knowledge for FREE (meaning at no additional cost above the membership fees) is a chance I HAD to grab. While my membership allows me to go to any of their facilities, the gym I'm going to be at the most is the one on Exit 6 next to Chunky's. I'll usually be there at night, most likely after 8pm so I can avoid the crowds and have access to more machines. Any of you who have memberships, feel free to drop by, you might even see me!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Love This Plan, I'm Excited To Be A Part Of It....

Since I lost my diet plan last Thursday, I've been thinking about where to go from here. After all, I still have direct health issues to deal with. Just because I'm not paying an OBSCENE amount of money to a diet program doesn't make my medical problems go away. I gave serious consideration to devising my own plan and working that. I have no doubt that I can do it, or that it would be effective. After spending several minutes building up my ego on the subject ("Yeah, I can DO this!! It'll all be ME!!!), my mind decided to actually kick in and shut me up by bringing to light the biggest problem with me doing this on my own: depression.

There are times when I get really depressed. Due to life stuff, due to financial stuff, due to whatever, and being on a program by myself, I can lose track of the importance of being "on plan" just because I don't care enough about myself at the moment. (It's happened in the past, believe me.) In virtually all those cases, it took the influence of someone ELSE to break me out of my "funk". I looked at some online only programs, but that just gives the illusion of being connected. In reality (or IRL, for the chat savvy amongst you, my dear readers), you're still alone in a room, typing on a PC.

One of the many good things about the program I was on, was being in a tiny room (which was kind of stupid considering there were going to be a great deal of obese people there) full of people going through the same things you are. Some are further along (which gives you hope that you can make the next couple of days or weeks), others are just starting (to whom YOU give hope to. Which can be quite weird!), and some are just maintaining their weight. But that energy is something that was cool to tap into. While the instruction wasn't all that great (but teaching ME, of all people, can be challenging given my data absorption rate), but my classmates were cool. I got some good ideas from them, and I think they got some good ideas from me. In the end, I wanted to get in touch with that vibe again.

So, I looked around and decided to join Weight Watchers. It's kind of the best of both worlds. I get to be in a comprehensive program which has been around FOREVER. (Says alot, right?) I get to go to meetings which by their very nature will have a different flavor of that same vibe I'm looking for. It's inexpensive (only $40/month), and since they don't have food restrictions (just portion control) I can design my own meal plan. I joined today, and I'm learning the ropes on their online site. Later on, when I get the moolah, I'll be getting either an iPod Touch or a smartphone to get the WWMobile app and be tracking EVERYWHERE!! For now, I'll need my home PC (or I can track at work).  The WW Center is near my house and on my way home from work, so that's really cool! I go to my first meeting tomorrow evening. I'm kind of nervous, but that's natural when starting something new.

For those of you in WW, my daily points allowance is 71, which I hear is a LOT of food. Right now, I'm working on figuring out how many points I used today, which I have to get back to. So this is so long for now, folks. Oh, and keep an eye out, I might have another announcement in a couple of days!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Diet Update: Week 6 - The Final Week

You are probably very intrigued by the title of this post. After all, I told you that the initial phase of my diet program was 13 weeks. But when I first heard of this program while sitting in my hospital room at St. Joseph's, I made what has turned out to be a prophetic statement. And, dammit, I was proven right. The statement was very simple. "I don't think I can afford this program." At the time, though, it was a medical necessity because I needed to lose weight quickly in order to increase the safety margins of the operation to remove my gall bladder. I thought it would go quickly because of the weight I had already lost on the IV fluids, but that turned out to be COMPLETELY wrong.

Now, I'd been working with the people running the program to manage the doctor and class fees as well as the cost of food. And for a little while, things were going well. Then the prices went up on the food and I started falling behind. I kept up a valiant effort, and I thought I was holding my own. Because of my suspended license (see previous post), I missed Tuesday's diet class. I called in and let them know the situation. I also told them I'd make up Tuesday's class tonight.

I walk into the clinic, and the lady who 6 weeks ago told me that she would do whatever it takes to make the fees work for me tells me that I currently owe $410. I told her I could pay half. she said she was getting pressure from the corporate office and she needed to collect the whole amount. I informed her that I couldn't do that and still pay my rent. My only other option was to with the At-Home version of the program, so I wouldn't have to pay for classes. That dropped my debt to $310.  Yay!! I still can't pay that. And just like that, I couldn't continue in the program.

So, with a small supply of diet food in my house, I was asked if I wanted to put down the $200 I had towards the debt. I know she was trying to be nice. I really, really do. Which allowed me to keep from yelling my response to her. If I give you that money without being in the program, I don't get the diet food, and I won't have the money to buy groceries (a.k.a. REAL food), since the rest of my money HAS to go to the rent. I guess while I wasn't yelling, I came across kind of intense because she seemed a bit taken aback. She asked if I would like to talk to their nutritionist to set up one on one consultations. I said sure and sat to wait for the nutritionist's schedule to open up. After about 3-4 minutes of waiting, I saw the nurse that handled my weigh ins, and told her I was out of the program, but I wanted to get a final weigh in. She said she could in a few minutes. Then one of the class instructors came out, recognized me and came over to chat. I sketched in the situation, and she seemed genuinely sorry. Then she headed in to start her class. Another minute or so, and the nurse came out to do my weigh in:

Previous Weight: 476.2lbs
Current Weight: 477.6lbs
Weight Delta: +1.4.6lbs

(Although, my scale at home says I'm at 470lbs.. so think on that!)

That was the icing on the fucking cake! I went UP in weight this week! I thanked the nurse for the courtesy and then sat back down to wait for the nutritionist. After a further 10 min or so of waiting, I get called back up to the reception area, where I'm told that I would need a referral from my primary care physician in order to set up the one on one consultations. Rather than have me wait (neatly skipping over the 20 min or so I had just wasted waiting), I could just get the referral and then come back.

I nodded and turned to collect my things and leave. As I was about to walk out, the lady asks if I would like to buy the week's worth of food I had ordered. Once again, I showed the mastery of my restraint and didn't yell my response, but I couldn't really mask the bitterness in my voice, as I simply said, "There really wouldn't be a point." And left.

From the beginning, I KNEW this program was going to end this way. I had no doubt that I would be able to do the diet, I just knew I wouldn't be able to afford it. And the fucked up part is, the program was WORKING!! Aside from today's mishap, I had lost approximately 30lbs!!! This is yet ANOTHER THING that I couldn't fucking have because I simply did not have the money for it! God, I am so angry right now I could kill someone.

But this is NOT the end of my health issue. It's not like my gall bladder is going to suddenly fix itself. I still have to lose weight to have the surgery. I still want to keep losing weight until I get into my target range of 200-250lbs. This is just the end of that particular diet program. And I have changed. I'm no longer drinking soda as if I were hooked on an IV, I'm walking 3/4ths of a mile every day (except during rain storms and hurricanes), and I am healthier. Which brings up the question: what happens next?

Well, some of my friends had said to me (after I got out of the hospital & before I started the HMR diet program) that I could lose the weight on my own. Are they correct? I don't know, but I guess it's high time I find out. 

Speaking of the Big House...

Awhile back, I got a ticket because my car was not registered & I got a warning because I still had my temp driver's license. That started an odyssey that put me up against the DMV in TWO different states. Two days and massive headaches with a double dosage of bureaucracy, and I was able to get my actual license & my car registered. But in my battles, I forgot one key thing: the original ticket.

It was forgotten until this past Friday, when I was pulled over by the cops and found out that my license was suspended. And as you all know, driving with a suspended license is against the law. And what happens when the cops catch you doing something illegal? You get arrested. Yes, my dear readers, I was arrested on Friday. When the cops put the cuffs on me, he told me that he was cuffing me with my hands in front because I was too big to fit in the back of the police car with my hands cuffed behind me. It turns out he was right. I was barely able to get in the car with my hands in front.

Getting out of the car was another ordeal. After a couple of minutes trying to get out, the cop had to uncuff one of my hands, so I could get out of the car. He cuffed me again and walked me into the police station, booked me and threw me in a cell. I was fingerprinted (digitally, which was so cool!) then placed back in my cell to wait for the bail commissioner. I signed some paper work paid a fine to the B.C. and then got a cab ride home. Then I got a ride to the tow yard, where my car was and paid the fine to get my car out, had a friend drive my car home and then take me to work. And then for the next five days, I had to make due with rides to work and staying home instead of doing what I needed to get done (like go to my diet class). Then I got my paycheck and paid the DMV off and got my driving privileges re-instated.

In the Big House....

For those of you who don't know what happened at the end of House's seventh season:



At the of S7 of House, M.D., our favorite misanthropic medicine man drove a car through his ex-girlfriend, Cuddy's, house. Luckily no one was hurt, but that was one HELL of a fuck you. The last we saw of House he was on a beach basking in the sun. Now check out the preview for season 8 of House, M.D., potentially it's final season:

Prepare yourself for an obvious bad pun... It looks like House wound up in the Big House for that little stunt last year. (Told ya, it would be a bad pun... Hey, at least, I warned you!) It looks like he achieved the status he so envied in an anecdote he told previously about a hospital janitor in Japan who no one acknowledged until there was an undiagnosable medical condition at which point, the janitor was called to save the day. This season also marks the end of 13's (a.k.a. Dr. Remy Hadley) tenure on the show. Rumor has it that if S8 turns out to be House's final season, she might pull a comeback, but that remains to be seen.

Still, it looks like House is still up to his old tricks, and if this is his final run, I hope it's a good one!! Thoughts?

End Of Summer...*

Summer is always a bittersweet time in my year. I don't like intense heat, but it's a break from the seemingly never ending cold of New England. I'm not great with women and seeing them strut around in less than nothing is a painful reminder of that, but nothing beats scantily clad women walking around all over the place. (Except NAKED women, of course!) Hey, I'm a straight guy, staring at women is built into my DNA. Now, summer is coming to a close and to be quite honest, I look forward to it. My favorite season is Autumn after all, so I just take the end of summer in stride.

Right around this time, though, a very specific memory comes to mind. It's back from when I was in college in Vermont. This was during a time in my life when I was still just a city boy getting used to the cultural shock of living in a rural environment. Instead of going home for the summer, I volunteered to stay at the college and work for the summer in the computer labs to help the Summer Language programs with their IT issues.

Normally, when someone thinks about Vermont they think of nothing but miles & miles of snow and cold weather. Take it from me, you wouldn't be too far off. But during the summer (short as it is up there), it's like a whole other world. Almost like something out of a fairy tale. Personally, I hated it. I missed the sounds and rhythms of the city. The honking horns, the blend of different foods cooking in the air, the people yelling.. all of it.

One night, I was walking back to my dorm after my shift, and taking my usual shortcut through a field when I spotted something in the almost waist high grass in front of me. The only way I could describe it was that it looked like the grass was sparkling. At first, I thought I was imagining it. I kept walking and I saw it again. The grass was sparkling!! I stopped dead in my tracks and just watched. When I stopped moving, I noticed that the lights were moving and blinking on and off. That's when my brain kicked the awe & surprise out and I realized what I was seeing: fireflies!

In my whole life, I had NEVER seen a firefly. I stayed in that spot watching the fireflies for a full ten minutes before they drifted away. Looking back it seems kind of stupid, but at the time it was a very magical moment for me. That moment is when I got my first real appreciation for nature. If the non urban world can come up with something that beautiful... there might be something to it. And if I recall properly, later on that week, I met my first girlfriend.

Every year when summer ends, that memory comes to mind. Interesting, huh?

* This post was written for Awesome Annie's Rockin' Art Show. Check it out. You might learn something!