Monthly Archives: August 2017

Day 39: Birthday

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

James Taylor

I turn 61 today. Got up early and played guitar. Working on some Blind Boy Fuller songs*. I’ll be taking my brother to The Seidman Cancer Center today. He wasn’t accepted into the immunotherapy trial. That is really bad news. We go in today to find out our options.

I had the fantastic guitarist Toby Walker recommend this book to me.

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy-Until You're 80 and Beyond by [Crowley, Chris, Lodge, Henry S.]



I just ordered it via Amazon Prime. Should be here in a couple days. I’ll do a thorough review in a week or so.

* Love Blind Boy Fuller. Working on Untrue Blues right now. He recorded over 120 sides and if I live long enough I’d love to learn them all.

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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 37: Home

Got home Tuesday morning at 1:30 am after driving fourteen hours.  I was exhausted. When I finally got to bed I felt like I had been beaten with a bag of nickels.

I love Austin, Texas.  I have to admit that the constant heat and spices did take it’s toll on me.  At one point I got a bit heat sick and had to go back to my room a while.  I’m sure I would adapt but it would take some time.


Love the large succulent.  I don’t love that large gut on me.

My wife needed to be back home to sign some real estate papers so we decided to head back Sunday, right after breakfast.  After saying goodbye to my daughter we headed out. I had a few concerns about the coming eclipse so when it got dark I decided to keep going and drive as far as I could.  By two in the morning I had made it past Memphis and to Jackson, TN.  We were beat so grabbed a motel and got back on the road at ten.  Because I had gone farther we only had nine and a half hours to go.  The plan was to get home by eight.

As we drove north from Nashville you could see hundreds of cars, campers and lawnchairs in the rest areas waiting for the eclipse.  No problem.  We weren’t going to stop, we just wanted to get home.

While driving it slowly got darker and oddly dusklike.  When the eclipse occurred it was like sunset without the long shadows.  It was very odd.  Then it was over.  No problem.

Then it got bad.  Thousands of cars left the rest areas and got on the highway.  Within an hour the highways were bumper to bumper.  Google Maps kept trying to take us around the clogged streets but it was no use.  At one point I left I65 and headed over to Elizabethtown to try and circumvent.  It was brutal.  The mapping app would say we would be home at 8:30 pm, then 9:30 pm and then 12:20 am.

We didn’t get home until 1:30 am.  That was fourteen and a half hours on the road with minimal breaks for bathrooms and food.  It was brutal.  We slept in the next morning and aside from giving my chess lessons we just watched Netflix (The Defenders) and relaxed.  No walking, nothing.  I plan to get back to it tomorrow.  No excuses.

One odd thing I want to mention.  Once we got into Kentucky and then through Tennessee,  Arkansas and Texas it was impossible to get a cup of hot tea.  Up here you go into a McDonald’s and order a hot tea it is no problem.  Down there it isn’t that they don’t  have it, it’s that they don’t understand what you want.  I’d ask for a hot tea and they would give me a sweet tea with no ice.  I’d explain hot water with a tea bag and they would just look at me like they had never heard of such a thing.  The looks on their faces was like I was asking for some strange exotic food.  I don’t even want to get started about the grits with breakfast.  That is a whole other blog post.

I’m home, I’m safe and I’m tired.  I’m getting back into my routine tomorrow.



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Posted by on August 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 33: Swimming

“Not only in running and the contests of the Circus, but in this race course of our lives we must keep to the inner track”

– Seneca, On Tranquility 9.3

Austin is truly incredible. Every restaurant has large outdoor areas and the food is fantastic with spices and fresh lime.

The heat is brutal with the sun beating down. I mentioned that I’m still tired and my daughter’s fiancée said, “Yeah, you look it”. I pulled him aside and explained the rules. If ever I say anything like that you are to say, “Im surprised, you seem to be in such good shape!”

We went for an early lunch at Red’s Porch. It’s is a fine restaurant that sits high overlooking The Green Belt. Large fans had misters attached that made the hundred degree heat quite pleasant.

The daughter wanted us to go swimming so we went to Barton Springs. It’s a municipal swim place with cold water from a spring.

The water was wonderfully cold and we swam for a few hours. To be honest it kicked my ass. The last time I swam was 1978 and I looked like this.

I got out of the water and told my future son-in-law how all that swimming had kicked my ass. He looked at me and said, “I’m surprised, you seem to be in such good shape!” That kid is going places.

This is what the place looks like and the picture doesn’t do it justice.

Afterwards we went to an authentic taco place. The amount of spices down here is nuts. In Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas it was grits with everything. Here it is hot spices.

I’m trying to be good but have to have realistic expectations. When I get back I’m going to have to hit it hard.

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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 32: Austin, Texas

After twenty hours of driving over two days we made it to Austin. It was truly exhausting. The only thing that made it bearable was podcasts of Fresh Air and This American Life. This was interrupted by listening to the entire catalog of Roxy Music.

I was a bit surprised that everywhere we went, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and now Texas look very much like Ohio. Some were more hilly but mostly the trees and foliage are the same.

When we got to Memphis we stopped at a gas station for gas, bathroom and coffee. While there I saw a cowboy hat there that fit me perfectly. I had to buy it.

I don’t know any cowboys but I assume they all buy their hats at gas stations.

We are in Austin for at least a week and I won’t be getting on the scale until I get back. I’m going to try to be good. When I get back I plan to hit it hard.

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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 30:Monthly Summary

I’m writing this in a cheap motel on the outskirts of Memphis, TN. It’s almost midnight and I feel like death on a stick. The wife and I will be traveling to Austin, TX tomorrow to see our daughter. It’s been an adventure and only going to get better.

As the month ends I’ve lost sixteen pounds. That is a great start. I expected to lose more my first month. I’ve been as much as eighteen pounds but gain a couple pounds every weekend. I lose more each week than I gain on the weekends. My goal is to lose ten pounds a month so I’m ahead of the game. I’ve done a lot of things correctly and also made a few mistakes.

I’ve been slowly increasing my exercise and been consistent with my walking. I’ve kept a positive attitude even when I’ve stalled and haven’t seen progress.

I haven’t been drinking as much water as I’d like. I mean to and it doesn’t happen. I need to work harder. I need to plan meals when I’m out and about playing poker or some other activity.

Ten pounds a month is a bit ambitious but I will be starting a Tai Chi class soon. Plus when I get back I will start training for the Calvin’s Challenge bike race. It’s 265 days until Calvin’s. There is enough time if I start now. I’m pumped.

It’s been a good first month. I need to keep doing what I’m doing and add more exercise. The hardest part is mental. When the needle on the scale doesn’t move, or worse goes up, after a few days I want to give up. I have to work past that.

I’ll be posting a bit as my wife and I go on this road trip. When we get back I’ll be working twice as hard.

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Posted by on August 15, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 28: Fluctuating

Misfortune nobly born is good fortune.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I’m disappointed in the game yesterday but have learned from it so that is fine.

It’s interesting how when I don’t do much for a day my weight goes up a full three pounds.  I can only attribute that to water.  Since poker tournaments and chess tournaments are on weekends I’m going to have to accept the weekend spike of water weight gain.  Luckily the app I use to keep track of my weight uses a moving average so the the graph shows what is really happening.

Plenty of apps can track your weight. FatWatch will analyze it.

You cannot control your weight if you aren’t aware of how it is changing. Beyond recording the readings from your scale, FatWatch computes a moving average so that you can see the real trends behind the day-to-day shifts in your body weight.

More than a pretty chart

FatWatch estimates how much energy you are burning (or overeating) each day, giving you valuable information you can use to intelligently adjust your diet and exercise plans. It only needs your weight: there is no need to fuss with a food database every time you eat something.

You can take it with you

If you’ve already been tracking your weight, FatWatch allows you to import weight history from a variety of sources, including Eat Watch for Palm. You can also export to your Mac or PC and do with it as you please. No additional software is required.

I love the FatWatch app for iOS. Unfortunately it won’t be supported when iOS 11 comes out.  I’ve been looking for replacement and so far the one that is closest in using a moving average is True Weight.  I’m using them in tandem right now.


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Posted by on August 13, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 27: Full Day of Poker

"What, then, is the mistake people make, seeing that everyone wants a happy life? They take the instruments used by happiness to be happiness itself, and so abandon the very thing they are seeking. For the chief point in a happy life is to be solidly secure and unshakably confident of that state; and yet they gather up the causes of anxiety and haul, no, drag those burdens behind them on life’s treacherous journey. For that reason they recede further and further from what they seek to attain, and the greater their efforts, the greater the hindrance they create for themselves. It is like hurrying in a maze: their very haste impedes them"

– Seneca, Letters 44.7

Spent the entire day in Columbus at The Hollywood Casino. I played in one of the Summer Classic Poker Tournaments. Unfortunately I got a bad table and the cards didn't cooperate. Oh well. Unfortunately I busted midway while my friend continued. We drove together so I had to wait for over four hours. I spent the time on and off writing or walking. Got a lot of steps in. I look forward to getting on the bike tomorrow.

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Posted by on August 12, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 26: My Brother’s Keeper

"Friendship creates between us a shared interest that includes everything. Neither good times nor bad affect just one of us; we live in common. And no one can have a happy life if he looks only to himself, turning everything to his own advantage. If you want to live for yourself, you must live for another. This sense of companionship links all human beings to one another; it holds that there is a common law of humankind; and if carefully and reverently preserved, it contributes greatly also to the maintenance of that other companionship I was speaking of, the one within a friendship. For he who has much in common with a fellow human will have everything in common with his friend."

– Seneca, Letters 48.2-3

Today I had to drive my brother back to The Seidman Cancer Center to prepare for the radiation treatment. I got up early and got my five mile walk in then headed to his house. When I got there I found he had given me the wrong time, off by an hour. I drove to a nearby park and pulled out the Esteban guitar that I keep in my truck and played some old blues.

I took my brother to Cleveland where they gave him a CAT scan and created a mask to wear when he gets the radiation. I took him to a late lunch in Little Italy. It was there that we had a serious talk. My mother's agoraphobia affected each of her eight children in various ways. The triplets were hit hardest. I let him know that I would work with him so that he could drive himself to Cleveland. At one time I was like him. The only way to beat it is repetition. I will let him drive until he is comfortable and buy him a Garmin. If his immunotherapy goes on for months I need him to be able to drive there. It all sunk in. We had a great lunch and both felt good about it.

The experience drained me along with this summer cold so I just came home and napped. I feel better and everything is going well. On day thirty I will do a video and weight update.

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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 25: Tai Chi

"We are ungrateful en masse. Let each one question himself: there is no one who does not complain of someone's ingratitude. But it cannot be the case that all have a complaint unless all are an object of complaint: therefore all are ungrateful. Are they ungrateful only? They are also all covetous, all malicious, all fearful, especially those who appear to be daring. More than that: they are all selfish and all without scruple. But there is no reason to be angry with them; pardon them, for they are all mad. I do not want to refer you to generalities, such as: "See, how ungrateful is youth!" Who, however innocent he is, does not wish for his father's last day; who, however reasonable he is, does not look forward to it; who, however dutiful he is, does not dream of it? How few there are who dread so much the death of an excellent wife as not to make calculations? What litigant, I ask, after being defended, has retained the memory of so great a benefit any longer than the last hearing? We all agree in asking: who is there who dies without complaint? Who has the courage to say on his last day:

I have lived my life and run the course that fortune gave me."

– Seneca, On Benefits 5.17.3

I've come down with a summer cold and laryngitis. It's kicking my butt. I slept in and will be taking a nap later.

A while back I started getting interested in Tai Chi. When I was young I studied Tang Soo Do, a Korean style. At the age I am now I was more interested in a softer more internal style. That is Tai Chi.

I bought The Great Courses course on Tai Chi. It's great and I've been moving through it slowly and purposefully.

I found there is a credit course for it at the local community college. I signed up for it. I can't wait for it to start in a few weeks.

What I'm doing isn't just about weight loss. It's about becoming healthy. I'm hoping Tai Chi will help with flexibility and balance.

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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Uncategorized


Day 24: Language

Got up early and got my walk in. Had a number of chores and then some free time. Perfect day for a bike ride. Did a short one of twelve miles just to loosen up the legs. During the ride I thought about language.

I have a lot of hobbies and each of them have their own language. A weak player in chess is a Patzer or fish. Chess has so many unique words that it takes a long time for a new player to catch on. Terms like tabia, fianchetto and Zugzwang(not to be confused with Zwischenzug).*

In poker it is donkey. In cycling it is a Fred. A man over two hundred pounds is a Clydesdale and a heavy woman is an Athena.

I could go on and on but I find language fascinating.

Zugzwang: The obligation to move, when any move at all will be bad.

Zwischenzug: An in-between move. For example, instead of re-capturing, a check may be given first.

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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Uncategorized