Thursday, April 12, 2012
SWMBO and I are big believers in community service and we try to take on a couple of projects every year in our local area.
This year I was asked to host the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day here.....interesting, since I'm not Jewish.....but I'm an avid student of history....and a pretty darn good public speaker!
We've been planning it for a few months, and we were able to put together a pretty decent program. The theme for this year was "Choosing to Act - Stories of Rescue". I invited two local European history professors (one a former Navy SEAL!) to give us a quick historical context of Europe and Germany in the 20s and 30s as well as some well researched stories of Jewish resistance fighters in the forests of Poland and Germany.
Then we asked the daughter of husband & wife concentration camp survivors to talk to us about growing up in America as the child of Holocaust survivors. WOW! Talk about putting teenage angst in context! Her story was amazing and incredibly moving. She also brought her two teenage daughters....incredibly well adjusted teens whose grandparents lived their teen years in German concentration camps in Poland. SWMBO and I made sure to get as many young kids into the audience as we could so that this wouldn't become just a history lesson, but something real and tangible to draw a straight line connection for them to a past that was not that long ago.
We ended with a Dutch gentlemen who told the story of how he and his friends, none older than 20, helped feed, hide, and later repatriate 103 of their Jewish friends from occupied Holland. He spent his entire youth in Nazi occupied Holland and is as lively today as he was in his youth.
My goal was to have people walking out of there thinking and knowing that this was not just a lesson on something that happened long ago, but to feel how the events of just 70 short years ago were real and still resonate and touch the lives of many around us.....and that every year there are fewer and fewer people around who can connect us with that past.
I ended it with one of my favorite quotes, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for men of good will to do nothing"
As we walked out, SWMBO and I remembered why it's important for us to do these events.....whatever we have going on....daily angst, worries, concerns, the future etc, all these felt like they were really no big deal by the time we entered the sunny spring day outside!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Well today I had an interesting conversation with a guy that works for me.
I've known him for coming on 20 years....at one point he was my boss when I first started out. We lost track of each other over the years, and when I took over this division of our company he was working here.
He's a good guy, but the years have not been kind to him. He weighs over 300+ lbs, has lots of family troubles, and is not a very healthy person. On top of that, the quality of his work is not up to speed.
He actually scheduled a meeting with me for some "mentoring" and also to explore options for upward mobility.
When I saw this pop on my schedule, I had to spend a lot of time thinking about how to approach the conversation.
In then end, I decided frankness and honesty was the best approach.
I started off by telling him that personally, "as someone that has known you for a long time", I was very concerned for his health. That the amount of weight he had gained, the way he carried himself, the respiratory problems that he had, compounded by the personal issues he had going on at home, had me wondering if he wasn't headed for a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, you name it.
"Brother, any one or two of the things you are dealing with is a lot for any one person....you're dealing with 5 to 6 crises simultaneously, in a frame that doesn't look like it's built for endurance. If your health fails you, you're not going to be any good to any of those folks that need you, forget about what I need you to be doing here."
Then I had to tell him honestly that he had a lot of room to improve in his current job performance and that I wasn't entertaining any thoughts of moving him up until he started stepping up and getting some things done that I had been talking about for months.
"Believe me, it does not get easier to stay in shape as we get older! And you can't wait till you're less busy because we're always going to be busy with something!"
Here's the interesting part. I've been giving feedback and mentoring people for years. This was the first time where I decided I needed to talk to someone professionally about their weight and health and how I thought it affected them personally as well as in their job.
I don't think I would have done that prior to Sparkpeople.
I'm not 100% sure how he took it. He said, "Yeah you're right, I need to lose weight" and moved on to other topics. It'll be interesting to see what happens....I'll probably get charged with something like harassment or discrimination bringing an end to a somewhat mediocre career!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, April 09, 2012
So I've got to admit, I suffered some "gender embarrassment" today.
My extra office time this weekend paid off....by about 10:30, it looked like I could actually take a bit of a break before my 1:00 meeting. So I ducked out at 11:00 and hit the gym for an 11:30 spin class....WOO-HOO!
There was a guy teaching that I hadn't seen before, and some of the folks I chatted up before class said, "Oh he's real good....very regimented. He's a professional cyclist so he gives you a realistic workout"
Methinks, "OK, whatever that means", but out loud I say, "Sounds good, I'm all in!"
So Spin Instructor Guy is very business like (I like that), takes time out to explain the equipment and the routine for the day ("we'll start with a warm-up, build into a steady climb, do some speedwork intervals, then end with a long hard climb for the last 10 minutes")
I LIKE IT!! Tell me what to expect so I can mentally prepare!
So we start up, he tells you what setting you should expect to see in either Heart Rate (if you have a monitor), or in Watts, to include suggested resistance settings based on the readings from these cool new bikes!
I LIKE IT!
Well so he's not all flash, he doesn't whoop and holler like the other instructors I've seen, but he's real steady and encouraging and he's working as hard as anybody else (which I also respect....I have no tolerance for an instructor that takes rest breaks pretending to walk around and "check on people")
Now I like to plant myself smack up front for these classes, but as we start to get in to the high intensity phase, I start to hear these little "yelps" from behind me and some "oohhhhhh"s from bikes a few seats to my right.
What the hell was that?!?
"Put it up a gear....you should see yourself at 85% on the heart rate or pumping out about 250-280 watts," says Spin Instructor Guy
"Yikes" from behind and "OOwwwwww" to my right
Were those really male voices? Who are these guys?
I crane my neck to the right and see this pretty buff 30-something dude, sweating away, eyes closed, moving his head left and right like Stevie Wonder with a big fat grimace on his face as he lets out a big "ooohhhhh man!"
I couldn't stand it any more! "Let's go, there's no crying in baseball, push it up" I yelled.
That felt good!
It did nothing to shut these guys up though.....they were back to puling and whining at the next interval. I try to get a bead on the guy behind me in the mirror.....sure as hell, he looks to be in his 20s and his face is scrunched up like he's about to cry because his girlfriend just broke up with him and he lets out a high pitched "Yooooow!"
I caught the instructors eye, cocked my head at the clowns to right of me, jokers to the rear and gave him the look signifying "Really?"
He hunched his shoulders up in the universal signal of "I don't know"
It only got worse as we entered the steady hill climb for the last 10 minutes.
Now I won't kid you, this was tough....steadily increasing resistance every minute, sitting down in the seat (no standing), getting the heart rate up to 95% of max or pushing the watts up to 350-370.....I was focused on nothing but my breathing and the reading on that dial as we climbed to the top of Agony Hill.
But nary a sound passed my lips! Unfortunately, the Sisters of Pain shared every excruciating moment of their journey with the rest of us.....I seriously considered getting up and leaving, but then those two clowns would have felt like they won.
Now I'm a very tolerant soul and have the greatest appreciation for those who struggle in the gym as we all try to get healthy. But come on gents....show the world you know how to suffer well! These are the kinds of sounds that jungle predators listen for as they single out the weak and lame before they hunt you down for the kill!
So, a real good workout, but my psyche suffered some damage. It will take some serious therapy to keep from remembering those haunting sounds and contorted faces on my next ride.....and I may need to plug in my own music to drown out the whines!
I did my ST session with trainer guy after work. I related the tale about the embarrassing display of manhood at this morning's cycling class. "If I ever make sounds like that, you're cleared to kick my ass!" I told him.
Have a great night Spark friends!
Sunday, April 08, 2012
For whatever reason, I woke up this morning thinking it was Monday!
Like an automaton, I started in on my AM routine, perplexed that my alarm had not gone off as it usually does on Monday morning, when it hit me, "It's Sunday still, isn't it?"
Well it was like having a whole extra day to tack on the weekend I tell you (well not really, but for a few brief moments there, I was really living!)
SWMBO and #2 son are in between churches right now....apparently there was some drama at her last one and she’s decided to start hunting for a new one. So this Easter we were all together in the morning and had a nice Sunday putzing around for a few hours before I actually DID have to go in to the office to knock out a couple of things before the week starts.
Spent about 4 hours there, then went to the gym for some standard cardio (bike, elliptical, sit-ups, & back extensions), then went by the store to pick up some veggies & fruit for smoothies this week.
But they were all closed for Easter!!! What is up with THAT?!? I had to drive 5 miles up the road to the Super-Walmart to grab some Wally brand bags of greens. Sheesh!
I'm also looking for ways to up my protein intake & cut down on carbs during the week. When I came back home, I grabbed a tub of hummus from the fridge and was fretting over a bag of pitas, when SWMBO saw my furrowed brow reading the nutrition info (250 calories per pita!) and she said, “why don’t you just use celery?” Sheer genius I tell you!
So I went a little crazy last week, ordering up some whey protein powder:
And a “shaker bottle”:
I’m trying to get away from eating sandwiches for lunch and go with some plain protein (chicken breasts, tuna fish, etc.) and fruit during the day.
I plan on adding a little protein powder to the smoothies, and then having a little creatine and protein powder just before hitting the gym. I might gain a little weight with this, but I’m willing to give it a try for a few weeks to see how it goes. The creatine is a good supplement for ST. "Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up"
For Easter dinner, we cooked up some ginger marinated chicken on the grill and SWMBO roasted up some red potatoes, a 500 calorie dinner....and not a chocolate bunny or egg was seen in the house!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Well I couldn't put it off any longer.....I collected up all my tax papers today and got everything ready to get to my tax guy so he can finally get them done this next week. It's always a major pain the ass, especially since we have houses we rent out in other states.
Once that was done, we had a family lunch out and tried a new "Bistro" joint downtown....it was a major bust! I ordered the tilapia and a caprese salad....two dishes that should be pretty standard and hard to screw up....but they did! The poured a bland, white cream sauce over the fish, which was cooked to a rubbery consistency and the caprese salad was made with some cold, rock hard tomatoes and lacked any pizzaz....no balsamic vinegar and skimpy on the basil.
Came back home and all of a sudden I conked right out! I was still pretty sore from yesterday's ST session, but after 2 solid hours of rack time, I was all refreshed!
Hit the gym and got in a great HIIT session on those cool new spin bikes they just bought....they actually make a tough work out pretty fun, especially since it is so much easier to adjust resistance levels on the fly than the ellipticals and the older bikes. Afterwards, did a combo of back extensions and pushups on a stab ball....so I got in 6 good days of various types of pushups all this week.
Tonight #2 son and I are watching Star Wars Episode #3 on the Blu Ray.....we keep wondering the significance of why these Jedis keep dropping their light-sabers and having their arms chopped off in so many episodes.....
Have a great night Spark friends!
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