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Choosing to Act

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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IMSMILEY88 4/14/2012 8:19AM

    I love that you organized this event AND how you are giving back to your community! You are an example to us all!

I've just become a 'history buff' over the past few years. History used to be my 'most hated' subject, and now I can't get enough! Lately, I've been reading about the Gulags of the Soviet! So like the concentration camps of Germany, except that they weren't out-right executing people...which is a HUGE difference! But, still, these were horrible places. And, they were going on during MY life!

Yesterday, on the news, I heard that they still have Gulag-type camps in North Korea. And, the thousands who are imprisoned there have not had trials. It's amazing to realize that this still goes on today!

Again, thanks for sharing the stories of these people with your community. Wish I could have come!

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SHERYL_B 4/13/2012 8:55PM

    Way to give back!

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CHALLENGER15 4/13/2012 7:16PM

    What a wonderful thing for you to host. I enjoyed reading about the day. Thank you for blogging about it.

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FANGFACEKITTY 4/13/2012 10:31AM

    How awesome of you and SWMBO to do this (all of your community service projects). It is important to give back what we are able. Bringing history alive is so important so that we can learn from our past mistakes and (hopefully) never repeat them. Two of my favorite quotes are "there is nothing new under the sun" and "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (Santayana). So despite the natural desire to gloss over and not dwell on the horrible parts of the past these are the exact events we need to focus in, to prevent their ever happening again. Kudos to you for being, and getting others, involved.

And somewhat related my son is in Boston this weekend for the Patriot's Days celebration of the events leading to the Revolutionary War, performing with his fife & drum Corp.

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KAYZAKCX 4/12/2012 11:26PM

    Amazing. There are somethings so dark that we try our best to forget them, whether they are things that happen on a personal scale or a global scale. Remembering them, though, is the only way to keep them from repeating. It seems we are ripe for such a tragedy to unfold yet again. Hopefully, programs like yours will prevent that.

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SAFARIBABE 4/12/2012 9:51PM

    What a great way to give back to the community! And to get kids for whom WWII is just another chapter in their history books -- no more relevant to them than the War of 1812 -- to really understand the human toll of war and hate. My other favorite quote is "Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them." You've gone a long way today toward helping these kids really understand some of history's mistakes. WTG!!

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Frank talk

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 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'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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALISWALKER 4/15/2012 4:33PM

    I know it must have been difficult to do, but you have his best interest at heart.

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BILL60 4/14/2012 9:08AM

    I was an Inspector General for a while and had to listen to allegations from soldiers regarding discrimination. When I pointed out, as you did, their record of less than stellar performance, the allegations were almost always dropped. When the allegations were not dropped, the Commanding General always accepted my conclusions. Kudos to you for your courage to "Tell it like it is".

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RAWHIDE64 4/13/2012 8:22PM

    I would have done the same thing. I always felt that if I told the truth and I was genuinely trying to help the person then I could withstand any charge that came my way. None came.

Knowing that you might get called to task for trying to help someone is a tough position for a manager. Good ones take risks and care about their employees. My hat's off to you.


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FANGFACEKITTY 4/12/2012 9:34PM

    That is a tough one. Employers, I believe, can legitimately argue that they have a vested interest in employees' health, as poor health costs money in insurance premiums and lost productivity. Discrimination based on health, unless legitimately preventing the proper and safe performance of job duties, cannot be allowed, but I would agree that an employer can have a private discussion with an employee to try to help improve. So on those grounds I think you are safe from a discrimination claim (plus he is not being promoted due to actual poor (and documented as such?) performance, not due to his weight) and from harassment claims - one private conversation to express your concerns in a sensitive and constructive manner does not constitute harassment.

As SAFARIBABE pointed out the fact that he now works for you when it used to be the other way around should tell him something about his job performance. And it probably has if he is requesting mentoring. Let's hope this was the impetus he needs to start making some positive changes in his life.

And kudos to you for having the courage to speak up and share your concerns with him, as difficult as it probably was for both of you. He is probably well aware of the issues, but sometimes when one is faced with that many problems all at once it is so overwhelming one becomes paralyzed, not able to do anything because the big picture is just way too big. Hearing his worries put into words from someone he looks up to (and he must if he requested mentoring) might help him clear the mental roadblocks enough that he can start putting his life into better order.

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SAFARIBABE 4/12/2012 8:19PM

    It's a rough position to be in but hopefully he'll think about the things you discussed and start making some changes in his life. You guys have been colleagues for a long time. Hell if he was your boss and is now working under you, that alone should tell him something. Now the one thing you might have done is helped him get the tools to get it done. Whether its SP or WW or something else. Don't sweat did what your conscience told you was the right thing. Trust that! From what I've seen you have sound instincts!

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EYES_ON_THEPRAZ 4/12/2012 4:05PM

    You did the right thing. I assume he is a little embarrassed now, but it might be the wake up call he needs.

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COCOA-JUMBO 4/12/2012 9:22AM

    Good for you! Wish someone would have had that talk with me, so I would have started the path to health sooner! Even my sister who's a doctor never had the courage to mention that my weight was out of control.

It's possible you may be vulnerable to a discrimination complaint, but he did ask you for mentoring and you didn't take any negative action against him because of his weight; so I think it will all work out.

Ultimately, if he listened, you just changed his whole life - not to mention the lives of all his family and friends!

If people only realized that eating right and working out make you feel so much more confident and so much more healthy, everyone would try to start down that path! If you feel good and feel good about yourself, the rest of your success will follow.

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BEATLETOT 4/12/2012 8:36AM

    I think that if he volunteered for "mentoring," that's different than if you had said this in a performance review. But I hardly think the last part of your blog was your point.

It is interesting the way you realize once you start changing one part of your lifestyle, the rest kind of follows, and I don't think that it only goes one way. He might realize that if he starts performing better at work, the weight will come off, as opposed to vice versa. Anyway, keep up posted!

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SHERYL_B 4/12/2012 8:24AM

    That's a tough situation. Hopefully he takes it in the spirit it was meant. He came to you for mentoring to start with and some was asking for guidance. Good luck!

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CLAIREINPARIS 4/12/2012 6:49AM

    300 lbs... I think if you hadn't said anything, you would have been guilty of not helping someone in danger. You spoke with your heart (and experience in that matter, which is great), not to make him feel low or uncomfortable. But someone who has weight issue (and I do!) knows it and will always feel uncomfortable when confronted with it if they aren't fighting that problem. It is so easy to just pretend everything is OK!
So, my personal opinion is: good for you! I hope he decides to change his life and that you can support him by your example and advice.

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REDSHOES2011 4/11/2012 11:02PM

    I have had someone talk to me about my weight.. They were concerned for my families sake and what it would do to my sons if I died.. I was not offended because the person taking the talk with me didn't talk down to me but honestly about what will happen to my kids if I didn't start taking care of myself..
I don't think you will get hit with discrimination as long as you appeal to them as genuinely worried.. I feel you were honest..
Red emoticon

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FENWAYGIRL18 4/11/2012 10:47PM

    Your right you might get hit with a harassment or discrimination charge, I don't think it was your place to say what you did. It might of been something you were thinking , but you put him in a very awkward position and now made yourself vulnerable to a discrimination case.
Sometimes when people lose weight they think everyone wants their advice and they don't for him to change the subject, you made him very uncomfortable.
That's just not nice

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Real men don't whine!

Monday, April 09, 2012

So I've got to admit, I suffered some "gender embarrassment" today.

My extra office time this weekend paid 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!


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 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 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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FANGFACEKITTY 4/10/2012 10:18PM

    What wimps! Perhaps they were trying to impress others with their sensitivity? Nah, I think they were just wimps. Our gym actually has "no grunting" as one of the posted gym rules, perhaps yours should consider adding "no whining or crying" to the rules.

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SHERYL_B 4/10/2012 7:56PM

    Sounds like they should go back to the baby class.

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JTROBERTSON 4/10/2012 1:54PM

    I love it that you said "No crying in baseball." Brilliant! emoticon

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SAFARIBABE 4/10/2012 12:54PM

    ROFLMAO!!! I'm completely at a loss for words. I don't have much patience for whiners either. I think you showed incredible restraint! Doubt they'll have the kishkas to show up to another class you attend!!! LOL

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    Oh man! I wish I could have seen your face! Our gym actually has a rule to not grunt and make a lot of noise so that really makes me laugh. It's usually the ones who want attention who do that - especially when they're lifting. Hang in there girl! You showed what you're made of!

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BILL60 4/10/2012 7:07AM

    You gotta love it!!

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CLAIREINPARIS 4/10/2012 2:16AM

    emoticon Ohhh you made me laugh!!! I think this whining would have driven me crazy, and I am not a man! It does sound like it was tough though... Good for you!

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HEALTHIERKEN 4/10/2012 2:02AM

    chuckle! snicker! grin! That's what I did all through this blog: )

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KAYZAKCX 4/9/2012 11:39PM

    What a couple of maroons.... No crying in baseball? I love it. Reminded me of a 6 hour mtb race I did. One of my teammates had a melt down when she realized she left her kit at home. Another teammate (who happened to have a spare kit with her) yelled, "c'mon, there's no crying in mountain biking!". BTW, next time, take a couple of pacifiers for the babies.

Comment edited on: 4/9/2012 11:43:09 PM

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MISSLORI5 4/9/2012 10:37PM

    Congrats on keeping your thoughts from those guys-they probably didn't realize what they were getting into when they signed up for the class! Maybe next session will be a bit easier for them and queter for you! Good luck, regardless! emoticon

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Almost had an extra weekend day off.....

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:

Some creatine:

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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHERYL_B 4/9/2012 7:34PM

    I am having chocolate issues. I went 40 days no problem ( well mostly no problem, some cravings but no eating) and now yesterday and today I can't seem to get enough of it! At least it is almost all gone

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SNUZSUZ 4/9/2012 2:55PM

    I, too, enjoyed your blog! You are very uplifting and inspiring!

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SAFARIBABE 4/9/2012 6:40AM

    There's something wrong with those bunnies....they still have their ears! LOL Keep us posted on the protein powder. I've been looking at smooties (the non-green kind) and thought that adding protein would make it more of a proper meal. So I'm very interested in this! Have a good (real) Monday. Hopefully your Sunday dilligence pays off!

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    As always, I enjoyed your blog. Good for you for not letting any chocolate in the house for Easter! WTG!

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HEALTHIERKEN 4/8/2012 11:39PM

    A time warp! What fun : )

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COCOA-JUMBO 4/8/2012 10:26PM

    Have you ever tried Shakeology? It's really tasty and there's lots of different ways to make it. Fills you up and has tons of vitamins and antioxidants!

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Taxes, bistros, and lightsabers

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 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 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 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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHERYL_B 4/8/2012 9:38PM

    I got my taxes done at the end of February, but then the day after I filed, I got another 1099. I know I should know how many to expect, but I have multiple accounts at this company and had gotten one and was two weeks past the deadline for them to send them out. Next year I will have to wait until after April 1 to file I guess.

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SAFARIBABE 4/8/2012 9:20AM

    First off I can NOT believe you are one of those people who gets their tax info to their accountant the week before it's due! Seriously?? Have you forgotten that I'm one of those poor schmoes who is battling this time of year to do for their clients? So, OK I don't actually DO any taxes other than my own...but the concept is still the same!! Now raise your right hand and repeat "I will get my tax info together my Feb 15th next year ot SafariBabe will hunt me down!!" LOL WTG on the pushups!!! You totally rock in the fitness department if NOT in the tax one!! LOL Have a great Sunday! Kindle time?

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    I'm going to be all smug and unsympathetic - I got my taxes done in January. And my pushups every week. Too bad on the Bistro, they had to have tired pretty hard to screw up something as simple as tilapia. But at least now you know it's a pace to avoid and can perhaps rescue other hapless potential victims before they suffer the same fate.

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BILL60 4/8/2012 6:59AM

    I am happy to say, been there and done that.

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    Sorry for the awful 'Bistro'! But good for you for hitting the gym!!! emoticon

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KAYZAKCX 4/8/2012 1:58AM

    I'm dreading taxes this year. My tax guy is a 45 minute bike ride away, so at least I have that. Love the light saber picture.

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HEALTHIERKEN 4/8/2012 1:23AM

    This is what one would call a wide-ranging blog, GETSTRONGRRRR : ), but as always, cogent and interesting!

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