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It’s a strange feeling, for me, to be awake at 5:30am on a Saturday, let alone to be doing something productive. Perhaps this is what conscientious people do. Perhaps this is what people with high anxiety do. Maybe there’s a lot of overlap between conscientiousness and high anxiety. Maybe this is just what happens when you take care of your body; you sleep better, and you have energy when you wake up, etc. I’ve never been one to dive deep into the minute details of how things work. I just want to know that the things work and squeeze all I can out of those things.

That’s more or less how it has been going with my diet. I really don’t “know” how it works, but I know it works. I can explain things to friends that ask “how did you lose so much weight?”. I can use a few of the fancy words like ketosis and glycogen. But I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to the science. I’m not really sure some of the experts do either…or the folks in the weight loss industry trying to sell you the next fitness of diet phenomena. They just know that it works and they know a few of the fancy words and terms to make it sound impressive and cutting edge.

Today marks the end of Phase 2 of my diet, aka the reduction phase. For the past 40 days, I’ve been eating only lean proteins and low starch green vegetables. I’ve been eating other stuff too, like tomatoes and berries, but it has been very limited. And, I only eat twice a day. That’s called intermittent fasting…another fancy word diet term that basically just means that I skip breakfast. But it works. I’ve lost a total of 36 pounds in 40 days. Pretty remarkable. More importantly, my energy is up, my ability to focus at work and at home is better, and my knee has definitely improved from the lighter load. Success!

Ah, but success now needs to be measured across time. None of this matters if I just balloon right back up to where I was when I started. Luckily, this diet claims to have a plan for that. Phase 3, the maintenance phase. I start taking a new supplement today, and I stop taking my other diet supplements. The new supplement appears to be some sort of coffee extract which allegedly resets my metabolism and puts me back in a “normal” state over the next twenty days. After that, the diet plan is done. But what about the diet after the diet. Technically, everyone is on a diet. It’s just either a good or a bad one. That’s where I’m at right now…wondering and thinking through “what does the long term look like?” Honestly, I’m a little nervous about it. What if I can’t keep the weight off? What if my knee still has problems? These are legit concerns. But mostly, I’m incredibly optimistic. I’ve proven a lot to myself over the past six weeks. Even if I don’t know all the minute details of how maintaining this is going to work, I know if it’s possible, then I can do it…and that’s what matters to me.

four weeks of diet

As of today, I’ve completed four weeks of my sixty day diet. I’m down twenty five pounds. I feel more alert and energized than I have since I can remember. I’m considerably more productive at work and at home. I feel happier. The list goes on. But……I still miss food.

That being said, we’ve actually come up with some tolerable diet meals that I would continue to eat even after the diet is over. My homemade ceviche is fantastic. The tomato sauce that Drew made from fresh tomatoes is going to be our new staple. And I actually kinda like turkey burgers.

It seems plausible at this point, that we could seriously change our lifestyle with healthier eating habits. Drew isn’t even on the diet and she is losing weight simply because we are making better choices as a family. It’s really encouraging. I’ll share more in a couple of weeks…we’ve got a busy day today of Christmas tree hunting and bake sales and visiting Grandma.

weight loss update

It has been two weeks since I started my diet. There have certainly been some ups and downs, both physically and mentally. The first two days of the diet I was tasked with consuming 5000 calories each day. This was to trick my metabolism into thinking that this was a normal amount of calories for me and put the fat burning into hyper-drive. At first this was fun. I went to the grocery store and bought all of my favorite junk. Ice cream bars, jalapeño poppers, mozzarella sticks, Danish pastries, Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches…the more fat, sugar, and calories the better. I learned by about three in the afternoon on the first day, that this was going to be more difficult than I imagined. I still needed to consume about 2000 calories by the end of the day, and I was completely full and not feeling great about all the garbage food in my belly. I resorted to milkshakes. Did you know that one Jack in the Box Oreo Cookie shake has almost 1200 calories? I’ve never been a calorie counter, so it was an eye opening experience to tally up a full days worth of gorging. By the end of day two I was done with my calorie loading phase, and I felt horrible. So much sugar, so much fat.

On day three, a Monday nonetheless, I began the reduction phase of my diet. Fasting until 11am and then only eating two meals between 11am and 5pm. Just lean protein and vegetables for the meals with some other “free foods” anytime in between. I also started taking a bunch of natural/organic vitamins and supplements that helped with the hunger cravings, digestion, and energy. That evening I was hit with one of the worst headaches I have ever had in my life…with exception to a brief period in my 20s when I suffered from migraines. It was intolerable. I took a straight shot of salt water and a bunch of ibuprofen and knocked myself out. Salt water actually works pretty well to relieve a headache that is due to electrolyte deficiency. Just be very careful not to use too much salt in your shot of water…especially when you’re at work the next day as your stomach will immediately reject it and you will have to sprint across the office to barely make it to the public restroom in order to projectile vomit all over the bathroom stall.

On day three and day four, I actually gained weight. I guess this wasn’t surprising since I had pigged out so hard on day one and day two. My peak weight was Tuesday morning at 194.4 lbs. Then I started losing weight. By day five and six my headaches were less intense and it felt like I was starting to get into a rhythm. I can honestly say that I haven’t strayed from the plan or cheated at all, and this morning on day 15 I’m down to 179.8 lbs. I feel good. I’m not starving. My energy is up. I’m getting out of bed much earlier than normal and I’m not desperately trying to find caffeine. It’s encouraging.

The most profound thing, perhaps, is realizing that so much of my lifestyle previously revolved around food. Our leisure time, date nights, vacations, business lunches, social drinking…’s hard for me to think of much about my life that hasn’t been directly connected to overindulging in food. I’m not hungry on this diet so I don’t physically crave these things, but psychologically I have struggled…although, it’s a hopeful struggle. As Drew and I have been thinking through practical issues like budgeting, meal times, intentional time with the kids (you know, all the things that families might do together), we’re now encouraged by the idea that we don’t need to be lead by our stomachs. We’re hopeful that this change will give us room in our lives to be lead by other things…Good things.

riding the snake

It’s been a year of good intentions, but not many expectations met. That’s ok. Things have happened, and I’ve had to reorient myself and my goals. One of the more recent developments that I felt compelled to share here is that I’ve decided to go on an intense diet. It’s a bit unflattering, but I’m not certain that anyone reads this blog, so I suppose I can swallow my pride. Most people that I work with would say that I’m not overweight, but the fact is that I hide it pretty well. I’ve been hovering around 200 lbs for a long time. Considering that I weighed around 145 lbs when I got married, I notice the difference more than anyone, except for maybe my wife.

The weight is actually a big deal for me. I had knee surgery 2 years ago, and recovery has been complicated and less than ideal. I have a plica in my knee that has continually been aggravated and causing instability. This has been extremely frustrating for me as it has limited my ability to compete and participate in my table tennis hobby. Surgery is possible to remove the plica, but it’s not an easy surgery and I consider it a last resort.

They say for every one pound you lose, you remove 4 pounds of pressure off your knee joint. I weighed my self this morning and my starting weight for the diet is 191.5 lbs. My goal weight by the end of 2019 is 160 lbs. If I meet this goal, it will effectively relieve my knee of 126 lbs of pressure. I’m hoping this result will relieve the plica aggravation in my knee and allow me to avoid further surgery.

Blogging about it, I hope, will keep me focused and accountable. I’m not good at following through with things like this, but I have a good plan and I have good support at home. I’ll plan to update the blog a few times over the next couple months, and then again 60 days from now when I’m done with the diet.

Here’s my current measurements:

Chest: 42″
Waist: 38″
Hips: 41″
Arms: 15″
Thighs: 25″

And here are those flattering photos:

good intentions

My last post was in October 2016. It is now January 2019. I’m not aware of any of my friends or acquaintances that have or use a blog. But here I am with one…and I think I will continue using it. I hope.

I thought about why I would even want to continue maintaining this site. I don’t have any number of subscribers of which to speak. I costs a little bit of money to renew it every year. Nonetheless, I have two compelling reasons to keep at it. 1) I tend to be feel healthier when I write regularly. and 2) I want something for my family to have if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, or next year.

That idea of leaving a legacy or body of work has been on my mind since the New Year. I spent some time thinking about my parents and how much I miss them. I have a few keepsakes and photos, but the most interesting and precious things are the writings they left behind. It’s a way for me to hear them speak. A way to remember their voices.

With the current state of technology, I’m sure there will be plenty of photos, videos, and Facebook stuff that my family will be able to view. But I want to keep this thing going, for whatever it’s worth.

So, my intention is to write things that are worthwhile to my friends and family who care to know what I think about things. I think that’s enough motivation to write more than once every two years. I hope.

board games to play with your 4 year old daughter (and bonus election thoughts!)

Hello friends!

It’s been awhile. I was notified that I was going to lose this domain, and I was faced with the choice of letting it go or renewing. I read through my old posts, reminisced a bit, and decided to keep the blog alive. But for what reason? To opine on politics or offer observations about parenting, family, and life? Maybe (see the end of this post)…but I think the internet has enough of that.

I would rather talk about cool board games you can play with your 4 year old daughters. I’ve written about family board games in the past (see here). Since that post, we’ve continued to play board games as a family. It’s one of our rhythms. I’m not going to talk about how great board games are for families or how we don’t even own a TV (read: we’re better humans than you), I’m just going to share a few recommendations if you’re looking for a game to play with a preschooler or kindergartner. Here are three games that I like:

1.Unicorn Glitterluck301256_4c_f_einhorn_glitzerglueck_englisch_04_1

Fiona, my four year old, picked this one out at a local game store. I had no expectations of liking the game, but I was open minded as the game was made by HABA (a great company, check them out). The purpose of the game is to roll the dice and move your unicorn through the sky, bouncing on clouds and sliding down rainbows. If you land on a cloud with a pink marshmallow, then you get to roll a different die and collect shiny cloud crystals. If you roll a cupcake, then you miss your next turn while your unicorn eats a cupcake. Whoever finishes with the most cloud crystals is the winner. Despite what you think about the previous sentences, this is a great game. It teaches counting, simple rules, and the pieces are high quality with nice artwork. If you’re not into games with this much “pink”, there’s another version with dragons instead of unicorns.haba-unicorn-glitterluck-2

2. My First Bohnanzamfb

As the title of this game indicates, it is the kid’s version of the standard game Bohnanza. The standard version is one of my favorite games, and my wife and I and our friends, the Davidsons, have played it together maybe a hundred times. For us, it’s one of those games that we anticipate playing for the rest of our lives, so it’s cool to have a junior version to play with our kids. The purpose of this card game is to plant various beans in your bean fields and collect coins for harvesting beans of the same kind. The player who earns the most coins from harvesting beans is the winner. This junior version is played almost exactly the same as the regular game, except there are new and simpler bean cards which make the counting and strategy a little bit easier to grasp. The artwork is fun and captivating, and the gameplay moves quickly enough to keep my four year old’s attention. Bartering is major part of this game and I have to help my 4 year old in this area so she doesn’t get fleeced by her older brother and sister.img_4873

3. Cockroach Pokerpic1887167

Is it ever too early in a child’s life to learn how to lie and keep a straight face? Yes. 4 years old is too early for a child to learn that you can win through lying. Nonetheless, we’ve introduced all of our children to this great bluffing game. The deck of cards contains 8 different types of creepy creatures, wonderfully illustrated by Rolf Vogt. When it’s your turn you select one card, place it face down on the table and slide it in front of another player. You then tell the other player what type of creature you’ve passed to them. The other player must then decide of you are telling the truth or bluffing. The game play is very simple, and eventually one player runs out of cards or gathers 4 of the same type of creature. This player is the loser. It’s pretty hilarious when the game ends and there is no winner…just a loser (unless the loser is only 4 years old and has a very difficult time losing).ssp-40829-02

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just cancel the whole voting thing and let the Presidential Election be decided by who wins at Cockroach Poker? Maybe the loser should be president (since the winner would be the better liar). Of course, it’s only a joke, but doesn’t it seem apt for these two to have their fates decided by a children’s game based on deception and foul creatures?

Anyways, I was planning to end this blog post with some fierce and witty political commentary, but the above paragraph pretty much sums up where I’m at…so I’ll just leave it at that.

Happy gaming friends! Drop me a line if you want other game recommendations or want to borrow a game to test out.


the pantheon of great animated movies

If the internet is good for anything, it is good for having a list for almost everything. (See Top 10 lists can be definitive, but many of them are extremely bias and are mostly conjecture. We all tie a bit of our identities to the things we like, the things we think are best, and that’s why we’re drawn to lists. If we agree with the list, then our very lives are validated and all is right with the world. If we disagree with a list, then the author is either trying too hard to be a cool smartypants, or is an uneducated ass-face. So get ready to give me either high-fives or punches in the face as I present to you the first of my “Pantheon” lists of great movies.

A couple of quick notes:

  • There is no hierarchy or particular order in the Pantheon.
  • Each Pantheon will have 5 to 7 movies.
  • Each genre has its own Pantheon, and genres will have specific parameters (for example, “Jerry Maguire” is not a sports movie…which is a moot point because that pile wouldn’t be in the Pantheon anyway).
  • I have an open mind, and I’m willing to hear your arguments. I’m totally willing to bump something out of the Pantheon if you can make a good case. So, please chime in and make comments. Also, if your movie gets into the Pantheon, I’ll buy you an ice cream cone. Seriously.

First up, a genre very dear to my heart, Animated Films. I love watching cartoons with my kids more than they do…and yes, I did solicit their opinions for this list.

Akira – The landmark “Japanimation” film. If you’ve ever wondered who actually watches stuff in the “Anime” category on Netflix, it’s all those kids who watched Akira in the late 80’s and got hooked. I remember watching this when I was 10 years old. I’d never seen anything like it, especially when the first motorcycle gang fight against the clowns happened. This movie is in the Pantheon because it successfully bridged anime into an American sub-culture.


Pinocchio – There has to be a classic Disney film in the Pantheon. Walt Disney considered Pinocchio and Fantasia to be his masterpieces. I went with Pinocchio for the Pantheon over Fantasia because of the strength and timelessness of its narrative.

Wall-E – Choosing a Pixar was tough too, but I landed on Wall-E for a few reasons. The film succeeds with basically no dialogue for the entire first act. It makes poignant political statements without being heavy-handed. Most of all, Wall-E reminds us of our creative potential as humans, and begs us to not trade beauty for convenience. Amazing!

My Neighbor Totoro – In so many modern children shows and movies, adults and children are pitted against each other. You often have a child protagonist and a mean, bossy parent or teacher (or whatever authority figure) in the child’s way of so-called happiness and freedom. My wife and I have tried to avoid these films (and there are many), and we have been delighted by the way most Miyazaki films approach family relationships. In My Neighbor Totoro, the parents and grannies of the world are loving and therefore loved by the children. The parents aren’t portrayed as obstacles, but as nurturers. Also, consider how fast-paced children’s movies are in our current ADD culture. Miyazaki films move at a different pace, and there is enough beauty, adventure, and mystery to hold any child’s attention.


Beauty and the Beast – I love a good musical, and this one still makes me laugh and sing out loud. The story is classic and timeless, and has one of the all-time best villains in Gaston. You could argue that The Little Mermaid paved the way for Disney’s new era of animated films, but BATB is simply better and it solidified everything TLM started….and as far as “Disney Princesses” go, I’ll take Belle over Ariel any day.


commonspace arts

I had an English teacher who once said, “Good writing is like a woman’s skirt…it must be long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep things exciting.” Her excellent metaphor was only hindered by the fact that I was a middle school student, unprepared to process an image of my 68 year old instructor in a short skirt. It must have made an impact, however, as it is one of the few things I actually remember from the class, and you’ll be happy to know that I’m applying the principal in this very article.

I want to inform you about a project that I’ve been working on for the past year(s) called Commonspace Arts. In doing so, I’m going to make a modification to Mrs. Horlacher’s writing advice. I will offer both long and short versions, as opposed to a single, tedious, knee-length version. The short version promises only the essentials (for people who don’t care about the back-story, my personal journey/struggles, or the social and economic impact of the arts in urban contexts). The long version promises only to be longer (with a bit of the aforementioned nonessentials).

The ‘Short-Skirt’ Story of Commonspace Arts 575043_191509974319542_2091679_n

Commonspace Arts is (or will be soon) an organization that provides shared workspace to those who do creative work. The spaces will share these common benefits for its members:

flexible hours
natural light
free wi-fi
storage space
urban location
office supplies (fax, printer, paper, etc.)

Along with these tangible benefits, sharing the workspace will provide members with creative synergy, community, and other opportunities.

The first space will be in the center of downtown Spokane on S. Howard St. It is currently under construction and will be ready Spring 2013. For questions and connections, here is the contact info:

The ‘Long-Skirt’ Story of Commonspace Arts

About two years ago, I felt stuck. I was working for a church as a music and arts director. While the work was enjoyable and had its value, it was also ghetto-ized and homogeneous. It became obvious to me that my understanding of arts and culture was terribly limited, and I felt like the small town kid in those movies that desperately wanted to see the rest of the world (I tried to think of an actual movie, but I could only think of Footloose and Sweet Home Alabama…so, I’m either Kevin Bacon or Reese Witherspoon, take your pick). I decided to do what anyone who wants to become more culturally fluent does….I Google searched it. Of course, reading about art doesn’t make anyone an expert or lover of art, but it lead me to two things that significantly shaped my posture toward art in general and my city’s culture specifically. First, were the writings and art of Makoto Fujimura. His writings describe an understanding of what art “does” and an artist’s role in culture that is very clarifying. I won’t rehash it…just go here and read. Secondly, I traveled to St. Louis for a conference on the formative nature of art. The basic idea was that art, music, and physical space all offer certain aesthetics that form and shape us into certain types of people.

Upon returning from St. Louis, and after reading some other books about the social and economic impact of art, the “creative class”, “creative economy”, and all that other stuff that smarty-pants people write to explain away the beauty and mysteriousness of art, I had two questions. Who are the artists being shaped and formed in Spokane, WA, and what are they doing? I started reaching out. I joined a band. I started talking to people (a big step for an introverted, kinda awkward guy like me). The band was great. We played and wrote music together, we performed a bunch of local shows, and I met many kind, interesting people. We also recorded an album (and it’s quite good, IMNSHO) which you can listen to and buy here. During this time, I was contacted by a guy (who I’ll keep anonymous) that wanted to show me his art studio. It seemed a little odd, but he hinted that I could perhaps use the space. It was in a historic building in downtown Spokane, so I figured it would be prudent to have a look. We met in the black and white, marble lobby of the Symons Building on Howard St. and took the elevator to the top floor. We then took the stairs up another flight that led us to a large, heavy wooden door. It opened to a rather small room (about 600 square feet) with wood paneled walls and ceiling. It smelled like your grandparent’s lake cabin…smoked in, radiated heat, DSCN0637dead birds, musty. The old linoleum floor was covered in abstractionist paint splatterings from wall to wall. The natural light from the four windows spilled in and exposed the thickness of dust in the air. I was excited. At the back of the room there was another door which led to a smaller darker space…dirtier and smellier than the main room. He was trying to convert this small walk-in-closet-type space into a dark room for photography, but it was full of junk, pigeon carcasses, and old furniture. Strangely, I was even more excited. Then, back in the main room, we approached another door that required us to step on a cinder block and up to the threshold. We were now on the roof of the building. I took a 360 degree turn and surveyed downtown Spokane. The Symons building is only 5 floors, but the view from the roof is pretty fantastic.

We agreed that I would start using the space to do basically whatever I wanted to do, and this man that I had met just 15 minutes earlier gave me a key. I gathered a small group of friends (artists & musicians) and we started meeting regularly in the space to hang out, make music, and dream about what we could do up there on top of the Symons Building. We developed an idea for a shared workspace for creative professionals. The basic premise came from a lot of the literature I had been reading over the last couple years – that if we provide an urban space for artists with all the resources they would need to do their work to the highest potential, then more artists would consider making Spokane a more permanent place of residence….and if more artists decided to reside in Spokane, then this would perhaps cultivate a more diverse, beautiful, vibrant urban community…both socially and economically. We named this idea for Spokane, Commonspace Arts. I contacted my friend and designer Karli Ingersoll to develop the logo. The project resonated with her as she is a very active advocate for the arts in Spokane (Karli and her husband are currently raising money to open a live music venue in downtown Spokane called The Bartlett. Please check it out here and support them!).

Spokane is already a naturally beautiful place, and there is a deep well for any artist to draw from. The goal of Commonspace Arts is to come alongside the natural resources of our city and help provide new social capital and relational resources not just to artists, but to all of our neighbors in Spokane. Over the next 3-4 months, we will be launching our website with more information specific to membership, working to build relationships in the downtown Spokane community, and planning some small fundraising events. Please get connected and and stay tuned for ways support this project!