Thursday, August 25, 2011

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass...

Master Control Room 2
Stock Photo
Last week I read this article about how watching TV is bad for you and how for every hour you spend watching TV you are actually taking an additional 22 minutes off of your life expectancy. This article really gave me something to think about.

While I currently do not watch a lot of TV there was a time in my life when I got paid to sit in a room similar to the one pictured surrounded by TV screens. I would sit for hours on end (usually about 8 per day) 5 and 6 days per week and and watch what came on these screens. In fact my job in a nutshell was to make sure the right thing was on TV at the right time. I would plop down in my rolling chair before the 5'o clock news and not stop watching TV until long after Conan O'Brien.

This gig wasn't too bad when we were showing the Thursday Night Must See line up including Friends, Seinfeld, & ER. Or when we were showing the World Series or Football, but when we should mindless dribble like soap operas or infomercials I could almost feel my brain begin to melt.

This was a fun job with some really great people and we probably avoided more TV than most people could possibly imagine, but it wasn't because we knew we were saving minutes of our lives.  All told though if you do the math over the 4 years I worked in Master Control I logged somewhere near 8,500 hours in front of the TV (and that was just at work). Doing the math from the study, that means I am going to live 185,000 minutes less than if I had never worked there. For anyone that might want to know that is 128 days I'll never get to see.

I can only hope the endless hours I have spent watching football don't count because many of those hours were spent standing and pacing.... if they count... I am really shortening my life expectancy. I better check on my insurance tomorrow I may not be around much longer.

I was in the TV studio during Princess Diana's funeral and after 911. I spent nights there working with weathermen to help assure people of their safety. And while, because of watching TV I may not make it to see my own daughter get married at least i got to see Monica & Chandler tie the knot.

To all my friends from back in the WDAM stage in my life, I had a blast. I just hope this study isn't true...

Here is a link to the story that prompted this blog

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reflecting On a Tough Time

I am usually not the over sentimental type but something about Allyson turning 2 this week has caused me to reflect back to the week she was born.  As you can see by the picture to the side that was quite a few pounds ago for me and for her.

Allyson is our second child and one we weren't sure we would be able to have. The nine months leading up to her birth were relatively uneventful, well except for several late night tips to the hospital for false labor, and some special medicine to keep her from coming too soon.

Finally on August 18 we were close enough to full term that when the wife went into premature labor, the doctor did  not stop it.a few hours later I held my little Ally-gator in my arms for the very first time. That moment of joy soon turned to terror.

A few minutes after they took her back to the nursery her Dr came to tell us she was having some trouble breathing and that they were going to put her under an oxygen tent. He tried to reassure us everything was ok, but she just laid there looking helpless and we couldn't hold her. I could just look down at her and stroke my finger along her tiny little legs and feet.

This was how we spent the first 24 hours. As we were preparing for bed on day 2 we were expecting them to wheel her in so we could see her before bed, but they never did. We decided we didn't want to go to bed without telling her good night so we began to make our way to her nursery. As we were walking down the hallway we were stopped in our tracks by an overzealous nurse who insisted we not go any further. She tried to tell us if we would go back to our room a Dr would be with us shortly.

As you can imagine this approach only added to our anxiety especially since we could see all the Drs and nurses gathered in the nursery surrounding her little bed. I tried to politely stick my head into the room and find out what was going on with my daughter, but was threatened with security. Now if you know me, you know I am not a loud, pushy boisterous person, and even in this time of anxiety I was polite and acted calmer than I really was, so the threat to call security was not unnecessary, but only served to make matters worse. I am standing there with my wife who has just given birth to our precious baby and we are watching an entire ward of hospital workers busily buzzing around and none of them would stop and give us an answer about what was going on with our new born.

The next few moments are a blur, the next thing I remember is the baby's doctor coming to talk to us. He had raced in on his day off and inserted a tube into Allyson's little side and re-inflated her tiny little lung. He explained that this hospital was not equipped to deal with problems like this and told us he wanted to move Allyson to another Hospital that had a NICU.  That left another dilemma, Reagan was only 24hours removed from her C-section and wasn't scheduled to be released from the hospital for another 24 hours, but there was no way I could have them in different places, and no way Reagan could mentally deal with Allyson being somewhere else. Reagan's Dr made an exception and released her early advisiong her to make sure she rested.

For the next seven days we barely slept, we watched out tiny little gift lay in a bed covered with tubes and wires. We  cried a little and we prayed a lot. We learned a few things during this time, we learned that the NICU at Gulfport Memorial Hospital was filled with wonderful Doctors and nurses and that we were blessed our little angel was getting the treatment she needed. We most certianly learned Allyson was a fighter, every time we would come in to the NICU they were telling us about how she would holler and try to pull her cables and tubes out, she was ready to go home. Mostly we learned to trust God. I wasn't always sure He was going to let me have the joy of bringing this precious little girl home, but eventually He did, and for this I am so grateful.

There is a lot in my life that I have to be thankful for. God has blessed me in so many ways. As I reflect back on one of the toughest weeks of my life, I realize that even during that time I have a lot to thank God for. I don't know how I can ever express how grateful I am that God gave us the opportunity to bring this precious little angry Gator home. She is sweet as sugar and has so much personality. I can not imagine my life without her.  Thank you God for putting everything in place to teach us during this tough time and thank you.

I think Allyson and I have both changed a little bit since the pictures at the top.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: Master The Art of Running

Master the Art of Running: Raising Your Performance with the Alexander Technique By Malcolm Balk

I picked this up as a quick read on our recent trip to Kentucky because it looked like a slim fairly easy read. I was hoping there would be some cool tricks in this book to help me increase my speed and endurance. I had never heard of the Alexander technique and had no idea how it related, but I hoped it helped me run faster. 

Instead of focusing on how to run faster or last longer (attitudes the book refers to as "end gaining") the book focuses more on using your body more effectively, good posture, good breathing, and listening to your body. Early in the book the author points out anecdotal evidence to show that the majority of people who are running or working out simply as a chore are not getting the most out of their time.  It was a study that was cited that discussed how much better runners did when not "engaged" that has helped me put away the head phones while I run and focus more on my form and my surroundings. 

There are many great tips in the book including the 3 to 3 breathing technique I have tried to adapt. I also thought the focus on the impact your posture can have on your run, even when you are sitting or standing.  

Who is Alexander? Well, I honestly thought he would be some great runner or great running coach. In fact Alexander was a voice over specialist who developed breathing and use techniques to help save his voice. These techniques have been adapted to other areas of life. You can not learn everything about the technique from this book, which is why Mr. Balk offers workshops to help train you to use the technique.

Many of the ideas in the book seem to focus on a holistic approach to running and while it offers a lot of great tips it is also full of some abstract ideas that are not fully fleshed out. Many of the tests the book recommends you to administer would be very difficult to do without a trained proctor to assist you.

If you enjoy running but would like some techniques to increase the enjoyment or to help you transition from running as a chore to running for enjoyment, I would recommend the book. If you are looking for insights into successful "end gaining" this is probably not the best book for you. I have  taken a few things from the book which has made running more enjoyable and for that reason alone I am glad I took the time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Recap: Bulldog Dash

1st Annual Bulldog Dash Charity 5k
Saturday August 13, 2011 Vancleave, MS

I first heard of the Bulldog a few months ago and I was instantly intrigued. It was in May that we moved from Vancleave after several years and as hard as I tried I could not imagine a race there that would not involve me trying to dodge cars across a busy highway. Vancleave was the town where I had trained for my first couple of races, it was also the town my wife had grown up in. In fact the start of the race was her old high school. The race was being organized by one of her old classmates, and all the proceeds were going to Home of Grace which is a local charity we were very familiar with. With all these elements considered, the wife had decided this was going to be her first foray into race walking. 

If you follow the blog you know that last Wednesday as I was crossing the bridge I came up short with what I thought was a bout of the cramps. My ribs and side were still hurting days later and we came to the conclusion I had probably pulled a muscle in my rib cage. This had put running the race in jeopardy. I had decided to give it a go, see how I felt, and if the pain was too much, I would slow down and walk the race wth my wife. 

We arrived at the high school just after 7am to get registered, I debated as I signed in whether to register as a runner or a walker, and decided to go ahead and register to run. After getting registered we mingled a bit, the wife knowing far more people than me. As the race got closer and everyone lined up we made our way to the back of the pack. I normally try to get in the middle of the pack, but since Reagan was walking and I wasn't at 100% I figured it was better to start at the back than to get ran over. A brief invocation and some race instruction and the the horn sounded and we were off. 

As Reagan and I walked across the starting line behind the rest of the crowd, I told her I was going to try to run for a few minutes. I had no intentions of setting a personal record, in fact I wasn't concerned about my pace at all, I just wanted to see how my body would react to the impact of the race. Yard by yard I maintained my slower pace but I began to pass people and my body seemed to respond. About a half mile into the race I wasn't feeling any pain in my side and I begin to pick my pace up a little, still in no danger of winning. 

The course had some rolling hills and stretched from the high school back into a subdivision where there was not one, but 2 turnarounds. As I was making the second turnaround, which is somewhere around the halfway point I realized I was feeling pretty good and that I probably had another gear I could shift into. Picking up to more of my race pace, this is where I would find out how my body would truly react. 

As we came out of the subdivision and began approaching the turn back to the high school I saw a sign indicating we were at 2 miles and I started trying to figure out where the last mile would take us. Then I looked ahead at the fast people who were now making a loop around the elementary school and realized there was still a good way to go. It was about this point when I came upon a man a little older than myself who I noticed wanted to run, but kept stopping to walk, he looked like he had ran himself out the first 2 miles and was now struggling to finish. I am not sure why I did it, but I shouted ahead to him " let's go man, we are almost there", and then paced beside him for several yards trying to keep him going. He turned and thanked me and kept up with me until we got to the water station. 

The last mile my body felt great, but I was having to hold myself back to keep from kicking in to my last burst too soon and blowing myself up. I focused on my breathing and tried to run through the 3 to 3 breathing technique in my head as I was rounding the elementary school. Finally coming to the final turn of the course and heading back to the finish line I reached into my reserves and found I had a lot more left than I thought. I ran this potion harder than I thought I could. I heard foot steps beside me and I saw a shadow to my right and something inside of me said "finish strong, don't let this person pass" We got side by side and ran as hard as we could to the line. 

As I crossed the line I was surprised to see my time. Despite starting in the back of the pack and babying myself throughout the race, I was in at 27:56; not a great time, but a good time that I am happy with. After catching my breath and shaking hands with the guy I sprinted to the end with it was time to make my way back on to the course to find my favorite race walker.

I wanted to show support and encouragement, but didn't think about the fact that me coming back for her would make her feel bad. Anyway I am so proud to say that despite the humidity, and despite her shoes being worn out target shoes, and despite discomfort of  blisters on her feet, Reagan was undeterred. I thoroughly enjoyed walking cross the finish line with her, and she may never know how proud of her I truly am. 

Overall, it was a very good race day. we had fun and we overcame. I want to Thank Hunter Henly for putting the event together and thanks to the Jackson County Multisport Club and Run-N-Tri for their support

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Too Hot To Run

I took this picture as I was leaving work to head for my somewhat regular bridge run. It had been a couple of weeks since I had ran across the bridge and I was looking forward to it. Will couldn't make it so I was on my own facing my nemesis the bridge and the wicked heat.

I thought I had done a good job of hydrating myself. I knew it was hot and I hoped I was ready.

Runs are funny things, sometimes if you can get past the aches and desire to quit that you feel in the first quarter mile you can feel pretty great in later miles. That's what I was hoping for as my knee and my mind both tried to convince me to stop before I even got to the second marker.

I would not be deterred though and I actually completed the first mile, which is a significant incline in less than 9 minutes. I was feeling good. Mile two was good as well but I was starting to feel a little bit of cramping in my side.

My third mile was horrible the cramps got worse and worse and I wound up walking more than I ran. I tried a few breathing exercises and a few stretches but I was done.

This was the worst case of cramps I have ever had and they didn't let up until I was home had consumed almost a gallon of water and laid semi supine on my floor.

Maybe the little number on my mirror should have been a sign that it might have been tip hot to run
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spiritually Running

I had planned on writing this blog tonight about why I enjoy running, I was going to talk about how running used to be a chore, now it is something I look forward to. What I didn't realize is when I sat here tonight, I would be asking myself the question of Why I have been running title for an entirely different reason.

I have stated many times that my goal is to get healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually and I have achieved a lot. Physically, if you are following the blog, you already know what I have accomplished. Mentally, I have reduced the TV and increased the reading among other things and I feel like I am growing in that area. It is spiritually that I have been running and not in the healthy way.

I have never hidden my faith on here, but I have also never wrapped myself in it. Just in case I have never made it clear, I am a Christian who has been saved by God's amazing grace. That has never been a label I have shunned, it has however sometimes been little more than a label. I don't have an amazing testimony, like most people who are raised in the deep south I spent most of my childhood in church and one Sunday morning at tiny little Anding Baptist Church during "Just as I am" I walked down the aisle and prayed a simple prayer.

For many years I took the "thou shalt nots" seriously, but never really grew in my faith. it  I think like many people I believed in the concept and tried to follow the rules, but never developed the close relationship with God.I can navigate the Bible pretty well, but despite the years in church until recently I have never had a deep longing to get to know Him. Seems I was running from Him instead.

 I am married to a wonderful woman who was raised as a Christian as well and we have tried to instill the same "Christian values" we were raised with into our 2 wonderful daughters. The thing is, even while doing that, I don't know that I have grown as much spirituality as I should have. You know going to church on Sundays seemed like enough but I never answered the call to serve others or to win souls. Seems I was running from His commissions Even though I have long felt like God has been drawing me closer. Seems like the more he called me closer the more I tried to run away.

I have never run away in the sense of denying him or living an overtly "bad" life. I have ran from him by ignoring the urging, and ignoring the stirrings in my heart and not working with all my heart for a closer more intimate relationship. I never thought God could use me. I know my flaws, I know my background, and surely God knowing those same things knows he can't use me...

It has been almost a year now that he has been really working on me. Tthe stirrings have grown stronger, the urging has become more difficult to ignore. If God can make heroes out of the flawed men and women in the Bible, he can use me, and he wants to. It is Time to stop running from him and start going where he is sending me.

Even though I have come to accept that God wants to use me, and even though Reagan and I have had the conversation with our pastor about what to do now, inside I am still running, I can hide behind time and work commitments, or I can run and hide behind fear; however in The Bible it says   "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 

It is one thing to type a blog and explain to readers why I run, physically. It is an entirely different thing to feel like I have to answer to God why I am running spiritually. 

This may not make a lot of sense to some of you reading this, but I hope it will soon. I hope I can add some clarity soon, For now it is important that I stop running and wait; because "Strength will rise when I wait upon the Lord!"
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wasted Night

Well if Saturday was wasted due to my allergies attacking than Sunday night was surely wasted as well due to the Air Condition not working. We had a repairman come look at the unit on Friday, he said he couldn't find a problem, but washed the unit down and said our filter was dirty.

Everything seemed ok Saturday, but by noon on Sunday, the house was hot. If I turned it off at the thermostat and let it sit for a few minutes it would cool again, at first. By bed time it was still in the mid eighties outside; and inside. We tried to sleep with no sheets or blankets and we did ok until about 2:30 when the 2 year old woke up and never went back to sleep.

I planned to run this morning, but I am too tired, I somehow have to get alert before work, and we have to get this house cool... August in Mississippi is HOT

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wasted Day

Just yesterday afternoon I was marveling at all the things I needed to get done today. My lawn had gotten out of control, my laundry needed to be caught up,we need new filter for the A/C, those pesky bushes around the A/C needed to be trimmed back as well, our fall kickoff for our homeschool group in the afternoon, and it would be kind of nice to get a bike ride in. Of course none of this was going to get done if I chose to go to Hattiesburg for a "guys weekend". As much fun as the "guys weekend" sounded, I decided to save the money and try to get some things done around the house.

The day started productive enough, by 7am I was already out side with the mower running reclaiming the lawn from the weeds, I also got the overgrowth handled around the A/C unit. The wife had a coupon cl\ass to teach so, I found a good stopping point and came in the house for a shower around 8. That was the last productive thing I did all day.

Something in the yard has really messed with my allergies, I have felt like my eyes have been on fire all day long. my nose has been running like a faucet and I have had an unbelievable headache. I took a second shower allowing the water to wash over my face repeatedly and took some Benadryl and some eye drops.

About noon the wife came home from her class, I was laying on the sofa covered up with a rag in one hand and the other hand covering my eyes (It hurt to actually close them, but the light bothered them as well). It was at this time I took my first nap. An hour or so later I was feeling a little better but still miserable, so I took some Zyrtec and  had some more eye drops. It was around 4:30 when I took my second nap. So, now as I look at the clock it is almost 7pm, my eyes are still irritated, but not as bad as earlier, and I think I could probably call it a night any minute.  Guess my day wasn't  as busy as I anticipated.

I have cut grass many times in my life, I have never had it ruin my entire day and make me feel this miseable. Oh well, Tomorrow is another day...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rapid Review: Animal Farm

George Orwell's Animal Farm is considered by many to be one of the most significant works of literature of the 20th century and for many reading this it was likely required reading in high school. For me it was not required reading and I had never picked it up. I had heard enough to somewhat understand the plot, but had just never taken the time to pick the book up. I am glad I finally did.

Animal Farm was written in 1945 and is actually a satire of the tyrannical Russian government. It is only about 100 pages and is a very easy read (I read it in just a couple of hours).

The plot centers around a group of animals who have grown tired of being oppressed by their drunken brute of a farmer and decided after being inspired by a dream to start a revolution. The animals successfully overthrow the humans from the farm and begin to set up their own Utopian society where everyone always worked for the common good and all animals are equal. Unfortunately, some animals are more equal than others.

The animals start with high ideals, but many weren't smart or engaged enough to know what was going on and the pigs wind up running the farm.  A falling out between the lead pigs sets the table for one of the pigs to rise to absolute power. By careful use of propaganda and because the other animals never learned to think for themselves he was able to set up a tyrannical rule worse than everything the human farmer before him had ever done.

The characters are engaging and even more engaging if you have some knowledge of the Russian revolution. Orwell makes great use of satire as you can see the animals which are representing historical figures such as Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky. The story itself is still very good if you don't have any knowledge of Russian history.

There primary lesson to be learned from this little book seems to be that if you do not stay engaged, and do not educate yourself, you can easily be led by people who don't have the best intentions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reunion Update

So, if you read my last post, you know that the family and I made the 11 hour drive to Kentucky for a family reunion. I would like to take this post to admit, it was a lot more fun than I expected.

I have this image in my head of family reunions that involves a whole bunch of 3rd and 4th cousins that you only see every reunion all putting together a casserole and meeting at a local park for 3 hours on a hot summer day and sitting around sharing stories of times gone by involving relatives I have never met. Not my idea of a good time, especially if we had to drive 11 hours with the "chatter box" and the "screamer" to get there.

Then there was the other unpleasant thought I had about staying in the Great Aunt's basement. The immediate image is of some dark damp fortress with cobwebs and an old fold out sofa is what came to mind I am pleased to say that my perceptions could not have been more wrong. First of all the "dark dank basement" was actually a fully finished "apartment" on the bottom floor with it's own kitchen bathroom, bedroom, patio and more. In theory I could have hidden down there the whole weekend and been comfortable. I am glad I did not chose to do this, I would have missed a good time and some beautiful scenery.

On our aunt's property are two lakes with fountains in the middle as well as some wonderful wooded areas, it was while I was running down her driveway that the deer leaped in front of me.  After getting in a great run I met a cousin and he invited Molly, myself, and our two teenage cousins who came with us to his farmm to ride dirt bikes. This is not something I would normally do, but what the heck....

This where the weekend got interesting,  I am going to list some of the things we did

  • Drove a gator 

  • Rode a dirt bike... well only for a few feet before I crashed a dirt bike

  • Shot an AR-15 and an AK-47and i did pretty good for a first timer...

  • Swam with Molly and Allyson
  • Played horseshoes and tug of war

  • Kayaked along Floyd's Fork (well what is left of it with the drought they are experiencing)

  • Played an intense game of Kickball

  • helped Molly with a Scavenger
  • Participated in an auction
  • and enjoyed a Talent Show.
  • Plus a lot more
This doesn't even include all the food we ate, and ate and ate. We had a blast, and even though we had a late start getting on the road Sunday (we were having Morning church service with the whole family before we had a family lunch), and even though we did not get home until almost midnight, and even though I had to be at work first thing Monday morning, it was still an amazing weekend. In addition to all the activities, I had a great time meeting all of my wife's family. Her Grandmother had something like 12 bothers and sisters and most of them are no longer alive; but it is still great to see the family get together and celebrate their heritage. I was especially glad that Molly got to experience the event. She too got to do everything listed above, plus got to meet so many new members of her family and form some great bonds. she even won a prize for the talent show and for the "Casting Contest."

I am glad we got to celebrate Family, Faith, Fun, and Food. I thank the entire Chambers clan for welcoming me into your homes and your hearts. 

This trip makes me long for a similar time with my side of the family...